After the first 24 hours in the hospital with the midwives assisting in my first attempts to breastfeed our son (which you can read about in Part 1 here), we made the journey home.
Day Two and Three…
Back at our flat, I settled into my nursing chair and held our baby boy. He was nestled sweetly, sleeping soundly, with me blissfully unaware of the eventful night that lay ahead.
Cluster feeding, from what I have experienced, is essentially you staying awake all night at the end of day two and three, whilst your little cutie drains you of all your milk. It is exhausting. But more than that, it is emotionally and physically draining.
My milk was just starting to come in and the hormones swirled within me. Baby blues struck. I was tearful; felt like I couldn’t continue breastfeeding; continued to struggle getting our boy to latch; was exhausted from not having slept properly since the day before I gave birth (my waters first broke at 4am!); in pain down below and finally, with incredibly sore, cracked, and blistered nipples!
I felt completely blindsided by how I was feeling, with baby blues having only been explained to me as ‘hormones leaving your body’ and nothing further. My husband was a star, staying up with me, making sure I had everything I needed and changing any nappies as required.
The only advice I can give is this:
Mentally prepare yourself for this stage. It is not easy and you cannot do it alone. I was fortunate to have several friends and family members who were breastfeeding at the same time. They provided unbelievable support and I cannot thank them enough for their 3am pep talks, reassuring me that it gets easier and breastfeeding has so many benefits longterm. At this point I really did feel like I was losing my mind. Note to self: do not allow your husband to put on ‘Step Mom’ to help ‘flush the hormones out’. It’s incredibly sad and I was a complete mess. However, I do love listening to ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ even now.
Thankfully, one area I did have covered was nipple maintenance and I put this down to my sister-in-law who provided me with a comprehensive list of everything I would need.
Here’s what I know. Lansinoh is the best brand I’ve ever come across, I love all of their products.
- Nipple Cream – I can’t recommend this enough and have bought it by the bucketload. After every feed I lathered it onto my nipples and they felt immediately soothed. It is safe for babies too.
- Nipple pads – My milk dripping from my nipples tells me when our son needs a feed, usually 5 minutes before he starts stirring. It’s a rather miraculous connection that we have with our little ones, but the pads (again, I had two boxes of 60 each) prevent messy mop ups. Although early on I was reluctant to wear any tops at all, I did wear strap tops in bed with the pads, as they leak during sleep too!
- Hot or cold breast therapy – When your milk comes in, the breasts can feel unbelievably sore and full. Let down was needed and a friend recommended these. Lifesavers.
- Breast cooling pads – I popped these into the fridge and they are gel pads that cover your nipples. You may now be thinking ‘are these really needed?’ And my answer is yes. I changed up what I used to sooth my nipples as needed and the variety really helped me. Three weeks in my nipples are thanking me for it and although there is still some pain with the initial latch, they are tougher and my son feeds with much more ease.