What mothers think while breastfeeding in public

> please stop crying.
> Omg I’m so nervous.
> if you’d stop putting your hand in your mouth, my nipple could go in there.
> no one’s staring…
> yes they are – she’s screaming her head off.
> should I try to use a blanket to cover?
> ugh, I can’t see what I’m doing now!
> ugh, why did you unlatch?!

What mothers do NOT think while breastfeeding in public.

> let me lure in all the unfaithful, sinful husbands with my leaking, milk-filled breasts 😈

After a thirty hour labor, little Luka Padme Han Skywalker entered this galaxy, much to the joy of her parents and everyone on the resistance base.
Now Finn and Rey, both exhausted, are crying tears of joy over their little miracle.

Finn is holding his girls, while Rey is trying to feed little Luka. Took her a few tries to get the hang of it.

Done by @qtarts

Breastfeeding ISN’T easy.

There I said it.

Probably not what you’re expecting from a student midwife eh? But it isn’t and I wish more women were told this antenatally.

Don’t get me wrong I am all about promoting breastfeeding, encouraging breastfeeding and recognising this as the norm for infant feeding but not if we hide the truth from expecting/new mothers.

Days 1-3: 

You’re producing colostrum. Minute amounts but rich in calories and antibodies and vital for baby’s immune system. Baby’s tummy is the size of a cherry when their born - tiny, so huge volumes is NOT what we’re focusing on. We like to see you recognising baby’s feeding cues (rooting, suckling, moving head) and a nice latch and attachment - which again takes time! Most likely your first feed, hopefully during the golden hour of skin to skin after birth, is relatively easy. Baby is awake and keen to latch and feed after a squeezing through the birth canal, and you want cuddles too. It’s the one after that, and after that, and after that which can be disillusioning.

Getting to know your baby, and your baby getting to know you is a process. It’s about starting that relationship between caregiver and child. Breastfeeding is sore, can be nippy but shouldn’t be PAINFUL. If it is you need to latch baby again. It’s trial and error and sleepless nights for the first few days while you work this thing out together. Sometimes expressing at this point can be a good idea - using syringes and cups at hospital or a pump at home; but remember it will be small amounts.

Days 3-7:

Milk! Lots of wonderful breast milk, making your boobs sore and hard and achy and heavy. This is normal. Your body, encouraged by baby’s stimulation of your nipple over the last few days is making milk and storing it for baby. Baby’s can tend to cluster feed at this point. 5 minutes feeds over 2-3 hours, 2 hours rest then at it again. Or baby might feed for longer 30 minutes every 3-4 hours both of these examples are what we might expect. There is no set way to breastfeed, be it position or length of feeds. Some mum’s choose to pump after feeds to keep the production of milk up - some prefer to pump to have an emergency bottle of breast milk in the fridge in case the sleep deprivation gets too much and Dad/Partner can step in. Just remember the more you produce the more baby will be keen to feed (remember to feed both sides!). Baby’s tummy is now growing from a cherry to a walnut to a plum at one week old.

And the one they don’t tell you about…

Day 10:

Your milk has just got thicker and richer for baby. At this point the routine you and baby thought you had down may change. Baby may start to cluster feed or feed for longer, feeding from both breasts. Baby may wake before 4 hours for their next feed. Don’t get disheartened. It’s a continuing journey.

Advice I give to Mother’s is to give it two weeks. Have support for YOURSELF as well as you and baby over those two weeks and just go on that journey with baby. Breastfeeding isn’t an exact science, but it is beautiful and giving your baby the best start in life. So even if you might feel like crying or giving up remember: Breastfeeding isn’t easy for the first two weeks but at least give it that time to establish, because once you do - bonding with baby can be no better.

Disclaimer: I am VERY aware that breastfeeding may not be a choice for all Mother’s and support skin to skin and contact with baby during all forms of infant feeding. I am also aware other factors may disrupt breastfeeding journey’s and can lead to a change in infant feeding. I encourage all women to have an open discussion with their community midwife regarding infant feeding. I have also met many mothers who only wish to give the first feed via breast, something I encourage and support where possible.