I had my firstborn in 2016, and subsequently 2 more kids after him, each baby spaced 2 years apart each. I breastfed all 3 over a year old and am currently still breastfeeding my 1 year old girl, with no signs of weaning her anytime soon. Being a first time mum in 2016, I found establishing breastfeeding the most difficult with my first baby. As I knew I wanted to breastfeed back when I was pregnant with my first, before he was born I listened to and read up many breastfeeding advise and tips from others /articles/ online blogs etc. Although I appreciate most of the advise given, not everything I read or heard about breastfeeding were accurate and some I disagreed with, at least from my personal experience. Below I share some of the main ones that I found to be not quite true.
1. Breastfeeding does not hurt
It does hurt, to some extent, and in my case it hurt for the first 2 weeks after baby was born as I was getting him to latch correctly and latching almost hourly /every few hours. Yes if if baby doesn’t have a good latch it will hurt, and also cause inefficient extraction of milk from the mother, and can cause lower milk supply issues and risk dehydration in baby. However in my case, all 3 babies latched well, BUT IT STILL HURTS. Mainly because, your nipples have relatively been untouched on its own for the most part of your life, but now, there is a little human who is almost constantly on the boob, suckling for hours , every day, and every night (I’m so glad the newborn days are over). It will hurt, like a rope burn on your palms or when you have scratched a part of your skin too much, the skin will bruise, scabs up and then peels over, similarly to yer nipples lady. It will bruise, maybe crack abit, then crust over and form new skin and after that, only did the pain stop for me. So, yes, it did hurt, even though the latch was good and baby was well fed. Basically mummy, persevere through the first 10 – 14 days, it does get better after that and the pain will reduce.
2. Time your feedings
Timing baby’s feed every 2-3 hourly. In a hospital setting when babies are fed via a syringe/spoon/bottle, or if the mother is exclusively pumping and feeding baby from bottle, then yes. However, if you are direct latching your baby , he/she will feed as many times as she wants, as long as she needs to, for the first few days/weeks. This is also needed to establish mother’s milk supply, the higher the demand from baby, the higher the supply. Later on when baby’s tummy gets bigger as they get older, they will stay full longer, and may not need so many latching sessions. Hence they also are able to sleep longer between feds at night. However breastfed babies are very much comforted by latching, so they will also want to latch to sleep or at any discomfort. Basically in those few weeks to early months mummy’s breast are like a pacifier, and it could be a good and bad thing for many mothers. For me, I latched baby as much as they wanted, with some help from hubby at night ( some night feeding sessions I will feed baby and pass to sleepy hubby to re-swaddle/ cradle/rock back to sleep).
3. Oversupply is a bad thing
Generally, yes being an oversupply mum will be difficult, BUT NOT AS DIFFICULT AS BEING A UNDER SUPPLY MUM. I’ve been in both situations, and personally, it is better to have much extra milk than not enough milk. or just enough milk. When you have oversupply, there are ways to bring down your milk supply by having longer stretches between pumping sessions at work, reducing pump frequency, pump less milk out, do block feeding (feeding baby with one side boob more than the other ) etc. When I was an undersupply mum (due to 3rd baby rejected the bottle totally), I had to have the stress of pumping multiply times a day just to meet the quota of milk to pass to my in laws for the next day ( who had to spoon fed her the milk), hence the saying ‘Don’t cry over spilled milk does not apply to undersupply mothers. While with my first 2 kids, I had an extra freezer for the extra milk, with peace of mind that there’s always going to be enough milk to pass to my in-laws the next day when I’m at work, and the stash was slowly used up by the kids after they were weaned. I also spiked my older kids with some breastmilk in his formula milk, for extra nutrition. So in my opinion, it’s ok to pump during my 2 months maternity leave once a day to stock up more milk, just don’t go overboard with the extra pump sessions and be a ‘ extra supply mum’ but not ‘excessively extra supply mum’.
There are many more statements or advice that I don’t personally agree with, from the ‘Don’t supplement with formula EVER ‘, or having baby sleep with confinement lady at night, or that formula milk is evil (that being said I think fed is best, but fed with breastmilk is better, if you have a choice), but those are down to more personal choice for each person, and in the end mother’s sanity is more important than having a 100% breastfed baby.
I hope this articles gives some help to new struggling mothers, or just an insight to another mother’s breastfeeding journey.
Thanks for reading and happy breastfeeding.