Motherhood // Our Breastfeeding Journey

January 12, 2020

I want to start this post by talking about the fact that it really doesn’t matter to me - or anyone - how you feed your baby, as long as you make the choice that you feel is right for you. I’m so aware of the fact that breastfeeding doesn’t work for many for so many different reasons and you have to do what’s right both mentally and physically. Fed is best, there are no awards, there's no competition with anything to do with motherhood, it's all really hard and you just have to do what works best. I really hate the fear of talking about feeding and I’m not sure why there are two distinct camps when mothers should support each other. A happy Mama = a happy baby, I read this lovely quote on instagram recently that said 'bottle or breast, whatever works best'! But I guess this is the point where I should mark this post with a trigger warning in case it has the potential to upset anybody, because that is not my intention at all and would feel mortified to ever make anybody feel like that from talking about my own experience. I wanted to write this post as I've really enjoyed reading other mama's stories about their feeding journey and to look back upon and share with Freya someday. There's also a list of recommendations at the end for things that helped us. It's ended up taking me months to write, coming back a little at a time and one draft didn't get saved which made me so upset! So finally, I sit here with it ready to publish.

Although breastfeeding is meant to be one of the most natural things in the world, I was under no illusions that it would be easy from talking to countless friends and reading as much about it as I could. I was so so desperate and wanting to breastfeed but I almost didn’t believe it would be possible because of everyone else’s stories about how hard it was?

I armed myself with as much information as possible, in fact I remember reading the Le Leche League's book on a tiny transfer plane whilst we were on a babymoon in the Maldives back in March, I read countless posts on Instagram all about supply/demand, I read pages of info on a Little Peach guide, I went to the NCT breastfeeding class and watched the videos about how a baby should latch on, ‘nipple to nose’ is what I remember. But as a friend pointed out, it’s almost like the analogy between revising for your driving test without actually driving a car. I knew that I could only prepare myself so much and that it would be down to baby Freya and I to learn together when she arrived and we'd see how it would go.

I started harvesting colostrum before she was born, keen to build up a stash in the freezer should we need it {if birth had been difficult and we’d have been separated or she’d had to go into special care for example}. You’re only advised to do this from 37 weeks in case it brings on labour, but I begun leaking drops colostrum around 34 weeks so asked my midwife for some more info about it and she gave me a booklet as well as some syringes. From 37 weeks, I expressed by hand onto a sterile teaspoon and syringed it up everyday, sometimes twice a day! And then stored it in the freezer. This really built up my supply and when Freya was born I didn’t experience that 2/3 day hungry period that’s meant to be really tough whilst your baby waits for your milk to come in. {in the end, we didn't need to use any of this as I had a straight forward delivery and my milk was plentiful. BUT I don't think it's ever a bad idea to try this if you want to, we've just finished giving her colostrum now, 6 months on making porridge with it for her now she's started weaning and occasionally we'd give it to her in a bottle too. It really is liquid gold and if you have spare, one of the best things immune wise you can give your baby - I'm forever grateful to an Instagram post from an Australian mama I saw about this about a year ago now}.

I was lucky to have a really straight forward home birth {you can read my birth story here and here if you’re into that kind of thing} and once we were all dried off and on the sofa, Freya latched on straight away and had a good, long feed whilst we did skin to skin. I can’t even remember if it felt painful? I don’t know what I did expect it to feel like. But when she was then having her midwife check over, our student midwife Vicky - TOTAL dream midwife, she got me through labour, spotted that she had a tongue tie {something I’d read about countless times before and suddenly filled with panic at the fact this could be a big hurdle for us on our feeding journey. It’s becoming really common and some studies indicate it could be because of too much folic acid during pregnancy which whilst crucial for preventing birth defects, can fuse together the tongue after that stage has passed?}. She told us not to worry as it might not cause an issue but the next morning when the midwife came back to check on us, she saw my nipples and said we needed to get it sorted as she couldn’t latch on properly because of it and it would cause me huge painful trauma and could stop Freya from feeding. Unfortunately, the NHS had a 6 week wait for an appointment to even get assessed so luckily we knew about a local private medical centre, where our NCT course had been held where we could get it assessed and snipped so I instantly googled the phone number. On the Sunday night, Freya had been born on the Saturday night, I text the doctor there asking for an appointment and we got booked in for Tuesday when Freya would be 3 days old. If it was going to need snipping, now would be the best time to avoid her getting used to using her tongue too much.

Until our appointment, the midwife advised me to use nipple shields which miraculously Ben’s step sister had given us about a week before she was born and I had them in the cupboard, not knowing what they were even for. I got them out, Ben quickly sterilised them and I got the midwife to show me how to use them whilst she was still there. These shields absolutely saved our breastfeeding journey and I feel really emotional even now, 4 months in whilst writing this, at just how grateful I am to have seen that midwife and for having some in the house ready to use. {will share all resources at the bottom of this post}

I could write a whole post just on nipple shields but I can’t recommend them highly enough should you need them. For some health visitors they’re a little controversial in that they think it can stop babies getting enough milk, and they don’t get that skin contact, but from everybody else I’ve spoken to they’ve had no issues using them and Freya certainly didn’t have any weight issues whilst using them. I had one really tearful appointment where a health visitor made me feel rubbish for using them even though instinctively I knew it was right for us and working well. My midwives were all very supportive luckily. The shields in the end made our feeding journey really easy relative to what it could have been and apart from the very first two days where my nipples were a little sore, the shields allowed them to heal and as such I never experienced the soreness like everyone else I knew. The only downside I guess was having to have one on hand for feeding, in the end I kept one in my bra and switched it for a new one every day or so. At first I was scrupulous about sterilising them often but then a NICU nurse messaged me on Instagram to say that actually it’s just the same as your nipple touching your bra so not to worry so much. Obviously do what you feel is best but it made it a lot easier having one in my bra at all times.

just a few days old

Where was I? Oh yes, day 2 feeding with the shields. Up until her tongue tie operation, feeding went well. I could see she was getting colostrum as the shield would have a residue in and she was really content, in fact she often took too much and we had a few days worth of yellow spit up stains on all her clothes and bedding. I felt like it was going well and we were in our rhythm. Having her latch on - albeit through the shields, after some lovely skin to skin, was just the best feeling in the world. Hearing her little sucking pattern, the pauses, the gulps, her big eyes looking up at me - newborn babies can only really see as far as your face in the first couple of weeks, the way she'd fall asleep and I'd have to tickle her nose/ears to get her to carry on feeding.

Then we took her for her procedure and I was just in floods of tears at how it was all about to change. The doctor who assessed her said she had a fairly severe tongue tie and it definitely needed snipping and that feeding would likely be much more difficult now as she learns to use the muscles in her mouth again - she would have learnt to suck in the womb and now it would all feel so different for her. My boobs were also suddenly rock hard as my milk came in, making me extra emotional anyway but I just came away in floods of tears about all these new challenges and information on making sure my breasts drained properly now they were producing milk to avoid blocked ducts. It just felt really overwhelming and there was all this information about ‘hamburgering’ the nipple into a shape she could feed from. We were advised to carry on using the shields for the first couple of weeks as her mouth would be tired. It had seemed straightforward up until now but I was petrified and overwhelmed about how hard it all now suddenly felt. The change in her instantly was amazing though, she was suddenly poking her little tongue out for the first time! I was a bit worried about how she'd be after the procedure/how it would heal but the mouth heals really fast so she just had a little yellow dot under her tongue for a few days but it all went really well.

I called the community midwifery team to book in for a feeding support session now we’d had her tongue tie snipped and I was so astounded by the incredible care on offer to us from our local NHS team in those first couple of weeks. They came to check her latch and show me some positions to feed in and how best to support her. There was one lady in particular, she was this really kind amazing grandma and it made such a difference. It’s amazing how suddenly you don’t care who your boobs are out in front of and at every midwife appointment they wanted to see us feeding and check how it was going. She could latch without the shields but only for a few sucks then she’d tire so we just carried on using the shields. It was so much easier for her to feed from as she could pretty much just slide on. Luckily, despite my worries, she continued to feed well from the shields and was now getting the proper milk - more white rather than the yellow thicker colostrum.

I fed her on demand, offering it at any sign of hunger {we got given a useful chart showing hunger cues for a newborn} and those first few weeks were just a wonderful, tiring, blur of feeding and sleeping. I loved that you couldn't overfeed a breastfed baby so I'd rather offer it all day long than worry she might be hungry. By day 5 when the midwives came to weigh her, she’d only lost 5% of her birth weight which they were pleased with and I breathed a huge sigh of relief as although we had a pretty content baby, I had no idea really if she was getting enough. And by day 10 she was back above her birth weight! It was just the greatest feeling in the world being able to feed her, seeing her little face nuzzled in and hearing her swallow my milk, the oxytocin flowing.

Before getting pregnant, I didn't know all that much about the benefits of breastfeeding but quickly learnt about just how clever and extraordinary the whole thing is, in particular we watched a program with Kate Quilton on channel 4 about breastfeeding and learnt about all the antibodies and the way that your milk will adapt to your baby's backwash/saliva to give them what they need. Your milk will be different for a newborn compared to say, a one year old, it can turn yellow again if they're ill, it will protect them from various illnesses and literally adapt with the right antibodies to fight whatever they've got, it will go watery if it's hot outside, it can warm a baby up or cool them down, for the first 6 months if you're feeding exclusively, it's all they need, it also protects you as a mama from various cancers and can keep you from becoming depressed, it gives you both lovely sleepy hormones to help you get back to sleep easily particularly in the early days with all those night wake ups. If you are intending to breastfeed it's worth a read up about how to prevent things like mastistis/the different kinds of milk - fore and hind {the watery 'drink' versus the fatty stuff} to give yourself a little heads up on it all. But really don't overwhelm yourself like I perhaps did as you can just look things up as and when they occur/they might not! I also found the whole supply and demand thing fascinating, when your baby feeds it's like they put in an order for milk the same time the next day, whatever they drink they'll refill with and they get used to the feeding pattern. For example, the first night that Freya slept for a really long time, I woke up in almost agony from boobs that wanted to burst as they'd always been used to needing that amount of milk {I ended up hand expressing a little into our bathroom sink}! They quickly adapt when the milk isn't being used though too. It's just so incredibly fascinating and I don't think people talk enough about that kind of thing?

summer days

I’d always heard that breastfeeding would make you really hungry and thirsty but wow I was thirsty unlike ever before. And I couldn’t eat enough, having two breakfasts most days and making good work of my hospital snack bag with high energy biscuits/oat bars. I drunk gallons of water, especially as it was summer and pretty warm. Whenever I sat down to feed her I had water on hand - in two bottles!, my phone and snacks. Despite eating the world, the baby weight fell off quickly, I think from breastfeeding.

I’m glad I was aware of cluster feeding, learning about it from friends who had babies a year before and some really informative Instagram/blog posts. For at three weeks babies go through almost non stop feeding designed to boost your supply to get them more milk. For a lot of women they give up at this stage and I can see why, it’s totally relentless and sadly a lot of women think they don’t have enough milk and this is why their baby is crying/crazy hungry. If you’re reading this and going through it, hang in there if you can/feel like you want to as it won’t last forever. I remember a day where I’d feed and feed and feed and she would settle for maybe 5 minutes, I’d go to the toilet or go to do something and she’d be crying as she wanted more food. I was crying, I hadn’t made it out the house for even a short walk that day. Throughout those early days I couldn’t have really done it without a good support network, my husband and parents namely. Bringing me food, not expecting me to do anything other than feed the baby. I feel like it would be so much harder to go through cluster feeding with a second baby? I remember some exhausting nights where I’d try to get some sleep in the spare room {Freya was a noisy newborn for the first few weeks and even when she was asleep I couldn’t sleep for her noises!}. Ben would bring her into me, often before I’d even gone back to sleep as she was hungry again. He was almost apologising that it was so soon, but it was so important. I got used to replying to WhatsApp messages at 2am!

I remember using a silicone let down pump in the early days, sucking it onto one boob whilst I fed from the other side. The let down was strong in the first few weeks and I'd end up soaked in milk. It also served a purpose of giving some milk for Ben to give Freya a bottle with for a couple of mornings so I could go back to sleep for a while without having to pump/overstimulate my supply at that time.

that little face looking up 

I took Freya for her first weigh in at the local family centre and hoped she’d be over the 8lb mark. She weighed in at 8lb 14oz and I cried with happiness and almost relief? I’d been feeding her almost constantly and I don’t know what I’d have done or how I’d have felt if she hadn’t gained much. I felt like a total superstar. We were really doing this!! The ironic thing was that on walking home with her I had to stop twice on different benches to feed her. But I didn’t mind one bit.

Of course I had days where it was so full on and overwhelming but I didn’t want to stop. We'd got this, we were really doing it. Breastfeeding is hard for different reasons for different people, I didn’t have the soreness or supply issues but I did find it totally consuming/exhausting because there’s no break from it.

small enough to feed one handed

Other people’s support really mattered in those early days. In fact, I credit so much of my motivation from one of my best friend’s passions for breastfeeding. She was, and is, such an inspiration and a huge support for me and has just finished breastfeeding her son at around 17 months. In contrast, some extended family comments like ‘she can’t be hungry again?!’ or people questioning why I wouldn’t give a bottle of formula so we’d all get more sleep made me feel like I was failing. I really loved some of the content I read on Instagram to help with this. And in fact, one of the health visitors informed me that breastfeeding babies often like their meals in three courses so it’s totally normal for her to cry and be hungry only about 10 minutes after a feed. I felt like there was a real lack of understanding of this, new babies are often hungry or sleepy - they've got so much growing to do! The way I felt at a certain family event though with people questioning me will stick with me - I doubt it was intentional at all, people only ever want to help or offer advice, but when you're a new mama who's exhausted you just don't want anyone questioning if you're doing the right thing!

I threw myself into breastfeeding in public. We bumped into my husband’s uncle, visiting from Australia, by chance when Freya was just a week old outside a coffee shop whilst on a walk and decided to join them. Freya needed feeding so I had no choice but to start. The thought was definitely worse than reality and I was glad it went well, in the end you really don’t care if anyone sees anything, it’s the most natural thing and often other people feel more embarrassed than you do. I always quite liked it when friends were happy to watch her feed rather than feeling awkward looking away. There’s always muslins to cover up should you need. After that, particularly because it was summer, I fed her everywhere and anywhere! In parks, on benches, on the grass, whilst walking through the fields, in supermarkets {although I did drape a muslin over us in the supermarket!}, even in London - a lovely lady walked past me and said 'good job mama' which will always stick with me, alfresco on holiday - in Italy and New York we found dreamy spots for me to sit, or walk, and feed her. And I'm so glad that to this day, I've never experienced one negative comment from a stranger for it, I think times have really changed recently. Feeding on the go felt so liberating, I didn't always want to have to sit somewhere and wait for her to finish a feed and she was small enough at that stage to be able to walk with her easily.


Lake Garda, feeding with a view

on the beach in Connecticut

feeding in the Ergo in NYC - pretty discreet

I quickly got the hang of feeding friendly nursing bras along with breastfeeding friendly clothes. Because it was summer it made it a lot easier with strappy dresses, camisoles and off the shoulder tops/dresses. Anything that was button down or easy access! And then as winter came along I adjusted my wardrobe to find feeding friendly dresses or I'd put a camisole underneath a jumper {you lift the jumper up and pull the cami down}. I did have to put away a few favourite dresses/tops which I knew wouldn't be possible to feed her in, but I realised it is for such a short part of my life in the scheme of things. Although I do feel like I spend half my time in button down shirts these days, it's like an enforced capsule wardrobe!

I didn’t plan to get anywhere in a hurry in those first few weeks, in fact I tried not to plan much at all and despite it being mid summer and so lovely and light outside, I was in bed by 7.30pm every night, just needing as much sleep as I could get!

six weeks old

At 6 weeks there was another stage of intense cluster feeding to fuel a growth spurt. It ended up boosting my supply so much that I had a blocked duct for the first time, it was on the day that we went to Whitstable for a long weekend for Ben’s birthday and I felt really rubbish with it all over and pain from one of my boobs round to under my armpit. I was terrified that it would lead into mastitis so I kept feeding her on it, showered a lot, used an electric toothbrush and even raked a hairbrush over it! I was up in the night with a hot flannel and hand expressing. Luckily it then calmed down and I was a lot better and touch wood, I haven't had another one since. I think I'm so hyper vigilant about making sure I keep on top of any and have been amazed I've avoided mastitis thankfully but know it could happen as we move further on with weaning?

As time went on it got so much easier. We found new positions to feed from - as she was a little bigger and more sturdy, side feeding became our favourite way to feed. It was so comfortable, I could lay down with a pillow under my head and we'd often both drift in and out of sleep like that - obviously being careful to not have any duvets or pillows near her in the night - that was my biggest fear. But it was just so relaxing to feed her like that.

I kept trying Freya without the shields but it was hit and miss. She could do a bit but not for long. The shields made it too easy for her. In my head I accepted that we’d just carry on using them, it was working, I was happy, she was happy. But then one morning, when she was around 11 weeks old, I was getting her dressed whilst in a dressing gown myself without a bra on {and therefore no shield} and she was screaming as she was hungry so I just put her straight on and she started gulping really well! Over the next couple of weeks I kept a shield with me but carried on giving her the boob first without and she eventually weaned herself off. In the end the shield became annoying for her and she’d only feed straight from the nipple. It was incredible and I didn’t think it would ever happen? Also because her mouth was now so much bigger and I guess she knew what to do, I didn’t get any pain or soreness from it.

Feeding then became even easier without needing a shield to hand and even more incredible. I couldn't quite believe we'd got to this stage. From around 4 months old she suddenly didn't need to feed as often and would now take both boobs in record time, having got a lot more efficient at drinking now {at the start she'd only be able to take some of one side at a time and would often get really sleepy!}. I remember my friend telling me that I'd get to a stage where I wouldn't be feeding allll day long and I don't think I believed it before we got to that point but yes suddenly she could go so much longer without feeds. It was really liberating but also kind of weird - I would always offer it to her but she was like 'no mama I don't need as much anymore' and it made me savour her feeding so much more.

Just after she turned four months we got back from our trip to New York and I took her to the weigh in family centre, she had jumped from being around the 50th centile to the 75th and the health visitor made me cry with pride praising me, well us, for doing so well with it. I was so happy, and I'm not sure whether it was giving up the shields which meant she could get a greater volume of milk? or if it was all the pumpkin ice cream I ate whilst we were away?

From around the time that she turned five months old, feeding suddenly became a bit more of a battle. Whereas before she would zone out and drink wherever we were, she became much more aware of her surroundings and got really distracted. Everything was suddenly way too exciting for her, even the sound of Ben's voice and she would refuse to have milk. It's a normal stage but it was really tough. I'd offer her milk if I knew she'd be hungry/we were going out/I was going out and wanted to know she'd had enough food, but she'd scream like I was poisoning her. I worried that she'd get a negative association if I forced her to feed, I didn't want it to be like that at all. She'd normally take it better if we were somewhere dark with white noise on but it was alll on her terms and instead of taking on enough milk in the day {I'd have to go to our bedroom and play white noise to get her to feed}, she'd wake up a lot at night and treat me like an open all hours milk bar. It was worse than the newborn days in terms of the number of hours she could go for at night! I think it's called reverse cycling? It took a couple of weeks but I started to reduce the amount I'd give her at night, stopped feeding her to sleep for every nap and also at around six months she started to get less distracted so would feed without needing white noise again.

In the past month we've started giving her solids which has been really fun. I was dreading it beforehand, I loved just giving her milk and whilst my milk will still be her biggest source of nutrition up until a year and food is just for fun to start with, it still feels like this big shift away from being her sole feeding source. She even drinks some water now with meals whereas up until 6 months, I provided alll her drinks too! I might write a separate post about weaning. She now has three meals a day but still needs plenty of milk throughout the day and now only wakes once or twice a night for a feed which is so much better than previously! I savour the breastfeeds so much as they get quicker and she needs them less often. Up until last week when we did some gentle sleep training, I had fed her to sleep for almost every nap which was just the most heavenly thing to have a snoozy babe on you. Although I knew it was the right time to stop this, I miss those sleepy cuddles where she'd fall asleep on the boob already! 

So that's pretty much where we're up to with it all. We've just used up the last of the colostrum from the freezer with her porridge and I'm so happy that she's been able to have this as an immune boost. I hope to carry on feeding Freya until after her 1st Birthday but we'll see how it goes for us both. I already feel sad at the thought of not feeding her, and just really hope that I can be as lucky to be able to feed a future babe should we be so lucky to have another at some point. It really has been the most incredible experience but I'm so aware that if it hadn't have been for supportive, proactive midwives at the start spotting the tongue tie and if we hadn't have got it sorted so fast/had the nipple shields to hand that it could have all looked very different. Yes it's hard that I'm so relied upon to feed her and that I haven't had more than a few hours away from her since she was born, but equally I wouldn't want it any other way? It's this real bittersweet part of parenting.

I wanted to talk quickly about pumping/bottle feeding. I had a conversation with my NCT friends last week about how all of us have found expressing and leaving bottles so much harder than we ever anticipated. We all thought that pumping was hailed as a great solution to be able to breastfeed but leave the baby for some time or let somebody else feed them. But all of us have really struggled with this, I don't want to be negative/a voice of doom and gloom as everyone will have a different experience but for me, I've just found pumping to be such hard work - the psychology behind pumping compared to a baby actually sucking from you direct gets very different outputs and I wish I'd heard more about this before she was born.

There's also finding the time to pump and the hassle of sterilising stuff only to be disheartened if you don't get much volume from it. I bought freezer bags ready to freeze my milk but have never put any milk {other than the colostrum in those pre birth days} in the freezer. It had always been our intention for Ben to give Freya a bottle once a day, and for a while, we did have a great system going. From around 3 weeks we first introduced a bottle {there's so much talk in the early days about not creating nipple confusion so I really wanted to get her feeding successfully from me as the main priority} and for those first three weeks we used the let down milk. Then from around 6 weeks, when my supply had regulated, I started to pump. But I think we didn't give her a bottle regularly enough for it to become really part of her daily acceptance? For a while it seemed to be a good solution and we had both grandparents and Ben giving her a bottle a couple of times a week to tide her over for a while and she started to get fussy and hit and miss about whether she would take one or not and in the end I got sick of pouring away milk that hadn't been drunk after it had been a fair amount of hassle to pump it or she'd have a bit but then still want a feed from me. Weirdly, the place where a bottle was most successful was in the car! So for a while if we had a long journey, it would be a good solution to pump before going out to save on feeding stops. But now I've pretty much packed my pumps away, and if I have a second baby I really don't know if I'd even bother with them as you'd have less time? It's such a hard one!

I'm going to try giving her milk from a cup this week as I have to be out for a couple of hours and she loves having a cup for weaning so will try to express for that.

Before I had a baby I would have been shocked to know that at six months, the longest I've ever left Freya has been for an hour and a half. That's my choice, a few of the NCT mums have successfully combination fed with a bottle of formula either at a set time each day or just as and when and found this a really great solution for being able to go out for longer. But I've always been hesitant to upset my supply and I've genuinely loved feeding her and being so attached. It's also such a short period of time in the scheme of things. She can now go for a lot longer between feeds/she can have solids now which means I'm a little bit more free but I think it's important to be honest about these things. Going out for an evening is pretty impossible though as she takes on so much milk before bed but is now going down to bed a lot earlier and sleeping so much more reliably so the tides are definitely turning!

just last week ^.

Anyway, I didn't want to end it on a negative note. Feeding her has been incredible and I feel so so very grateful to have been able to get this far and I really hope things will continue. To this day I feel lucky that she hasn't had as much as a sniffle/cold - touch wood/everything! And she's done so well weight wise. It really has felt like the biggest privilege to be able to feed my darling girl.

I'd love to hear about your experience and if you'd do anything differently next time?

R <3 xx

Some resources which I couldn't have been without over this feeding journey;
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  • Water bottles with a straw x 2! Hydration, hydration, hydration. Especially in the early days and especially when it's hot just drink all you can. I had a couple from Aldi but have since found a really great one from TK Maxx. Make sure it's BPA free.
  • Eating well and lots! Which I think has been key to having a good supply, your body can only prioritise feeding a baby high quality milk if you're fuelling it well. I make sure to eat lots of oats which are known to be good for milk supply and I made a big batch of these lactation bites which contain brewer's yeast at the end of my pregnancy and stored them in the freezer, grabbing a couple of balls out mid morning everyday for the first couple of months - I just let them defrost for a bit or chucked them in the microwave for a boost. And I was also lucky enough to be sent a gorgeous box of healthy fuelling treats from the Pregnancy Food co - including these lactooaties which were delicious.
  • Good vitamins are a must! I've been taking these Wild Nutrition breastfeeding supplements along with an omega blend and I still take my pregnancy capsules. I've invested in these as I haven't had to pay for formula/food for Freya and being aware that you will get depleted if you're feeding from an empty tank. I credit these to not being ill since being pregnant which is insane considering how many months of sleepless nights we've had!
  • Breastpads. I found Lansinoh pads to be the best compared to other brands, they were sticky enough to stay on. I've stopped needing them recently now my supply has regularlised and I don't have that fear of leaking but they were truly invaluable in the early, milk covered days and I started needing them before she was born {I worked with Lansinoh on a campaign but after I had bought tonnes of their breastpads}. Although I'd advocate using reusable washable bamboo pads which are much nicer on your skin and much better for the environment compared to the plastic wrappers of the disposables, I think in those early days when they get full soo fast, you might want to use those for ease or stock up so that you have enough to change them regularly.
  • Nipple shields - obviously you might not need them but I'd always recommend pregnant mama's to have some in just in case as even if you can feed without shields, you might want to use them occasionally to give your nipples a chance to heal. I used these.
  • This letdown pump, with the neck strap to stop it from spilling, I used this for almost every feed in the early days - I've stopped recently as my supply has regulated/I don't really get a big amount of letdown anymore but it was just the best thing ever to a) stop yourself getting soaked with milk and b) to have expressed milk without pumping.
  • Nipple cream. I didn't have to use this as I was using the shields so didn't ever get sore BUT my NCT friends who didn't use shields slathered it on to help with their soreness in the early days, I bought a couple of tubes of Lansinoh just in case and it ended up being the very best lipbalm, I still buy it now and Ben even uses it on his lips in the winter.
  • One thing I did use though for the early days when I had a little trauma after she'd fed for a day with a bad latch were these gel compresses which were really soothing and healed fast. I'd definitely make sure I have these in again for next time.
  • My friend has sworn by these silver breastfeeding cups to help heal sore nipples and if you do put cream on, stops it sticking to your bra.
  • More nursing friendly bras than you think as I was constantly washing & rotating mine in those early days where everything gets covered in milk. Including soft ones for overnight. These have been my favourite for the day - I'm onto my second set and wear them every single day, plus these for sleeping in.
  • Nursing friendly clothes. I bought a couple of these feeding friendly camisoles but mostly have just adapted my wardrobe instead of buying nursing specific clothes, looking for button down tops and dresses, anything that was easy access like off the shoulder tops or putting a camisole underneath a non feeding friendly top and pulling the top up/camisole down so your tummy is covered or dungarees so that you lift up the top underneath but still have lots of modesty. I'd recommend joining the facebook group called 'Can I Breastfeed in it UK' for ideas and solidarity for feeding in public with other breastfeeding mma's.
  • This little dimmable touch LED light was really useful for the middle of the night feeds in the early days when you need to focus on getting the right position/latch but don't want to wake the baby with a bright full on light. 
  • Research lactation consultants in your area beforehand and find out if there's a community midwife team/breastfeeding cafes/drop ins you could go to for support if needed.
  • Follow Little Peach London on instagram although very sadly her account kept getting reported for 'inappropriate photos' so she's now had to move to a new account Milk Making Mama, but she posts some incredibly supportive breastfeeding posts. 
  • See also Imogen's instagram account here - as recommended by the Yes Mum. And Legendairymilk
  • See also the Kelly Mom website which explains so much about cluster feeding/growth spurts/supply and demand/any feeding issues you might need help with
  • A pillow if needed like this Bellamoon. {nb - I worked with Bellamoon on an Instagram giveaway so got to try one out} and whilst it makes it more supportive, especially when babies are little before they can support themselves more, I wouldn't say it's a necessity so maybe see how you go or if you're pregnant buy it as a pregnancy pillow knowing it can be used as a breastfeeding support later if that makes sense?

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  1. I’m really glad you’ve written about using nipple shields. So few people talk about them in a positive light (and even fewer talk about using them for more than a few days to heal sore nips!). I’m into my fifth month feeding with shields and they’re a faff and an inconvenience but I’m with you - I’m just so incredibly grateful that they’ve allowed me to exclusively BF my little one (I fed my eldest for 16 months and was so upset at the thought of not being able to feed this one).
    My only other comment is that beyond the psychological side of things, not to worry about leaving her for longer because of the impact on supply because yours will be so established by now :) To echo the lady in London, good job mama!

  2. What a great post about your journey so far, you’ve done so well! I’ve breastfed 2 babies but still loved reading it and was nodding along. Cluster feeding with a second baby isn’t harder. I don’t know why, because in theory it should be, but it isn’t. Or at least it wasn’t for me. Of course there were a few hairy moments when I was feeding a newborn and on my own with a toddler (and less TV/phone time while feeding!) but you just feel so much more confident and laid back with your second that everything seems easier.

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I resonated with so much of it, I'm currently exclusively breastfeeding my 3.5 month old. We are currently debating whether to try and tackle the fact that she won't take a bottle of expressed milk or whether to wait and see how she is with a sippy cup when we start weaning. I would be really interested in reading a blog about your weaning journey :-)


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