We hear from Amanda as she tells us all about her first breastfeeding experience and journey with her little boy Alfie. Amanda lives in the UK and with her newborn Alfie and partner Adam.
How did you feel about breastfeeding before birth?
I felt confident at the thought of breastfeeding my baby when he or she was born. The support from my family and partner was amazing. My sister-in-law was still breast feeding so I learnt a lot from her and knew I would always have support if I needed it.
I always knew there may be a chance that I could not breastfeed, or I may have problems with it so I had to stay open minded about it.
Tell us about your first latch or the latching experience in the first few days?
One thing I did worry about when I was pregnant was the thought of not being able to give birth naturally and having to have a C-section. Only because I thought I would not be able to have skin to skin contact with my newborn baby or be able to try and breast feed him or her straight away.
After 3 days in labour it was decided that a C-section was needed. At that time, I did not worry I just wanted our baby to be safe and here with us. I remember going through to the recovery room after the C-section. I was followed in by nurses, my partner Adam and our baby. I remember the nurse asking if I was going to try breast feeding our baby and we said yes. She said great we could try it now. At the time all I could think was how am I going to feed him. I was laid on a bed after a major operation with several needles in each arm and was numb from the waist down. She asked me to undo my nightie and she laid our son on my chest and I remember him nuzzling a little and moving his head from side to side with his mouth open getting closer to my breast and he latched on all by himself. I was in awe, how could a newborn baby know what to do straight away, it was amazing.
Did you have any complications breastfeeding?
I was very lucky not to have any problems with my baby latching onto my breast or anything like that. From having a C-section I do remember struggling through the night with getting in and out of bed so many times to feed Alfie as I was in pain and was uncomfortable. My partner Adam helped me a lot passing Alfie to me while I stayed in bed. I mentioned this to my midwife and she showed me a very safe way to feed our baby while lying down in bed. This helped me greatly as I was able to rest while feeding my baby in a safe and comfortable way.
How did you take care of yourself?
My family gave me a lot of support when I got home. I struggled for a little while to get about and do things due to having a C-section. Luckily my partner had two weeks off work, so he made sure I had everything I needed. He made sure I had a good breakfast, dinner, tea and snacks to keep my energy up. He did all the cleaning, cooking, shopping whilst also looking after myself and the baby.
Did you express milk? And how was that experience?
From six weeks I started to express milk so that my partner would be able to give Alfie his last feed before bed. We thought it was important for Adam to get to feed Alfie so he could have his own special bonding time with him and to get him used to having a bottle.
I struggled at first to express milk while feeding my baby at the same time but I got used to it after a while. I was told it was best to express milk while feeding our baby on the other breast as it encourages the release of oxytocin, the hormone associated with the milk ejection reflex.
How did you feel breastfeeding in front of others or in public?
I felt confident and comfortable breastfeeding in public. I tried to find somewhere where I could have a little more privacy when feeding our baby and covered up the best I could with a muslin cloth. I didn’t feel worried about people’s reactions because I was doing something very natural by feeding my baby and that was the most important thing. I think most people these days do not mind a woman breastfeeding in public, it is becoming more accepted by the public. I think that with more women breast feeding the more normal it has become.
What tips or advice would you give to mums-to-be?
When your baby is asleep try and get some food and relax/have a sleep I was told to do this repeatedly from family and friends.
Go to antenatal classes to meet other mums who are also breastfeeding. Something that you may be struggling with a lot of other mums may be in the same situation and you can help each other.
Ask as many questions as you want while you are in the hospital and from your midwife and health care visitor, they are there to help. Even if you think it may be a silly question just ask because a lot of other mums may be thinking the same thing or are having the same problem.
I would say try and get your baby used to a bottle when you are ready to express so that the baby’s father can feed the baby and be more involved or another family member. Even just once a day or one day a week in case you need to rest or are unable to feed the baby for some reason.