Baby, breast feeding, Combination feeding, mastitis

My breastfeeding journey – the end is in sight!

When I originally thought of this blog post title, I didn’t think I would get my little one onto bottles, but thanks to the NUK closer to nature bottle, that’s not an issue (see my bottle review post here).

Mastitis – the devil!

Getting mastitis was what started me on the road to ending my breastfeeding journey. It is rare that someone will make it through their own breastfeeding journey without getting mastitis at least once. For others they can be riddled with it! I was lucky enough to avoid it up until my little one was 7 moths old. It hit me like a ton of bricks. It started with just feeling very uncomfortable one Sunday evening when I was lying down to go to sleep. One breast just felt really achy and sore to the touch. I thought nothing of it until I woke up the next day feeling extremely ill., I had a high temperature, aches and pains all over, a splitting headache, no energy and a very very sore breast. That’s the moment you realise there is no rest for us mommas! I couldn’t call in sick from my day job, and my little one needed as much attention as normal. I was lucky enough to have had a GP appointment that morning by chance. Had it not been booked, I probably would have gotten much worse before getting checked out. I was prescribed antibiotics which took a few days to clear up the infection. But the worse part was just how exhausted I was. It really surprised me how much of a toll a little infection can take on the body.

On the road to getting my boobs back!

Every piece of information I have read about breastfeeding is based on how to get breastfeeding established, how to get through the first few weeks. Nowhere at all does it tell you how to stop!

Once I got my little one to accept formula, I chose one feed every half a week or so to switch to a bottle feed. I started with day feeds, as I was going back to work, it was most important to get the little one onto a bottle when I wasn’t there. I tried to be rigid about the feed I chose and not offer him the boob for these feeds, despite him looking for it at times. There were days when he just needed boob comfort, for example when he got a terrible cold. But I just tried not to make it a habit.

All together it took about 8 weeks to get my little one off breastfeeding exclusively and onto formula during the day. Doing this slowly prevented the over-production of milk most of the time. I will admit, I am still feeding him in the middle of the night, but I will be dropping that soon. I never thought I would make it past 6 weeks feeding, then I said I would stop at 6 months. Now we are nine months in and I can’t believe it.

I am looking forward to getting my body back but I will really miss the closeness and connection you get from breastfeeding. But for now, I am just going to enjoy every last feed I have left.

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Baby, breast feeding, Combination feeding, Easy Parenting, NUK, NUK Closer to Nature, Product Tester

NUK Closer to Nature bottle review

I was lucky enough to be chosen as a product tester for the NUK Closer to Nature bottle set which was arranged by a great magazine Easy Parenting (read the online magazine here). I was sent out the bottle set for 6-18 months, a lovely bottle brush and the NUK bottle cleanser.

My little one was exclusively breast fed (other than a handful of bottles to top him up during the first few weeks). So when I started thinking about going back to work and thus trying to get him onto some Formula during the day, he did not take kindly to it. He really tried hard not to succumb to drinking from a bottle. Originally I tried him on Tomee Tippee bottles (he has the same brand soother) with Formula and he completely refused it. After a few days of continuous bottle rejection, I tried him on expressed breast milk in the bottle, still no joy. Over the course of the next 2 weeks I tried a bottle every day with expressed breast milk, testing beakers (he loves drinking water from his beaker), the magic cup (again loves water from this) and some MAM bottles. No joy at all. Through persistence he started to drink a little from a MAM bottle, but not very much at all, he chewed the teat more than anything. He would reluctantly drink about 1 ounce from this bottle.

When I saw that Easy Parenting were looking for product testers for the NUK Closer to Nature bottle, which is really good for combination feeding mums, I thought why not give this one a try and boy am I happy I did! It is the only bottle we now use.

Our little one loves the bottles, there are multiple holes at the top of the bottle, similar to milk ducts. The bottle is nicely shaped and easy to hold for him. It is also very easy to clean, breaking down into 4 easy to wash parts.

The NUK bottle brush has a strong, good quality main brush and a small brush which gets right down into the bottom of the teat, so you know the bottle is well cleaned. That paired with the easy to use cleaning solution, has given me lots of reassurance that the bottles are properly clean before going into the steriliser.

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If you want to give the bottles a try, you can get them online here: NUK Closer to Nature.

**Other than getting the free products (and a wonderful coffee morning to discuss how we got on) I have not received anything for my review, I just thought it would be nice to tell people how I got on.

Baby, breast feeding, Cuidiu, Haakka, Lanolin, Multimam, new-born, newborn

My breastfeeding journey – getting started

I am pretty sure that the first thing that comes to mind when you think of breastfeeding is “I must breastfeed, everyone says so”. It is easy for outsiders to pass judgement about breastfeeding but you can’t really understand it until you have tried it yourself. Every breastfeeding journey is different and none are easy. This is a short account of how I got started on our breastfeeding journey and what I found really useful!

The preparation before due date

I wasn’t able to go to the breastfeeding classes at the hospital before my little one arrived. And with the benefit of hindsight, I definitely wish I had gone. I think that the information you get at these classes is really important to help get comfortable with breastfeeding.

Equipment

I didn’t buy a breast pump before and I am really happy I didn’t. As  much as you want to breastfeed, it might not always go to plan. If it doesn’t, you don’t want to have incurred the expense of a pump needlessly (and they are not cheep). If you need to pump in hospital or shortly after it, the hospital does rent pumps that you can use, so there is no need for a mad dash to the shops if you need one.

I did however purchase a Haakka pump. This is a really convenient non-mechanical pump, with no moving parts just one piece. It will only set you back €20 and is perfect for expressing while feeding on the other side. I found the pump really handy, especially in the early days while your milk is still coming in. You can buy it online here.

The first latch

Skin to skin is the most important thing to do to get breastfeeding started. It not only calms your baby after their long birthing journey but it helps to get mum and baby comfortable together to help with their first latch. I remember sitting on the post labour ward trying to get breastfeeding started, with the nurse stuffing my nipple into my little ones mouth. It was such a nerve wrecking and stressful time. But when the suckling started for the first time, it was such a relief…. until you had to feed him again and you were back to square one.

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Nuzzling for some milk!

The first few days

I was discharged from the hospital early into the community care. All I was ever told was that breast is best. I did not know that sometimes (especially with new mums) your milk does not come very quickly and you might not actually have enough to sustain your little one. Your milk can take up to 5 days to come in for first time mums and while you have colostrum, that is not always enough. Less than 36 hours after arriving home, we were back in the hospital, our little one was less than 50 hours old and he was starving! He had lost over 9% of his birth weight, his blood sugar levels were low and he was quite jittery because of it. We had no idea that we should have given him a formula bottle top up during those early days. Luckily it was an easy fix, a night of bottle feeds in the hospital and our little bundle of joy was back at home with mummy and daddy having put on weight over night!

So when preparing for your little arrival, it is always useful to have a bit of formula just in case. I would recommend buying the pre-made formula so you don’t need to worry about making formula in the early days, just for convenience.

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Examples of small pre-made formula bottles

The first 6 weeks

Breastfeeding is painful! It is amazing how sensitive your nipples can become and you dread the next feed! Nothing gives relief. And not only that, but as your milk is regulating I found I could wake up at night with way too much milk and desperately needing to feed to relieve the pressure (the Haakkaa will also help with this). There are however some things which can help and are good to have to hand.

Lanolin nipple cream – this is great to use at night time. The books all say wear maternity bras always but I found that made me worse. All you need is a nice loose T-shirt to let the air get at your nipples.

Multimam pads are little pads of cooling gel which are great to have on during the day. I stored the new ones in the fridge to make them extra cool and soothing. Though I have also heard that cabbage leaves left in the fridge have the same cooling effect.

The turning point

During the first 6 weeks when you are so uncomfortable you feel like the pictures of babies looking up at mums lovingly while latched on are all just a lie. I remember being in a lot of pain, trying to feed and wondering how I would ever get past that day of feeds, let alone make it to six months. And then the magic 6 week point is hit, and for some reason it all just stops hurting. It is fabulous. That was the moment at which I could relax into feeding. I also think surrounding yourself with other breastfeeding mums is so important. In the early days I was super shy, I was trying to cover up with blankets etc. if I was feeding out and making my little one over heat. But once I started going to breastfeeding support groups and meeting other mums, it normalised the whole process. It was probably the best thing that I did. You can find breastfeeding support groups for free in your local health centre (they have a public health nurse at every meeting in case you have questions) or you can attend other meetings with groups such as Cuidiu.

If you are trying to get breastfeeding established and you are in the first six weeks, my biggest piece of advice would be if you can hold on in there, there is light at the end of the tunnel! But if you can’t, don’t stress, babies thrive on formula just as well!