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Things I wish I had known about Breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is terrifying when you first start. Initially, it dosen't seem to be working because you can't tell anything is coming out and baby is either really fussy, or asleep. I got so much conflicting advice in those first few days in hospital I left feeling really confused. Some of the advice proved to be good, so I thaught I would add it here.

Drink all the water. All of it. All the time. If you take nothing else from the list, please remember this. I still forget and I regret it when I do. All those post-pregnancy hormones rushing around your body can give you a headache and make you very hot and sweaty. Milk production is based on water, so you need it for you and for baby, plus your body is re-building, so it needs the water.

Eat. No special diet, just eat. All the stuff you couldn't eat before is fine to eat now. Your body is re-building and if you are breastfeeding you are still 'eating for two.' Eat. Worry about your weight and getting back in shape later when you are not providing nourishment for both of you.  

Use a pillow. Someone gave me a u-shaped nursing pillow which is great, but early on I literally couldn't fit into it. I used my maternity body pillow until the other one fit me. Frees up a hand to drink or eat! 

Learn to feed lying down. Makes night feeds way easier, even if you are not able to nap during the day you can at least lie down. If you learn to feed lying down,  adopt a recovery position style, bent knees and bottom arm round baby's head.  That way you don't have to worry if you drift off. Put baby in the middle of the bed as far as possible, then you can move if baby drops off. You might not go far but you can at least move!

If you can, line up some snacks and drinks (or demand them from daddy) while you feed. Especially in the early days for those looooooong feeds! 

Sorry about the after pains. They will happen every time you feed for about 3 days. You can't do much about them just know they happen, otherwise you will wonder what is going on!

Sleep bras. Wear one with pads in from day 1. Your milk won't come in for a few days but when it does, it can come with some enthusiasm! First time round mine came in overnight, I woke up soaked!

If you feed lying down, put a folded muslin or a cloth nappy inner or a cloth underneath babies head and your boob (lie on it!) Darkeness and new babies don't always equals a good latch and you can end up both lying in a damp patch. I have had to change bedding before now in the early hours because I was sleeping in a wet patch. I mean, soaking patch. 

Bras, sleep or otherwise, make sure they are snug but not tight. Tight can cause problems, lose and you might as well not bother.  

It hurts. Whatever anyone tells you, it hurts. But it shouldn't hurt forever. If it's still hurting after a few weeks, or the pain is unbearable, seak help. You'd be surprised what can cause that pain and sometimes it can be fixed.  

Expressing. Don't feel like you have to, but if you want to, there are lots of ways to do it. There are electric pumps, hand pumps and hand expressing. I am rubbish at pumping. Even when very full I hardly get anything out. This does not mean that baby is not getting much-babies are more efficient then hands or pumps, some people just can't pump much. I gave up in the end, wasn't worth it and I trashed my nipples trying. Hopefully you will do better, but if not don't worry. You can manage without. 

When you read 'newborn babies feed every 1 1/2 - 2 hours,' it means from the start of the feed. In the early days feeds can last about 45 mins (or longer) so realistically you might only get about 30 minutes between feeds.

Dads often feel useless, so as soon as baby comes off the boob, hand it to dad and go do what you need to do. You know, loo, shower, nap, screaming into a pillow...whatever helps. It is relentless. No one tells you about how dull and repetitive breastfeeding is in the early days. All day and all night, nappy change, feed, baby sleeps for like 5 minutes, feed, nappy change, feed...you get the picture.

Invest in Netflix or some box sets or Amazon Prime or something. I burnt through all of Orange Is The New Black when The Boy was newborn. Anything to relive the boredom. Your butt will ache from sitting in the same position all the time you might as well do something to keep you entertained. Don't worry, babies don't know how much swearing there is in what you are watching. 

There are lots of clothes available for breastfeeding. H&M do tanks that I wear under everything (in order for me to be able to wear non breastfeeding clothes I can just where these underneath). Lots of other places do tops and dresses that are suitable. Worth investing in one or two. Breastfeeding limits your wardrobe so much!

Remember, it's just a phase. It'll be over sooner then you think and it will get easier.

Also, I will say, formula will not harm your baby. If you need to formula feed, do it. Babies can thrive on formula just as much as they thrive on breast milk. If you need to do it, do it. It will seem so soon that you are weaning onto solids anyway. Forget breast is best or fed is best or any of that. Whatever works for you and baby, honestly, is best. 

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