In honour of World Breastfeeding Week, we’ve asked Hollie from Pretty Big Butterflies to share her top tips when it comes to feeding your baby, and what to expect as a new mum:
What was your experience with breastfeeding?
As a mum of two (I can hardly believe I’m saying that!) I’ve had two different experiences when it comes to feeding my babies. Before I go any further, it’s worth remembering every woman and every pregnancy is different – as is every baby. We’re all unique which is why there isn’t a parenting manual, unfortunately! When it comes to feeding babies, we’re told at almost every opportunity that breast is best. I don’t disagree with this at all. In fact, it makes sense! The milk coming from the mother’s breast is full of all the natural nutrients that babies need. But let me tell you, it isn’t easy and breastfeeding mums have my absolute total respect.
My first son was in intensive care for a week when he was born, so I didn’t have the option to breast feed from his first day. I could have attempted to try once he was well, but it would have been an almost impossible task. Plus, he was already on a healthy formula bottle routine. It seemed unfair to change it. My second son, who is only a few weeks old, is also being bottle-fed. I latched him on to my breast for the first 48 wonderful hours, but after it became quite painful after that. I then went on to bottle-feed. Sometimes I wish we had done otherwise, but I definitely wouldn’t rule out breastfeeding if we had another one.
Did you feel supported?
I wish sometimes that I’d had more breastfeeding support, mainly with my first baby. We were very much just left to get on once he was out of intensive care, and obviously emotions were all over the place. I really didn’t know what I was doing. Although breastfeeding may look easy, it can be so demanding, especially at a time when hormones are already on full throttle. I salute every mama who has attempted breastfeeding, successful or not. I also salute every mama who doesn’t breastfeed, because there is no shame in bottle-feeding either.
What should you wear when you’re plus size and breastfeeding?
I know so many mums who worry about breastfeeding because of the attention it apparently causes. (I say apparently because I think it shouldn’t cause any attention at all!) I’m a strong believer that you should breastfeed in public wherever you feel comfortable. You’re feeding your baby not offering a strip tease! Anyway, however you feel about breastfeeding in public, having comfortable clothing is definitely going to make it easier.
If you don’t already know, Bump It Up Maternity have lots of options when it comes to nursing tops. You wouldn’t know it to look at but lots of them have a secret space to make it easier to nurse your little ones without feeling like you’re getting undressed! Plus, most of their pieces are super stretchy so you can manoeuvre around your little one easily.
What is your advice to new mums who are thinking about breastfeeding?
I strongly believe every woman should make the decision based on what’s best for her. I think breastfeeding can be so daunting at the start, well it was for me. There isn’t a one size fits all approach to parenting, it really does come down to trial and error, natural instinct, common sense, professional advise and a little bit of luck!
I think the big thing to remember when breastfeeding – and I wish I were more aware of this. It’s not to put too much pressure on yourself. Things can happen over time, milk can take a while to come in and everything gets better with practice. Reach out for help from friends and health visitors if you’re struggling and don’t feel like a failure if things don’t go as planned. You’re doing amazing.
Breastfeeding advice from fellow mums:
For anyone considering breastfeeding or struggling at the moment, I’ve reached out to some lovely women to ask for their top tips on breastfeeding:
Jade from Thrifty Yorkshire Mum: “If it’s something you want to do, then do as much research as you can before baby is born. It doesn’t always come naturally and you have to remember that baby is learning to breastfeed just as you are.”
Hannah from Lippy in London: “If you breastfeed/plan on breastfeeding then invest in button-up or stretchy tops and dresses so you’ve got easy access and one less thing to worry about when you’re out in public.”
Chantele from Two Hearts One Roof: ”If you’re breastfeeding, wear a teething necklace or a chunky necklace your little one can play with while feeding. It stops the nipple tweaking, hair pulling and putting their fingers in your mouth!”
Kylie from Fun Family Florida: “There is an amazing support network out there. I broke down to my health visitor and asked for help. Not long after I got mastitis and at that time my loose fitting maternity wear was a godsend.”
Sherry at The Confident Mother: “If breastfeeding doesn’t get off to a good start and you want to breastfeed, keep going with the skin to skin contact, get support from somebody who offers specialist breastfeeding support.”
For professional help and support you can contact these helplines and website:
• National Breastfeeding Helpline – 0300 100 0212
• Association of Breastfeeding Mothers – 0300 330 5453
• National Childbirth Trust (NCT) – 0300 330 0700
Lot’s of Love, Hollie #HolliesPregnancyDiaries