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I'm so proud of Arlo and I today! We have been breastfeeding for 7 months and I'm sharing with you the 7 things that really helped me at the beginning of our breastfeeding journey. Like anything new you try, there are always obstacles and it takes a bit of time for things to fall into place and find your groove. I just want to start by saying that without a doubt the single most important thing to have when starting your breastfeeding journey is love and support. Find people who fit in with your way of thinking and understand what your goals are. Avoid those who make you feel like you're being a martyr just because you're having a rough day. Only you can decide when you've done all you can. Only you can decide what benefits of breastfeeding will outweigh what can be an initial struggle. I personally found so much guidance in online groups with breastfeeding mamas all over the world and I'm lucky to have an amazing family. We are loving the journey so far!
1. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding I spent my pregnancy slowly reading through this and prepping myself for what was to come. It was a massive help to already have an idea of the basics before Arlo arrived. For me, it was important to get in the right mindset for breastfeeding and this helped clear up some before baby nerves I was having! I kind of just submerged myself in the book and tried to absorb everything. Definitely a great way to start.
2. Soft Bras I tried a lot of nursing bras and most of the fancy shmancy ones stay in the drawer. Honestly I think the best bra is a stretchy one! They're great to pull down easily without fiddling with clips and straps. Some of the nursing bras I tried were so sore to wear, especially in the beginning when your supply is all over the place and prone to becoming engorged. Go with the comfy and stretchy.
3. Breast Pads These ones are great for soaking up leakages. I like these because they're washable and really soft. Also they can act as a barrier, especially when things are a bit tender in the first few weeks. Once my supply settled and I wasn't leaking so much, I started to wear just one on the opposite side to the side I just fed on. Great for those moments when you've forgotten which side to feed on next.
4. Muslin Cloths During the first few weeks, Arlo was so tiny and I would just stuff one of these down my top because for some reason my body thought I might need to feed a small army so I was super massive. I found it pretty hard to get my bra comfortably on too and by then it was time to feed again so I just didn't bother with a bra at all. The midwives thought it was great!
5. Coconut Oil Amazingly cooling and moisturising. I would put a bit of this on after every feed and it was the best thing for stopping any cracks or blockages.
6. Multi-mam Compresses These are like an intensive treatment for nipples if feeding gets very sore. They saved me on some of the long nights!
7. Breastfeeding App I know apps aren't for everyone but I loved this. It gave me so much confidence that I could track Arlo's feeds and be sure that he was feeding frequently and for how long. It helped me figure out what pattern worked best for us and helped me plan ahead a few hours, because I could roughly predict when the next feed would be. I used this until he was 3 months old.
Some things I found useful, but not overly essential were:
A breastfeeding pillow (this one is cute) which helped being handsfree.
A shawl or a cover is good if you feel like you need it (don't let anyone tell you to use one for their benefit!) I used a scarf a few times in the beginning as I was getting accustomed to feeding, but I did find Arlo liked to be in the darkness and a cover was good for that. I like the pattern on this one.
Something I wish I'd had was a little night light like this one which would have come in very handy for the night feeds!
Good luck to all you mums on your breastfeeding journey, I hope this helps!
To celebrate International Homebirth Day I would like to share Arlo's birth story with you all today! It's only 4 months late ha!
Cast your minds back to the evening of January 31st 2016. Apart from having an extra long nap, I wasn't feeling any different than usual or showing any signs that labour might be near. I was frantically messaging a lady on facebook who was selling her wardrobe and trying to get Rikki to measure the bedroom to see if it would fit. I just felt like we needed this wardrobe! We had dinner and went to bed but I wasn't able to settle my mind and was having the usual braxton hicks. Around 1am I realised that the braxton hicks weren't fading away like they usually would, and so I got out of bed to sit on the birthball and see if that helped. I thought to myself that this could be early labour and early labour can go on for a few days really and so it was unlikely that baby would be making an appearance. I didn't want to get my hopes up or put myself on a clock. The birthball didn't help fade away the "braxton hicks" (Erm because it was labour!) so I ran a bath and relaxed in it for a while. Around 3am I woke up Rikki to tell him that I'd started early labour but that it could be days before we had any action. Like a great daddy to be, he didn't think it was weird when I asked for a hotwater bottle... in the bath. I spent the next while in and out of the bath and unbeknownst to me, Rikki was timing everything. Around 8am we called the midwife, and she came around to monitor me. As per my wishes, I had no examinations and my lovely midwife sat in the hallway timing my contractions and reading my birthplan while I stayed in the bath and put on the hypnobirth music I had been listening to throughout the last few weeks of pregnancy. At some point I felt like the bath wasn't helping any more so instead I spent time in the bedroom and bathroom. I remember asking the midwife "Am I going to have a baby today?" She smiled and said yes! The hypnobirthing music was really doing it's job as I started to fall asleep in between the surges. My second midwife arrived and also stayed in the hallway and let me do my thing. They listened in to the heartbeat a few times throughout the labour. Things got kind of pushy as I kept going with my hypnobreathing. I didn't realise but my body was doing the pushing for me and I just tried to let that happen and stay relaxed.
The midwives said: We think baby is going to be here very soon-
Me: How soon?
Midwives: Really soon.
Me: How do you know?
Midwives: Well, you're showing some signs-
Me: What signs?
Midwives: You're making some noises and-
Me: What noises?
Bless them, I wasn't about to take it lightly that baby was almost here unless he absolutely was. I wasn't in the pushy stage for very long and Arlo's water burst before his head. It felt like a proper pop! Pretty soon after his head was born and I switched positions for his shoulders and body a few minutes later. He was passed up on to my chest where he let out a little screech like a velociraptor! The time was 14.17. We all just stared at each other for a while! I couldn't believe he was holding his head up by himself! We had skin on skin for a long while and waited for the cord to stop pulsing before Rikki cut it. During that time I tried nursing but he wanted to look around and take in the world! The midwives were amazing, letting us bond and cuddle in between weighing him (8lbs 10oz!!) and measuring him (53cm!!). Somehow we used every towel in the house, bar the stash I had specifically put aside in my homebirth basket. But they cleared everything up and stayed until around 6pm. Then we made a few calls to our families to let them know! As it was Rikki's birthday we played a little joke when skyping my brother. "Here's the birthday boy!" I said with the camera facing away. "Yes, Happy Birthday Rikki!" he said. "No, not that birthday boy... this one!" and held the camera around to show Arlo. The midwives came back to see how breastfeeding was going before we settled in to bed for our first night at home as a family.
We loved having a homebirth. Here's Arlo an hour old, taking it all in.
Quite a few cameos in here! Hope you enjoy some clips from my pregnancy and from Arlo's first few weeks in the world.
If you missed it, here's the link to the pregnancy announcement video we made last year. It was a fun way to tell everyone! Feels so long ago now!