10 Things I Wish I’d Known About Breastfeeding

1) It’s all about the angle of the dangle. Positioning and attachment is everything. If you are big-boobed like me and don’t have nips like those old-fashioned wooden clothes pegs, then the position that works for you might not look like the illustrations on the web.  For example, for us, a breastfeeding pillow like a Boppy (the sort that wrap around your front) is really unhelpful.  It’s better for us for baby to be on my lap directly.

2) You really need to have loads of drinks and perhaps some snacks to hand when feeding.  How many times have I found myself stuck on the sofa watching my cup of tea going cold on the coffee table because it’s out of reach? If you have access to a CamelBak  water rucksack jobbie (no, really) that might be a good option at home during growth spurts or in the early days when it seems like your baby is feeding 24/7. Otherwise, a water bottle with sports cap is an excellent option!

3) Use a wedge. Again this may be one for the well-endowed ladies, but I have found a wedge under the boob works wonders in getting my babe attached well for feeding. You can buy specially designed ones, but a rolled up muslin, pashmina or thin blanket will do just fine. I use a mini pillow that came with a Mamas and Papas changing mat cover.

4) It may take aaaages. My little one has always been a slow feeder. She was 5 months the other day and has recently got slightly faster and more efficient at feeding.  However, until very recently it would take me about an hour to feed her (both sides with nappy change in the middle).  If you have a slow feeder, you can’t do anything to make them feed faster, so embrace it and make sure the telly remote is within reach and also….

5) Get a smart phone. Although I spend time looking lovingly into my daughter’s eyes when feeding her, she usually closes her eyes for a lot of the time she feeds.  She’s not asleep, just deeply relaxed and concentrating on the job in hand. I recently got a smart phone and it’s fab for the breastfeeding mother.  I can blog, Facebook and Ebay one-handed whilst feeding.  Not to mention call and text.  Just brilliant.  I even managed to play Angry Birds a bit today, albeit badly! What on earth did I do before?

6) Master feeding lying down asap. Although (unexpectedly) I am always pleased to see my little munchkin at 3.30am or so for her night feed, I am obviously still tired.  Being able to feed lying down has made a big difference to night feeds.  They are much more restful for me and I have even fallen asleep or dozed during a feed on occasion.

7) Scarves are really useful. I took my little one out in the sling today.  I was running late for baby massage, as usual, and ran out of the door with baby and my small rucksack-style handbag.  I just packed a nappy, wipes and nipple shields and off I trotted.  I wore a pashmina and variously used it as a soft blanket for the baby to lie on at baby massage, a boob wedge at my parents’ house (see above) and to aid discretion when feeding at a café in town.

8) Big is not necessarily best. If you have big boobs, you might be under the impression that they’d be great for breastfeeding.  You’d be wrong.  Obviously not in every case, but they certainly can be more of a hindrance than a help.  They do not produce any more milk than those of our smaller sisters and getting the angle of the dangle (see above) right with big boobs is often harder. In addition to this, wrangling big knockers and a wriggly baby can mean that trying to feed discreetly is tricky.

9) Do what feels best. This follows on from point 1, above. Breastfeeding is a team sport, which you and your baby learn to play together.  Your positioning may look spot on, but if it’s painful, it’s wrong for you. Detach your baby and try again. Doesn’t matter how many times.  It’s all about what is comfortable for you and your baby using your combined anatomies. The more comfortable feeding is, generally the better the baby is attached and the better the milk transfer will be.

10) Vest tops are your friend. I haven’t bought many clothes especially for feeding.  I have found that wrapover tops and dresses are great, as well as cotton jersey tops and dresses with lycra. I often wear these with a vest top underneath usually in the same colour as my bra.  I can then pull the stretchy top or dress down and the vest top up, which creates a smaller area of flesh to be exposed whilst getting my baby attached. Once she is in place, I can pull the vest top down so there is very little, if anything, to see.

What are your top tips for breastfeeding?  Do you have any advice that might help new or expectant mums?

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