During the first few days/weeks, breastfeeding really comes down to sheer survival – it feels like everything revolves around getting your baby to latch on and stay on! Managing to remain vaguely coherant on what feels like literally minutes of sleep; and physically gritting your teeth at times to keep going if you feel like your boobs want to jump off your body and run away screaming FREEDOM!
Learning how to get a decent latch is all consuming as your baby’s mouth is tiny and everyone will tell you to just cram more boob in – of course getting the latch right is important for breastfeeding, but so is you being comfortable. Try a few different positions. Traditional cradle hold, rugby hold and laying down are great – sometimes when you’re feeling sore a shift in position can be a game changer.
Make sure you’re stocked up on paracetamol, lansinoh and chocolate Hob Nobs. Drink water like it’s going out of fashion and eat plenty, you’ve got some recouping to do.Month 2:
You may have had comments/thoughts about whether your baby is getting enough milk.
This is a really common question among breastfeeding mums, because unlike with a bottle, you just can’t tell how much milk your baby is getting. If your baby is happy, content and/or sleeping after a feed, is gaining weight and you are faced with wet and dirty nappies (occasional pure – concentrated evil – self knitted ‘poo suits’), chances are that everything is fine.
You might consider pumping at this stage so you can have some freedom or much needed sleep.
Check out these pumps. There are many on the market, some manual (quieter if you’re pumping while your baby sleeps – the last thing you want is to wake the baby while you’re pumping a cheeky few Oz off!) and some electric (quick – boom!).
Don’t be too disheartened if you don’t produce much with the use of a pump. You need to be relaxed and it sounds bonkers but just looking at your baby can make a huge difference.
If you manage to pump comfortably then you can store it in the fridge/freezer until you’re ready to use it and you can make boob milk lollies too.
By now you may be considering treating yourself to a gin (if you haven’t already then Bravo). There is so much conflicting advice out there on this one. In short, you don’t have to ‘pump and dump’ if you have a drink whilst breastfeeding as alcohol passes into breastmilk in the same volume as it passes into your blood, so as long as you’re not getting to the stage where you’re actually drunk (you can safely care for your baby) then it’s safe to feed. Just avoid co-sleeping/bed-sharing at all costs if you’ve had a drink.
By now you’ll be probably be frantically wondering if your baby will ever sleep through the night.
First – Every baby is different. Some will start sleeping through at 3 months old; others won’t until much later. Babies sleep through the night when they’re ready, whether or not they’re breastfed.
Second – Keep in mind that ‘sleeping through the night’ at this age actually means five or six hours, not eight or nine. Soz.
That said, because breast milk is digested so completely and more quickly than formula, breastfed babies do tend to eat—and therefore wake—more frequently than formula-fed babies. (Don’t look at the clock – Feed the baby whenever s/he’s hungry, day or night – the days of broken sleep don’t last forever and when they’re gone they’re gone).Month 6:
If you havent already, this is the recommended time to introduce solids. Obviously every baby is different and there’s no clear sign that your baby is or isn’t ready. Sadly they won’t arch thier back whilst spewing a rainbow and crapping butterflies to alert you to their readiness.
Breast milk (if you’ve made it this far) still is the most important part of your baby’s diet at this age, so breastfeeding as normal before you offer any other foods will make sure your baby is getting enough.
You’ll probably have made your mind up by now as to how you’ll tackle the introduction of food – whether traditional or baby led – remember to have fun with it as this is an exciting time for you and your baby.Month 7:
You will probably be getting into frequent conversations about when it’s time to stop feeding by this stage. It’s natural for people to ask questions as in Britain only 34% of babies are still breastfed at 6 months of age. At the end of the day it’s your baby and you are doing what is right for you so try not to take offence.
You’ll probably be feeding in public much less frequently as your baby has started getting easily distracted. This (if your lucky it’ll be new) sensation is called ‘Niplash’ and is mighty unpleasant.
You may only be feeding once or twice in the night by now. At this stage you will probably have thoughts of violence towards anyone who dares to tell you their baby sleeps through. Swallow your rage. The days are long but the years are short. Complete cliché but totally true.
You may consider letting your baby stay out overnight as they will be drinking from a cup now. If you are happy to let them have a sleepover then do it. Have a date night with your partner and/or get some kip. Your baby will be fine and you’ll still be able to feed them in the morning.
Congratulations, you’re in the 0.5% of people in Britain still feeding (1 in 200 British babies)
Whether you are thinking about weaning soon or not you deserve a pat on the back. It’s not for everyone and it’s not easy.
So yet here you have it. The first year of Breastfeeding.
Here are some great sources of information for you.