It may be natural but it’s not always easy. Doing it in public, drinking alcohol, what to wear and a few things I’ve learned.
Doing it in Public.
Day 3 of the little one being born my aunt and uncle came to visit from London, and with a little persuasion got us out of the house for lunch with my mum. It took Jellybean all of ten minutes to stir and request a feed, I was nervous doing it in public but they didn’t bat an eyelid. My child was hungry. I should feed her. Obviously. I couldn’t be more grateful for them dragging us out of the house.
I could have easily made a big deal of feeding in public. I heard stories of women struggling to feed outside of their homes for at least 6 months. I don’t know how I would have coped feeling so restricted to my home. Being able to pop out and throw her on the boob if she’s hungry is so handy as I feed-on-demand and have absolutely no schedule as of yet either. Having to fore-think sterilising bottles and predicting her feeds would be a nightmare for me and would probably put me off leaving the house.
I was meeting two fellow mums in a coffee shop recently when I noticed a man at the table next to us staring. I was put off slightly when I glanced over for the third time to see a death glare thrown our way – two of us were breastfeeding at the time. Quite discretely too! It’s not like we had our boobs out on display, not that that should make any difference. I stared right back at him and almost willed him to say something. Try and tell me it’s indecent or inappropriate, I dare you. But he didn’t, he just scowled and turned away. Even today an older lady and man kept looking over as I was breastfeeding, but no one ever says anything, they just get quietly offended. It baffles me that people think it’s so disgusting, that some women have in the past been subjected to feeding their children in public bathrooms because they’re worried about the grief they might get. Thankfully where I live most cafes, restaurants and pubs are breastfeeding friendly, but I dread to think of the nervous mother who walks into the wrong place and gets some douchebag commenting on it. Because I know it happens too, I think I’m waiting for an opportunity to put someone in their place about it.
I always thought drinking alcohol whilst breastfeeding was similar to the rules when pregnant, thankfully it’s not! There are a few different opinions, obviously going on an absolute rager is not recommended but having an odd glass of wine every now and then is fine. My graduation for my masters is coming up in December and I will definitely be having a glass or two of wine that night, I’ll probably give the little one some expressed milk but more out of convenience than anything else.
It goes without saying the more alcohol you consume, the more will end up in your breast-milk and therefore the longer it will take to leave. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol is not trapped in your milk. It actually leaves the body at the same rate as alcohol leaves your bloodstream. Pumping and dumping one batch doesn’t get rid of the alcohol level in your breast-milk, if it’s still in your bloodstream, it’s still in your breast-milk, so if you just wait it’ll be fine, but then there is that issue of massive achy boobs. This is one of those ‘formula feeding is so handy’ moments.
What to Wear.
Ladies, maternity clothes are a faff. You know what’s worse? Goddamn breastfeeding clothes. I’ve opted for the one-up-one-down method, with a breast feeding string top under a baggy t-shirt which works fine, especially as we’re in Autumn so double layering is ideal but I would not like to be in the midst of summer, I tell ya. I find my style is very much ‘new mum’ these days which is slightly depressing at my ripe old age of 24. I can guarantee on a daily basis I’m wearing some variation of jeans, a t-shirt and flats. As mentioned before I have my graduation coming up and finding an outfit for it is proving difficult, my boobs have decided to go up two sizes so I now seem to be completely incompetent at dressing for my new size and shape.
Things I’ve Learned.
Midwives have a mantra of “breast is best” and can give a new mum a serious dose of mum-guilt if things don’t go to plan. Don’t beat yourself up if breastfeeding doesn’t work for you, don’t let other mums judge you or make you feel bad if you opt for formula, even if it’s right off the bat. What’s best for mum is best for baby, the first few weeks of looking after a newborn are hard enough without the added guilt.
I suffered through a poor latch, bleeding nipples, an engorged breast and a slight dosage of mastitis. Joy. I could definitely see the benefits of formula feeding! But I was adamant and slightly too stubborn, if you are adamant – persevere and seek help, the NHS is brilliant and will provide it. I ended up requesting a call from the breastfeeding nurse (I did this through my health visitor), she came to my home, where I was comfortable – instead of whipping my boobs out in front of a load of people, and spent as much time as it took to get things sorted. It took a good few weeks with both myself and Jellybean to learn the knack of it – it is a skill after all.
Midwives also fail to mention your boobs will grow, swell, rarely be the same size, leak and be quite sensitive. You will even weigh up the pros and cons of wearing a bra and breast pads to bed. It’s really all kinds of fun.
Something I learned quite recently is when breastfeeding, our body adapts the milk to the needs of the baby. I knew for example that the milk becomes more watery if it is a hot day, but this extends to the child’s health too. The mother’s breasts pick up through the baby’s saliva if they’re ill, and will adapt the milk to help combat this, which I think is pretty damn cool. Us mum’s really are superwomen, not that I’m biased or anything.