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The start of my breastfeeding journey

Thanks for hopping over from Family Fever and welcome to my post for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt Day 1; The Start of My Journey. Sponsors today include Boobie Milk with a £50 voucher, Cherub Chews, who are offering a breastfeeding necklace and Loveyush, who are offering a breastfeeding scarf for our Grand Prize winner. Over £700 worth of goodies are up for grabs entries via the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

I’m afraid to say that the start of my breastfeeding journey with both of my children in turn was ANYTHING BUT positive. Nevertheless I got through it, I began to enjoy it and I ended up breastfeeding both of mine past one year. Testimony to how my relationship with breastfeeding blossomed was the fact that I built a business based on breastfeeding.

I strongly believe that there’s too little said of the struggles you can have during those first few weeks of feeding and a lot of focus on the benefits of breastfeeding. Let’s face it most of us do know how great breast milk is. If, on the other hand, I’d have known how painfully difficult breastfeeding could be at the beginning then I would have been better prepared for these struggles, known I wasn’t the only one, known it could get better and been less close to nearly giving up. It was only through steel determination that I didn’t give up. And of course, looking back, I’m so relieved I didn’t.

So, in an attempt to help others be better prepared for those first few weeks here’s a short list of the five things I wish I’d known about breastfeeding when I started over 4 years ago. Let me stress though that this is my own experience and I do know many mums who have had a very happy breastfeeding journey right from the start:

1. It was excrutiatingly painful. For me this pain lasted for around five weeks. That equates to a lot of feeds for a newborn. But it DID get better. In weeks one to three each latch caused a sharp cutting pain. I remember dreading each feed and tensing up in anticipation. I don’t want to go into too many of the gory details but my second baby drew blood from my damaged nipples on one occasion. He then threw up all the blood he had swallowed over my husband’s shoulder. It was very upsetting and it was the lowest point of my journey. I’ve still not met anyone who has had quite this experience so hopefully I am in a minority here. At the time I remember crying and thinking surely I could no longer feed him. He’d need milk again in about two hours and it would take so long to heal. But the human body is an amazing thing and it did heal very quickly with the help of nipple shields and a lot of Lansinoh cream.

Very much grinning and bearing it!

Very much grinning and bearing it!

2. It’s OK to use nipple shields. My health visitor told me to restrict their use as skin to skin is always best for baby and for milk production. But goodness me if they’re going to ease the pain and allow your sore nipples to heal then I’m personally all for using them for as long as you need to. They certainly didn’t do us any harm.

3. Tongue tie is a common condition which seems to go un-diagnosed among many NHS practitioners. It stops baby opening their mouth wide enough for a good latch and therefore makes breastfeeding painful. Both of my babies had it. It wasn’t diagnosed in hospital but was thankfully noticed at my local breastfeeding clinic. They both had their tongue tie “divided” (cut) at home at around 4 weeks by a local private lactation consultant. I do believe this was the real turning point in making feeding easier. It wasn’t an overnight cure as they both had to “re-learn” feeding and of course I don’t know if it wouldn’t have improved without the procedure, but I do think it helped. It’s just a shame we had to go privately to get the procedure. Some lactation consultants do operate free clinics at local children’s centres.

4. Breastfeeding clinics were fantastically reassuring. In our area they were held at our local children’s centre and they were free and open to all. I met some really wonderful, extremely patient women who ran these clinics (most of whom were volunteers) who gave me tea and cake and watched me feed and suggested different positions and techniques to improve the latch. Just as importantly I met other mums who were in just the same boat as me. It certainly helps knowing you’re not the only one.

5. It’s not necessarily less painful the second time around. Unfortunately for me it was more painful. But some things are definitely better. The main thing is you do have the benefit of knowing it CAN get better and you CAN get through the pain and come out the other end and enjoy breastfeeding. And of course I knew all of the points above as I’d experienced them with my first. Here is my post from when my second was just 4 weeks old which sums up how I was feeling then in my sleep deprived head!

I went on to love breastfeeding my eldest and did it until she was 16 months. I can’t say I loved breastfeeding my second so much, as he was always such a fidget, but the pain did go away and I fed him till he was 13 months. With both I’m so pleased that I persevered as the longer term benefits certainly outweighed the short term struggles.


Following on from my journey, please do hop over to Lycrawidow to see how her journey began and be in with more chances to enter the grand prize draw. Remember you need to earn 50 points to be eligible, full details can be found on the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Site.

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12 thoughts on “The start of my breastfeeding journey”

  1. I dress for comfort these days, I still look smart but I feel more confident if I’m comfortable in what I’m wearing. Gone are the days of killer heels and corset tops!

    1. I’m with you there. If I’m comfortable I feel more like myself and more confident. Comfortable can still be stylish!

  2. What a great post – I definitely think breastfeeding needs to be spoken about a lot more so that us mums can support each other through it when times are hard. Well done for sticking at it, many people would have admitted defeat! #KBBF

    1. Thanks Kate. I was worried I was being too negative but I think the uncensored truth about the difficulties can only prepare new mums better and hopefully make them realise that all these problems are solvable and they’re not the only ones. I, on the other hand, felt quite alone with my first.

  3. Hi Emma,
    Lovely blog post. I have a huge amount of respect for anyone who has battled tongue tie, especially twice!
    And I’m also a realist. I like to know the score.xx

    1. Aw thanks Helen! That’s a very sweet thing to say. Hopefully a lot more first time mums will know about tongue tie in advance xx

  4. Wow; what journeys you’ve had. You sure take your reader along with you; lovely writing style.

    Your post took me back memory lane; Oh, I know about the steel determination of a breastfeeding mama! It was a key component of my journey which I hope to write about in detail sometime soon.

    I remember the days when Lansinoh was defintiely a key bossom buddy and you can not stress the importance of quality support enough. So glad you had the support you needed, if not as quickly. It’s so annoying that tongue tie (in all its variety) isn’t one of the key things that they check at birth. It would save so many tears if it’s sorted really early.

    And Oh, I had a bloody moment too, but no way near as scary as yours. Well done for keeping on, even after this.

    Fab that you’ve gone beyond your experience to support other breastfeeding mums in your work. Thanks for sharing some of the harsh realities of breastfeeding that a lot of mums experience. #PositiveAboutBF

    Feel free to join in with my #BreastfeedingandI linky (Fri – Wed), part of my Breastfeeding and I project 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comments and kind words. I’ll have a look at the linky!

  5. I don’t dress to impress. I dress to be warm and comfortable.

  6. What a journey you have had. And what great advice for new mums. Breastfeeding was a total shock for me, I had been told so much about why I should be breastfeed but nothing about how it would be to breastfeed – those first few weeks were hard, but it got a lot better =)

    1. Thanks Jenni. So true! Wish I’d known then what I know now!

  7. Tracy Nixon says:

    My cosy Juicy Couture tracksuit!

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About Me:

My name is Emma and I have three (!) wonderful babies. The oldest is my daughter Elsa, born in 2011 the second is “Milk & Mummy” my online boutique selling beautiful breastfeeding clothes and launched in 2012, and the youngest is my son Oliver, born in August 2014. All three exhaust me, excite me and make me proud on a daily basis and naturally all vie for my attention! But of course I wouldn't have it any other way.

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Milk & Mummy sells stylish nursing clothes including nursing tops and nursing dresses. We have everything from casual breastfeeding tops for a day at home to glamorous breastfeeding dresses for weddings. Many of our nursing dresses are also maternity dresses and we also sell beautiful breastfeeding covers and cute baby dribble bibs.

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Milk & Mummy is a trading name of EG Downie Ltd, a company registered in England and Wales. Company number: 07812071