When I found out that I was pregnant, I decided that I would like to breastfeed once my baby was born. During the pregnancy I read up on breastfeeding. I found the talk that was given by my health visitor helpful, as she was able to answer the questions the group had. I wasn't going to worry about it too much as I would give breastfeeding a go and hopefully it would just work.
When Eloise was born she latched onto my breast fine and fed for about 10 minutes. This first feed called colostrum meant that she got all the antibodies from me that she needed to kick-start her immune system. This milk is very concentrated. There is only a little of this, before the foremilk and hind milk comes through after a few days.
It wasn't easy at the start, as she didn't want to feed that much because she was still sleepy from the birth. The nurse at the hospital took some milk from me using a syringe and feed Eloise. She did this because Ellie had not fed for a few hours. The nurses gave me a feeding chart to record the time, side of breast and how long she fed for.
As Ellie had slight jaundice I was advised to feed Ellie every 3 hours until it got better. I fed on demand so there were times when I thought that she was never off the breast! Ellie was fine latching on and we had very few problems with the feeding. I found the closeness lovely and I let her sleep on me at times after she had fed. I found having a glass of water, a snack, book/magazine, mobile phone and TV remote near by handy as if she fed for a while I could relax myself doing something else.
I made sure that I drank lots of fluids and ate a nutritious diet. I found that my weight dropped back to normal quickly. Breastfeeding uses up lots of calories each day. It also helps the uterus to contract back into shape as the suction of the feeding makes small contractions in the uterus. I could feel this at the beginning and also my feet sometimes went tingly.
It was tiring feeding on demand at night, but I knew that Ellie was getting the best possible start with me feeding her. We waited until she was about 8 weeks and I had established feeding before I expressed milk. I used the Tommee Tippee hand pump and found it easy to use. I expressed for about 10 mins. She did not take to the bottle at all. Why would she when she can have me to cuddle into? We persevered and about age 4--5 months she took the bottle okay, but that was after finding out her sitting in the car seat looking at us helped. I froze milk in freezer bags I got from Boots so we could defrost some if I wanted her dad to feed her.
I found feeding Ellie in public for the first times a bit embarrassing, but where I live in Kingston there are lots of baby/children-friendly places, so it was easy to find a place to feed her. After a while I didn't mind where I fed her as it's natural and I have to feed her, so I didn't care what other people thought. The weirdest place I fed her was in the cemetery!
There was a great club called "Baby Cafe" that helped mums with any breastfeeding problems. It was great to talk to mums who were having the same concerns as I was.
At 8 months I was still feeding her 3 times during the day and once during the night. I dropped the mid morning feed just before she was 7 months as she wasn't taking much. I now give her yoghurt, fruit or rice cakes. I fed her in the morning, in the afternoon, and before bed.
I stopped the mid afternoon feed at 9 months with advice from my Health Visitor. This feed is replaced by a snack.
At just over 12 months I stopped the night time feed before bed, which was less problematic than I anticipated. I just gave her some milk with her book and she seemed fine. I finally stopped breastfeeding just before she was 14 months. I stopped the morning feed by replacing it with water and if it was before 6am I gave her some banana as she is was not keen on milk and that seemed to settle her.
Breastfeeding for me has been a wonderful experience and I like the fact that before she was weaned she was growing because of me. I would recommend that if you can breastfeed, do it. A friend of mine persevered for about 5 weeks at the beginning and she was still feeding at 10 months.
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