If you’ve read the story of my breastfeeding journey with Little Man, you’ll know that we didn’t have an easy time of it – not by a long shot. So this time around with Little Woman, I’ve been doing everything in my power to get it right from the start. I thought it might be helpful to others for me to document the approach I’ve taken and the things I’ve tried.
Feeding on Demand
First and foremost, I’ve been feeding on demand. That means that sometimes we only have an hour between feeds, and other times we have three or four hours. Most days it is fine, but I found it very difficult when she was going through her first noticeable growth spurt at 8 days and fed every 1-2 hours. After five or six feeds in a row I felt ready to quit!
Last time around, I suffered from an over active let down and oversupply, and it caused a lot of problems for Little Man, often overwhelming him at the start of a feed. So to minimise the risk of the same happening this time, I am only offering one side per feed. If she looks to be fed again within the same hour, I offer the same side again. (That has only happened once or twice.)
Taking this approach has the advantage of giving each side more recovery time between feeds as well. And luckily I seem to have enough milk to allow me to do this easily without leaving Little Woman hungry.
Because I’m block feeding, I want to make sure that Little Woman gets as much milk as possible from each side when she does feed. So towards the end of the feed, when she’s starting to slow down I use breast compressions to ensure she gets more milk before she finishes. I learned how to do this from Dr Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding, which I’ve been referring to regularly.
Focusing on Getting a Good Latch
I can’t tell you how many YouTube videos I’ve watched to learn what a good latch should look like so that we can try to replicate it. I realise now that I always had Little Man positioned too close to the crook of my elbow to get a proper latch. I’ve been using the cross-cradle hold rather than the cradle hold this time around and it’s much easier to achieve a good latch.
Expressing to Relieve Engorgement
One thing I learned when feeding Little Man and working through our difficulties is that trying to latch baby on when fully engorged is an almost surefire way for me to get hurt. So any time there is a big break between feeds and I’m engorged, I express off enough milk to be comfortable, and then latch baby on.
Finger Feeding Expressed Milk
I don’t want to introduce bottles before six weeks. I had too many problems with nipple preference or confusion last time around, and I really think a lot of the damage I suffered might have been prevented if we hadn’t had so many bottles in the early weeks. However, I also don’t want to suffer from oversupply like I did last time, so it’s important to me that any milk I express off is part of that feed if possible. So once Little Woman finishes feeding at the breast, if she still shows signs of hunger, I finger feed her the expressed milk. I use a syringe to do this. I let her suck on my finger and when she starts sucking, I use the syringe to give her a little milk. It’s very time-consuming, and only today I read on the Jack Newman site that he recommends cup feeding rather than finger feeding, so I may change this approach in future. For now it’s working though. Just last night, my right side was too sore to feed from following a feeding frenzy in the preceding 36 hours, so I expressed an entire feed from that side and finger fed it to her. It took about an hour in total but it gave my right side some much needed additional recovery time.
Treatment for Cracks
Unfortunately despite my best efforts, I seem to be prone to cracks during the constant feeding that accompanies a growth spurt. I’m managing to soothe the soreness and hopefully speed along healing by using a few different treatments. I’ve been using Multi-Mam compresses on the cracks and it seems to be helping healing. I’ve also been using the Tommee Tippee Hydrogel Cooling pads. These give great relief after a feed. Finally, I’ve been relying on lanolin to offer a little extra protection before a feed.
Looking After Myself
At all times, I have a sports bottle of water with me, and I drink from it constantly day and night. At each feed, I make sure to drink about half a bottle of water. And at night I bring two full sports bottles to bed with me, and they are always empty by morning. I’m also eating well thanks to my parents and Charlie who are providing me with home cooked meals and snacks throughout the day. While I have so much support around, I’m also following that age old advice to sleep when the baby sleeps. It definitely makes a difference.
We’re only nine days in right now, so I don’t know yet if or when we’ll get to the point where we have established breastfeeding and all our feeds are comfortable and pain-free, but hopefully we’re off to a good start and we’ll get there soon. If you have any tips that worked for you, please share them below.
Hi Lisa glad to hear things are going well for you with the breastfeeding. Do you have a breastfeeding support group near you to get to when you are starting to get out and about? I would imagine (since you seem to have done so much homework re the feeding), that you know they are a great help – but just thought I would mention it in case. Do you think the cracks are due to the growth spurt feeding? Are you getting cracks outside of this? Just wondering if all that is OK as I never got any when I was feeding and if latch is correct I am not sure they would be considered normal to have (though I do know everyone and every baby is different)? Mary
Thanks Mary. Yes I’m very lucky that there’s a good active group in my area. I went regularly last time and I think I will this time too. With the crack I think I was just unlucky. She threw her head back during one or two feeds without letting go! And then the growth spurt followed immediately so I had no chance to recover. It seems to be healing slowly however. I’m hopeful that a few more days will see the back of it.
Well done – sounds like you are doing BRILLIANTLY!!
Hopefully the painful moments will reduce as you both get more used to it and perfect your technique. Good luck 🙂
Jenny recently posted..First smile 🙂
Thanks Jenny. How are you getting on? Hope all is going well with you and your new little man. 🙂
I was a big fan of the cross cradle hold too. It did great things for us.
Really helpful informative post Lisa. I think lots of first time mums will read this with huge interest.
Delighted breastfeeding seems to be going so well this time around xx
Mind the Baby recently posted..Too cute not to share…
Thanks MTB. It’s not all plain sailing – the initial latch is still very sore. But we’re making progress each day. 🙂