Life with a newborn can be fairly dull and it’s OK to admit it! Yes, it’s completely life-affirming, amazing and… oooh…. that smell and those snuggles can be totally addictive. BUT. It is also often overwhelming and can feel pretty claustrophobic compared to the relative freedoms you had pre-baby. Breastfeeding can sometimes feel like just another thing to add to the ‘job’ list. Empty the dishwasher, put on another wash, pay some bills, change the baby, dress the baby, get boobs out for the baby.
You get the gist.
However, when the focus shifts more on to breastfeeding gradually becoming an enjoyable and everyday part of life, women really can get the bug for it.
The key to this lies in two things:
Firstly, get some well-informed and early support if breastfeeding is proving hard. You won’t be on your own if you need to. The chances are that you have never seen a newborn being breastfed until you’re suddenly doing it yourself, so it is little wonder that often it doesn’t feel like it’s coming ‘naturally’ to us.
Secondly, don’t make life more complicated and restricted than it needs to be:
- You don’t need to be on any special diet. If you love cake. Eat it. If you love burgers. Eat them! Although having a well-balanced and healthy diet is great (for anyone), it is not the be all and end all and if your life isn’t about quinoa, curly kale and carrot juice, your milk will still be absolute gold.
- You CAN have a drink and feel entirely guilt-free about it! With a few t’s and c’s, drinking as a breastfeeding mama is absolutely possible, but do just make sure you read up on it so that you know you’re doing it safely.
- You don’t have to spend your days in frumpy nursing tops and huge, ugly bras! There are loads of brands now doing gorgeous breastfeeding clothes but you don’t actually have to spend heaps, or even any, money on them if you don’t want to. With my own kids I tended to live in breastfeeding vests with the clippy bits on the straps and then put any normal clothes on over the top. That way I could lift my normal top up, unclip the vest and away we went, without needing to worry about anything being on show.
- You don’t need to be “stuck on the sofa” doing nothing but feed! Whilst it’s true to say that babies do feed A LOT in the early weeks, as they get bigger and your milk supply becomes established, feeding times often become pretty efficient and you’ll soon be feeding any which way, all over the place, without having to give it much of a second thought. In the meantime though….make the most of it! Watch Netflix, call your friends, do your online shop, read a magazine, do some work. Whatever. If you’re thinking ‘how is that possible because I have no free hands?!’ then get someone to show you how to reposition yourself and your baby, to give you some of that freedom. It’s completely possible, I promise!
- You can feed WHEREVER you like. If you have a legal right to be there, then you have a legal right to breastfeed True. Whilst the vast majority of breastfeeding mamas have a happy and peaceful time feeding out and about, there are always going to be some annoying exceptions. So, if any store manager or cafÃ© owner tries to give you hassle, then tell them they could be up for prosecution. Again, true. They’ll soon leave you alone!
- You don’t have to take on the world just because you are breastfeeding. The African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” is so true in any society, regardless of how you feed your baby. So go and find your tribe! There is significant evidence to show that women are happier and continue breastfeeding longer, if they feel supported by a few people who have their back. So whether it’s your partner, best friend, mother, neighbour, new buddies from antenatal classes, a local breastfeeding support group or even one online, do try and surround yourself with at least a few like-minded people. And remember….breastfeeding your baby is the one thing your partner, your mother or your best friend won’t do for you! But they can do anything else to help you out and to bond with the baby themselves, such as bathing, changing, massaging, dressing, winding, playing, walking, carrying them and so on. If you want to express a bottle for someone else to give, then that can work a treat but ideally wait until after the first month, so you and your baby have really figured out breastfeeding first.