Mothers-to-be are often told about the benefits of breastfeeding their newborns, but no one really talks about what women can expect doing it for the first time.
However, celebrity mums are now speaking out as part of a new campaign to debunk the myths and create realistic expectations.
Claire Sweeney, Giovanna Fletcher and Izzy Judd are just some of the women stepping forward for the #counto10 initiative.
Giovanna Fletcher, pictured with the couple’s second son Buddy Bob, said: ‘I wish I’d have known that it would take time and patience to get it right. It took eight weeks for me to stop having to squeeze my butt cheeks together every time my son latched on’
Mother-of-two Giovanna, an author who is married to McFly frontman Tom, admits the pain for her was so severe she had to clench her butt cheeks together every time her son latched on
It was launched by breastfeeding brand Medela, and aims to alleviate feelings of inadequacy associated with breastfeeding.
From clenching your butt cheeks to deal with the pain and a ‘torture’-like sleep deprivation, the mothers reveal their toughest breastfeeding moments as part of the initiative launched by breastfeeding brand Medela.
Mother-of-two Giovanna, an author who has two children – Buddy, two, and Buzz, four months – with husband McFly frontman Tom, admits the pain for her was so severe she had to clench her butt cheeks together every time her son latched on.
‘I wish I’d have known that it would take time and patience to get it right. It took eight weeks for me to stop having to squeeze my butt cheeks together every time my son latched on.
Claire Sweeney, pictured with her four-year-old son Jaxon, says she wishes she had been warned about the ‘immense pain’ of feeding
‘But then suddenly it all fell into place. We both knew what we were doing, and it became effortless.’
Claire Sweeney, mother to four-year-old Jaxon, admits: ‘I wish I had known about the immense pain of the first few days of feeding… leading onto the immense pleasure.’
But for the actress, the pain was worth it, describing breastfeeding as ‘pleasure like I have never known in my life’.
‘It created such a bond with my boy. I even get jealous when I see mothers still feeding,’ she admits.
Francesca Hornak, journalist and author of Worry With Mother: 101 Neuroses For The Modern Mama admits: ‘I wish that midwives and NCT would stop saying “If breastfeeding hurts you’re doing it wrong,” as I, and nearly every mother I know, found that it does hurt at first, even when you’re doing it right!
‘It wouldn’t have put me off to know this, but it would have been better to be warned (also I wouldn’t have panicked that I was doing it wrong, when I wasn’t).
She adds: ‘Women still opt for natural births, knowing that labour will hurt, so it’s unnecessary and patronising to presume they won’t try to breastfeed if they’re warned it will hurt at first.’
Izzy Judd, pictured with husband McFly’s Harry Judd whilst pregnant with daughter Lola, now six months, says her experience of feeding was even harder than giving birth
Izzy Judd, who is married to McFly’s husband Harry Judd and who gave birth to daughter Lola six months ago, reveals her experience of feeding was even harder than giving birth.
‘Breastfeeding has been harder for me than the labour, yet I had no idea this would be the case,’ she admits.
‘Learn how to get a good latch and don’t be afraid to take baby off if the latch is painful. If at first you don’t succeed try try try again.
‘Once it settles down the quiet moments in the middle of the night make it all worthwhile.’
Her best piece of advice: ‘Keep a cabbage in the fridge and get a good nipple cream!’
Women say that putting a cold cabbage leaf in their bra after feeding as a pain relief.
Smooth FM radio presenter Nicola Bon, who is pregnant with her second child, says she struggled with breastfeeding and ended up expressing for 6 months.
‘On reflection, I truly believe that with the right support from the right people around you and much self belief and inner strength, breastfeeding is possible and once it clicks, which it so often does, you’ll never look back,’ she says.
Parenting blogger Harriet Shearsmith contributed: ‘Expect pain and expect moments when you think you can’t do this.
‘Know that you can and ask for support and help. Don’t be afraid to say if you feel it really isn’t the best thing for you and your baby but don’t give in if you don’t want to.’
Francesca Hornak (left) auhtors of Worry With Mother: 101 Neuroses for the Modern Mama and Lily Canter (right), lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University have both admit feeding was tough
‘Though it is the most natural thing in the world, it’s not the easiest and, like everything, takes time to learn and perfect.
‘Your baby has to learn to latch, learn to suck and your body has to adjust.
Dr Lily Canter, a lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University warns mothers that the sleep deprivation when you are breastfeeding ‘will probably be worse than you ever imagined and at times it may feel like actual torture’.
She says: ‘Waking every 90 minutes or so all through the night to feed is immensely tough.
‘But it is important to know that it won’t last forever and just when you think you can’t take it anymore things will get better.
‘Once your baby is able to soothe itself to sleep around 6 months old your world will change completely. Hang on in there.’
Mother-of-three Heledd Lavender, who writes parenting blog, Running in Lavender advises mums to ditch the bra for the first few weeks after giving birth.
Reality check: Clench your butt cheeks, expect pain and know that the ensuing sleep deprivation will feel like ‘torture’ are just some of the nuggets of wisdom mothers have shared to help prepare pregnant women for the reality of breastfeeding
‘If your nipples are sore, simply wear a super loose t-shirt, this’ll help them breath and heal quicker,’ she says.
‘If your nipples are cracked and the pain is just too much (as it can be) express your milk for a few days, this will give your body (and nipples) a chance to recover. It’ll also keep your milk supply up and your little one is still getting your milk.
‘Once you’re nipples are over the initial shock, the pain will go away and breastfeeding is a truly lovely experience.’
Fritha Tigerlilly, who writes parenting blog, Tigerlilly Quinn and lives in Bristol with her husband, son Wilf, and baby daughter Mabli, says her experience of breastfeeding Wilf was harder than it was feeding Mabli.
‘Whilst I’ve been able to breastfeed them both, with my son it was a huge struggle and quite an emotional time. If I had one piece of advice is would be not to be ashamed of asking for help.
‘I felt like I was letting myself and my baby down by admitting how much I was struggling and although it eventually became easier I would have benefited greatly (and sooner) by asking for help from a lactation consultant or breastfeeding group.’