When you welcome a new baby into your life for the first time, it’s safe to say it’s a steep learning curve. That was certainly true for new mum Karley Jenkins, who went through some extreme changes in the first 48 hours of welcoming her daughter, Daisy, to quickly gaining the confidence to breastfeed her daughter in public.
So how do you go from zero to a hundred in the space of a few weeks? What’s it really like having a newborn? And how do you pluck up the confidence to breastfeed in public? Karley, who is a “SpokesMum” for baby care brand Philips Avent, answered all of Mamamia‘s burning questions about that life-changing first year.
How did you build up the confidence to breastfeed in public?
“I’m actually surprised how quickly I breastfed in public. I think it started to develop from the first few days I was in hospital.
“Every time I fed, the midwifes encouraged me to call them in so they could check Daisy was latching properly and feeding well so I got used to other people being around when I was feeding.
“I also have three sister-in-laws who have breastfed, so when guests visited it felt ‘normal’ feeding in front of them when the time came.”
What has breastfeeding in public been like?
"It's been positive and just a part of day-to-day activities. Honestly I do still cover-up and drape a muslin cloth over my front when I'm feeding in a very public place like a restaurant and I use the parents' rooms when I'm at the shops.
"I think it would be strange if someone ever approached me and told me to stop feeding my daughter. I do doubt myself from time to time thinking 'Is it okay if I feed her here?' but if she's hungry I do it."
Where is the strangest place you've breastfed?
"The most random place I have fed was when she was eight-weeks-old and I was standing in line for a book signing. The wait ended up being a lot longer than I anticipated.
"Daisy's little grizzles turned into cries and I knew she was now due for a feed. So I popped her on, draped a blanket over me and fed her while I continued to wait in line and nobody was bothered by it at all."
What was something you weren't prepared for in the first year?
"I was not prepared for all the changes my boobs went through. For the first 48 hours my nipples hurt so so much.
"My first night home, my nipples cracked and bled, then when my milk came in my breasts were so sore and engorged. I felt like they were in my arm pits! It’s weird going from bee stings to leaky melons!
"I also didn't expect to have to sterilise so many bottles. But thanks to my Philips Avent 3-in-1 Electric Steam Steriliser, it's made the mundane task of cleaning bottles so easy. It only takes six minutes and has two stack-able trays, It's so versatile depending on the quantity of equipment your sterilising, from one bottle, to multiple bottles and pump parts."
What sort of impact has breastfeeding had on you?
"The first few weeks of breastfeeding I was getting really hungry. We had plenty of visitors popping around and bringing treats so there seemed to always be something tasty to snack on.
"I then started snacking on nuts, dried fruit and biscuits - things that I could have just a few of and also eat one handed.
"I purchased lactation cookies, but as delicious as they are, all that sugar isn't great. So now I drink herbal tea with fennel seed and fenugreek in it and eat oats for breakfast to help with my milk supply.
"I drink so much water now, I constantly have a bottle with me and make sure it's filled up before I feed. Hydration is really important, even more so now that I'm feeding my daughter every few hours."
What happens after breastfeeding? You might be a MasterChef in the kitchen but your baby won’t care. They’re all about mush. Tasteless and nutritional mush. This episode of the Year One podcast for new mums is all about starting solids:
What's it like venturing out for the first time with a newborn?
"Our life has certainly changed a lot since having Daisy but my husband and I still like to get out and about. We haven't stopped going to events or cafes - we've just altered experiences so that they're enjoyable for the entire family - Daisy included.
"I fed Daisy at the table and I remember my aunty being really proud of me for having the confidence to breastfeed in public. She said she wouldn't have had the confidence to do that.
"I was lucky enough to have my very first Mother's Day when Daisy was just three weeks old. We went to a restaurant with family for lunch to celebrate and my aunty, cousins and nan got to meet Daisy."
But if there's one thing that Karley has learnt so far during her new motherhood journey, it's that there's no need to feel shy or ashamed of feeding your baby in public.
"I am lucky we live in a society now where women don't need to feel embarrassed and are encouraged to feed your child any way that works best for you, whether that be breastfeeding or bottle feeding," Karley said.
And we couldn't agree more.
Philips Avent supports parents and their babies through every step of their first 1000 days of the parenthood journey by specialising in all things feeding from birth to toddler weaning. They have an extensive range of products that support new and expectant mums every baby step of the way, from breast pumps to bottle warmers and sterilisers and a whole lot more. View their full range here.
What was your first year with a newborn like? Tell us in the comments section below.