From the 1st-7th August it is World Breastfeeding Week, and 2017 is actually the 25th year of celebrating the wonder that is breastfeeding! It still blows my mind that my body alone can produce all that my baby needs to grow and develop. Breastmilk boosts your baby’s immune system, helping your baby fight viral, bacterial and parasitic infections. Once you get over the Pamela Anderson-esque boobs that decide to leak everywhere at 3 in the morning, it’s actually amazing!
I have absolutely nothing against people who formula feed and I do in no way think that I am any better than them, but i’m also not going to shy away and act like i’m not fucking proud of myself for sticking with it for the past 11 weeks. I thought as a way to help celebrate I would share my breastfeeding experience, along with some other mamas!
My Breastfeeding Journey
After Teddy’s long and not-so straightforward birth (that you can read about my labour and delivery story here) lasting 55 hours and ending up in theatre with a forceps delivery, I was excited to get things going and try breastfeeding him. Once I had been stitched up (yummy..) and wheeled through to recovery, the midwife helped me to try and get him to latch on, almost an hour later and we were still there… I tried every position, switching boobs..he just wasn’t having it at all. He was so tired and just wanted to sleep. That went on for around 24 hours!
Our first night in hospital was spent with a midwife coming in every three hours to try and get him to feed, he just point blank refused. It ended up where I had to hand express and the midwife had to syringe the colostrum up and then syringe it into Teddy’s mouth. I was so upset and disappointed that it wasn’t going as straight forward as everyone had made out it could be..’oh my baby latched straight away.’ Well that isn’t always the case, however I was determined not to give up and 24 hours later he suddenly latched on like he had been doing it all along, and he’s been there ever since….or at least that is what it feels like! He is such a milk monster and a little chunk.
The first two weeks were probably the hardest two weeks of my life! I know people warn you about the cluster feeding, but my god, he was literally attached to my boob all day and all night. He would feed all night, only falling asleep at around 4/5am. I remember the feeling of complete dread when it came to bedtime and I felt physically sick at the idea of feeding him. I was so worried that people would judge me for that but I am so lucky to have an amazingly supportive partner, family and mummy club who reminded me everyday that it was completely normal and it would get better. I can promise you now that it does! When you are in the midst of a night feed, crying over your baby with your milk crusted pj’s on, it won’t feel like it will ever get better. 11 weeks on and it’s all a distant memory that a small part of me misses.
I selfishly love that I am the only person who can provide for him when he’s hungry, or if he is really upset and the only thing that will soothe him is mummy’s milk. I love our little chats in the middle of the night when nobody else is awake and we have a sleepy snuggle. I love the way he snorts for my boob when it’s no longer within his reach because he fell asleep. I love his milk drunk face, when he can’t open his eyes properly and he does a cheeky little grin. As hard as it is, and it is fucking hard, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I have asked some other mums to share their experiences, good & bad, as a way to show that not everyone’s breastfeeding journey is the same, but that doesn’t make it any less special!
“Approximately five minutes after my little girl, Poppy, was born she started rooting around, so I attempted to breastfeed for the first time. Trying so hard to remember everything I had learnt during NCT classes first time around I lined up her nose with my nipple, waited for her to open her mouth and pushed her on. It took a few tries and then Poppy started to feed…and didn’t stop all night. For the first few nights she literally didn’t stop for the whole night, as exhausting as it was I think it was a blessing in disguise. At a birth weight of 8lbs 13ozs she wasn’t exactly small, so when my milk came in only two days after giving birth it meant she was able to really fill herself up compared to just having colostrum.”– Helen @ Treasure Every Moment
“The first thing I have to stress is the importance of SUPPORT! You have to have the support around you if you are planning on breastfeeding. I was so lucky to have both my mum and my other half support my decision to breastfeed. The night feeds were the worst for me in the first two weeks, because I was so tired and still recovering from my C section the latching pain seemed worse at night. I think its because everything seems worse to me when I’m tired. Either way I struggled with the night feeds to begin with. Now 14 weeks down the line I absolutely love the night feeds it feels like my special ‘in our own little bubble’ time.”– Kassy from Mummas Mayhem.
“I loved breastfeeding my three boys, but it’s not as easy as some might have you believe. For me, it hurt to begin with, and was very much a case of trial and error. I smothered myself in lanolin cream in the early days in some vague attempt to remain comfortable, and certain positions suited better than the often mentioned ‘cradle hold’. Each of my babies fed differently: one was determined to feed no matter which position he was in and latched on really well; one was massively distracted and the slightest noise would make him twist around, sometimes still attached, sometimes flinging himself off with a spray of milk following him; one nuzzled in so close he virtually smothered himself with my breast and I had to hold it out of his way with my thumb. All of them fed though and, surely, that’s what is most important.”– Jo @ Cup Of Toast.
“I was lucky. Dougie needed absolutely no instruction, and within minutes of being born, he was feeding away. I remember his first night, we stayed in hospital and no-one told me what I was supposed to be doing, I didn’t know if I was feeding him properly, I didn’t know how often I was meant to feed him, I kind of just trusted my instinct and tried to feed him every time he cried. At the beginning it was incredibly painful, and considering how much my body hurt after giving birth, it was a struggle.”– Helen @ The Hels Project.
“I lost count of the times I had to ask a midwife to help me get her to latch and most of them ended up just offering me bottles of formula. Every time she managed to latch she would feed for hours on end and there were many a time where I felt like giving up. I hated my body for not doing what it was supposed to do, I hated myself for coping badly and I was worrying Eloise wasn’t getting enough milk. I remember one night in particular where she had been feeding all day every days for weeks and I was exhausted and just thought “f**k this” and went to get the carton of formula I bought “just in case”. These days became frequent. I was a single, teenage mum with this beautiful, tiny human who depended entirely on me. It was f**king hard. I wouldn’t change it for anything though.”– Gee @ Gee Gardener.
“I’m a mum of two, one 4 years old and one nearly 7 months old. My two breastfeeding experiences couldn’t be any different. First time round it all went horribly wrong. I wanted to do it because it is best for baby and I know all the benefits. I wanted to be a good parent. I was devastated that it didn’t go well but had to accept that it just wasn’t working. Mastitis, incredibly sore, bleeding nipples, petrified of feeding in public and tears every feeding time (from me) put a stop to it.
In my post pregnancy haze, post emergency cesarean and post breastfeeding nightmare I felt like a failure, I couldn’t get anything right. Time went on and my little baby girl is growing up a beautiful healthy little girl. I now see that motherhood is filled with trials and experiences, highs and lows and gaining perspective on these early days takes time and a clear head.”– Helen @ Talking Mums.
“For me I couldn’t wait to breastfeed my daughter. Our experience started off great with her latching right after I came out of the operating theatre. We established feeding well and I felt really confident and relaxed around it. What I didn’t bank on was that my daughter has FPIES, a rare allergy syndrome that meant she began to react to my breastmilk at 10 days old. This was a trying time and for her own health she had to switch to a hydrolysed amino acid formula at 6 weeks old. I was sad our journey ended so soon but so proud I’d managed to feed her myself in the first place! “– Katy @ Katy Kicker.
“After having Rosie and not being able to breastfeed, I was determined to feed Miyah. I did all the research my head could handle and got all the facts remembered. I started to express some colostrum in case the worst happened and I froze it ready and took it with me to hospital. After I had Miyah, and taking my time to take in I had actually just given birth we cuddled up and she latched straight away. Her latch was perfect and I cried. I was so happy and from there we had it great. She fed like crazy but I didn’t care. A couple weeks after coming home, the first starting pain didn’t exactly go away and I was dreading feeding. I went to the doctors and discovered I had mastitis. I was scared to say the least; I did not want to give up at all so I fed through and took my pills. Unfortunately at 3 months Miyah started teething. This was agony and there was nothing I could do to make it stop. I started getting very sore and I decided it was time that I started to think about bottle feeding her. I made the awful decision at 5 months old and we are now full time bottle feeding as she has completely forgotten how to latch to me. Although I am extremely sad that my time finished before I would have liked I am so proud of how far I have come.”– Becca @ My Girls & Me.
“With my son I felt pressured into breastfeeding by health professionals but it soon became apparent that it just wasn’t for me, I preserved for a couple of weeks until I switched to formula and I never looked back, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted. I didn’t enjoy breastfeeding or feel any extra connection with my son nor was I confident enough to feed in public. I did not rule breastfeeding my daughter out and I knew I wanted to try to do the first couple of days so she got the ‘good stuff’ she was a very fidgety baby and didn’t feed well so I made the decision to switch again. I don’t feel guilty for stopping or wish I could of continued, I totally admire breastfeeding mamas but its just not for me. I am expecting my third baby in November and again I will attempt breastfeeding until I feel it isn’t working for us anymore.”– Amy @ Mama Mighalls.
I’d love to hear your breastfeeding stories and experiences. Did you find it hard to begin with or did it just come naturally?