I think it’s about time I shared my breastfeeding journey with you. At first I thought it seemed a bit silly to call it a journey but it really was, or at least for me.
But before we start, let me just say that FED IS BEST. 100%. THE END!
Everyone must do what is right for them and their baby.
Today I am simply sharing my experience with breastfeeding my first baby. I read lots of similar posts and watched many YouTube videos on the topic and found them very useful.
In short, the first week in hospital made breastfeeding (bf) my baby very hard but once I was back home it became easier. Then the first 2 months were hard work but after that it became very easy and I continued to bf baby X ’til he was just over 2 years old. He’s now 3 and I’m expecting my second baby in October. The time really does go way too quickly with these little ones.
My Babies First Feed
Let’s rewind right back to the start.
My son’s first feed was a bottle of formula at the hospital. I had an emergency c-section under general aesthetic and I was totally knocked out on the drugs from that. I tried but just couldn’t physically open my eyes for very long. I have a vague memory of a midwife waking me to say she was taking my baby away to feed him and asked which formula I’d prefer for him to have. In my dazed state I picked Aptamil, no particular reason but the branding stood out in my mind so I went with it.
The following morning I was put onto a breastfeeding pump straight away and that was my state for the next few days. I didn’t mind doing this but everyone kept leaving the curtains around my bed open so that was irritating.
I found it very difficult to feed baby X in the hospital. I wasn’t told when I’d be leaving, why I was staying in there and I just wanted to be at home. I know there will have been valid reasons, I’d had a GA after-all but it would have been nice to have been given an estimation of when I might be free to go. There was a lot more to it than that but I’ll save that for another day.
It was struggle to get my baby to latch during those first few days in hospital. It would take quite a while to get him to latch on but then once he was on all was fine. It was very uncomfortable doing this on a super hot ward with lots of noise, distractions and uncomfortable beds. I couldn’t wait to get home, I just knew it would all work so much easier.
In-between the feeds at hospital I was using the breast pump and would give baby X the tiny cup of breast milk I’d managed to produce. Luckily my partner was able to come into the hospital each day (armed with Starbucks and snacks) to help me out. We ordered a breast pump for home and bottles to help with the feeding process. We opted for a Medela pump which was really good but it’s so interesting to see how the technology has developed in just 3 years.
I was finally allowed to go home after a week ish but only because they needed the bed for someone else. Things became much easier after this.
My first week of breastfeeding at home
Upon arriving at home I was able to sit in my comfortable bed or the sofa and balance my baby on top of my wonderful BBHUGME pillow or as I prefer to call it, the bed sausage. Seriously, that thing has been and continues to be one of my best pregnancy purchases. I’ll talk more about that another day, it deserves a whole post.
Anyway, back on track. It became much much easier to feed baby X once I was at home. There were no issues with latching once baby and I were both comfortable. He fed for around 20 minutes at a time and very regularly.
I started off by feeding my baby like a rugby ball. I’d balance him by my side on the BBHUGME pillow or just a general stack of pillows and use my hand to support his neck and head. This worked out really well for us.
I also used the new pump we’d ordered between feeding and was very pleased to have it. I didn’t have a consistent plan with it but it’s something I may consider next time around.
The first few months of breastfeeding
The first few months of breastfeeding took a lot of hard work and dedication but in the long-run it was totally worth it. I think it’s super important to have a support network around you. I was lucky that my auntie was at the end of a text message to give advice, tips and support when it came to breastfeeding. She also really recommended La Leche League and you can find more LLL local support groups on Facebook.
During those first few months my baby was feeding about 9 times a day, I think. I fed him on demand and didn’t follow any guides for setting routines. I found a lot of my time was sat down feeding and for the first few months that is the reality of things, or it was for me at least. The first and second months were filled with lots of rapid growth stages (as well as 4 and 6 months old) so feeding was very much our day to day life. It wasn’t ’til a good few months in that I noticed more of a routine forming.
I was at home for a lot of the first few weeks after my c section but then I slowly started to venture out and about to grab a coffee and meet a friend. I found it good to get fresh air, buy lunch to take home or meet up with a friend so that my baby would also get used to his pram. We lived close to a tram stop at the time which meant it was quick and easy to get into the city centre and back without tackling the Sheffield hills.
From the first day I kept track of any pumping or feeding I did. I just made a table in the Notes App and tracked how long baby X fed or how long I pumped for on each side. This was really useful for when midwives or health visitors wanted to know how much milk X was having but also as a guide for myself.
I particularly enjoyed night feeds because I’d use that time to watch shows, something I never take time for and of course, late night shopping in a sleepy haze. We actually didn’t buy much for our baby ’til he’d been born so there was plenty for me to order as and when we needed it.
Breastfeeding out and about
I always carried a couple of bottles of HIPP Organic formula in my bag along with these screw on teats by Medela just in case I didn’t feel comfortable breastfeeding on the go. I found that just knowing those couple of bottles were in my bag if I needed them really put me at ease.
There weren’t many occasions where I felt I needed to use them so they often came in handy if I was leaving my baby for a couple of hours and didn’t have any pumped milk. There was also one point where the health visitor wanted me to focus on getting baby X’s weight up. I gave him some extra bottles of formula but after a swift..ish visit to the hospital it turned out he was fine and just a little on the petite side (and still is).
I found the best outfits for feeding on the go were a simple t-shirt with skirt or jeans. I didn’t like the usual style of shirts and dresses which people often suggest when you’re breastfeeding on the go. They just weren’t for me. It took a little time to figure out what I liked though so you do have to give a few different options a try.
One year of breastfeeding
I initially thought I’d stop feeding my baby when the one year mark hit but as it had become SO easy it just didn’t make sense. We spent a lot of time on trains, before COVID hit and baby X would fall asleep with ease after his night feed. The WHO suggest breastfeeding ’til age 2 or longer so I just kept going. It fitted with our lifestyle and I’m so happy I continued with it.
So, on we went throughout his first year of life. I’m fairly sure that by this point it was mostly in the evening or through the night that X was having milk. He was eating 3 meals a day (a mix of baby led finger food and purée to ensure he was full at night) and on the odd occasion he’d have milk in the morning but it was mostly the evening, unless he was unwell.
Two years of breastfeeding
By the time X had reached the age of 2 we’d relocated to a new city and before moving into our new home we’d stayed with my parents for a couple of months. So there was a lot of change. In all honestly I was ready to stop BF him before he hit the age of 2 and I’m pretty sure around Christmas time he was only having milk once in the evening. As he got closer to 2 he was back to waking very regularly for milk. This was most likely a combination of co-sleeping and lots of changes going on.
I made a firm decision to stop bf X when he turned 2. I spoke about it with him and explained what was happening in the weeks coming up to it and it all went fairly smoothly.
I think that’s everything but I may come back and edit this post if I remember anything particular.