There's no handbook to Motherhood, it's partly the reason I started this blog.
I remember expecting my eldest 11 years ago now and wondering so many times if I was "doing it right", questioning everything and feeling really anxious.
All perfectly normal, but maynnn do I wish there were blogs, podcasts and social media the way there is now.
I breastfed both the boys, It was tough for may reasons but I don't remember it being as difficult a journey as it's felt with our newest edition, Honey.
My anxiety began when I started to go over my due date, with everyday friends and family would be messaging to ask if there was any sign of the baby, like I wouldn't update them when she finally made an appearance.. As the days went by and the messages continued I started to feel as though 'going over' meant I was doing something wrong, not relaxed enough, too stressed.. or that my body simply wasn't working properly,and why not since i'd done this twice before?!
Those feelings overwhelmed me beyond belief. I was in tears nearly everyday as the 'home birth prep' began again every morning, hoover house, disinfect everything, housework, prepping the pool, re-stocking birth snacks.. it was tiring, and the novelty of a home birth soon wore off as we eagerly awaited her arrival.
We had a beautiful waterbirth at home that ended in an emergency hospital trip as I struggled to birth the placenta within NHS timeline guidance and lost alot of blood, again I was feeling like my body hadn't done something it should have.
She latched on for around an hour the first time, and then twice afterwards. But I quickly felt sore, most of the advice online states that it shouldn't hurt so again I felt as though I was doing something wrong.
After 10 days going overdue, the last thing my mind needed was "Why isn't my body working, again" and that's genuinely how our journey had left me feeling. I sat in the bath with the heat expressing milk with tears running down my face, praying that we could take her off the formula they'd given us and get her back onto the breastmilk. It was so important to me, mostly because I'd done it before and couldn't understand why I couldn't do it again.
Truth is, I could do it again.
I was just putting a ridiculous amount of pressure on myself, your milk doesn't fully come in for days and If there's nipple or latching problems in the first few days it's perfectly normal to turn to formula and express small amounts of 'colostrum' for the baby in the meantime. But after the 10 day wait for her, I was just feeling overly emotional and sensitive to what my body would or wouldn't do, a homebirth can be challenging enough and ours certainly ended up being just that with the ambulance ride into Hospital.
Theres lot's of breastfeeding guidance out there, but it's all diagrams and talks of 'full cheeks' and to be honest in the moment it's hard to notice those things, but here's what I've noticed now that I've taken a step back:
It's normal not to produce enough milk to express in the first few days.
It's normal to experience latching difficulty.
There's many reasons why babies can't latch, including tongue ties.
There's so many ways to increase supply, including heat, massage and expressing.
Lanolin cream is THE best for fast healing.
Leaky nips is perfectly normal ladies :)
The 'surge of pressure' in your nipples when your baby cries or randomly is a sign to express/feed to keep up with production and demand.
To continue breastfeeding, you need breast/nipple stimulation or risk supply running low or stopping completely.
and importantly: To stop milk production, wear a tight bra
and this: Our saviour, nipple shields.
We got some Tommee Tippee shields and they changed our world, the moment she latched whilst using one was completely different to usual, there was no 'draw down' sharp pain and no nipple soreness.
There's still huge stigma around breastfeeding and nursing in public, so i'll be joining the movement online in support of nursing mammas everywhere :)