Now that I’m 2 months into my breastfeeding journey I thought it might be helpful to provide some advice and tips on how to get through those first 6 weeks for new moms. The first 6 weeks of breastfeeding are definitely the hardest; there’s the pain, the continuous feeding and sleepless nights. So here is my advice for how to cope.
1. Get the right latch.
Getting your baby to latch onto the breast properly is key to being pain free. Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt and it should be comfortable. There’s lots of helpful information on YouTube and various other sites and forums, as well as help from a lactation consultant, midwife and health visitor.
2. Get lanolin cream.
They may even crack and bleed, but they’re definitely going to be sore and uncomfortable as they get used to this new change. Applying lanolin cream after each feed will help dramatically, as well as squeezing out a bit of breast milk and rubbing it in before leaving to air dry. The pain will gradually subside by 6 weeks and feeding is comfortable and relaxing.
3. Drink plenty of water.
As soon as Joshua starts feeding, its like I can feel him sucking the water out of my body. I always have to make sure I have a glass of water or diluted squash nearby so I can drink while feeding. Drinking plenty also helps with your supply.
4. Feed baby on demand.
Breast milk is so easily digested because its made of literally everything your baby needs; so there’s little waste (which would also explain the less frequent bowel movements) which means that baby is hungry more frequently. Joshua went from feeding every 2 hours to feeding hourly, by the time I’ve changed and settled him he’s back to being hungry again! I know that this doesn’t last forever and I know that it will eventually get longer between feeds so I try not to stress about it.
5. Cluster feeding is normal.
Cluster feeding is one thing that really worried me. When Joshua went through his first cluster I was super worried, he’d be latched on for so long and when he came off he’d be crying in hunger again and it felt like I wasn’t producing any or enough milk for him. Then I was told about cluster feeding and growth spurts. The constant feeding was his way of telling my breasts to make more milk because he was growing and needed more. I didn’t notice one of the growth spurts and it appeared to me that he feed normally, but I definitely felt the last one. It lasted 3 days and he was feeding every 30 to 45 minutes all day and would not come off the breast in the evening, I’m just grateful that he slept normally at night!
So there are my top tips, I have definitely found the first 6 weeks the most challenging and there have definitely times where I’ve been ready to quit but I’m so happy that I’ve stuck to it. I am now enjoying breastfeeding, even the hourly feeds. I know that the pain is enough to make any new mom quit and it is isn’t easy but it is definitely worth it once you get out of those first 6 weeks and the pain subsides.