If you’ve decided to breastfeed and/or express your breastmilk, and baby is not your first, you wouldn’t be alone in wondering how this might work when you have other children to think about.
Breastfeeding and expressing should be a positive experience, certainly between mother and baby, and for the rest of the family. However, there are a number of aspects most mothers foresee as being a challenge.
These include keeping siblings occupied, and their feelings towards you and the baby. They may feel jealous of your time together - will they demonstrate attention-seeking behaviour, will they have feelings of envy, especially if they are also still breastfeeding or remember doing so, and will they wonder what’s going on.
If you have previously found feeding and expressing a challenge in itself, add these perceived challenges to the equation, and you can be forgiven for thinking that it’s all going to be a bit too much. However, that needn’t be the case, and many women find the experience emotionally positive and meaningful.
Deciding on whether you feed or express in the presence of your other children is a decision you should make depending on what you feel comfortable with, with your family. If you decide to include siblings in the experience, there are a number of ways you can ensure it is positive for them, you, and baby.
Out of natural curiosity, siblings are more than likely to want to know what it is you are doing. Try explaining to them, as simply as possible, that this is how the baby has their food – either through feeding or expressing. If you are expressing breastmilk you can get siblings to feed the new baby, as this helps them to feel involved and negate feelings of jealousy. The more you feed/express in front of them, the novelty or curiosity will soon wear off, and you will find they no longer show much of an interest. You may find them trying to feed their soft animals, dolls and even beloved toys!
You may also find that at first, they are vying for your attention – they may try to sit with you, climb on you, and demand your attention through disruptive behaviour. It’s important to have some strategies in place for the initial period – provide some activities they can do without your help, or use the time to read to them or listen to music, or make it the time they can watch their favourite TV programme.
By witnessing you feeding the baby or expressing regularly you will find that your other children will begin to understand that this is part of the family’s daily routine, and learn to share the moment with you or occupy them
Investing in an expressing bra is one way to be able to pump hands free– there are some lovely ones out there – Try making your own, by cutting a small cross shape in each cup, this will keep the breastshells in place, there are some clever ideas on youtube, check it out.
There will almost certainly be times when you want to have some quiet time whilst you are feeding, and also when you are expressing – aiding the pumping process and bonding with baby. Ensure you make time for this to happen when others can entertain siblings without you being there.
Lastly, remember that you are doing amazingly! Every day might be different, but you really are being the best mummy!