Hey there, thanks for coming back to read more about my experience with expressing and breastfeeding. If this is the first you’e heard about it; take a look here for part one. Right, I’ve still got plenty to say (you lucky thing). Here we go…
Talking about Rex made my boobs leak
When I got to go out, without Rex, it usually involved food, friends, and quite often, fizz. The subject of my new baby would always come-up, and, as soon as I’d been chatting about him for a couple of minutes; my milk would flood-in. I’d often just expressed, but my boobs would fill; sometimes, until they were uncomfortably hard. They’d also leak a lot more than if I was chilling at home, with Rex in front of me. Maybe it was panic milk? I have no idea. Nature is bananas.
I now completely understand women who say that their boobs started leaking, when they heard another baby cry. I think it would trigger thoughts of feeding and comforting their own babes. See! Panic milk.
Milk went everywhere; muslins came-in very handy
Aside from the leaks, within the confines of my bra; when feeding Rex, I found that there’d be spillages all over the place. Sometimes there was just too much for him to handle, as the flow was too fast. The milk ended-up soaking us both, and got into all those folds of baby skin (mainly his neck).
Sometimes, I managed to express a little beforehand so that the milk flowed a little slower for him. Mostly, I could not be arsed, especially when he was screaming to be fed. I just had to accept that both of us would need changing, several times a day. We were going through so many muslin cloths each day too; I think that these would make a super useful gift for a new mom (you’re welcome).
Nothing prepared me for so many raised-eyebrows
Often, I live in my lovely liberal bubble; full of like-minded people, who, wouldn’t care where I fed my baby. However, my bubble was burst by so many frowns, raised eyebrows, shaking heads, tuts, people turning away, and, so on, when I breastfed in public. Fucking bonkers.
I’m not explaining myself, or justifying how I went about anything, because, I don’t, and should never, have to. I am, however, berating anyone who has an issue with infants being breastfed; you try telling a newborn to patiently wait for their food.
I had to ignore a lot of other people’s opinions
Much like most topics that surround taking care-of and raising babies; there are a lot of opinions and thoughts surrounding breastfeeding. I was taken aback at just how many perfect people there are out there, who get everything completely right, all of the time. How lucky we all are that they are the loudest and always keen to get their point across.
The most popular nuggets of “advice”, I found, were regarding how long you should do it for and why it’s pointless to do it after a certain amount of time. Smile and nod Fay, smile and nod.
Bottles were introduced early-on
I liked the idea of being able to sleep through a feed, and have my husband feed Rex. It was also some bonding time for them. So, I introduced bottles pretty soon, after we arrived home. I also had so much expressed breast milk in the freezer; we needed to start using it. For me, I found taking a bottle out and about with us, took the pressure off me a little, especially on those anxious days, which happened every so often.
A feeding pillow was an excellent purchase
Rex didn’t seem heavy, until I’d been holding him for over half an hour with one arm. And he just kept getting heavier. After using random cushions, rolled-up towels, and the dog, as arm rests; I decided to buy a proper feeding pillow. It’s shaped like a croissant (yummm) and tucked securely around my waist. It’s very firm and reminds me of a giant neck pillow.
Anyway, the point I’m making is that it was a great investment; it relieved all of the pressure from my arms and some from my back, and I still use it when Rex falls asleep on me (which is another thing that people have an opinion on). I think it was about £15, from TK Maxx; a very rare impulse-buy, that I didn’t regret.
Aches and pains became the norm
I found it hard to think about my posture every time I fed my baby. I was knackered most of the time, and just slumped somewhere comfy. However, this took it’s toll on my limbs and back. I still suffer from backache regularly.
I realise it’s a luxury, but, my husband kindly buys me a massage each month, which has helped. I’d recommend massage vouchers as another gift for new moms too; hmmm, maybe there’s another blog post in this?
It was sometimes a great escape, or, excuse
There will always be situations, conversations, and people, you want to escape, or, just get a little break from. There were moments when I could have wept with joy, at Rex’s timing; he’d manage to hunger-cry, just when I needed an exit. Did I sometimes spend extra time comforting him, after the feed? Maybe.
It was sore
After my first 4-5 days of expressing in NICU, my nipples were raw. It felt like someone had mistaken them for Christmas puddings, poured brandy on them, and SET THEM ON FIRE. They burned. Mam-balm helped a lot, so did cold cans of pop, and ice would have been great.
The pain got better
Fortunately, I think my boobs just sort of adjusted to their new life. And, after a couple of weeks, I only suffered the odd shooting pain; I think this was when my nipples were having night terrors about the previous feeling of fire.
Weaning off the boob made me feel guilty
The thing I found hard work about breastfeeding, was that it was hard work. I adored the bonding, the happy hormones, feeling as close as I could to my favourite being. However, I was just frazzled.
It was a bad week, when we’d had 4 or 5 sleepless nights in a row, and I just felt like I had nothing left to give. It was about 4:30 am and I just decided to not use the breast pump to express my milk. That’s how I started; I cut down on expressing, then, finally stopped. So, I was no longer topping-up the supply in the freezer and I noticed my body’s supply dropped quite quickly (2-3 days).
I began to introduce the odd bottle of formula, and, my supply dropped further. It was all going swimmingly, until one night, when the only thing that could comfort and settle Rex, was putting him on the boob. This wasn’t unusual at all; this was how I often settled him. However, this time, I got an overwhelming feeling of guilt.
I think it was the fact that I had made the choice to wean and introduce formula. For me, it was a logical and healthy decision. But, I just felt so awful. I’m not alone; I mentioned this on Instagram, and many mothers have felt similarly. It’s those pesky hormones. And, I think the “breast is best” rifle, that’s routinely fired at women, has a lot to do with it.
My brain will always say fed is best, but it was chemical; the guilt made me cry most days. It didn’t make me go back to exclusive breastfeeding though, which reiterated that I made the right choice.
Extra freedom gave me a huge boost
Not worrying about a rigid expressing regime, was so liberating. I felt like I got to enjoy Rex more, and it eased a lot of anxiety surrounding time and routine. I felt less like a slave to my boobs; they didn’t get too full and I wasn’t panicking that I hadn’t taken spare breast pads out with me. Life was a little easier, and I think a lot of new moms would agree; that’s often what we crave.
I wouldn’t say that there’s a spring in my step just yet (I’m still too tired), but, I can fill my time with more of what I enjoy, and I’m bra-free whenever I want again! Yaaaay!
My period started again, days after weaning
After pregnancy, I’d sort of forgotten about my period. I did not miss it at all, so I was in blissful denial that it was a thing I’d have to deal with again. When I got down to breastfeeding about 25%, it came back. Booooo. PMS and bad skin hit me hard, and my cramps were just as rubbish as they’d always been. It was like an annoying relative had emigrated for a while, but then changed their mind and returned.
I don’t hate it, it’s just I was quite happy without it for a while. I’m not sure if it happens to all, or many, women after they cut-down, or stop, breastfeeding; but, I’m pretty sure that it directly affected my cycle. And, it was just the same as it’d always been; no worse, no better.
My hair improved once I’d weaned
Jeez I miss my pregnancy hair (and skin and nails…). After I had Rex, my luscious, thick locks, quickly became brittle, dull, and full of frizz. It also fell out in the shower a lot, and the clumps in my hairbrush each day were huge. Again, it’s quite a common thing after birth, and it’s to do with the almighty shift in hormones. On top of that; breastfeeding drains you, a lot.
It’s taking it’s time, but as soon as I cut back the feeds, my hair started growing back; I have a lot of short, wispy bits/baby hair everywhere. It’s also got some of its shine back. It’s a very shallow perk, I know, but it’s making me feel a bit more like me, again.
I’m sure that there’s so much more that I could write about. But, baby brain is real, and Love Island starts soon (let me live). I’ve started writing things down when they pop into my fuzzy mind now, so, who knows? There could be a part three…a boob trilogy.
Peace, love, and nipples on ice, Fay x