Give yourself a break

April 14, 2015

Give yourself a break


The thing about breastfeeding is that for most of us, it's not actually as easy as it's made out to be on TV, in the movies, and on all the information from advocate groups. Don't get me wrong, I am 100% pro-breastfeeding where possible, I'm just saying it's not all sunshine and lolly-pops and cute little fuzzy headed babies. There is exhaustion, uncomfortable and painful moments, mastitis and sometime, the (politically incorrect but definitely still there) censorious glances of strangers when feeding in public.


Even if your babies main source of food is breast milk though direct feeding, I cannot suggest strongly enough that you also have the option available to you to express milk and feed with a bottle at least once or twice a week. Many of my friends who have children the same age as my daughter learned their lesson with the first child and opted to do this with their second. Most of them would express enough for one feed a day, and in those early days, when baby was waking 3-4 times a night to feed, would allocate an expressed bottle night feed to their partner. Not only would it give them a precious few hours to sleep, but it also gave their partners the opportunity to have some baby time, and make a deeper connection with their child.


The other extra added bonus of starting this practice relatively early is that when your baby is 6-7 months old and you are finally coming out of the new baby haze and starting to feel relatively human again, your baby can be left for a few hours with a babysitter and still have that all important breast milk feed. AND they will take it in a bottle!


If you are ever planning on going out (without your baby) before your baby is weaned, I promise you that your baby, and your babysitter will thank you for having prepared for a bottle feed BEFORE the actual intended event. Just like breastfeeding, they have to learn how to use the bottle, and doing that with anxious Nanna or "Cindy from next door" is not ideal.


I used a breast pump in the first few weeks to help with my milk production, but stopped after a few weeks when I thought I had breastfeeding sorted. As it happened that my daughter was NOT a fan of breastfeeding. At three months old she simply refused to feed unless she was offered a bottle, and I wasn't ready at all. I jumped straight to formula which I regret for more reason than one. I believe that if I had already been giving her expressed breast milk in a bottle regularly, she (and I) would have been more likely to stick with it for longer.


There are so many options available when it comes to breast pumps,that it can be difficult to decide which one you want. Have a think about how and how often you plan to use one. Will it be something you do occasionally, every day or every feed? You won’t know this until you actually have you baby, but do you need one to help with increasing your milk production?


While the hand held pumps are great, they do the job well and you can use them exclusively, particularly if you are only doing the occasional express, if you are going to be expressing more regularly than once or twice a week, I strongly recommend an electric pump.


With my daughter I hiredan electric pump (this is a great idea if you want to try a particular brand out) for about two weeks at the advice of my lactation consultant. Unfortunately I made the mistake of thinking I knew everything and that all was well and we'd sail though the first year of feeding. I sent it back after a fortnight. In hindsight, I really wish I had just bought my own one. I would have continued to express, increasing my supply (which was pretty low), and had something on hand when my daughter refused the breast. That first year would have been so much cheaper for me, even with the initial investment of the breast pump, and most importantly, my daughter would have gotten the benefits of the breast milk that she should have.


This time around I'll be ready. This baby will be breast fed come hell or high-water, whether they want it or not!