To breastfeed or not breastfeed…? To express using a breast pump or not…? Just two of the questions I never thought I’d be asking myself…

I started breastfeeding Mya as soon a she was born.  She had her first feed when she was around 50 mins old.  When I was in recovery from my C-section one of the nurses showed me how to get her to latch on. I wouldn't say the support was amazing in my hospital but when I asked for help I received it.  I was absolutely terrified – from having Mya in my tummy for 9 months to meeting her and then feeding her pretty much straight away was pretty overwhelming.

Mya did latch on the first time I tried but it did take a few minutes (which felt like forever) and it was ALOT harder than I thought it would be.  I found the first few weeks VERY painful and did want to give up some days.  I hate to say it but I was also a bit embarrassed initially about breastfeeding in public.  I know it’s natural and I’ve seen so many mums breastfeeding in public but there was still a bit of a fear when I did it for the first time in case someone was to take offence in some way.  At the end of the day, Mya needed feeding so I did what I had to do and after I’d done it once I just didn’t care what anyone thought because in my head I just decided my baby comes first, end of.

My mum was a massive support and she bought me different nipple creams, shields, ice packs - literally everything – I don’t think I’d have made it this far without her support. When Mya was 10 days old, I went to a local lactation support group called LatchOn as I just needed some expert help and they were amazing.  It was free to go along, and they had some tips I hadn't heard before!  If you’re struggling, I’d contact them or somewhere like to see where your local group is.  After the initial 3 months it became pain free (most days) and 11months on its now second nature.

I always planned to breastfeed as my mum breastfed all 4 of us.  She also told me to introduce a bottle early on, so I used a silicone breast pump which catches the let down as the first 6 weeks the health visitor told me not to start expressing properly.  I then started to express around 6 weeks to make a stash for whenever I needed to leave Mya with her daddy. I was given a second-hand single pump from my friend at work which I used first, but it took a long time to express with.  I eventually decided to get myself a new pump to speed it up so I looked for a pump that was a double electric one, portable, had different suction rates and was cost effective.

I did a lot of research online (mainly the best reviews with the lowest cost) as in my opinion maternity pay is hard to live off if you’re not a bit careful with spending…! I also asked some friends about pumps they’d used and even did a poll on my Instagram account.  There are so many options so making the decision was hard.   The pump I ended up using was the NUBY double electric one.  I’m so happy I did as I’ve found it so easy to use and it covers all the requirements I was looking for in a pump. It also came with bottles and teats which was a bonus so I can put my expressed milk straight into the fridge and my fiancé only has to warm it up - nice and easy!

My top tips for a new mum thinking about breastfeeding and expressing are:

  • It’ll be hard.  If you start the process knowing it’s not going to be the easiest task in the world hopefully it won’t be too much of a shock when they are feeding and it feels like needles in your nipples.  It honestly does get easier after a while and the benefits for both mum and baby are amazing.
  • Overcome the fear of breastfeeding in public as soon as you can because it’s natural and it’s normal.  If someone has a problem, that’s their problem.  What’s amazing is there’s loads of companies now who even show photos of mum’s breastfeeding like Adidas and Sainsbury’s in their adverts, representing real mums!
  • Start pumping as soon as you hit 6 weeks and introduce a bottle. A lot of my friends didn't start giving a bottle until they were leaving the baby for the first time and they refused bottles for months which was hard as they physically couldn’t leave their baby! Sometimes you do just need a few hours of "you" time.
  • Start applying nipple cream BEFORE your nipples are sore.
  • If you're in pain or struggling seek help from a health visitor, friend/family or attend a group. Remember its new for your baby as well as you, so it takes a while for them to start latching properly and they may need some help.
  • Try not to put too much pressure on yourself! I personally have enjoyed "most" of my breastfeeding journey but putting too much pressure on yourself can lead you to feeling anxious and making it a negative experience. Only you know what's best for you and your baby, always follow your gut.

Pregnancy and Motherhood Blogger, Ella is a new mum to Mya who is keeping it real and honest along the way.  You can follow her trying to mum in this crazy world over on insta @crazynewmumma

*All of these responses are those of Ella @crazynewmumma and based on her own experiences.  They don’t necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organisation, employer or company.