New mum experiences…

This is the post excerpt.


“Well that was crazy wasn’t it?”…..not the first words I pictured saying when I envisaged seeing my baby boys face for the first time. I was convinced I would be crying from being so filled with love and adornment. However, I was in shock, such shock, and so was he, both of us didn’t know what had just happened even though we both just lived it with every part of our beings. Frick me giving birth is a shock.  I was, and am though, so so in love, such overwhelming love, and that’s what has made all the difficulties of the last 22months seem less hard and so so worth it. So as my little love approaches his 2nd Birthday, I want to share our experiences together, the beautiful, the bad and the blooming painful,  just incase a mum is googling at 2am (as I frequently was) hoping someone else has a solution , or has at least gone through to what they are going through. So I wish all the other mums out there lots of luck for an easy ride, and I hope my posts give you some sort of hope, or just a feeling of not being alone! 

Top 10 Tips to Support a Successful Start to Breastfeeding – from a Mum who had a tough time first time round.

Let me just start by saying I’m not a breastfeeding specialist, I’m speaking from one mum to another mum and dad. Please get specialist help if you encounter any breastfeeding issues, links are in the blog. That being said, I hope this blog helps, may yours be less eventful but as beautifully memorable as ours! 

1. My ultimate tip, and this is what saved us: find out where your local breastfeeding councillor / lactation consultant is and when the sessions are on before you have any problems. The NHS run services alongside NCT in some areas, we are in Kent and there is a fantastic service here. Maybe ask your midwife if google doesn’t come with services. 

2. Don’t wait to get help! I kept thinking, like a cold, the issues we were experiencing would go away, however they didn’t without help from a breastfeeding specialist or a volunteer breastfeeding experienced mum. Thank god for those volunteers! If you’re struggling in the day, as with anything else , the nights will often seem harder… get help straight away. 

3. Read up on common issues that are associated with breastfeeding, that way,  when they happen you will be less in the dark and will be able to get help quickly. Im about to have my second baby, and I’m doing this now! Check out my ‘Common Breastfeeding Difficulties‘ to see the  issues we dealt with with our first little fella. 

4. Communicate with your husband about what your wishes are for breastfeeding. My husband was my rock, and still is, when I wanted to give up on night two, he searched for support to get solutions instead of saying ‘just quit’. This was because I’d told him about how much I really wanted to breastfeed before hand and how I thought it might help reduce our sons chance of developing asthma like I had. I’m so grateful for this and it kept us nursing through all the hard times. Our NCT course helped us out nicely by prompting us to talk about the key factors regarding having a new baby, I also found this Parenting Article was a good and talking thinking prompt regarding Breastfeeding and other topics.

5. Buy lanolin cream and try applying after every feed. Obviously read the instructions on the box. I did this from the first feed and through all the painful times, and I’m wondering whether that helped me never get cracked nipples.

6. Do some research on pumping strategies if you’re hoping to pump. I say this from a position of bafflement as I had to return to work when Baby was 8months and couldn’t pump , hardly any would come out despite the multiple pumps and strategies I tried, and despite all the professional advice I was given. I wonder whether it’s a ‘ you have to start from day one’ situation , not 2months in as I did, or whether my boobs just didn’t recognise what was happening as the pumping really didn’t seem to resemble my baby’s sucking habits at all.

7. Text friends and family who have breastfed all the time , and I mean all the time, even at 2am if you need to. I’m so grateful for the friends I had to do this with. Text them with the good and the bad in terms of what you’re experiencing, you might just be accepting a situation is tough when it doesn’t need to be , and sometimes hearing someone else’s experiences can help you get out of your bubble. 

8.  Show your emotions , talk about what you’re feeling! This might seem really obvious, or like a non-point, but honestly, with hormones raging whilst you and baby are trying to master the new skill of breastfeeding , it can feel so overwhelming and isolating. Again my husband was amazing, and let me vent , and cry on him extremely regularly without getting frustrated, he didn’t always have a solution and I didn’t need him to have one, I just needed him to cry on, and he was there. 

9. Use the helplines below when you can’t get to specialist, take some advice with a pinch of salt, but most of the advice I got helped massively:

National Breastfeeding helpline and website: http://www.nationalbreastfeedinghelpline.org.uk 

NCT Breastfeeding Website and Helpline: https://www.nct.org.uk/parenting/breastfeeding-concerns
La Leche League Breastfeeding Helpline: https://www.laleche.org.uk/telephone-helpline/

10. Don’t always trust the doctors. I had three different doctors on three different occassions give me bad advice regarding thrush and tongue tie, they aren’t breastfeeding specialists and in my experience , the lactation consultant or breastfeeding councillor can give you more useful advice whilst coaching you through the conversation with you might need to have with your doctor.

Well all the best and please comment below if you have any furthers questions regarding our experience , I’m happy to share!

Common Breastfeeding Difficulties and Solutions; tongue tie, thrush, silent reflux, aversions.

He didn’t latch on straight away after the birth, ‘just lay him on your chest’ but nope it didn’t work, “it’s ok try again later”,approx  1 hour later: “leave him to sleep and you get some rest, you both need it”. Advice from the midwives at the hospital after Baby Boy was born which resulted in him being hungry, too tired to feed and jaundice. That’s how our breastfeeding journey began, how could something so natural be so hard?! I really believed Baby Boy would just know what to do and we would be breastfeeding with trees blossoming and birds singing around us. This was the beginning of many struggles, but all have been worth it and at 22months with another little one on the way, we are still nursing and I’m so very grateful for many reasons, the benefits have far out weighed the struggles.

That was the beginning of our journey, and I could write an essay on the difficulties we have had and how we, very painfully and slowly, got through each challenge.  However I want this to be quick and to the point for all those mums googling at 2am looking for some support, love, hope and answers to specific problems. So here is a list of the issues we went on on to encounter and how we tackled each one…

(Let me just remind readers, I’m not a qualified breastfeeding specialist , I am writing this from our experience as parents to other parents out there, and highly recommend you find your local La Leche League meeting, breastfeeding support group , lactation consultant and/or call the helpline numbers I’ll leave at the bottom of the blog.)

1. BABY CAN’T LATCH AFTER BIRTH AND BECAME TOO SLEEPY – I wish I hadn’t believed the ‘breastfeeding is natural, it will just work’ theory I had, that’s what let me believe the midwives advice. 

What did we learn? Get professional help to get baby to latch ASAP after birth. Get help to squeeze out some colostrum and rub it on baby’s lips and under their nose, get them wanting mumma’s colostrum. When they begin to open their mouth, get their nose to your nipple and guide them on holding them securely with your forearm on their back, and hand on their neck and head. Watch the babies sucking and swallowing, learn what a strong suck and swallow looks like, when it slows down as they are falling into a deep sleep, stroke the baby’s cheek to keep them sucking, if that doesn’t work, delatch and hand them to someone else, babies know their Mother’s scent and touch , they will wake when moved away from mum. 

2. THE LATCH IS VERY PAINFUL AND THE PAIN DOESNT GO AWAY FOR THE ENTIRE FEED – We had 6 plus midwives and two tongue tie specialists check our baby boy’s mouth as I was in so much pain, but as he was putting on they were all convinced the pain was ‘normal’ for new breastfeeders, however thank goodness for Katherine the breastfeeding Consultant at the NCT Baby Cafe’s, she said that I shouldn’t be in pain for the entire feed and the fact that he was feeding for 1.5 hours at least at a time suggested something else was going on. She suspected a tongue tie , and was correct, he got referred, he was treated, and immediately he could open his mouth so wide, and I was baffled how no one noticed that the fact he couldn’t do that suggested he was having difficulties feeding. So our baby’s signs he was tongue tie were: long feeds, painful feeds for mum, never seemed satisfied at the end of a feed, couldn’t maintain latch , kept popping off. 

3. BABY WASN’T PUTTING ON ENOUGH WEIGHT – this problem presented itself after the tongue tie was fixed funnily enough! We were told 3 hours between feeds, so we thought it was from when the baby finishes their feed that you set the timer, turns out its from when they started! We started timing it from the beginning and voila, that problem was solved for us!

4. BABY FEEDS FOR AN HOUR OR LONGER & DONT SEEM TO HAVE MANY LET DOWNS – as discussed in number 2, this was due to a tongue tie, solution was to get him tongue snipped and teach him how to relatch. Also I have to mention that a Lactation Consultant , our saviour, also taught us the nipple flick; get the babies nose to nipple, then using the thumb , flick the nipple in for a deeper latch. Only when we startled doing this did little one start getting let downs, and for the first time ever, after our first nipple flick, little one had a let down and fell off the boob milk drunk. We had never seen this before!!! She also taught us breast compressions, these really really helped to promote the let downs as my milk supple appeared to be low or slow! 

5. BABY SCREAMS AND PULLS OFF FREQUENTLY DURING FEEDS, NEVER SEEMS SATISFIED – this was the first sign of thrush for us, he arched his back and screamed in pain, I didn’t have any symptoms of thrush for a long time afterwards, maybe even a month. Our NCT breastfeeding councillor suggested it could be thrush after watching baby boy feed, so we went straight to the doctors, he said stop worrying it’s nothing. So the nursing sessions continues to get worse and worse. Poor little one was quite clearly in pain, and now so was I , nipples were bright red and feeds began to hurt again. We went back to the doctors, and this doctor immediately saw that it was thrush, particularly because by this point little one had cuts down below that had just appeared. So both of us were treated, medicine for his mouth, cream for my nipples. It’s important to say here that if you suspect you have thrush, definitely get advice from your breastfeeding consultant on how to make sure you are getting treated properly. Katherine from NCT told me to ensure we were not getting treated and to wipe the medicine around baby’s mouth not just give it to him. 

6. BABY WAKES EVERY HOUR THROUGH THE NIGHT. This was also a big sign of thrush for us, I know it can be an indicator of other things, but this seemed strongly linked to the thrush for us. 

7. BABY WONT SLEEP ON BACK, WONT BE PUT DOWN….EVER. Little one lived in his Kari- Me Wrap for the first 6months of his life, I gave up attempting to put him down for naps, or ever pushing him in a pram, or putting him in a bouncer or swing. He was quite clearly uncomfortable and got distressed instantly. The wrap saved us, he fed in there,  napped in there, and it gave me back my freedom, or at least ability to move. The Kari Me Wrap was the only ‘sling’ I found didn’t give me back ache, and for me was a newborn essential ( https://www.kari-me.com/ ) . Baby boy ended up using it up to a year old, as it was so easy to get in and out of London in the sling, and when he started feeding himself to sleep (from about 6months) I could easily feed him to sleep in there, then he could finish his nap in there,  then come out and play when he was ready and it wrapped up to a pretty small size in my bag…I love this wrap, and will use it again with my next baby boy.

 I just thought that not laying  down was his quirk, eventually when we would sleep next to me and not on me he would only sleep on his side, which we all know from SIDS guidelines, is not advised.  However as time went on , he seemed to develop what looked like a nervous twitch in his neck, we recorded him, took him to the doctors who referred us to the hospital. The specialist at the hospital reviewed his history and suggested he thought he had silent reflux but we all decided not to medicate and just keep an eye to see if any particular foods made it worse, and we eliminated any foods that did. He said he would grow out of it when baby boy started walking and low and behold he did. He started sleeping on his back and could eat more foods from about 12months onwards.

8. BREASTFEEDING AVERSIONS – every time I ovulated or had my period, I experience such bad aversions, I hated feeding little one, I felt like my skin was crawling with ants, and I felt like my stomach was building with rage. It would last for a week and then I would go back to enjoying feeding him. I wish I could give you a miracle solution that I had found, but honestly the only thing I found helped, was cutting down on feeds during the day to help me cope at night and going on my iPad to try and distract my mind. It wasn’t fun, or easy, it was extremely hard and no one seems to have a solution, we very nearly weaned as a result and then I fell pregnant…and that’s a whole other blogpost.

All that is left to say is the biggest advice I can give is to get help straight away, don’t wait to see if the problem sorts itself out, get advice, seek support, we saw someone every week and it kept me sane , we had various issues going on , some layered themselves up at one time and if it wasn’t for the Breastfeeding Councillors and the Lactation Consultant at NCT baby cafe’s and Kent’s Breastfeeding Support groups we wouldn’t have continued to breastfeed , and I’m so glad we did, it has helped us in so many ways, particularly when Baby Boy would get tonsillitis and sickness bugs every 2months! 

See my BREASTFEEDING ESSENTIALS blog to see the short list of what I have found invaluable in the last two years of breastfeeding my little one.

We also called these numbers numerous times when we couldn’t make it to a session:

National Breastfeeding helpline and website: http://www.nationalbreastfeedinghelpline.org.uk 

NCT Breastfeeding Website and Helpline: https://www.nct.org.uk/parenting/breastfeeding-concerns

La Leche League Breastfeeding Helpline: https://www.laleche.org.uk/telephone-helpline/