Anyone who is a mama always goes on about how they never truly were prepared for what they were are about to embark on for the next nine months and then beyond. As soon as you see those little red lines flash back on that pregnancy test your world changes for all the right reasons but you never truly know what’s about to take place.
Many questions circle your mind…
Am I going to get hyperemesis? Is my baby healthy? Will I need a c-section? Can I birth my baby naturally? Will my baby arrive into this world safely? Am I going to have a baby that never sleeps? Are they going to suffer from colic? and then theres the question, am I going to be able to breastfeed my baby?
For some reason I really questioned this one. Having always had very small boobs and hardly even fitting an A cup at the best of times it made me struggle to even comprehend how such small boobs could feed a baby. Alongside that inverted nipples also run in the family so although I knew I didn’t suffer from that I still questioned how easy it would be to feed my little boy.
I got given advice in the last weeks leading up to having Mason suggesting that I try to hand express some colostrum out to store for those first hours/days before my milk came in. Of course I gave it a go but unfortunately it just wasn’t enough to even save and again this made me think even more so that I may not end up having a very good milk supply.
Mason arrived into the world and tried to attach whilst having skin to skin but just found it to tricky at the time. To my amazement though the student midwives hand expressed for me whilst waiting for surgery and I couldn’t believe how they squeezed away to get a couple of mls in a syringe!
Once out it didn’t take long at all before Mason latched and seemed to feed away so naturally.
I couldn’t actually believe it, having heard of how much of a struggle it can be for some mamas I truly was expecting latching problems, sore nipples and more. Obviously with many feeding positions possible I began my breastfeeding journey by feeding lieing down all due to my surgery and having to prevent from sitting to much.
Although we seemed to have the latch under control, the nipples seemed to be coping and Mason was content that didn’t stop my neck and shoulders from beginning to ache.
I had always heard other mamas talk about the sensation that was your milk coming in. Those first let down moments and the very enlarged boobs. Boy did I not realise quite what I was in for with this!
On the third night this is when I went from A cup to fake boobs. Thankfully I was in Birthcare still and my mum helped me out with Mason. The night shift midwife gave me pointers on how to hand express without going overboard. For me, to best describe the sensation (especially for those that don’t have children) would be to imagine your boobs going as tight as a balloon whilst being filled with something very heavy. Feeling as though they could literally burst off your chest any second. Around the edges they were so tender and lieing on my sides was indeed not comfortable!
Once my milk came in that evening three days in I was so uncomfortable and thats when the night time midwife had to come in to help me hand express. Well let me tell you, I was blown away at my supply. Like I mentioned above I truly had no idea whether I would have a good enough supply and deep down was thinking I would be a mama who struggled to breast feed. That moment as the midwife and I held little specimen styled containers under my boobs and pushed away at them with milk flowing is one I’ll never forget. Especially the part when the midwife said it was like milking the cow and then went down the hallway with my milk showing it off… she was a hoot to say the least!
This photo I sent to my sister who has like size G boobs right after my milk came in!
Adjusting to these new boobs of mine was definitely something I had to get used too. I don’t think any mama can say that breastfeeding has been the easiest ride for them. Over supply, limited milk supply or no milk supply it all comes with challenges. For me hearing how lucky I am to have an incredible supply and feed my baby with ‘ease’ has actually been hard to take in at times and this is partly why I’m writing this post. I’m not writing this to say I have it harder then anyone else or to make out like I’m not grateful. Cause I know I’m pretty damn lucky. I’m also not writing it with any judgement on others or saying that my way is the right way. Instead I’m writing this to share my experience, to express the highlights but even more so the honest truth in regards to the challenges I have faced in this area over the past 5 months. If my tips/advice on what has worked for me helps some other mamas out there then that makes my heart happy.
Being a mama with an amazing milk supply I was so shocked at the sensation of let down and when my boobs just started hosing milk around the place. It’s a pretty intense feeling and in a way it’s like someone is trying to pull your boobs off your chest – ha! They say in those first weeks/months it takes a while for your boobs to adjust to their new normal and soon they will balance out to what your baby needs. Well this has only just done this for me in the last month I feel. It hasn’t been that simple though. I knew I was going to have to make some quick purchases in the breastfeeding outfit department and learn how to control the flow of my milk if my baby decided to pop off the boob at an inconvenient time!
We all know that theres those people out there that like to shame mothers for breast feeding in public. I did feel a little nervous about the thought of this happening to me but my passion for feeding my baby outweighed those nerves and I was going to feed my baby anywhere if that’s what he needed at the time. It wasn’t easy trying to feed out when all my milk did was drown my little boy as soon as the let down hit. That’s when Mason would pull off cause it was to powerful. Boob in the air, child trying not to choke and milk flying everywhere, its safe to say this is the part of breastfeeding I was not quite prepared for and really had to master. I’m all about eco friendly as much as possible so had a go at reusable breast pads but unfortunately they just weren’t doing the trick. I remember in those early weeks when I would happily be sitting in my freshly washed clothes feeding Mason before going out. Next minute I felt the opposite boob and there it was, leakage all through my bra and top.
It was annoying but also made me feel so stink for wasting so much precious milk! This didn’t happen just once either.
Recommendations and tips that worked for me:
As I continue on sharing this side of my motherhood journey I will add in photos of the products/items I used that helped me in controlling this issue and that have helped over my whole breastfeeding journey so far too. I worked out pretty fast that disposable breast pads were going to have to be my thing as they absorbed the milk better and stayed in place, thankfully. I still tried to find the most eco friendly type though so I will put the details for them below. I got these ones from Countdown.
You also cannot go wrong with burp cloths. Obviously you buy them for when your baby has finished a feed and needs to bring up wind. I never realised I would need them so much and not only for this use but instead to catch my milk supply.
Before every feed I would place one into the edge of my bra as Mason would feed so if he pulled off I could quickly catch it with the cloth. I swear we went through so many at the start, trust me you can never have to many and KMART swaddles are what we used as ours! (not the colour we got but the brand and type)
For a while I tried attaching my Haakaa pump to the opposite breast as Mason fed but I found he just knocked it off so easily. Instead I found myself just holding it under my boob and catching the let down as it happened and before long a good old coffee mug from the pantry did the trick too. It got annoying though. I didn’t want to sit feeding for a good old 20 mins per side with no arms free! That’s when the nipple shells became part of our feeding process. They sit within your bra and catch the let down as you feed. What’s great is you can then save it and store it easily. Definitely such a great product for those first months!
As you can see these are from Baby City.
When it came to being out and about feeding though nipple shells weren’t ideal. So in the end I worked out a way that was best for whilst out that wasn’t to obvious. Using the thickest of Masons face cloths I would take one with me in my baby bag along with a burp cloth no matter where I went. When it came time to feed I would place the cloth into my bra on the boob I wasn’t about to feed off. This would catch the let down without being noticeable and then I could easily put it back into my bag afterwards. You see I know this is what breast pads should be for but I was not prepared to be changing my breast pads at every feed! I would need breast pads galore.
Now five months in my boobs have finally settled a lot and aren’t drenching me quite as much. The cloth doesn’t have to be put in place and if I want to save some milk I can just choose to use the nipple shell or hold a mug underneath my boob. Yes, that’s right a mug… The incredible side of over supply is how easy it is to get milk out and to store for later. I have never used a pump and don’t even own one yet. I don’t bother collecting any milk in the day but as Mason only has one night feed my boobs get more engorged at this time. It’s then that I just hold a mug underneath a boob at a time and push on them til they less full. I then feed Mason. Doing this helps him not get drowned at the feed (as I do this in bed lying on my side) and it also allows me to save that milk either for future feeds or for the bath!
It’s this part that I’m most grateful for, being able to easily feed my baby. It’s what makes those challenges all worth it.
The dreaded M word.
Speaking of challenges. This has been the biggest one for me and it has made me question whether I can continue breastfeeding my sweet boy many times. Mastitis, its not my friend to say the least. In fact I think it hates me. Yep, mastitis has tried to attack my body 5 times since having Mason and 3 of those times I have had to go on antibiotics for it. If you have had mastitis or even the start of it you know it’s horrid. The first time I began to get it I was 3 weeks into motherhood and I felt so cold and achy it was like I had been hit with the flu. Oh yeah and my boob literally felt like someone had punched me directly on it, hard!
I could be here forever talking about the ups and downs of this annoying side of motherhood but I’ll try to keep it to the short version and share with you the tips that worked for me. Its safe to say I am so over taking antibiotics and I hate that if you start to get flu like symptoms you have no choice to. If there was one thing I wish was almost compulsory to do when becoming a mama is go to a breastfeeding talk, that covers no supply, good supply, over supply and what to do to prevent/if you get mastitis!
Two times now I have been able to naturally work my way at mastitis trying to creep up on me and attack it before it has attacked me. Its hard, bloody hard and I have hands down found it the hardest part of my mama journey. I hope I never get it again and hope none of you other mamas have to experience it. Here are my tips to prevent/if you do though. (not saying these are the only methods but these are what have helped me. Please see your doctor if you have any concerns, if it happens to you acting fast is essential)
1. I get Mason to feed off one side and try to drain that boob completely. Once he goes to the next boob he wont feed as much and I begin with that boob next round of feeding.
2. Put pressure on your boob where you feel lumps as your baby feeds to really drain it.
3. If you begin to feel a sore part of your boob then apply super hot flannels or wheat bag, get the baby to feed and then afterwards apply freezing cold flannels. This helps open the ducts right up and then closes them off to stop produce milk.
4. Take Vit C every day and if you feel mastitis or a blocked duct coming on up your dose.
5. When your boob is sore drain it once daily in the shower until the lump starts to disappear/boob stops hurting.
6. If you have an over supply it’s not ideal to use a pump unless you are for storing milk. It could bring on your supply more.
7. After your baby has fed it’s not ideal to keep pushing on your boobs or pumping to get even more milk out. Your boobs will think it needs to produce more milk then what your baby is wanting. (remember I’m talking from an oversupply perspective)
8. As soon as you feel flu like symptoms e.g – temp, hot and cold, achy then contact your doctor and get Flucloxacillin!
9. Homeopathic remedies have worked great for me. Try Weleda’s Mastitis drops or NaturoPharm’s Phytolaccas 30c tablets.
Follow the instructions as soon as you feel a sore boob.
10. I have been recommended Lecithin by two lactation consultants and health store people. I now take one tablet a day and it helps thin the milk out to prevent clogged ducts.
It’s been one wild ride my boobs have taken me on but I’m determined. I’m all for fed is best and truly believe you have to do what is right for you and your baby. Everyone’s journey is different. For me the connection that breastfeeding creates has me wanting to try and continue for as long as I can. Well for at least a year. I’m so grateful for the fact I have gotten the opportunity to provide for my baby this way and it melts my heart seeing him find so much comfort in feeding from me.
Us mamas go through a lot and if you don’t have one thing you are bound to have another.
I’ll just focus on the positives – a well fed babe and finally a good pair of breasts on my chest!