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Breastfeeding with Sarah Davis
I am thrilled to include my friend Sarah’s post about her breastfeeding experience as part of my new guest feature on my blog. For further information on breast and chest feeding – speak with your healthcare provider, La Leche League or NCT.
Breastfeeding is such a natural part of caring for your new baby, yet for many mums, it can also be one of the most challenging things, especially early on.
I’m not a medical expert, but I’ve done talks at Mamas & Papas and Mothercare, sharing my positive breastfeeding journey, along with some of the hurdles I experienced, plus ways to make life easier as a breastfeeding mum.
The best advice that I was given (before I had my son) was if you want to breastfeed, then don’t give up. I want to pass on that valuable advice. Breastfeeding my son had lots of ups and downs, but after a rocky start, I breastfed for 8 months and I’m so glad that I did.
I’d recommend breastfeeding for so many reasons:
It’s much more practical than carrying bottles & having to make sure the milk temperature is right
What I’ve heard about breastfed babies being less picky eaters has certainly been true in my son’s case. I had a good, varied diet while pregnant and when feeding. Matthew has always loved his food – aged 3, he would ask in the sandwich shop for tuna with olives and peppers, which always impressed the people behind the counter.
He has a great immune system and rarely catches colds or bugs. Although he needed 2 operations by the age of 6, he bounced back amazingly well from both.
The pregnancy weight fell off me! I put on one stone while expecting and took 2 stone off after! People thought I wasn’t eating until I described the daily food mountain I was consuming through the day and night. The doctor told me to eat more cakes and puddings! Of course, I took her advice – pity I haven’t stopped since!
It’s free – so you can save on the price of formula & it’s a great bonding experience.
For the draw backs – of which there aren’t many
You may get painful breasts and mastitis. I had mastitis twice, but with quick diagnosis, medication and medical advice it can be quickly resolved.
Your breasts will leak sometimes – but you can get comfy breast pads that prevent this from being visible to others.
Despite what the media say about mothers being criticised for breast feeding in public, I never experienced this myself and I fed in many public places. It’s easy enough to be discreet without causing discomfort to you or your child.
My breastfeeding journey
When my new born fed easily from both breasts on delivery, I was delighted! I thought we’d cracked it and that it would be straightforward from then on. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
My son was four and a half weeks premature. With no room on transitional care they put him in neo natal. I was called back up to feed him at midnight. I sat there trying for 3 hours but he wouldn’t feed. They said he was probably just tired, but because he was in neo natal, they would have to tube feed him with formula. I felt like I’d failed him. At 3am I went back down to my little room alone and exhausted, phoned my husband and cried. I thought, at that point, that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed afterwards, but that wasn’t the case.
Over the next few days in transitional care, I did everything possible to get us back on track. I spent days trying to breastfeed, expressing milk & mastering tube feeding! There was a great sense of mutual support between the mums on the ward, lots of laughter as well as frustration. We were all novices with premature babies & the midwives were amazing!
“ The women all around you
Understand what you’ve been through.
You’re all learning together,
The things you have to do.”
After a few days, Matthew was feeding well, and, after a short setback where I developed mastitis, I was able to take him home.
He was an amazing feeder after that. I could live with the occasional bout of mastitis and discomfort – fortunately these days there are lots of products out there like breast pads, shields and medication if needed. Breastfeeding was so much easier than warming and carrying bottles. You can freeze breastmilk too, so if you are unwell, or your partner does the midnight feed, your baby still gets your milk. When expressing, I tried the hand pump to start with, but when it comes to breast pumps, I would definitely recommend electric! Sure, I felt a bit like a cow in a milking shed at times, but in terms of saving valuable time and energy, it was the winner.
I’m so pleased that I persevered with breastfeeding, as I feel that he is still reaping the benefits from the great start.
For me, being up for breastfeeding in the early hours also had a totally unexpected outcome – I wrote my first book! While I was up for the 3am feeds, poems popped into my head quite spontaneously! By the time my son was 8 months old there were 42 poems! ‘Baby Daze’ was published by The Book Guild. Matthew loves the fact that my book of humorous and sentimental poems was inspired by him. Maybe it was the hormones, maybe the intense emotional connection, the peace and quiet or maybe I’m most creative in the early hours!
My top tips for breastfeeding:
If your partner is around and you can express milk, then a bottle feed from your partner at midnight will give you much needed sleep and strengthen their bond too. A win all round. (Note: leaving too long between breastfeeds/expressing can affect your milk supply – one bottle feed a day had no adverse effect on mine at all)
Relax – everything is less painful that way.
Get advice from midwives and doctors who can help with mastitis and other problems or just offer reassurance.
Don’t give up if your baby has to be tube fed formula early on or needs top up feeds with formula in between.
Stop when it feels right for you and your baby. For me that was 8 months, when Matthew was comfortable on solids. It was a wrench for me at the time, but I felt it was right for him.
Most of all trust your own instincts when it comes to feeding and do what feels right for you and your baby.
Happy Feeding! I hope you’ll enjoy the following small selection of poems from ‘Baby Daze.’
Getting to know you
The scan and seeing the beating of your tiny little heart,
Knowing that it’s really only just the very start.
Growing ever bigger as you struggle to find room.
Feeling kicks and hiccups as you move inside the womb.
Hearing your first cries just as you come into the world
Beginning your life’s journey – as yet to be unfurled.
The gripping of my finger with your tiny little hand
The feelings and emotions only parents understand.
Sarah Davis is a Leeds mum and author. She’s delivered many talks about breastfeeding at events at Mamas & Papas and Mothercare. She also spoke at the launch event of Baby Week Leeds 2019.
Her book, ‘Baby Daze,’ was recommended in ‘Mother & Baby’ magazine’s ‘3 of the best funny books’ feature. It reflects the rollercoaster of parenting a new born, from the first scan to the end of maternity leave – with everything in-between! It is widely available from bookshops. Sarah has been interviewed live on BBC Radio Leeds and other radio stations and has also featured in national women’s magazines.
She has a large following on Instagram and Twitter and is also on Facebook.
Sarah recently started a new business as The Parenting Copywriter, working with businesses in baby, parenting and educational fields.
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