The first few weeks of breastfeeding are tiring, mentally draining and if you’re like me, you do tend to hit a brick wall (or 4) at some point. Aside from it being hard work, it’s also the most rewarding – and once you are over the initial 6 weeks, it will come to you like second nature and will become easy peasy in no time.
What to expect in the first few weeks –
If it’s your first time breastfeeding, both yourself and your baby are learning how to breastfeed efficiently to maintain a good milk supply for your baby. Although it’s in a baby’s nature to be able to breastfeed, 9 times out of 10 it takes a while to work on your baby’s latch. As well as positioning – Holly’s best position for breastfeeding for the first few weeks was the ‘rugby ball handle’, it was to ensure she had a wider mouth for a better latch and it was comfier too!
Most newly breastfeeding mothers worry their baby won’t be getting enough milk – how are you to know if your boobs aren’t transparent?! The only way to tell is by good weight gain and regular wet and dirty nappies. If your baby is struggling to gain weight, more than likely it could be a latching issue due to tongue tie and your baby is unable to get enough milk.
What is sleep?
Believe me, when the sleep deprivation hits… You will feel it! But that’s not just for breastfeeding mothers, those who bottle feed will be tired too! That’s just a known thing in motherhood. However, breast milk and formula have very different consistencies and formula fed babies are more likely to sleep for longer periods between feeds than breastfed babies. Breastmilk is easier for a baby to digest, hence why your baby is more likely to wake more often.
Yes! again. Your newborn breastfed baby will feed for hours on end which is better known as ‘cluster feeding’. Cluster feeding is where your baby will bunch feeds close together at certain times of the day – more common during the evening but that can differ between babies. Cluster feeding is very common and it usually coincides with your baby’s fussy time – this can be VERY irritating as they feed for a couple of minutes, pull away, fuss/cry x10 etc.
During the first few weeks, you’re probably more than likely to hear certain myths which will you either turn a blind eye to (I hope), or it may even knock your confidence and have you feeling disheartened about breastfeeding altogether!
There is A LOT of myths when it comes to breastfeeding, some many people believe to actually be true and it is kind of irritating, especially when I’m the one being told them. (Hello, I’m practically a breastfeeding expert!? – kidding).
1: You can’t drink alcohol when breastfeeding
I’m not at all surprised this myth is still around – even I’ve been told this numerous of times after I’ve necked two bottles of cider. Back in the day, people believed any alcohol you drank went straight to your milk and you had to ‘pump and dump’ for however many hours until you could feed your baby again. This is NO longer true and there is factual evidence to support this. Although you’re able to drink alcohol when breastfeeding, it’s not recommended to bedshare if you do. Kellymom.com is a great source for this!
2: Your baby has had all the nutritional value of breast milk at 6 months
MYTH. I can’t even understand how that would be true?! Breast milk continues to provide substantial amounts of nutrients well beyond the first year. Holly relied only on me for her main food source for around 9-10 months until she began wanting solid food. At some point, after 6 months your child will need additional nutrients from other sources, but breast milk is still a huge contribution to your child’s diet, including important nutrients designed especially for brain growth.
3: If baby is feeding a lot, it means they aren’t getting enough
False. False. False. In the first few weeks when your baby is born, they purposely feed continuously (sometimes for hours on end – Holly’s record is 10 hours), to boost your milk production. The first 6 weeks are especially crucial for your baby to ‘cluster feed’ so they can build a supply which will suit their needs. Clever huh? Also, breast milk is much easier to digest than formula milk, hence why baby feeds much more often.
4: If you give your breasts a break, you will have more milk to feed your baby.
If only this was true! Unfortunately, it isn’t. The more baby feeds, the more milk you produce. If you were to miss breastfeeds and give your baby a bottle, more than likely your milk supply will decrease and you will produce less instead. If for any reason you are skipping feeds (day out, work etc), you will need to pump to keep a stable milk supply for your baby.
I hope this can be somewhat useful to you lovely first time breastfeeding mummy’s, I know this would’ve definitely put my mind at ease with the constant worrying and doubting myself. I have now been breastfeeding Holly for 12 months and I am very proud of the struggles we have overcome within this time! Although some days still I could just pack it in and give her a bottle – secretly I do love breastfeeding and I’m sad to know that one day it will come to an end, but doesn’t look like anytime soon!
Thanks for reading!