World Breastfeeding Week 2018: Day 3

Today marks day 3 of World Breastfeeding Week 2018. To celebrate breastfeeding in all its forms, we asked the people of Babble to share their stories. Here are introductions to the journeys of real mothers and links to the full stories. More to follow tomorrow.

Jemima: Boobing with a Bump

I’ve always wanted kids, I think I’ve always wanted to breastfeed but I don’t remember ever giving it much thought. I was very lucky when I had Luna that she took to it quite well after a difficult first few days (she was too tired to suckle/didn’t know how so we did a few guiltless formula top ups) and then getting over the initial nipple pain. I have loved feeding her so far and have always been happy to do so when out and about and don’t think I’ve had any negative reactions, or if I have I haven’t noticed it. There have been some issues, mostly when I’m hormonal (super painful nipples) or when she’s teething and forgets how to latch properly (super painful nipples…!!) read more…

Marissa: Happy Mum = Happy Baby

I am originally from Sri Lanka where breastfeeding is considered the norm (Sri Lanka is ranked in the top 23 countries on global breastfeeding rates) so when I got pregnant with my first baby I knew that I would try my best to breastfeed him from day one. I had seen my own mum, aunts, cousins and a lot of extended family breastfeed their babies and toddlers when I was growing up in Sri Lanka and expected it to be smooth sailing from day one. What I wasn’t prepared for was the endless feeds during the first few weeks of my son’s life, the cracked nipples and slow weight gain. I would be lying if I said that I enjoyed breastfeeding during the first few weeks after giving birth. The shock of having to suddenly be completely responsible for a new life and the physical and psychological healing process after child birth definitely threw me off guard. Add breastfeeding to the mix of things and it really took its toll on me. However, I do not regret for a minute that I breastfed my little one because I knew that from day one I was giving him the best possible nutrition for his little body and brain to grow. read more…

Saara: My Breastfeeding Story

During pregnancy I had assumed that I would breastfeed. The mantra is always ‘Breast is best’ and you are bombarded with this as a mother to be. Of course I wanted to do what was perceived as best for my child.

My beautiful son decided to make an unexpectedly early arrival; nearly 5 weeks in fact and from the moment he came out he was not interested in breastfeeding at all. read more…

More will follow tomorrow, 4th August. Please stay tuned to read the stories!

Part of the Yes Bebe breast feeding series for World Breastfeeding Week 2018: read more>>

Please follow and like us:
error

My breastfeeding story

My Breastfeeding Story

I am originally from Sri Lanka where breastfeeding is considered the norm (Sri Lanka is ranked in the top 23 countries on global breastfeeding rates) so when I got pregnant with my first baby I knew that I would try my best to breastfeed him from day one. I had seen my own mum, aunts, cousins and a lot of extended family breastfeed their babies and toddlers when I was growing up in Sri Lanka and expected it to be smooth sailing from day one. What I wasn’t prepared for was the endless feeds during the first few weeks of my son’s life, the cracked nipples and slow weight gain. I would be lying if I said that I enjoyed breastfeeding during the first few weeks after giving birth. The shock of having to suddenly be completely responsible for a new life and the physical and psychological healing process after child birth definitely threw me off guard. Add breastfeeding to the mix of things and it really took its toll on me. However, I do not regret for a minute that I breastfed my little one because I knew that from day one I was giving him the best possible nutrition for his little body and brain to grow.

Thankfully my son had no issues with latch or tongue tie. However, I struggled a lot with cracked and bleeding nipples during the first weeks because he was literally feeding for 20 hours a day (yes I used an app to track how many hours I spent feeding. He was my first and I had lots of time on my hands!) It was painful but it was nothing a little nipple cream couldn’t fix.

The other big hurdle I faced during the first few weeks postpartum was my son’s weight gain. He was small at birth (2.76 kgs) and he lost quite a bit of weight after being born. I was under a lot of pressure to ensure that he went back to his birth weight within 10 days of him being born. The midwife would visit me at home every other day and I remember watching the weighing scales with bated breath hoping that he would have gained a few extra grams. Nevertheless I persisted and I’m glad I did because I continued to breastfeed my son till he self weaned at 26 months possibly due to me being pregnant.

The first few weeks of breastfeeding were definitely the most challenging times. Once my son and myself had got used to the concept of breastfeeding it really was smooth sailing. I found breastfeeding the easiest way to settle my little one. He was hungry- he got the boob, thirsty- boob, tired- boob, grumpy- boob, fell and hurt himself- boob; you get the point I’m trying to make. I found breastfeeding to be an invaluable tool in my parenting arsenal.

I breast-fed  my son for 26 months (without ever having to top up with formula and through the first trimester of my second pregnancy) and I am extremely proud of it. An important lesson that I learnt from breastfeeding my first born was that breastfeeding is a dyad. It takes the effort of both the mum and the baby to ensure it works. The connection I felt between my son and myself during breastfeeding could almost be described as other worldly; when he would gaze at me wide eyed and intertwine his fingers with mine, my heart would melt with love for him. And I have lost count of the number of times he would burst out in a fit of giggles when I made silly faces at him while he breastfed.  Breastfeeding is no mean feat for any woman, we each have our own story to share and I’m glad that when I look back at my breastfeeding journey with my first born its only the fond memories that come rushing back to me.

Part of the Yes Bebe breast feeding series for World Breastfeeding Week 2018: <<read more>>

Please follow and like us:
error

Breastfeeding: happy mum = happy baby.

During pregnancy I had assumed that I would breastfeed. The mantra is always ‘Breast is best’ and you are bombarded with this as a mother to be. Of course I wanted to do what was perceived as best for my child.

My beautiful son decided to make an unexpectedly early arrival; nearly 5 weeks in fact and from the moment he came out he was not interested in breastfeeding at all. After 3 days of on and off labour I was tired and emotional and, as a first time mum, had no idea what I was meant to be doing either. I had midwives trying to shove my nipple into his mouth, trying again and again but no, he did not want to feed. Out of necessity we gave him a bottle and I hand expressed into a syringe to give him those precious drops of colostrum. We kept trying and he kept refusing and I kept hand expressing. I cried and he refused and I cried some more. Why didn’t he want to feed? I stayed in hospital for another 3 days trying to get him to feed but I was stressed and my milk wouldn’t come in and still I kept thinking ‘But breast is best, that’s what I should be doing.’ Eventually with a promise that we would carefully monitor his formula intake and keep trying the breast, I was allowed to go home.

When we finally arrived home and I relaxed, my milk did come in and gradually we got a bit of latching, combined with me expressing and bottle feeding. After a few weeks though I felt that feeding was becoming increasingly uncomfortable, rather than easier. So, teary and tired I went to see a breastfeeding counsellor. She gave me some good advice and we carried on trying at home. Feeding became painful: I avoided going out because I didn’t want to feed in public and my husband would arrive home every day and find me in tears. One day my son vomited blood after a feed. After a nervous dash to the GP and then the hospital it turned out the blood was actually from me, from the trauma he was causing to my nipples. But still I kept thinking ‘But breast is best, that’s what I should be doing.’

Finally after 9 weeks of pain, misery and 3 trips to a breastfeeding counsellor, she suggested he might have a tongue tie. A few days later this was confirmed and his tongue was snipped. So surely now it would be easier, right? Well, no, because he had to completely relearn to latch. Finally about another 4 weeks later the feeding did get easier; the pain stopped, I relaxed and finally, finally I was able to enjoy life with my baby.

3 months. That’s how long it took for us to get to grips with breastfeeding. 3 months of anguish, stress and pain. I am a pretty strong willed person and in the end I was glad to have persevered, but it was a very hard journey that I’m not sure many people would have managed. Subsequently we made it to a year with combination feeding and I was at least able to have looked back on the latter part of the experience in a positive way.

19 months after my first son was born, I gave birth to my second son, on Christmas Day. During the pregnancy I had, of course, had the usual nerves about labour and, because of my first experience, I also worried about the feeding situation, but I told myself that this time round, if it didn’t work, I wouldn’t put myself through the same hell again. After a slightly more complicated labour I was relieved when, after a short time, the baby latched and fed. Yippee, I thought, I am not going to have feeding problems again; I will not have to endure that hell! But  due to some complications, I had to undergo emergency surgery that night and so out of necessity, a bottle had to be given. When I came around the next morning I panicked that maybe there would be breast refusal after a night on the bottle but, it turned out, he really didn’t care where he was getting his milk from and he latched straight back on again.

However, having been pumped full of antibiotics and after rather an ordeal, my body was rundown and after a few days I noticed feeding getting more and more painful. It soon became unbearable so, off we went to the same tongue tie professional who, once again, diagnosed a tie and snipped. My son was only 3 weeks old so he re-learnt how to latch quickly but feeding was still painful. After several trips to the GP we got a diagnosis of thrush. I was treated, he wasn’t, so the thrush passed back and forth between us for another few weeks. I remember feeding my baby, crying with pain, whilst my toddler patted my arm and asked me what was wrong. I could not believe that this was happening again, how could I be so unlucky twice? But in spite of my promises that I wouldn’t put myself through the stress again, I just could not bring myself to give up. The weight of that mantra ‘Breast is best’, lay heavily on me and I wanted to do for my second son what I had managed to eventually do for my first.

The struggle was not as prolonged. The thrush was finally treated properly, the pain subsided and the feeding became easy and enjoyable. Once again I fed my son through until about a year, with one feed a day being either a formula or expressed feed and, in spite of the rocky beginnings, I felt proud of what I had achieved.

I will always be fervently pro breastfeeding and this post is not meant to put anyone off what can be an amazing experience; but I am also pro a healthy and happy mother – both mentally and physically. Undoubtedly breastmilk is nutritionally perfect for a baby, it is free and when it works well, it can be easy and enjoyable. But is breastfeeding always best for Mum? If I had not had the mantra ‘Breast is best’ going round and round in my head, would I have relaxed, bottle fed my first baby and maybe enjoyed those first 3 months with him? I am extremely proud of breastfeeding both my children, but I am more than happy to say that this wasn’t exclusive and that my babies also had formula milk.

The breastfeeding debate will always divide people, but I believe that debate is healthy and opens up communication, allowing people to be more well-informed and make better decisions. Women need to be aware of all their feeding options and the pros, cons and potential emotional rollercoasters of any feeding journey. Yes, we should encourage women to breastfeed, but we should also ensure that there are ample support services in place and that primary importance is placed on the mental health and well-being of mothers. At the end of the day, whether bottle or breast, we’re all doing a kick-ass job at raising these tiny little humans and that’s what ought to be celebrated.

Part of the Yes Bebe breast feeding series for World Breastfeeding Week 2018: <<read more>>

Please follow and like us:
error

Boobing with a Bump

feeding baby with a bump

I’ve always wanted kids, I think I’ve always wanted to breastfeed but I don’t remember ever giving it much thought. I was very lucky when I had Luna that she took to it quite well after a difficult first few days (she was too tired to suckle/didn’t know how so we did a few guiltless formula top ups) and then getting over the initial nipple pain. I have loved feeding her so far and have always been happy to do so when out and about and don’t think I’ve had any negative reactions, or if I have I haven’t noticed it. There have been some issues, mostly when I’m hormonal (super painful nipples) or when she’s teething and forgets how to latch properly (super painful nipples…!!).

It’s felt perfectly natural for me to continue feeding even though I am now 14 weeks pregnant and luckily my husband has felt the same. There have been some issues in the first trimester (super painful nipples….are you seeing a theme yet?!), especially when I was feeling some aversion due to sickness and she was teething so wanted more boob for comfort. It’s taken a bit of time to persuade her to stop being lazy with her latch to avoid the discomfort and so she can feed properly, but I think we are getting there.

Now my concern is over my milk supply. I belong to a few groups online for breastfeeding support and one of the things that’s discussed (when the topic of feeding through pregnancy comes up), is milk drying up. They say this normally happens around 12-17 weeks, I’m on week 14 at the moment and I *think* I have milk. I *think* I hear her swallowing, but she’s going through a lazy feed phase and is only latching for a few minutes and then spending most of the time humming at me or persuading me to sing her songs. But she still wants boob and I can still get some milk when squeezing so I’m confident I’m still providing what she wants/needs.

The anxiety is there though. I am a believer of natural term weaning for us both, and that has always been my response when people ask how long I’m going to carry on for ‘when one or both of us have had enough’. I feel that if I dry up then her weaning is being forced but the positive thing that’s come out of the groups I’m in is that some babies, sorry toddlers (she’ll always be my baby), dry nurse until the colostrum comes in and then never leave because the ‘liquid gold’ is too awesome to be miss out on. I’m also anxious that I won’t be able to cope and develop more of an aversion if she does dry nurse.

Being completely honest, a small part of me hopes she does wean if the milk dries up, but this is a very small part and I feel guilty even typing this. There is another small part of me that would like to tandem feed both my babies. Ultimately I think I am going to try and be as pragmatic as I can be about it. If I get to tandem feed then that is awesome. If Luna decides to wean before baby arrives then that’s fine too. We have had a wonderful journey for the last 21 months and I have provided her with the best start that I could and ultimately that’s all we are all trying to do with our little people no matter how they are fed.

Please follow and like us:
error

World Breastfeeding Week 2018

Today marked the first day of World Breastfeeding Week 2018. This year’s WBW theme is Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life. In a world filled with inequality, crises and poverty, breastfeeding is the foundation of lifelong good health for babies and mothers.

Breastfeeding Week 2018
#Breastfeeding is a universal solution that levels the playing field, giving everyone a fair start in life. Protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding is crucial for the health of our planet and its people!

But breastfeeding comes in different guises. When most of us think of it we think of nursing; a baby on a breast. But there are many journeys women face, be it expressing milk to feed through syringe, cup or bottle, or feeding with donor milk, or even combination feeding, every journey is different.

We asked the people of Babble to share their stories. Here are introductions to the journey’s of real mothers and links to the full stories. More to follow tomorrow.

Caroline’s story “Twin peaks: my experience of tandem feeding twins”:

“My twins were born at 34 weeks by emergency c-section. My husband got to hold twin A (Hal) while twin B (Conall) tried in vain to escape the consultant’s clutches and hide under my ribs. While Hal wanted out, Conall was definitely not ready to be born yet, a fact which became even clearer when he began to struggle to breathe. He was whipped off to the NNU and straight onto breathing apparatus without my even glimpsing his face. Hal followed shortly afterwards, and it would be almost 36 hours before I’d get to see either of my boys again.” read more

Kate’s storyJust The Two of Us (and the nipple shields)“:

“Before I had my baby girl I was relaxed about breastfeeding; I knew that it was cheaper and burned about 400 calories a day, but formula feeding meant the effort and bonding could be shared amongst the family. If breastfeeding worked then great, but formula feeding has its benefits too.

After I had my baby girl, I wasn’t relaxed about anything. I was exhausted, hormonal, and uptight.” read more

Zoe’s storyThe Boobie Diaries“:

“As a second time mum, I thought I had it all sussed. I fed my son with no problems at all and anticipated the same would happen second time around.

I had a wonderful water birth at home, everything was just as I had wanted it to be. Until my daughter started to feed.” read more

Mayumi’s story “‘A’ Breastfeeding Story”:

Mayumi Forsberg breastfeeding

“I sat for this painting within a month of my firstborn coming into my world. It remains untitled (21 months after conception) as I write…

…It is hard to label. I can’t express easily, the emotion that lead up to this picture-perfect image. The final product looks like a dreamscape. The process behind it was definitely a journey and has provided me with deep-rooted memories. No wonder I find it difficult to give it a name to this day.” read more

More will follow tomorrow 2nd August. Please stay tuned to read the stories.

Part of the Yes Bebe breast feeding series for World Breastfeeding Week 2018: <<read more>>

Please follow and like us:
error

‘A’ Breastfeeding Experience

Part of the Yes Bebe breast feeding series for World Breastfeeding Week 2018: <<read more>>

Breastfeeding in art
The Early Days. Raw and Untitled.

I sat for this painting within a month of my firstborn coming into my world. It remains untitled (21 months after conception) as I write.

The viewer may title it the following:

Breastfeeding.

A Mother’s Love.

Mother and child.

Intimacy.

Closeness.

Perfection.

But, honestly? It is hard to label. I can’t express easily, the emotion that lead up to this picture-perfect image. The final product looks like a dreamscape. The process behind it was definitely a journey and has provided me with deep-rooted memories. No wonder I find it difficult to give it a name to this day.

Hidden in the story of this painting is a new mother who desperately wanted to give her son a great start in life with that ‘liquid-gold’ as it is often called.

Sugar levels were low in the first few days of my baby’s life. Midwives insisted on a little extra help with formula milk before being discharged until the mother ship’s milk fully came through. The waiting game. The longest waiting game. At the time.

In the early days, the new mother gritted her teeth and took deep inhales of breath as the first suckles (I have no problem with this word, It’s just a word) were grabbing and sensitive. The feeds were endless and frequent – a strange combination. Tired. Exhausted. Fatigued. Fuelled with determination and routine. Let’s just call it stubbornness.

In public, she covered what was naturally given to her so onlookers wouldn’t be embarrassed (21 months later, there is no covering now. The world can stare, look, admire, wonder or be embarrassed).

At home, visitors talked, bustled and assumed status quo downstairs, whilst mother and baby were upstairs in a nursing chair. Two. Just us. Quiet. Still. Intimate. If I transport you a few months later, the chair is gone. Mother has learnt to nurse lying down, standing up and even multi-task feed. Still just two though, in our own little bubble.

“Wow! You’ve been breastfeeding for two months now?”

“You are such a natural.”

“Amazing. How do you do it? 6 months it has been hasn’t it?”

“8 Months?!”

“Nearly a year? Will you stop?”

“When will you wean?”

“1 year and a half ??”

“Are you going for the 2 year WHO recommendation?”

21 months (and not really counting) later, we are still breastfeeding. My boy has naturally weaned down to a morning and bedtime feed in the last few months. Some days I feel sad about this. Some days I am relieved. Will I carry on? I guess so. When will you stop? I honestly don’t know. Any advice? Just go with the flow. Have you got a title for this painting yet? Not sure. The Early Days? Raw? Untitled? The Early Days. Raw & Untitled it is for now I guess.

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

Please follow and like us:
error

Twin peaks: my experience of tandem feeding twins

Part of the Yes Bebe breast feeding series for World Breastfeeding Week 2018: <<read more>>

Premature

twins, premature, kangaroo cuddles, skin-to-skinMy twins were born at 34 weeks by emergency c-section. My husband got to hold twin A (Hal) while twin B (Conall) tried in vain to escape the consultant’s clutches and hide under my ribs. While Hal wanted out, Conall was definitely not ready to be born yet, a fact which became even clearer when he began to struggle to breathe. He was whipped off to the NNU and straight onto breathing apparatus without my even glimpsing his face. Hal followed shortly afterwards, and it would be almost 36 hours before I’d get to see either of my boys again.

I tell you this because I genuinely believe it affected my breastfeeding journey. The lack of instant physical bond was a barrier that would prove difficult to overcome. Being 6 weeks premature, the twins’ sucking reflex was not strong enough to breastfeed, neither were their tongues strong enough to initiate latch. A few weeks down the line we would overcome this with the help of nipple shields, an aid I know gets a lot of bad press, but which were the lynchpin factor that enabled me to fulfil my ambition to feed them at all.

Guilt, self-blame and NHS angels

twins, incubator, neonatal, tube-feedingWhen your babies are struggling in the NNU/NICU/PICU there can be a surprising amount of pressure on you to change the way you feel about feeding. I always hoped to breastfeed my twins, but the NNU staff’s priority was not actually to adhere to my wishes, but to care for my babies – for which I will be eternally gratfeul. So when, 3 days later, my milk still hadn’t come in and my twins were still incubated and tube-feeding, they decided to top them up with formula. I hated it. I felt desperately guilty and blamed myself and my body for failing them.

Later that night, while sobbing inconsolably at 4am, I was approached by the Ward Sister. There had been a staff change the previous evening and as I had been crying non-stop for several hours, she had left me to the very end of her rounds so that she could spend a little time with me. She asked me what was the matter. I showed her the tiny syringe of colostrum I had managed to produce, tinged brown by my blood. She asked me when I had last slept through the night. I explained that I was waking every three hours to attempt to pump, as had been recommended. She asked when I had last had painkillers or a meal. I explained that I hadn’t, as both mealtimes and drug rounds clashed with feeding times in the NNU, when I was able to enjoy kangaroo cuddles with my boys in an attempt to forge that skin-to-skin bond.

She brought me a sandwich, knocked me out with morphine and woke me 8 hours later. My milk came in that afternoon. Her name was Dawn and I will never forget what she did for me: I felt – and feel – that she was the dawn breaking after my darkest hour.

Compromise

After that, things became a little easier. It would still be 3 weeks before I could get the twins to latch at all, and a further week before we could wean them off bottle top-ups (of expressed milk at this point). In fact, we later returned to bottle top-ups when we hit upon the compromise that was combi-feeding. On the consultant’s advice -and under the threat that my boys would be returned to the NNU if their weight gain didn’t improve – we topped the boys up at bedtime with formula, to increase their strength and allow my body the chance to recover from feeding two hungry babies all day, and on the health visitor’s advice, to give me the chance of more than 20 minutes’ continuous sleep. For me, this combination feeding was the optimum option for mine and my babies’ needs at that moment. While the romantic idea of tandem feeding two babies at once certainly manifests on occasion, if you follow on-demand feeding it is simply not the norm, at least in my experience. The majority of the time one twin is simply not interested in feeding at the crucial moment, and you end up with a sort of tag-team routine of one-on, one-off! After 4 months of that routine I sorely needed a solid hour’s sleep if I was ever going to be the mother that they deserved!

brelfie, breastfeeding, selfie, feedingAs for the nipple shields: Conall was crying for a feed at a hospital appointment one day, and I thought I’d just try him once more without to see if it would quieten him down while we waited – and he simply latched. Hal never managed to feed without his, and when my youngest was diagnosed with posterior tongue tie last year, the midwife took one look into his mouth, Hal’s mouth and my husband’s and proclaimed they all had it, which possibly explains why…

Feeding the Stigma

There’s a lot of stigma attached to the way we choose to feed our babies – and parent in general – and I think it’s such a shame. I read widely about the benefits of breastfeeding, and decided it was right for me. I wasn’t unrealistic about it – when people asked whilst pregnant about my plans (and they did – even the random elderly lady on the train!), I would answer that I hoped to breastfeed if possible. I know that some people are unable to do so, for medical reasons, and others choose not to. My choice to breastfeed is not a comment on anyone else’s choice either way. For me, it was practical – no sterilising bottles, no leaving one baby to scream whilst another feeds – and economical, the cost of buying double the formula, unthinkable. I also believe wholeheartedly in the health benefits of breastfeeding. The data is, to my mind, unequivocal. But that doesn’t mean I believe those offering formula alone are failing their babies in any way.

As parents we all do the best we can in any given moment. With the twins, combi-feeding allowed me the time and energy to actually enjoy them on occasion, to sing nursery rhymes or play with them in moments that I would otherwise have been a breastfeeding zombie. With my third (now 16 months), I have exclusively breastfed from day 1 and will continue to until he self-weans. But however you feed your babies, whatever choice you make, you should feel proud of you. If you are breastfeeding on-demand, day and night, through all those peaks and troughs and 24+ hour growth spurts – you go mama! If you are getting out of bed every 2 hours to wash and sterilise bottles and mix formula – kudos to you! I know that you, just like every parent out there, are doing the very best you can to give your baby the very best start in life. And as a fellow parent, sharing all the joys and pain of living every single day responsible for one or more wonderful-but-demanding tiny people, I say good on you. Good on us!

Please follow and like us:
error

The Boobie Diaries

Part of the Yes Bebe breast feeding series for World Breastfeeding Week 2018: <<read more>>

As a second time mum, I thought I had it all sussed. I boobie fed my son with no problems at all and anticipated the same would happen second time around.

I had a wonderful water birth at home, everything was just as I had wanted it to be. Until my daughter started to feed. Ow! Have I birthed a child with teeth? I remember saying to the midwife, I’m sure it isn’t meant to hurt this much…she had a little look and said the latch looked okay and it would get better.

That was pretty much the ‘advice’ I received over the next few days, despite me being a broken woman by this point; my nipples were bleeding and the baby was ingesting my blood. That’s normal, they said. I had to bite a towel and cry every time she latched on. Again, normal.

Fortunately, a friend persuaded me to invest in an IBCLC and on Day 8 I went to see this fabulous woman who identified a few problems we were having. I had a massive oversupply, swollen breasts/nipples, nipple damage and my daughter had a posterior tongue tie. It took two tongue tie revisions and around 6-8 weeks of working alongside the IBCLC but eventually we got there and now at almost 5 months old I am still exclusively breastfeeding my daughter.

Was it the fairytale I wanted it to be? No, but I’m glad that we made it. I’d highly recommend accessing some professional support to anyone struggling with their breastfeeding journey.

Please follow and like us:
error

Just The Two of Us (and the nipple shields)

Part of the Yes Bebe breast feeding series for World Breastfeeding Week 2018: <<read more>>

Before I had my baby girl I was relaxed about breastfeeding; I knew that it was cheaper and burned about 400 calories a day, but formula feeding meant the effort and bonding could be shared amongst the family. If breastfeeding worked then great, but formula feeding has its benefits too.

After I had my baby girl, I wasn’t relaxed about anything. I was exhausted, hormonal, and uptight.

She didn’t latch. She had jaundice and had to be practically force-fed formula whilst barely awake. My milk was begrudgingly coaxed in with a squeaky manual breast pump on round-the-clock pumping sessions while my husband fed her formula. Pumping hurt: toe-curling pain which I spent the time between sessions dreading. The Lansinoh I had bought to help with breastfeeding was instead smeared on my knuckles, which were cracked from endlessly washing, sterilising, and drying pump pieces and bottles.

When she was near my breasts she would furiously bob her head around and writhe and cry with frustration, whilst not latching.

After about a week she did latch, with a combination of swaddling and nipple shields and some persuasive squishing.

Then she fed. Close-mouthed, bite-latch fed, seemingly endlessly, with her eyes screwed shut. When I look back, the visual of me feeding her is like Thelma and Louise driving off a cliff, hands locked together. Two wretched souls in a grim embrace.

Other new mothers squirted jets of womanly milk from their ample breasts, while my boobs felt like a pair of raw, mean, wrung-out teabags, wearing silly hats. Other mothers strolled about town with their contented newborns, while we sat shell-shocked on the sofa all day, grinding it out. For weeks.

And then it wasn’t so bad. Her latch didn’t hurt. The feeds spaced out. She opened up and became a happy, engaged baby. Breastfeeding was a normal part of our routine.

Now at 19 months, she still insists on nipple shields. She feeds in the morning, before her nap, and to sleep at night. Sometimes more frequently. Feeds are (usually) a sweet cuddle while her needs are met, and I’m (finally) relaxed about when we will wean.

When she is ill or teething and off her food, I am so glad I can feed her. She resists sleep, but usually drifts off calmly in my arms as she feeds. We can be stressed and wilful and at odds, but not at the end of a feed.

This has been my experience of breastfeeding to date. Averagely troubled, and ultimately worth it.

Tips for potential breast feeders:

  • Your ability or decision to breastfeed does not reflect on you AT ALL as a woman or a parent. Enjoy your baby as much as you can
  • Prepare to have your boobs out a LOT, and possibly scrutinised by healthcare professionals
  • Support! Breastfeeding counsellors, mum friends, family, Google, health visitors, Facebook groups. Ask! Admit!
  • Everyone has an opinion; surround yourself with people who value yours
  • Double breast pumps can halve your workload
  • Think about your sterilisation system and ideally have it ready at home before you have your baby
  • One up one down! Wear a vest under a loose top: pull the top up and the vest down to feed. No need to flop your whole boob out unless that is how you roll
  • Washable breast pads: because things will get moist in the brassiere
  • Keep drinks and snacks within arm’s reach of anywhere you plan to feed. Replenish. Survive.
Please follow and like us:
error