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Things they should tell you about having a baby #1....

Tuesday, 31 May 2011  |  Admin

....I thought it might be interesting to take a look at some things you don't find out until AFTER you have your baby, that might have come in handy to know beforehand.
First off, I'm thinking about breastfeeding. I'm all for breast-feeding, and think it's a wonderful thing to do both for your baby and yourself. It's absolutely the best nutritionally for your baby, helps your post-baby stomach contract back into place and helps you lose weight. It's free and very convenient! If nothing else in my case it forces me to sit still, put my feet up, focus on my baby and stop rushing around which is always a good thing!
But why didn't anyone ever tell me that it could hurt? In all the literature, there's pictures of smiling Mums and cute babies with their mouth wide-open and full of boob. Both Mum and baby look calm and content. Rewind 6 weeks ago and you would have pictured me dowing paracetamol before a feed to try to lessen the pain and whimpering for the first few minutes until the pain eased.

To be fair with no1 son, it didn't hurt initially as he had a great latch, opened his mouth nice and wide, lips back, just like the babies in the literature. However at around 4 months I got thrush in my nipples and it was absolute agony and took forever to clear up. It felt like I was being stabbed with a million needles every time he latched on and was most unpleasant.
No2 son and no1 daughter was a different matter. They didn't latch on brilliantly, I got really sore, painful nippes and ended up using nipple shields which definitely helped, but probably weren't great for my milk supply. That being said though, they did enable me to continue breast-feeding when I might otherwise have given up.
My lovely Aerin again hasn't got a brilliant latch and this resulted in me having really sore cracked nipples at about day 3, when my milk came in and she just couldn't latch on easily bless her. It was toe-curlingly painful and horrid, much worse than labour! There were tears and tantrums and sobbing phonecalls to the lovely ladies at La Leche helpline who gave me some great advice such as having a bath with Aerin which is when I realised that it was possible to feed painlessly and gave me a glimmer of hope. But my poor boobs didn't heal easily, despite copious amounts of lansinoh. It came to a head when Aerin was 2 weeks old and I had enough and I called my Mum to tell her that I was quitting breast-feeding as I was dreading every feed.
I started alternating formula feeds with breast feeds and for me this was the best thing that I could have done. It took the pressure off and it gave my boobs time to heal up (and toughen up) so within a week breastfeeding was pain free and I was able to stop the bottle feeds and switch back to breast-feeding which I'm delighted about.
From speaking to other Mums, we reckon that if you are unlucky and have a baby with a poor latch it can take about 3 weeks for your boobs to toughen up. If I hadn't know that breast-feeding could be pain free I would have stopped. So my advice for anyone in a similar position is to stick with it if you can. Talk to a breast-feeding expert, as breast-feeding shouldn't be painful if your baby is latched on correctly. Do what you have to do to get through this period, whether it's using nipple shields, taking pain killers, using bottles to give yourself a break or whatever. Persevere and it will get better.
How was breast-feeding for you? Many people find it pain-free so if you're one of the lucky ones let us know. Or if, like me, it was painful do you have any top tips for getting through it?

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