I had many a lovely moment, snuggled up with daughter, breastfeeding her. She’d play softly with my hair and stroke my face and I’d just be gazing at her beautiful face. But then at times, it really hurt to breastfeed! When I went back to work, I was still expressing and would book the boardroom out at lunchtime to express Emily’s milk for her to take to nursery the following day. If I wasn’t able to do that because of meetings, then I could be in agony by the time I got home and desperately needed Emily to latch on to relieve the pressure, I remember one day, every bounce of the train on the track and the feel of my shirt fabric next to my boob, hurt like hell. The most embarrassing moment was when my boss walked in as he was showing someone around the office - I am not sure who was the most mortified! Here are four top tips from my experience.
- Nipple cream. Lots of it!
I know it sounds wrong but once I started feeding, this was a constant by my side! I’ve mentioned in a previous blog that a friend recommended this to me and it was an absolute godsend. lansinoh.co.uk/hpa-lanolin. I’m quite sure without it, I would have found it harder to keep on feeding. In the early days, I didn’t get much respite, my daughter fed probably every 50 minutes. You can also buy nipple shields to offer more protection if your baby is a real chomper.
- Did someone say ‘blocked duct’?
“Blocked ducts? I’m not an air conditioning unit” A bit like running, sometimes you hit a wall. In the case of breastfeeding this can be blocked ducts and the advice is; fight through. I remember this made me recoil in horror at the prospect but it did work; my boob was rock hard and it hurt to feed. It’s recommended to get in a warm bath and then massage the sore boob, rub from the lump towards the nipple. I could often feel a specific lump and although sore, I’d massage it a little in the warm bath then feed my baby and generally this sorted it out.
- Is that cabbage I can smell?!
If you get mastitis, then the advice is to wear loose clothing (yey, ditch the bra!), same as with a blocked duct, the advice is to try to feed from the painful boob as it’s the quickest way to fix you. And this isn’t a myth, as well as making you giggle, it really helps; put savoy cabbage leaves is the fridge to cool then whack them on your boob. It does sting a bit and you do "cook" them so it can niff a bit too. However, don’t dilly dally, if you think it is more than a blocked duct and could be mastitis, just ring your doctor, they’ll quickly access you as sometimes antibiotics are needed for mastitis and if so, better to sort it quickly. Don’t worry about feeding, the tablets they give you will mean you can carry on breastfeeding, your milk will taste a little salty but your baby won’t be bothered. A common side effect is for the baby to have a runny bum after about day 4 for a couple of days but they are fine.
If you’d like more information on breastfeeding, check out the NHS pages here.
- Express yourself
I found this a real challenge. I hope I save you some time by sharing my mistakes on this one! I had no luck expressing my milk by hand and to be honest, it was just a bit weird so maybe on reflection I held myself back on this. I used a tomme tippee breast pump which I would recommended - I’d generally get 50-80 ml of breast milk each time which was enough for one feed. http://www.tommeetippee.co.uk/product/electric-breast-pump/ I always managed it but it did take me about 15 mins to get the milk started so I needed to allow an hour, if I got stressed (for example, too close to going out then I think that just made expressing harder too). Occasionally it was painful and each time it was, I realised it was because my nipple was somehow twisted in the cylinder, so if it hurts – stop! All that was needed was to adjust it and then carry on. In the end, I discovered the best way to get started was to use my daughter! After she’d got the milk flow going, I’d stick her on the other boob and express on the one she’d started off. Bingo.
So yeah at times, it could be tough, mainly because there were so many new challenges I had to get your head around. But like anything that is a new experience, with grit and determination, I made it and I’m so proud I crossed that finish line.
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