Piper is nearing her one-month birthday. I KNOW.
It’s been an incredible (and incredibly fast) first few weeks. She is amazing. I’m drowning in every bit of her, because she really is growing up way too fast for my liking. In fact, I had a little moment this past weekend when discussing birth stories with friends (yes, this is what we talk about now) and I realised she will be my last every baby. I’m devastated that I wont ever have that experience again. But, I digress.
Coming home with a new baby is always a daunting exercise – regardless if you’re like me and it’s your second, or if it’s baby number 5 you’re bringing home to the family.
You forget everything. It’s amazing how the brain retains only what you really need to remember, and discards the rest. Jokes, you’ve just had a kid, Your brain retains nothing, you are all dumb now. So, in the spirit of helping other new moms keep their shit together, I’ve decided to put together a little ‘Surviving The First Month’ series and chat about everything from boobies and body to blood and ‘bloody hell!’
To kickstart, I’ve decided that the most important thing to discuss is feeding. And in my case, breastfeeding. Apologies to the formula mums – I will be there in a few months when I go back to work (although at times I’ve considered hanging up my boob straps and switching to Nan because of, well, all the below reasons)
The latching… Unlike Carter, when Piper was born they popped her directly on my boob and she latched first time, like a little star. I have nightmare memories of leaking nips from Carter days, so my hospital bag was 3/4 breastpads. Although, you don’t actually need them for the first few days as you are making tiny amounts of colostrum and baby really only needs a teaspoon or less, per feed. So all was good under my proverbial hood and little Pip latched and ate and slept and poo’ed. On day 4 my milk came in, and with it, my boobs doubled in size and became rock hard. Piper was still latching but it was so incredible sore that my toes would literally curl in and I would levitate every time she came anywhere near me. I was using these hideous nipple shields to try get her on (because on top of milk coming in and boobs growing, they also become so rock hard that for baby to get a grip is the equivalent of them trying to wrap their lips around a soccer ball). I was in agony and the breaking point for me came on day 5 when after a feed, I looked down and her little face was covered in blood. I immediately contacted a lactation specialist – Sally – from Noobebe Baby Clinic who came to my house and sat with us for an hour teaching me how to properly latch my baby. That and a session of physio** helped me so much and I cannot stress enough what an investment this is. I can understand why so may moms give up trying to breastfeed, the pain of early onset mastitis, cracked nippled and rock hard goombies is enough to make even the most hardcore crunchy mom give up and grab a bottle.
The mess… Guys. You must never underestimate the messiness of milk. I can only speak from my experience, but when the milk comes in, it comes in fast ad furious. Like the cast of Absolutely Fabulous at a gin sale. No amount of breastpads can prevent this:
Or this (Incase you’re wondering, this is my duvet cover, which means I leaked through shields, a bra, a top and actual linen.)
And even if they do, its a fucking nightmare when boob is out, baby’s on and she suddenly pulls away. Milk streams out at ferocious 90 degree angles. If a forensic expert had to come in to my home they would find traces of Kates Dairy all over the house, from the curtains to the carpets. I took a break from writing this blog to feed Piper now, and this is legitimately what she looked like after her first suck:
My advice? Stock up on breastpads and keep them everywhere. Baby’s room, your room, under your pillow, wedged between cushion covers and in your car. Also, you will be very sleep deprived and therefore very stupid. Top tip? Don’t apply them sticky side down on your nipples. It’s not pleasant.
Feeding in public… I could never get this right with Carter and hated the thought of going out with him when he needed a feed. The amount of times the poor Woolworths change-room assistants let me borrow a stall is beyond me. It also got very expensive as every-time I used a room to feed I felt obliged to buy myself new clothes. Nursing covers are hot and stuffy and unpleasant all round, plus, they could be the size of a picnic blanket but you are still guaranteed a nip sip when shifting baby from boob to boob. I find it incredibly difficult as I have to help her get latched which means both hands need to be under my top, and in order to see what Im doing that also means that I need to also be under the cover. There is not less conspicuous than a hot sweaty woman with a bright pink shawl draped over her shoulders in 30 degree heat trying to wrestle an infant octopus between oversized leaky mammaries. If I have to, then I will feed in public. If not, I express, bottle the milk up and actually just save us both from tears.
Expressing and bottle feeding… I used the Medela double electric pump with Carter and am using it again with Pip. This thing is terrific, the only downfall is that you have to hold the pump in place while expressing which meant you were very limited for however long it took to get the milk out. That is, until Michelle from BreastPumps and Beyond came to my house to deliver, what I fondly refer to, as THE BIGGEST GODSEND AFTER HAVING A BABY. She also brought me chocolates, so she’s basically my favourite person. It’s a click on bra that allows you to hook the pump in so you can operate hands free. This thing has actually changed my life. I can read, work, blog, watch TV, take hideous selfies or wash dishes while expressing. Jokes. I have a dishwasher for that.
I debated for hours over posting this photo, but decided that in the spirit of honest parenting, you needed to see what real motherhood looks like. It ‘aint pretty.
I’m using the Medela Calma bottle and teat which mimics the sucking action of a nipple. (God, how many times can one person actually say ‘nipple‘ in a post?). I’ve been expressing from 4 days and giving Piper the occasional bottle since she was 5 days old – so I can get a break, or feed in public or so hubby can feed and I can
sleep lie awake wondering if he’s going to remember to change her nappy afterwards. Oh, and also so I can drink. heavily.
So, what have I actually achieved with this post? Apart from perhaps causing a spike in the sale of the contraceptive pill? Well, hopefully to help you realise that you’re not alone in this messy journey of motherhood, and also to help you stock up on shit you really need, versus shit you really don’t.
Shit you really need:
Breastpads. Any brand. The large box. keep them everywhere
Towelling nappies. Not for nappying, for absorbing spillage and mess and milk and tears.
A Medela breastpump and THE WORDS GREATEST BRA. Get them here:
A nipple cream – I use the Medela lanolin. Yes you will gawk at the price. Yes, you will need it. (great for cuticles, too).
The number of a good Sister (like nurse, not biological or Whoopi) who can help you with your latch – chat to Sally from Noobebe. She also does vaccinations.
The number of a physio who can help you should you get mastitis or pain.
A comfy chair. I use the ComfyMummy chair with a foot cushion and it’s really helped with those 3 am feeds when you are so exhausted you can’ see straight Tip> Pay for Scotch Guarding. because, mess. FYI – they have recently moved their showrooms so give them a visit or have a look at their website.
Shit you don’t need:
Breastfeeding tops – They really make zero difference when you have to peel back layers of bras and pads anyway.
Overly warm breastfeeding covers – they are not fun for everyone
Nipple shields. If I can give up this crutch, so can you. I promise.
Judgy opinions. Do what works for you.
** Side note. When selecting a physio to caress, massage and laser your boobs, try not to book your husbands ex girlfriend. You’re welcome.
The lovely folk at Breastpumps and Beyond and Medela want to try and simplify your breastfeeding experience, so we are giving away one Harmony manual pump to a lucky winner. I also have this particular pump as it’s super handy for on-the-go expressing. I’m shooting a wedding at the end of the month and will be taking it along to express between the ‘I Do’s’ . To enter, all you need to do is subscribe to this blog, like and share the post on your Facebook timeline (you can share it from here) and leave me a comment. Winner will be drawn and announced on Thursday.