Mum, Samantha shares her #countto10 moments and honest advice on breastfeeding baby…
1) When you hear that 'it's natural', don't confuse this with 'easy'. Nature allows milk to build up in your lady lumps, getting it OUT is the real game! It's a skill that you AND baby have to learn, try not to beat yourself up as a midwife impatiently manhandles your bust for the fifth time in 20 minutes.
2) Shy about your boobies? Being woken up through the night to be 'milked' by the night nurse for colostrum because you're just useless at it, will knock that right out of you!
3) Expecting for your breastfeeding relationship to immediately resemble a tasteful black and white Instagram shot of an effortless earth mother type? Practice the reality in pregnancy by repeatedly rubbing sandpaper on your nipples, whilst juggling an oiled cat.
4) Realised you don't have ml or ounce counters on your boobs? Some of your less helpful friends haven't and it can soon lead to doubts regarding supply. It's perfectly normal for a breastfed baby to become an almost permanent nipple fixture at first, whilst they build your stock and grow. It doesn't mean you're not producing, keep an eye out for those nappies as proof, or get yourself a timing tracker app (also helpful for remembering which side to use without feeling yourself up in public!) And don't sweat a schedule, they’ll only have moved on by the time you crack it anyway!
5) Treat yourself to a few nice baskets and keep them at all your main feeding points in the home, stock them with water and KitKats (my husband fully supports the fact that I NEED chocolate to maintain my milk supply.) Also keep your mobile and TV remotes to hand, don't learn the hard way – no one needs that many reruns of mid 90's Home and Away in their life. Seriously, what did we DO before social media and box sets of Madmen?
6) When it comes to pain in the early days, some ladies swear by airing the girls out, some ice pads, some by covering with warm aromatherapy compresses, either way, you will experience scabbing where no lady should have to experience scabbing, and the one thing we ALL agree on is that a good lanolin nipple cream is your new best friend! But don't worry… by the time a few weeks roll around, you'll be able to pull buses along by your leather nipples without batting an eyelid. However, you're not QUITE in the clear, once your babe notices distracting sights and sounds brace yourself, because niplash is coming and the struggle is real!
7) Seek out support… A breastfeeding play group will help to build your confidence, be a platform to air issues, AND provide some much needed adult conversation. The really good ones will leave you feeling like part of a powerful tribe of milky mamas – sprayed someone's elbow in John Lewis? Fed twice on one side and now the missed boob has mutated into a lumpy tit-brick? Getting 'the eye roll' from a perfectly preened teen when you look like Worsel Gummage? You got this Queenie!
8) Sure there's a billion gimmicks, but sometimes the credit card needs dusting off. A feeding pillow allows both hands to remain free to play candy crush, a teething necklace saves your opposite nipple from certain death by twiddling and your poor décolletage from baby razor nails, a few nursing bras and items of clothing avoids a public disturbance order when stripping off, awkwardly adjusting layer after layer of baggy clothing in McDonalds.
9) Know and defend your rights, especially in the workplace. You have more power than you think! Treat yourself to a double pump, make yourself an 'occupied' sign with a dairy cow on it, and lock yourself in a meeting room with a good book!
10) All difficulties pass, and you'll soon be banging on to anyone who'll listen about health benefits, statistics, and the truly wonderful relationship you've built up through perseverance with breastfeeding. Whilst all the while secretly daydreaming about how EXACTLY you're going to spend the extra 500 calories you get for free!
Stick with it mamas, it's worth it!