When I found out I was pregnant, making the decision to breastfeed was pretty straightforward. As a healthcare professional, I felt I needed to put into practice what I preach, knowing the benefits to mum and baby.
Research has shown that (from www.breastfeeding.ie), a breastfed baby is less likely to get sick with gastro-enteritis, ear, chest and kidney infections. Breastfeeding also gives some protection from asthma, eczema, diabetes and obesity. Breastfed babies have better mental development. Their teeth are straighter too because breastfed children have better mouth formation. Later in life, their risk of suffering from high blood pressure and heart disease is also lower.
Breastfeeding means better lifelong health for your baby and better future health for you too. So time spent breastfeeding is well worth it.
Amelia was 10 days overdue on her birth date, and I had a fairly uneventful labour/delivery. She was put on my chest post delivery and lucky for me, she latched on immediately. I didn’t find it uncomfortable initially, maybe the euphoria of having just seen our little girl overshadowed it. A few days of feeding,and the cracked, sore nipples started to appear, this is where Lansinoh HPA Lanolin Nipple Cream became my saviour, along with Savoy cabbage leaves (they really do work).
Amelia was a very slow feeder, Each feed could take up to two hours at a time- have plenty of box sets to hand! She would sleep for an hour or two, and back on me for anther two hours. Breastmilk digests quicker than formula, so therefore babies will need to be feed more frequently.Sometimes I wonder was she using me just for comfort, as we had made a decision pretty early on that we would not give her a dummy/soother/pacifier.
We were living in London for 10 months after Amelia was born, breastfeeding women are everywhere, so this made it a little easier for me, the novice when out and about having coffee and lunch with friends. Since moving home to Ireland I have noticed that breastfeeding is less common, or mums are hiding at home, which is a shame. The more people feeding in public, the more acceptable and “normal” it will become. I found a lightweight scarf was perfect, in keeping my dignity and prevented Amelia from overheating underneath it, or a muslin will work just as well.Also if you do not want to buy “breastfeeding tops”, as I didn’t, I would wear my normal tops and wear a “boob tube” or strapless top underneath. You can pull this down and pull up your top, no skin on show!
When Amelia was about 3 weeks old I developed mastitis on my left breast – if I ever wanted to give up, it was then. I let her feed on that breast and it went eventually, it was the most painful thing I ever experienced. My Tip – feed on “bad breast” first, you wont have the anxiety while feeding on the good breast of what is to come.
I got through the cracked nipples ad the mastitis, but the long feeds continued, which was at times, draining, isolating and boring, and I ended up putting on weight,from sitting around munching on chocolate,biscuits and anything else I could safely eat over Amelia while feeding.When Amelia was 12 weeks old, I introduced a bottle of expressed milk at 7pm, which my husband gave her. This was a nice time for them to spend together. I never had a huge supply of milk, as I only ever managed to pump 3 oz at a time. This is by no means a reflection of how much she was actually drinking wen being breastfed, as a baby’s sucking reflex is far stronger than even the most powerful breastpump. I tried 3 different breastpumps, and the Electric Medela Swing was by far the best for me. It is expensive, but is strong and you wont spend hours expressing.
I introduced formula to Amelia at 16 weeks, one bottle per day. She did not like powdered formulas, we tried loads, so to this day she drinks Aptamil premade formula, expensive baby! I continued breastfeeding Amelia until she was 6.5 months, at this stage I had reduced her breastfeeds to one per day, so the change over to formula was pretty easy. From 5 months old, I dropped a breastfeed every 2 weeks, and introduced a bottle.
So would I do it all over again? Even though it was hard work, the answer is yes. I enjoyed it, and found it convenient.
Breastfeeding is not for everyone, I completely understand why people choose not to try, healthcare professionals advise to breastfeed, however society is still not as accepting as it should be. Do not be disillusioned in thinking that you will loose loads of weight,this does not happen for everyone. I understand why people try and stop, your life has already been on hold for 10 months of pregnancy, you cant drink alcohol, leave your baby for a long period of time and sleep deprivation from the constant feeding can take its toll. For some people, the choice has been taken out of their hands, some babies fail to latch on, blocked ducts, previous surgeries and not producing milk are just some of the reasons why many new mums cannot breastfeed.
I found the benefits such as the convenience and the bonding time with Amelia is what made me continue to feed for 6.5 months. As for Amelia’s health, she has had one cold in 11 months, but she did have pneumonia at 8 months. Breastfeeding will not stop your child from getting sick, but it will build up their immunity.
So, if you are thinking of breastfeeding, my advice is, make an informed choice,and ultimately the decision should be only yours.