My Breastfeeding Experience and Advice

I’d like to start this post off by saying that no matter how you choose to feed your baby, breast or formula, a fed baby is a happy baby in my opinion.

Mums (especially new mums) shouldn’t feel pressured or guilty for doing one or the other, or even for doing combination feeding. No one will ever know or be in your situation as a parent, as every baby is different. You do you and you’re doing amazing!

In the years before children, I was very much of the opinion that I would be a formula feeding parent and quite honestly dismissed the idea breast feeding, as I felt it just wasn’t for me. 

Looking back, it wasn’t that I had anything against breastfeeding, I just didn’t understand it. Mainly because I wasn’t at “that point” in my life, but also because the only baby feeding advice I’d seen up to that point was through brand adverts for follow on milks. 

In all honesty, I don’t think I had ever seen a strong campaign for breastfeeding whilst growing up.

We’ve smuggled four inflatable breasts onto rooftops in London this morning! How else do you think we’d celebrate UK Mother’s Day? But no, there’s a reason: Today we’ve launched #FreeTheFeed to help fight the stigma around breastfeeding and pumping in public. #FreetheFeed is an invitation to everyone to stand with all those women that have felt shamed or confined when breastfeeding or pumping. We want to empower mothers to feel safe and comfortable to feed how and where they choose to. Get involved by sharing your breastfeeding or pumping pic (old or new) with #FreeTheFeed! Or you can share this pic. Don’t forget to tag @elvie. Check out our stories for updates and see where we planted each boob! #womenempowerment #motherhoodunplugged #normalizebreastfeeding #breastfeeding #breastfeedingmom #liquidgold #breastpump #elviepump #momlife #mumlife #mothersday #momtobe #mumtobe #womensupportingwomen #womenempoweringwomen
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However in today’s society, we’re seeing more and more people openly showcasing the benefits and support for breastfeeding. Brands such as Elvie are leading the way in this through marketing campaigns that make people stop and listen, even though they are promoting breast pumps, some of these brands are helping to push the word out there. 

We’re also seeing more celebrities, bloggers and communities of people sharing their voice on social media, which can be such a powerful tool for positivity. I’m loving watching new mums like Rosie Londoner and Carly Rowena openly sharing their breastfeeding pictures and experiences on their Instagram accounts. 

Over the last few weeks I have been thinking about the reasons why I chose to breast feed in the end and wanted to share with my personal experience with you all, as hopefully it may help some of you. 

Why I chose to breastfeed? 
It wasn't until my friends started having children (and choosing to breast feed them), that I started to understand the benefits of breastfeeding. They would make comments in passing about how breastmilk helps with your babies immunity and preventing future diseases. 

After looking into the benefits of breastfeeding when I became pregnant with Evie, I decided I was going to give it a go. When Evie was first born, I found a lot of my family members were telling me how amazing it was that I was breasting my baby. It wasn’t until I stopped to reflect on their comments, that I realised out of the three generations of women, I’m only the second woman in my family to ever breast feed my child. 

Again, there is nothing wrong with them choosing to formula feed, I was a happy formula fed baby, but when I think about this as a statistic, it’s less than 20% of the women in my family over the past 55 years have breast fed. 

What’s breastfeeding like in the early days?
Say hello to sore nipples. No matter what you do before hand, your nipples are going to get sore (sometimes chapped) and your boobs are going to get very hard and full with milk. 

My tips to help would be: 
1. Use a warm wash cloth and place it onto your boobs in the shower or bath. This helps to soothe your boobs and will potentially help with any blocked milk ducts.

2. Take a warm bath with lavender oil to help with heeling.  

3. Nipple cream, nipple cream and more nipple cream. Keep it on all the time, I used one that was also safe for Evie to feed with too. It will help so much with the nipple chafing and cracks. I used Lansinoh  as my midwife gave me some samples of it and I never went back! 

But remember you can always ask your health visitor or midwife for a breastfeeding specialist to come and help you, I did this and it helped so much! 

When you’re sleep deprived and up in the early hours of the morning, it can feel like a very dark time as a breast feeding mum. Around the third week of breastfeeding, I started to feel like I was getting the hang of it more, but it’s completely normal for it to take a while to get to grips with it all - each mother and baby experience is different - for me it took around 4 weeks to feel comfortable with feeding Evie. 

If you’re going through this then speak to your health visitor, midwife or there’s the National Breastfeeding helpline that you can call [0300 100 0212]. I would also highly recommend joining a local breastfeeding group as someone who can support you in person and/or over Facebook. 

Where’s my milk at? 
This is something that I constantly think (and overthink) about. Do I have enough milk? Is my baby getting enough milk? How much milk is she having on her feeds? 

The first thing I would say is, don’t worry. Your boobies are like little milk rivers, and everyone’s milk flow is so different, as it’s tailored to suit their babies. 

If you’re planning on going away or leaving your baby overnight, then there are lots of great articles out there to help you - starting with the NHS website. Your health visitor or local breast feeding group will be able to offer you further support and advice for this.

Recently I have had two separate nights away from Evie and had been expressing like crazy and freezing my milk - which can last up to 6 months when frozen. When Evie would wake up for a feed in the middle of the night, I would then go downstairs and pump off the other boob once she was back to sleep, over a couple of months I had a very good supply of frozen breast milk which my husband and mum could use. 

This also leads me nicely onto my next point...

Expressing my breast milk?
From my experience I would suggest investing in a good breatsfeeding pump, which from my experience have tended to be the slightly more expensive ones. 

Firstly, I would only say to do this if and when you’re in a comfortable breastfeeding routine and you want to start expressing for a night away or leaving your baby for the day. Until then maybe a hand pump, which will be slightly cheaper, could be a better option or you could just go all out and get the good pump right away. 

I started off using a Tommie Timpee electric breast pump; it was ok in the beginning but as I needed to express more milk, I began researching into more efficient pumps out on the market. 

The Elvie pump looked amazing, but was something I was a little concerned about investing in, mainly because of the price and it being so new. 

In the end, I decided to go for a Medela breast pump, which still wasn’t cheap, but I knew this was the one that is used in most UK hospitals and had a lot great online reviews. Let’s just say, it cut my expressing time down by 2/3 of the time! It’s been the best thing I’ve invested in so far. 

Breastfeeding in Public?
One of the first places I breastfed Evie in public was in the cafe of a local Tesco store. I was so scared that someone was going to say something to me, but no one did. 

Over time, you definitely become more confident on feeding your child in public; you develop the right balance of sitting comfortably with your baby and still remaining discrete in your overall appearance. 

Some places are listed as breastfeeding friendly, but in all honesty, I don’t bother with this anymore. It’s actually illegal for anyone to ask a breastfeeding mother to leave a public place like a cafe, shop or transport. 

I believe that we should be able to feed our babies anywhere we want to, as long as you’re being respectful of those around you too, then what harm is it doing?! If you’re feeling a little self conscious about this, then the NHS also gave great advice on breastfeeding in public and the rights you have. 

So there you have it, my experience on breastfeeding got the past 6 months. I could keep adding more and more stuff into this, but I wanted this post to be key points rather than my life story! 

If you’re in need of any breastfeeding support then the NHS website has a whole host of local and national contacts for you to choose from. You can also contact the National Breastfeeding helpline anytime on 0300 100 0212Plus, there’s always your health visitor or midwife who are just a phone call away. 

But no matter what, the best piece of advice I have been given is to take each day as it comes and remember that you’ve got this mama!
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