When I became a Mum first time round I just ‘knew’ I would breastfeed. Societal pressure, a belief that it was best for my baby and unrealistic expectations as to how easy it was likely to be, it just didn’t occur to me that I might find it difficult. I wasn’t prepared for our short breastfeeding journey.
The birth was painful and somewhat traumatic, my son inhaled meconium so was born not breathing. After a few minutes the wonderful team at the hospital got him breathing and he was whisked away to the NICU to be on the safe side where my husband went with him and gave him his first bottle whilst I was stitched up.
So it was several hours before I got to hold my son and at that point his was bundled up and fast asleep. We tried breastfeeding over the next 2 days (we stayed in hospital as they wanted to ensure feeding was established first) but my son was very sleepy and wouldn’t wake to feed despite everyone’s best efforts. By the second night of being on a Postnatal ward (getting no sleep) I was climbing the walls and desperate to get out. At one point we had about 5 people in our tiny cubicle trying to get our baby to feed. Eventually they were happy to let us home after he had latched a few times.
At home it would take a long time to get him to latch and he would bob off again within a couple of minutes. It was incredibly frustrating and stressful. I went to breastfeeding support groups which helped a bit. However about 6 weeks into our breastfeeding journey and things began to get harder. My son would get really fussy on the boob and eventually would be crying too much to take a good feed. He dropped down a percentile. During this time I found breastfeeding to be a battle rather than the bonding experience I had hoped. I was still fighting to get my son onto the breast and to stay on. I felt rejected and actually felt that this difficulty breastfeeding made it even harder for us to bond.
When my son was 9 weeks he got very bad silent reflux (at the time our gp diagnosed gas/ colic and told me “if he’s breastfed he’ll be fine”). He began crying for up to 2 hours at a time, he would go bright red and scream in pain, eventually passing out with exhaustion. I would try to feed him when he woke, sometimes he would feed, sometimes it would start the crying cycle all over again. It was a miserable time for us both. As a result my son was going up to 6 hours between feeds and dropped another percentile.
When he was 11 weeks he went a day having just 2 feeds in 18 hours, the rest of the time he was screaming or sleeping. In desperation we took him to a&e who diagnosed silent reflux. We changed gp’s and got medication for reflux. His symptoms only improved slightly and eventually after another day where my son barely fed, we reluctantly gave him a bottle of formula (we had run out of expressed breastmilk). Frighteningly he projectile vomited all over the living room halfway through the bottle and came out in hives over his body. He was then diagnosed with CMPA (Cows Milk Protein Allergy), which had caused his silent reflux. He was reacting to the dairy in my diet through my breastmilk. I cut out dairy from my diet and my son’s symptoms went away almost overnight, he was a different baby, a happy baby. Unfortunately we now had a new feeding issue. During the 3 weeks of silent reflux, my son had been feeding very infrequently and as a result my milk supply had dropped dramatically. He would now cry at the end of every feed because he was still hungry. I had been unable to pump in between feeds as whilst he was crying or sleeping he had to be held upright to help with the pain. Despite ‘resolving’ the problem be would cry at the end of every feed because he was still hungry.
At this point I was exhausted & I desperately wanted my son to gain some much needed weight. Although I didn’t know it at the time I was also suffering from a Postnatal thyroid imbalance which affected my mood (& may also have affected my milk supply). It also caused insomnia and weight loss and I was exhausted emotionally and physically. With a very heavy heart and a huge amount of guilt we decided to change to formula feeding with a dairy free formula prescribed by the gp.
Stopping breastfeeding was my decision but I felt like a failure. I had wanted to breastfeed for at least 6 months, I had expected to enjoy it, I had expected it to help us bond - I was so disappointed by our breastfeeding experience and all the challenges it had thrown up. Over the next few months I came to terms with our decision and experience, I knew we had done the right thing for us as a family at the time. Breastfeeding hadn’t worked for us, it had caused so much stress and anxiety and as a new Mum I needed to take the pressure off myself.
2 years later I fell pregnant again. I wanted to try breastfeeding again. Thankfully our experience second time round has been much more positive. I had a homebirth, it was fantastic. I got to hold my son straight away, have skin to skin and he didn’t leave my sight at all. He latched on vey quickly and despite some initial and expected soreness, it improved quickly. I loved the cuddles! Unfortunately at around 5 weeks our second baby began fussing at the breast as our first did and arching away. With the benefit of hindsight and a very supportive GP I have cut dairy, soya and egg from my diet which we believe he was reacting to.
Although having such a restricted diet is challenging (I don’t eat meat either) I have no regrets breastfeeding. I’d love if my baby would take a bottle so my husband could enjoy feeding him too and also so I could have more one on one time with my eldest - but he just wants boob and I’m happy to meet that need. I’m incredibly proud to have reached the 6 month breastfeeding milestone that I had wanted to reach last time. Current advice is that allergy babies either breastfeed or formula feed until 2 years old. The formula tastes vile so the longer our son goes without taking a bottle and trying the formula, the more I think he may not ever drink formula, even from a cup - so I am open to the idea of extended breastfeeding if that’s the case and if that’s what my son wants and needs from me.
Despite our challenges I want our experience to give hope to anyone who wasn’t able to breastfeed first time round or who cut their breastfeeding journey short before they had wanted to. Every baby is different and if you get a second chance, the experience may be very different, there’s always hope! x
I started my breastfeeding journey when pregnant, moaning at my mum for trying to encourage me to breastfeed for at least a year. I would say things like “I’ll give it a go but if I can’t do it then formula is fine” or “if I can, 4/6 months is probably all I’ll do”. 10 months later and my views have totally changed, I should have realised to have support like that is quite rare and I should have appreciated it more. I didn’t know how hard it would be, and I didn’t expect to have such determination to breastfeed for as long as possible. I really don’t see us slowing down any time soon.
Our Nina was born on her due date in October last year, weighing 11lb, 7oz’s. After 5 hours of pushing fully dilated she was born via forceps as she had shoulder dystocia and was stuck in pelvis. Our first feed was an hour after birth and it went very well. She then fed every hour/ 2 hours for the next 48 hours. By day three I thought things were going well however Nina was getting very sleepy and I was really struggling to get her to latch. After a day of struggling at home we went back to the maternity ward where she was given a glucose top up and some formula. At the time I ABSOLUTELY hated the thought of her having anything but my milk (colostrum) I had decided that I wanted to feed and that was it, and now I am failing because she won’t latch onto me, I felt like a bad Mum and that everything I was doing was wrong. We ended up being in hospital for 3 days as Nina’s weight loss had dropped to 11% from her birth weight. The midwives and I worked on latching, and after every feed I would pump milk then give her this mixed with formula if needed after the next feed.
Day 4 my milk came in and things started going up hill from then on. Nina was feeding really well and by the end of day 5 we were home again. Nobody tells you just how emotional you are going to feel after giving birth. I was an absolute wreck, I felt like I was failing my daughter. I felt like my milk wasn’t good enough, that she didn’t want me, she preferred the bottles and that it was all going wrong. My husband was SO supportive and kept encouraging me to carry on.
By the time Nina was a week old, we were still giving Nina expressed milk top ups after every feed but thankfully no need for formula as I was now producing enough milk, and I definitely felt it! My boobs were MASSIVE! But now a new challenge had come, Nina wouldn’t take the bottle after each feed. We had a lot of advice from various members of the maternity department but we followed some advice from an expert which came to our house, and this was to give Nina bottle before breast whilst she is hungry. In theory this sounded like such a good idea as she would be really hungry and then take it easily. However this meant that Nina would from that point not latch onto me at all, I then proceeded to pump every feed entirely and give it to her in a bottle for the next three days until we tried some Mandela nipple shields and she FINALLY latched onto me. That feeling I can still remember now, I cried such happy tears.
By the time Nina was 11 days old we didn’t need to give bottle top ups any more and we could really focus on our breastfeeding journey, perfecting our latch and enjoying this precious time.
Nina used the nipple shields until she was 9 weeks old. I kept trying her every now and then without them but as I have quite flat nipples she struggle to get her little mouth around them, so my guess is that once she was older her mouth got bigger and she was able to take a deeper latch from me without the shield. One day I tried her without, and she latched to my amazement, we had gotten so used to using it that I really didn’t think it would ever change. Her latch wasn’t great but she was definitely trying. From then on I took two days of not leaving the house and really helping Nina to figure this one out, a lot of nipple cream was involved but we finally got there. I was so proud of us!
All was going so amazingly, I absolutely love breastfeeding and the bond it gives us. It’s so easy to feed out and about, not needing to make bottles up in the night or to cart the kit around with you all the time. However all of the sudden around 4 months, we were hit by a massive brick wall sign posted “teething”!!!!
All of a sudden we had arched backs, pushing away, screaming, laughing and recently biting!! Most of the time I can calm her by singing her favourite songs and patting her bum. However Nina does go on quite a few nursing strikes and has probably done around 3 big ones in the last 5 months. Every time I pull my hair out, every time I push both of our patients to the limit as the stress of her not feeding consumes me. Our most recent feeding strike happened 2 weeks ago, at around 9 months. We went on holiday to a caravan, I stupidly did not take my breast pump or any bottles with me. And in this week Nina learnt to crawl (backwards) sit up from lying down, pull herself up using furniture and wave, along with being away from home over night for the first time her little brain went into over drive and she point blank refused to nurse. She went from 4 good feeds a day to some days only having 2 small feeds. I was so stressed by the situation that I kept trying to make her feed but they are so right in what they say “you can’t force a breastfed baby to feed!”. By the time we got home she still wasn’t feeding. I ended up calling a breastfeeding helpline as i was so distraught in the thought of her no longer nursing any more! I wasn’t ready to give in. Following their advice I spent the next morning completely topless and it worked an absolute treat! She fed four times before midday! And now I think she feeds better than before we went away.
I can’t in any way say our breastfeeding journey has been easy, and I won’t lie to anyone and say it has. But it has been so so worth it. To know the milk she is getting is practically magic, tailored to her every need. It’s on demand to whenever she wants it, and as quickly as it takes to get my boob out. She is immune to nearly everything I am, and gets so many nutrients that a bottle of formula couldn’t never even fractionally compete with.
I will feed nina for however long she needs it, and I will continue to feed every child I have in the future. I should have listening to my mum!
For all you new breastfeeding mamas out there, it’s going to be a tough journey, but my god it’s the most rewarding thing you will ever do. Enjoy those cuddles and soak in that oxytocin feeling the whole experience gives you. You will literally feel like your heart is going to jump out of your boobies!!
From the second I decided I wanted to have a baby I knew I was going to breastfeed. I was obsessed with breastfeeding throughout my entire pregnancy. I would watch YouTube videos about proper latch, positioning and tips on bringing in your milk until 4am. My husband would even tell me, “Babe, you’ll be fine…you don’t have to worry so much. When we get to the hospital the Lactation Consultant will be there to help, but you’re totally going to get it right away.” Oh, how I wish he was right…instead I had nothing but issues and struggled so much in those first few days and weeks.
For most women, a proper breastfeeding relationship is extremely difficult to establish. There are a lot of different factors to getting it right and it can be extremely overwhelming for a new Mama. You’ll have to learn how to latch your baby on properly, how to listen and watch for hunger cues, and you’ll stress and stress about your milk production until you’re blue in the face.
For me, establishing a breastfeeding relationship was nearly impossible and I went through hell and back to successfully breastfeed my daughter. I have a mild case of Mammary Hypoplasia, which caused me to make little to no milk for the first week of my baby’s life. Mammary Hypoplasia, also known as insufficient glandular tissue is a very uncommon condition that can cause low or no milk production. Women with mammary hypoplasia simply did not develop proper mammary tissue during adolescence, which can make pumping very difficult as well. We also don’t have many breast changes during pregnancy, for example my boobs pretty much stayed the same aside of from becoming a bit swollen towards the end.
I was in the OR being stitched up from my unplanned c-section when the time finally came for me to breastfeed my daughter for the first time. She laid on my chest quietly. She didn’t do that instinctual little baby crawl to the breast, she didn’t open her mouth wide searching for my nipple…she just laid there, perfectly content with soaking up my warmth but not putting forth any effort to nurse. I was assured some babies take a little longer to initiate breastfeeding and to continue with skin-to-skin contact because it would entice her to nurse. We tried again when I was taken to the recovery room but every time she would latch she would fall off within seconds and we had to start again. It was disheartening to say the least; she wanted to nurse so badly but had no idea how to stay attached to my breast so she would cry and cry and cry.
When I met with the lactation consultant she taught me how to properly latch my daughter onto my breast and what to do if she fell off. She taught me how to hold her so that my incision wouldn’t sting and taught me how to look for cues that would let me know when she was ready to nurse again. She taught me all of these vital skills with a worried look on her face…I knew something wasn’t right; she was keeping something from me and I wanted to know what it was. Before I could ask her if there was something wrong with me, a reason why my daughter was having such a tough time nursing, she latched beautifully and I successfully breastfed her for the first time in 12 hours. I was so overwhelmed with joy that I forgot about all the issues we faced before and I was just present in this magical moment I worked so hard for. The lactation consultant left the room and I peacefully nursed Delilah for an hour straight. I was starting to feel like I could actually do this, like we finally figured it all out and everything was going to work out for us.
Breastmilk is the best first food for a baby, the most nutritional food ever created and I wanted my daughter to benefit from that.
Hours went by and all Delilah did was cry. I was latching her on the way I was taught, before she even gave me hunger cues. I could see her jaw moving the way it’s supposed to when they have a proper latch, so I knew I was doing that part right…but I could tell my daughter wasn’t getting enough milk. Every time they weighed her she dropped weight, so much so that they started talking about supplementing her with formula. I adamantly declined and refused the formula, not because I think formula is wrong, but because it was not the path I wanted to take with my daughter. Breastmilk is the best first food for a baby, the most nutritional food ever created and I wanted my daughter to benefit from that. So I continued to breastfeed until they sent the lactation consultant back in to speak with me. With a heavy heart she told me that I had Mammary Hypoplasia, that she knew it from the second she saw my breasts. “Your breasts have a wide gap in between them and your nipples point downwards. Pair that with your low milk supply and you are the poster-child for this condition” she said. “It’s time for us to start supplementing with formula, your daughter is losing far too much weight and she could really suffer if we continue down this path. Yes, breast is best…but unfed is dead.” Those words resonated with me every single time I offered her a bottle. I could hear them in the back of my mind as I watched my perfect daughter chug down that formula like she had never eaten before in her life…because she hadn’t. I wasn’t producing at all. No Colostrum, no nothing. Every time my daughter latched she was sucking on air, the poor thing was starving and I had no idea.
“It’s time for us to start supplementing with formula, your daughter is losing far too much weight and she could really suffer if we continue down this path. Yes, breast is best…but unfed is dead.”
I did everything in my power to bring my milk in as quickly as possible so that I could breastfeed my baby and stop supplementing. A lot of women with this condition aren’t able to breastfeed at all, unfortunately so I was working against the odds but I was determined. I latched her on every hour, sometimes sooner if she gave me hunger cues.
If she wasn’t latched I was pumping and in between all I did was cry. My nipples were sore, cracked and bleeding, my incision hurt like crazy and I was so upset because I was told in the hospital that I my body may never make enough milk to sustain her and I may need to supplement with formula throughout our entire breastfeeding relationship. Pumping was such a painful experience for me; because of my condition I have very little tissue around my nipple, causing 80% of the skin around my areola to pull into the flange with each suction of the pump. I bought the smallest size flange on the market, I used coconut oil to lubricate my breasts while pumping, I tried to hold the skin so it wouldn’t be pulled in…Nothing worked and every second was excruciating but I kept going. By the third day I finally saw the smallest amount of milk in the bottles! My milk had come in and I dropped the bottle feeds right then and there. I nursed around the clock and kept my pumping routine strong and from that day on my daughter was exclusively breastfed. All of my efforts had paid off and a few months later I even gave up on pumping! It was excruciating and my daughter hated bottles, she preferred her milk from the tap so I ditched the pump and never looked back.
I have officially been breastfeeding my baby straight from my breasts with no supplementation for thirteen glorious months. It was the most difficult thing I have ever done, I worked my ass off to get here. I cried, considered quitting, and broke down more times than I’d like to admit but I am stronger for it. Every painful second was worth it because the bond I have with my child is unlike anything I have ever experienced and I know she is benefitting from nature’s perfect first food. I truly love breastfeeding this little girl and I see no end in sight.
Breastfeeding is difficult, frustrating and so, so demanding…but it’s also the most beautiful, magical, and truly amazing thing you will do in your life. So hang in there mama because YOU GOT THIS.
I have always wanted to breastfeed and naively thought it would come naturally. I gave birth to my daughter in hospital 9 days early. When I went in I was told I wasn’t in active labour at only 2cm dilated. In 2 hours I went from 2cm to fully dilated and just 20 minutes after that my daughter was born. This could be one of the reasons for some of our struggles as the quick exit may have compressed her jaw slightly. This however is only one of quite a few contributing factors. The first latch passed in a bit of a happy blur as I gazed down at my tiny child. I will never forget the next one though and the days after that. I just couldn’t get comfortable and nor could she. My boobs felt massive and her tiny mouth just couldn’t seem to open wide enough. I was made to change position several times but nothing seemed to work and it hurt, boy did it hurt. I kept reading that if it hurt we weren’t doing it right. This made me feel like a failure. Why couldn’t I do it? I must have watched so many YouTube videos on how to latch in those early days, getting more and more anxious.
Her nappies started showing signs of dehydration. All I wanted to do was escape the hospital but rightly, I couldn’t leave until she was hydrated. This put even more pressure on me to get it right. I am thankful to the hospital as they never once pressured me to give her a bottle. Instead they supported us through syringing the colostrum from my nipple to give to her (you should have seen my husband’s face when asked to do this!) followed by pumping and feeding her from a tiny cup. There needed to be a certain number of clear nappies to ensure she was safe and we could leave. Sometimes there would be a clear nappy and our hopes would rise, only to be followed by signs of dehydration in the next. I felt like I was failing my baby and on top of the new mum anxiety I had anyway, these times weren’t the happy times I had hoped for.
Finally, we had a run of clear nappies and could leave the hospital. It had only been three days but it felt like forever. I was so happy to get my little family home but little did I know our feeding difficulties were only just beginning. I had midwives visiting me most days for over a week trying to help me latch. The first day I sat in bed topless whilst a midwife latched her over and over trying to get her on. She finally showed me the rugby hold, a position we hadn’t tried in the hospital and while I still felt pain, she was feeding and seemed to be satisfied which for now was a huge relief. I still felt awkward and uncomfortable in this position and had to have her propped up with cushions but it was a start. I should mention that the hospital and midwives checked her for tongue tie and felt there wasn’t one.
Over the next two weeks, things didn’t get much better. My husband had to go back to work after a week and on his second day back had a hysterical me on the phone to him. The pain was getting too much and I dreaded every feed. The one saving grace was that my milk came in, there seemed to be loads and she loved it. Nappies were plentiful and she was growing. In fact despite all that dehydration, at first weigh in she had lost none of her birth weight. My baby was thriving and so the issues were all mine. I told myself therefore that I was a grown women and I could take the pain if she was ok. I am very stubborn and think I drove many family members a bit mad during this time. I couldn’t bring myself to give her a bottle this early on as I wanted this so much. I fell into a rhythm where during the days I gritted my teeth, set my face and got through it. The evenings were a bit more of a struggle with cluster feeding marathons leaving my nipples in shreds but the nights, oh they were another level. I was anxious and tense so it made it worse, she was sleepy and therefore her already terrible latch became worse, I became a sobbing mess. My husband sat up, whilst holding down a full time job with a long commute, holding my hand, massaging my shoulders, whispering words of encouragement. We had almost hit the two week mark when I hit rock bottom culminating in my daughter projectile vomiting blood over the bed. Initial fear for her health was replaced with the realisation that this had come from my nipples. I gave in and my husband reached for a bottle. This was when we realised our baby is as stubborn as her mother as she clamped her mouth shut every time it came near and proceeded to scream and scream until I put her back to the breast. Now, I am so glad she did. Back then, I had never felt so trapped.
By now, I had a health visitor who quickly put me in touch with the Breastfeeding Support team. I now realise we are lucky to have this in our area as funding issues mean not every area does. They asked me to attend a breastfeeding session and a brilliant friend of mine took the day off work to come with me. It was in a library and it felt very odd in these early days to get my boobs out so the lady could have a look. She instantly identified that my daughter had a posterior tongue tie. I don’t blame the hospital and community midwives for missing this, I understand posterior ones are harder to diagnose but I do think they need far better training. I had spent two weeks in agony thinking this was my fault and in an instant the breastfeeding support team found the main issue. We went that weekend privately to have the tongue tie procedure. I couldn’t wait for the NHS where I was told there was a six week wait. To cut a very long story short, I did not feel an improvement and a few weeks later, the breastfeeding support team came back and established it had reattached. Off we went for a second procedure, knowing this was our last shot.
For many people this procedure solves everything and they feel almost instant relief. For others, it may take a little time. Sadly for me, things didn’t really improve and I began to lose hope yet again. The health visitor also recommended osteopathy which we went to every week for a while. This was where they found her tight jaw and worked to free that up. I decided to stop putting all my hopes on these external procedures and instead focused on my own mental strength. I set myself mini goals, telling myself just to get to six weeks, then to eight and so on. A friend of mine told me it improved greatly for her at three months so that was my next goal. In the meantime I was tested for thrush and mastitis and began a course of antibiotics. I began to get severe shooting pains in my breasts especially in cold air so had to wear heat pads and dip my breasts before each feed. I attended a breast clinic to check there was nothing more untoward going on and had scans and some of the worst lumps syringed away. Fortunately there was nothing found and I continued on with my internal battle. I began pumping after the six week mark and daddy attempted the bottle again. Hearing her scream through every feed broke my heart and I eventually put a stop to it. I could do this on my own, I had got this far hadn’t I?!
There were other issues too, some mucus filled nappies causing a dairy elimination diet for a while and oversupply issues causing her to gag but again we overcame them all. Three months came and I was still in pain but I suddenly realised I had stopped crying and I could do the cradle hold. I didn’t need a pillow constantly there to rest her on and I didn’t dread every feed. Slowly, slowly the pain receded. I came to realise she had just needed to relearn how to feed without constriction, her tiny mouth needed to grow and I needed to relax. Together we took this journey and together we made it out the other side. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family and closest friends, particularly my husband who has been with me every step of the way, nurturing me and keeping me afloat. I am so thankful to my health visitor for her words of support and to the Breastfeeding Support team. Maria of littlepeachlondon has also been and continues to be an inspiration, I only wish I had found her sooner in my journey but her words now help me through the challenges of teething and a baby who most definitely prefers breastmilk to solids.
On Sunday I reached twelve whole months breastfeeding, during World Breastfeeding Week and think it is just about the thing I am most proud of myself for. It has been a long difficult journey to get to today but the bond we share, the moments we have while nursing and knowing I did everything I could to give my daughter the best possible start, make up for all the difficult moments. I would never ever judge someone who chose the bottle from the start, or someone who gave it a go and didn’t feel able to continue. Fed is most certainly best and being a happy mum is most important. I am not ashamed however to share my journey and feel proud of what I have done and the lengths I went to, to achieve this. I hope one day to show my daughter this and have her realise how much her mummy loves her.
For anyone struggling, seek support, reach out, do whatever is best for your family and don’t let anyone tell you what you are doing is wrong, whether that be breast or bottle. You got this mama!
Since 7 years ago, breastfeeding makes part of my daily life. Breastfeeding on demand, prolonged breastfeeding, breastfeeding in tandem. They all came naturally and in response to the needs of my children that I slowly learned to decipher. I confess that the last, until recently, was not my choice, it simply happened. At first, I was tabula rasa. There was only a will and, step by step, a discovery of the practicality. But I was not warned about the pain caused by a wrong latch, milk cobblestones or despairing moments when milk seems to be insufficient. I carried a lot of prejudice in my head, and an immense insecurity ruled my steps. I had no idea of the number of pitches I would hear along this milky way and I could not even imagine for how many women trying and not being able to breastfeed was a painful affair. This world opened up gradually and with it grew self-confidence and understanding of the other.
Nowadays, breastfeeding is for me a vital issue for the body and soul of my little ones. I believe that because it is natural, the act does not need nor should not be glamorized or used to differentiate the mothers. The daily difficulties we encounter in this liquid journey should not be a secret, but it is important to remember that the process is difficult and often painful because of all the social dynamics we have arrived to in the XXI century: excessive workload, inadequate maternity leave, lack of the supporting networks, social devaluation of the act of breastfeeding, hygiene of the care, maternal solitude, among others. When we isolate all of this and focus on the beauty of the act, free of physical and emotional stress, we achieve the fullness of what the breastfeeding experience really deserves.
This photo (number1) was taken 2 days after I gave birth to my third daughter. The presence of my second child that still sucking and the placenta that had not yet come off is a gift and not a problem.
I had a really difficult start to breastfeeding and there were so many times that I thought I was gonna have to give it up. I spent an extra day in the hospital when my son was first born due to many feeding issues, he had a good latch yet my breasts were covered in bruises and bleeding and I suffered from a massive swelling in my arm pit due to blocked milk ducts, after seeing multiple midwives, two doctors and a breastfeeding specialist, I was finally given nipple shields, which I thought would be the fix for everything. After a week of being home and many visits and phone calls from more breastfeeding specialists, I felt confident that everything was finally solved but then I had to face the issue that I just wasn't producing enough milk for my son and he wasn't gaining any weight. I spent the second week barely sleeping due to almost constant feeding and pumping, neither of which seemed to help much though. By the third week I was exhausted and felt like a failure and after lots of thought and discussion about my sons weight and health and the pressure this was putting on me, I had to make the heart breaking decision to both formula feed and breastfeed. I know that formula is fine for my son and that this was the best decision, at least until my milk supply increases but I still felt like such a failure when I gave him that first bottle. I am so thankful for the breast feeding specialists and there support and reassurance because if it wasn't for them, I would have probably felt worse for a lot longer. My son is now six weeks and we still have a long way to go with breastfeeding but I already feel like Its been such a massive and eventful journey already.
I had heard all the horror stories about cracked nipples, blocked ducts, mastitis, bleeding nipples, no sleep, people reacting negatively to breastfeeding and a friend had a baby who turned blue and passed out when he breastfed!
So, after all that I was scared about breastfeeding and 90% certain I would formula feed. The only reason I attempted it was I had been told about the benefits of even just a bit of colostrum and my mother was really pushing boobing so I felt I did have to give it a go, however hubby and I had discussed that if it was hard in any way, we would formula feed. I had bottles, a steriliser, bottle warmer etc ready.
It looked originally like breastfeeding but wasn’t going to work as my little Peanut didn’t want to feed and objected greatly to being woken up for feeds. She dropped 11oz down to 6lbs and became jaundiced so we were re-admitted to hospital when she was 36hours old. At that point, we bought bottles, a steriliser, bottle warmer etc so that I could begin formula feeding when we left hospital. I felt I would be judged negatively if I formula fed in hospital so didn’t dare!
3 days after she was born, my milk came in and Peanut loved it and couldn’t get enough of it! She was feeding every 2 hours, for 30-40mins at a time! By the time she was 7 days old, Peanut’s jaundice was low enough of to be properly discharged again as long as I kept up the 2-hourly feeds, which I did for 6 weeks. Peanut went from the 9th to the 25th centile and I was confident feeding her in public - including at the Safari Park!
It was so easy as well, my milk was always ready, always at the right temperature and I didn’t have to get out of bed for the night feeds. I love the bond we have and how boobs fix everything!
This is my story...my husband is an only child. His father passed away from brain trauma two years ago, it was short and sudden battle. We were not prepared. But then my husband's mother, my mother in law, moved in with us. And one month later I became pregnant, with our first child. Which was ironic because I was waiting for the perfect time to have a baby. I was lucky enough to get pregnant as soon as I started trying. But I wasn't expecting to have my mother in law live with me, my entire pregnancy and post birth.
During my pregnancy I spent a lot of time consoling an inconsolable woman. Partially because I wanted her to help and partly because I wanted her to move on and move out! Sorry to say. But it is difficult living with a parent, especially one who is not your own. She did things differently to me and I found it difficult sharing my private space. She would walk into our house, she had a key. She would never say she was coming round. She would invite people over. She never really helped. She was a lovely lady, don't get me wrong. But she was going through a hard time and I couldn't exactly complain about her bad habits. My husband stood by my side, because he's a good man. But also because he was conscious of my feelings affecting our unborn child! I struggled to enjoy my pregnancy until a month before I gave birth she moved out. And I made the nursery I had planned for. Then I gave birth and she decided to come back to "help" us. She didn't really help at all. And this is where breastfeeding became my thing.
I didn't really think much about breastfeeding before I gave birth. I had the dream birth - basically a hypnobirthing dream. But breastfeeding was painful, worse than labour. I had oversupply of milk, plugged ducts, mastitis, blisters and thrush all in the space of three months. I battled with breastfeeding. I kept fighting, determined to make it work. All the while being told by my mother in law - give her a bottle, so we can help i.e. I could get a chance to cook and clean and she could have fun with the baby. To this day she doesn't understand that when the baby wants to sleep you can't play with her. Anyway she wanted to take part in the fun stuff. My breastfeeding meant the baby had to come back to me. That's why I continued breastfeeding because I felt threatened and breastfeeding protected me. Even though I wanted to do it from the start, I was passionate about it and I read up on all the misconceptions. I called the helplines at least 20 times, I had a lactation consultant come round many times. I kept going and I think subconsciously I knew that no one could ever take my baby away, if I breastfed.
We're at the six months mark now. I don't feel as threatened but I keep any bottles out of grandmas sight (baby drinks expressed milk from a bottle sometimes). I don't want her to know there are other options. My milk only, because I want her to come back to me. I've spoken to a counsellor about my anxiety issues. But now I've come to a point where I no longer feel as threatened and I've spent so much time pushing myself emotionally and not giving myself a break that I realised...I don't enjoy breastfeeding, the way some women do.
I want to talk about it because I don't want women who WANT to breastfeed but don't ENJOY it all the time to be shunned. I recently spoke to one of the top lactation consultants in Sussex about how my baby wouldn't feed outside and it was giving me so much anxiety. Because she wasnt getting milk and expressing milk took a long time. She was getting so distracted. She said to me give her water. She wouldn't utter the word bottle. But what I noticed is she wasn't listening to me. I was telling her it's stressing me out and she was so blinded by her agenda that she couldn't hear what I was really saying. In that moment I was saying I hate this, I want to stop, I feel depressed but I feel bad. Help me to feel better. Give me a break. Cut me some slack. Stop making me feel awful. Tell me its OK to stop. Even though I won't stop but I want to hear it.
I see people talking about breast is best, gold liquid and platinum breasts and I want to remind you that breastfeeding is not a competition. It's not something we should pressure women to do. We need to acknowledge that for some women, breastfeeding is a struggle emotionally and physically, because breastfeeding hard. There is research that shows that for women who already have low levels of anxiety and depression - breastfeeding does not elevate their mood. The way it does with women who don't have an oxytocin imbalance.
Therefore I suggest that women are encouraged to give expressed bottles so that women have the option of a bottle. They should be taught how to do this without affecting breastfeeding, not scaremongered. Like my friend who needs to go back to work, in a month,
and her son is exclusively breastfed and she has no way of putting him to sleep without her being there. And that women are encouraged to breastfeed exclusively for six months and then if they decide they no longer want to breastfeed they can either do combination or formula feed. This doesn't make them any less, or a bronze, breastfeeding mum. This makes them a platinum mum - just like a woman who can breastfeed for a year or two. They did the best that they could, with what they had, where they are. Let's be reasonable. Let's not make a woman feel like the longer the better. Yes it gets easier with solids being introduced and with setting a bedtime routine. But some things stay the same. You can't gave a night out because if baby us awake whose going to put them back to sleep?! Let's be honest.
I could give her formula now and I am really trying to stop myself. It's not poison but I feel like I have milk. But I would consider it at some point in the next weeks and I would like a lactation consultant to tell me its OK and well done. We should celebrate the end of any breastfeeding journey. And that's the thing I don't want it to end. But I want to be taught how to give her the odd bottle of formula and give myself a break (as selfish as that might sound to some pro breastfeeding groups) and be taught how to maintain my supply for at least a year or however long I can. I would like more support and I would like to not feel guilty.
Really I think we need to stop sugar coating breastfeeding and making it sound like it's always the best thing. What is the point of breastfeeding if you feel depressed or anxious? I want women to acknowledge how hard it is, how lonely it can be. When you're stuck in a room and feeing for four hours straight during a growth spurt. When all your other 20 something year old friends are out having fun, going out without their children, sending you photos and you're stuck at home. When you go online and look at mums and judge whether they are BF based on their clothes and makeup. Because you know BF mums get less time and occasionally less sleep. Because if you're not co sleeping and you don't want to you may get less sleep. And your baby will fall asleep on you during nap time and so you won't get time to get dolled up. Let's talk about the reality so women know it's OK to feel this way. A friend I made at a class told me recently that she felt so anxious and tired from breastfeeding, she had to go seek help. It shouldn't be that way.
Breastfeeding is great from a health perspective but it can be emotionally draining. I want to continue but I want someone to tell me how to enjoy it more. Because I have spent six months feeding and feeling rubbish. Yes I have a stressful situation but I do feel BF babies depend on us more. I write this as my daughter is feeding to sleep. I know she fell asleep twenty minutes ago but she hasn't come off yet. And I really want to take off my contacts and go and watch telly and sit in peace.
You may not agree with everything I've said or any of it but please respect this is my journey and its been a tough one. Thank you.
Even before I fell pregnant, before I'd even met my husband in fact, whenever I thought about my family and having babies, I just knew I would breastfeed. It was never a question, I never considered any other option. I knew that my body would produce milk especially tailored for my baby and I assumed that breastfeeding would just come naturally.
So on February 16th, 2017, when the little love of my life was born and he didn't drag himself up my chest and latch on perfectly the way I had been shown in the antenatal class video, I panicked. They focused so little on what happens after birth; all I did see was that babies will instinctively breast crawl, latch on, and ba-da-bing ba-da-boom, you're a breastfeeding mum... But it's not that simple for most people. Although Logan did latch eventually, not that long after birth really, I was told "he's latched perfectly" by numberous midwives. But my nipples became sore and cracked, they looked blistered, feeding Logan was painful enough that I cried through most feeds. Sometimes, we'd struggle to get a deep latch, or a latch at all. The midwives visiting our home weren't concerned and they didn't take me too seriously because "he looks like he is latched well" and they said it was absolutely normal for the soreness to be there, and that was that. I convinced myself I was just a worried first-time mother who was being silly over nothing. And for a short time after being dismissed from the midwives' care, things did seem to improve.
After about a month though, it started getting more and more difficult. Logan would scream and cry whenever I put him to my breast, even though he clearly wanted to latch on and feed, it could take anywhere between 5 minutes and 1.5 hours to get him to calm down and get a decent latch. Once he had latched, he would stay on for no more than 30 seconds before coming off and starting all over again. This would happen a few times at least before he'd finally settle on the boob, and if you walked in at that point, you'd have no idea what struggle had just taken place. He looked content, happy. It was heartbreaking because he obviously wanted my breast milk, he wanted to be on the breast, but for some reason he just couldn't. He was struggling and despite my best efforts, I wasn't able to magically make it happen.
Throughout the next 1-2 months I visited multiple breastfeeding clinics around Sussex, spoke to as many health visitors as I could get in contact with, visited the doctors, went to all my local weighing clinics to talk to midwives and health visitors there, but no-one was giving me the help I needed. "It's a leap, it's a phase, you need to try this position or that position, you're just tired, work on the latch, maybe your supply isn't good... Pump and bottle feed, give him formula instead, give him a dummy, he's not really hungry... I was ignored because Logan was gaining weight, wetting his nappies, and otherwise he was clinically well.
One day, Logan started point blank refusing the boob, he wasn't feeding at all and nothing I did could convince him. He stopped wetting his nappies and I knew that meant he was dehydrating. We called 111 and was told to get to the Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital in Brighton. We did, and he had some routine checks and we were told he's fine and we could leave, but I refused. He clearly wasn't fine. I asked for a pump so I could relieve my breasts which were rock hard and painful to touch. The nurse left the room and returned with a bottle of formula. I balled my eyes out. I didn't want to do it, I refused. My heart has always been set on breastfeeding, and I absolutely was not prepared to give up, I just couldn't. The nurse was less than sympathetic, she made me feel like I was just being silly. She tried convincing me that it was for the best that I give him the formula, "you can always try to breastfeed again at a later date. Maybe you can combination feed." NO. It was not going to happen. I emptied my breasts and continued offering them to Logan.
We ended up staying the night, he had some blood taken, and we were again told that he's fine. After a night of regular check ups, I asked the nurses if Logan could be checked for tongue-tie. They didn't and we left. Our battle continued.
I eventually couldn't take going to clinics and being ignored anymore, so I did a bit of research and learned that the NHS doesn't routinely deal with tongue-ties in babies over 1 month old, but I found one hospital that would. I went to the doctor and asked him to refer me, and he LAUGHED at me. He told me I was being ridiculous. I left in tears, feeling humiliated and stupid.
I decided I had no choice but to pay for a breastfeeding counsellor. We were not in a position where spending that money was easy, it was a strain and we suffered for it, but in terms of breastfeeding, it was what we needed. The breastfeeding counsellor asked some questions, listened to my story, did a unbelievable quick assessment and confirmed my fears. Tongue-tie. She was unable to give an official diagnosis, but did refer me to a private clinic that dealt only with ties.
It cost a lot to get the appointment to have him assessed, and it took an hour and a half in the car to get to the clinic, but once there, his tongue-tie was confirmed. 80% posterior tongue-tie. Thankfully, once diagnosed, they were ready and able to get it sorted there and then. We were warned us that is usually takes 2 snips to release the tie, so I prepared myself for the crying and having to wait longer to comfort him. Everything was ready and it was time to cut it... There was an audible ping! It took one cut, and his tongue pinged free. I grabbed him and put him straight to my boobs to comfort him and stop the bleeding. The lady who cut it was surprised at the ping, in her many many years experience, she'd not had that before.
We had to do some exercises/stretches multiple times a day for a couple of weeks to encourage movement and to prevent re-attachment.It was recommended that we do them 4 times a day, but I did them more than that as re-attachment scared the pants off of me! I did the stretches before most feeds for a few weeks. There wasn't an immediate improvement but it did start to improve slowly.
I also wondered if Logan was allergic to something coming through my milk, so I decided that one by one, I would eliminate an allergen from my own diet and see if that had any affect. I started with cow's milk... And thankfully didn't have to continue through my list. Cow's Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA)... Oh the joys! From then on, if I accidentally had something containing cow's milk, Logan would be in agony for a few days. He would scream and cry just like before, and it was heartbreaking to say the least. He would have very loose nappies, and his reflux would get really bad again. (I forgot to mention this earlier, it's one of our first ever problems that we could identify - reflux. Logan suffered terribly with it. Apparently, most babies grow out of reflux by 6 months... Logan was 11 months old before I noticed it disappearing. It would cause horrible pain for him. He slept on his tummy for as long as I can remember as it was the only way he could get any peace and sleep. On his back, he would arch in pain, struggle to fall asleep, and wake up countless times because of the pain.)
On top of those issues, I had another one that helped with none of those! Oversupply and heavy let-down... Logan would gag and splutter during every feed. My breasts produced more milk than he needed, and as soon as he latched on to feed, letdown happened almost immediately and it would spray out super quick. He struggled to keep up with the flow, but he tried his best. As he got older, he dealt with it better and now he's a pro. My supply has settled finally, but it took far longer than people suggested it would!
So yeah, it took 3 months for us to figure out that all of these problems were problems. I'm just glad we did, even if it took so long. There were so many days I considered that I may have to quit breastfeeding, but I didn't, and I am so SO proud of myself for it. I found a strength and determination inside myself that I never knew was there.
Breastfeeding is natural, but it doesn't always come naturally... Don't give up. I didn't. And here we are, Logan is nearly 17 months old and I see no end in sight for us.
My name is Hayley, and I’m a mummy to 3 scrummy boys!!
My first pregnancy was great. I went full term + 4 days. Unfortunately, my labour was very slow to progress and because baby was getting distressed, I ended up with an emergency c-section. I didn’t really know much about breastfeeding. I remember telling my Midwife I wanted ‘to try’. I found in hospital there was little support to help me breastfeed. I’d had an epidural, which they topped up for my c-section, so literally couldn’t move. The hospital staff ended up wheeling baby away and feeding him with formula. Back then (10 years ago now), partners weren’t allowed to stay with you, so my hubby was sent home about half an hour after I’d got back into the ward as visiting hours were over!! It was formula all the way from then!!
Due to my health, we waited another 8yrs before having another baby. During this pregnancy, my waters broke when I was just 24wks pregnant. I remember sitting in my hospital room being monitored and in absolute fear of going into labour. Every time colostrum started leaking I was sure that I was going to go into labour, that this was the start. I didn’t even know that your body could start to produce colostrum that early, let alone have it leak!! I managed to hold onto baby for another 3 weeks and 5 days. I’d had a rather large bleed, so we were advised to call an ambulance. On the way to hospital I started to get some pains, but nothing like I hadn’t had before. In hospital, I was checked out & monitored. I wasn’t ‘in labour’, but was going to be kept in and transferred to the maternity ward. Within 3hrs of arriving at the hospital, baby arrived. It was the most frightening & horrific experience of my life! I only had a couple of really strong contractions that prompted us to call the midwife. When she came into the room and had a look, she could already see baby’s bottom!! The doctor was called and within about 10 minutes, baby was born and whisked straight away. We didn’t get to see him for another 6hrs. We had to wait for the NICU doctors to finish working on him before we could go and see him. One of the first things I was asked was how I had planned to feed baby. I hadn’t a clue. I was told of the benefits of breastmilk for premature babies tummies. So, I needed to start expressing!! The first time I expressed, I got the tiniest amount. I was so disappointed. I had these huge breasts - why weren’t they gushing out milk!! Every time I expressed, I tried to beat what I had done previously. If it was more, I was so happy, if it was less I was devastated! Although I was encouraged to express every 2-3hrs, this didn’t always happen. Life got in the way. I didn’t want to leave my baby’s side, or I needed to eat, or I had to collect my other son from school, or be home to do some housework, or wait for the doctors round, or we were having cuddles (which I had to wait 2 weeks for!). It was very hard to get into a routine of expressing to start. It wasn’t like I had a baby there screaming for food. My baby was on a ventilator in an incubator, in his own little cocoon away from me. Getting into the NICU routine was tough. Setting my alarm overnight every 3hrs to express. Spending a minimum of half an hour each time hand expressing, it was tough. I felt useless. All of my expressed milk was kept at the hospital, in a little plastic basket with baby’s name on, in the fridge on the NICU ward, ready and waiting for when the doctors wanted to start feeding him via his NG tube. I think baby was 3 days old when he starting being fed. It was an amazing feeling!! But, a really scary one too as my milk hadn’t come in yet. You feel all of this extra pressure to supply more and more, the pressure of the little basket in the fridge becoming empty as you couldn’t keep up with the demand even though it was only 1-2mls every hour that he was being fed! Once my milk arrived, I was shown how to use the hospital breast pumps. We hired one from the hospital to take home. We had a Milton tub for my breast cups in the Milk Kitchen at the hospital so I could express there when I needed. I’ll never forget the noise the breast pumps made. That constant humming. The way my nipples used to sting when I switched it on as they were so fragile. The sensation of my let down used to make me cry. They were tears full of relief that I had milk, sadness that it was all so mechanical, and pain where my breasts needed to get used to it. The competition I had with myself started again on a completely different level with the breast pump. Now I could fill bottles! It started with 20-30mls, then over a couple of weeks I was filling (sometimes over filling) 2 x 100ml bottles every time I expressed!!
I was keen to breastfeed my baby. I knew just how important my milk was for his growth and development and I wanted to continue with that once we got home. When baby was still in intensive care, the doctors noticed that he had a sucking reflex. He must have been about 4wks old, but only around 31wks gestation. The nurses said we could put him to the breast. I remember that first time. I was the only mummy on the unit that morning. I’d stripped off my top half so we could get some skin to skin at the same time. Baby was propped up on pillows - light as a feather, but so delicate to hold. The nurses put a screen round us and it was the most perfect moment. It was as though time had stopped. Of course, baby didn’t really feed, but he tasted a little of my milk for the first time. From then on, we started to wash his mouth with breast milk, sometimes we’d do a dummy dip while he was being fed by NG. As much as possible, I would hold his little NG tube up while my milk was being syringed down - not conventional breastfeeding, but my milk, by my hand all the same. There was one stage where baby wasn’t putting on as much weight as the doctors would have liked, so we discussed our options - formula or a fortifier in my milk. I was devastated. Those first early weeks it is drummed into you that your milk is the absolute best, then all of a sudden, it was like I wasn’t enough. Was it my fault? Was my diet not good enough? Was I drinking enough water? What else could I do?? With the fortifier, his weight picked up. I was so pleased. But still heartbroken that I wasn’t enough. Fast forward a few more weeks and we were regularly putting baby to breast at every feed possible while he was being fed via NG. He needed to learn that his tummy was getting full while sucking at the breast. Then the decision needed to be made at how much milk do we put down his NG tube? How much milk did we think he was actually getting from me? This wasn’t a conventional breastfed baby. There was no on demand feeding here!! NICU life meant a routine of every 3-4hrs. It was a fine balance to get it right to make sure he had his full quota of milk for the day. When the time came for the ‘going home’ talks, I was allowed to demand feed during the hours that I was at the hospital. Juggling that with expressing was hard. Baby still needed milk when I wasn’t able to be with him. Overnight, the nurses had started to bottle feed him my milk as he needed to take full feeds before he could come home. Baby came home after spending 76 days in hospital, exclusively breastfeeding. I had to ‘room in’ overnight and feed baby exclusively for a while 24hrs, and he needed to have gained weight after it - and he did!! A whole 20g!!
Once home, I continued to breastfeed. We’d been home about a month when I had another (my 3rd) lot of mastitis. I was broken. I was in pain. Without the extra support from the staff at the hospital, I made the heartbreaking decision to give him a bottle. It was expressed milk, as I had a huge stash in the freezer, but I felt like a failure. My husband and I decided that we would bottle feed him every other feed, so I was still breastfeeding as I did t want to give it up, but then hubby could also get involved and feed him using my milk from the freezer. I’d managed to express enough during baby’s time in NICU to give him only breast milk for the first 6 months. It took me a while to realise, but that was pretty amazing! When my stocks in the freezer were getting low, we started to add an ounce at a time of formula so that his tummy could get used to it. We gradually increased it until his bottle feeds were fully formula. Of course by this time we’d started weaning too, so I always made sure that his first and last feed of the day was from me. Our little bit of ‘us’ time. We carried this on until he was 13 months old. I think baby would have stopped sooner as it was getting increasingly difficult to feed him. I wanted to get past 12 months. The final time came when he bit me and made my nipple bleed!!
I found out I was pregnant again when my 2nd child was nearly 16mths old. So many emotions were running through my head!! I was so happy, I was excited, scared... but we’d hoped, and had been reassured by the consultant, that my waters breaking early was a one off; it wouldn’t happen again! We had a few minor problems in my early pregnancy, but once we’d got to 28wks, we were past when last baby was born, we were happy. We could handle anything!! We had started to believe that we were going to go full term. I’d decided that I was going to breastfeed. With baby no3 I was going to do it all by myself!! But, at 33wks exactly, my waters went again. I wasn’t in any pain, so we took our time getting to the hospital. Once there, I was hooked up as I was contracting, but it was nothing major and they didn’t think I was going to go into full labour so they took the monitor off. Less than an hour later, the pains were getting worse so we called in a Midwife who put me back on the monitor. I remember watching the numbers - one for babies heart rate, the other to measure the strength of the contraction. Baby’s heart rate kept dipping, but I was told that baby had moved and it was picking up my heart, then when I was contracting, the number on the monitor wasn’t picking it up! I was fobbed off a bit saying that they weren’t monitoring my contractions, just baby. Then baby dipped again. My pains were getting worse. The room filled with people. A doctor scanning me looking for a heartbeat (it was very weak), midwives putting a cannula in my hand, shaving me, putting surgical stockings on me, explaining that they have to get baby out and I’m having a general anaesthetic. Once I had come round from the anaesthetic, hubby was by my side and I was handed 2 pictures of my little boy. He came out screaming and hadn’t needed any breathing support. He was in an incubator, but was doing everything on his own. I was keen to get round and see him. He was about 6hrs old when we went round, but I could hold him straight away. Again, all conversation turned to milk!! I needed to express. Full of confidence this time round, I knew the routine, I knew what I needed to do. I’d ring my buzzer from my hospital bed through the night to ask a nurse to take my milk round to NICU so they could feed him via his NG tube. This time round, having another baby in NICU, was a lot harder. There is something unsettling about knowing what can and what does happen. And now o had 2 children at home, one who wasn’t even 2, and they needed me. I was determined to get home with my baby quickly (plus I wanted to be home for Christmas!!). Once baby was strong enough, he was being put to the breast as often as possible, while having expressed milk through his NG tube. One day, I’d had childcare sorted so was able to spend the entire day at the hospital. The nurse suggested that we try not to give him any milk through his tube and see how he goes just breastfeeding. The boy did great!! The next morning when he was weighed, he had even gained weight!! As far as the nurses were concerned, baby had proved he could do it, so they were keen to get me rooming in so baby could come home. The doctors weren’t so convinced, but we all agreed that I could stay over for 2 nights that weekend to see how baby did. After the first full 24hrs of breastfeeding, baby gained weight - 40grams!!! I was then told that if baby gains weight the next day, we could go home... and he did!! After 27 days in hospital, baby came home fully breastfed. And here we are now, 7 1/2 months old and still breastfeeding. We even had a hospital admission for a week where we were back to square one and I had to start expressing again!!
I’m not gonna lie, it is by far, one of the hardest things I have ever done!! I still struggle everyday. Although this is baby no3, it feels like baby no1. I’m still learning how to breastfeed, learning that demand feeding doesn't work with the routine that I like in my life, learning that nothing is textbook when it comes to breastfeeding, still learning to be confident with feeding when we aren’t at home. As hard as it is, I am incredibly proud of what I have achieved. I didn’t get baby put straight to the breast, I didn’t get that first rush of love, that immediate bond, but one thing I am sure of is that breastfeeding has helped me feel close to my babies when we were kept apart in those early weeks.
I am so sorry if I have rambled on!!! Please feel free to extract the parts of the story that are relevant - I find it incredibly hard to give anyone the ‘short’ version!!!
Thank you for your Instagram posts. They are amazing and give me lots of inspiration to carry on with my breastfeeding journey, especially when so many people have told me to ‘give him the bottle’. I found you on Instagram through a recommendation from a breastfeeding support group that I am a member of on Facebook.
Big hugs xx
When I went into labor with my 3rd child, it was almost - at least it felt like - routine. I knew when it was time to go to the hospital, I knew what would happen when we arrived, I knew I would probably end up asking for the epidural, I knew that after birth a baby would be placed on my chest, I knew the first thing we would do was breastfeed, I knew my milk would come in, and I knew we would go home after a day or two. But the thing is, I really didn't know.
Much of my labor and birth was actually normal. After a night and day of on again and off again labor, finally my contractions intensified around 2 pm in the afternoon, and by 5:30 pm our daughter was born. She was a couple weeks early, and just barely 6 pounds and when they rested Reese on my chest after delivery, everything was perfect. She latched readily and we just sat there in the delivery room and enjoyed her alert period. I felt so comfortable back in the newborn routine for the third time, I was contemplating going home the next morning even and forgo the little hospital stay. We'd done this twice before and everything went fine. BUT I will be forever grateful for the doctor who changed my mind. The one who said, "You can stay another night, don't feel rushed to go home, get more rest, it will be good for you."
So we did. And that night, around midnight a nurse noticed Reese shaking and immediately notified us that she was displaying signs of low blood sugar. It seemed like a small problem, but in an infant, low blood sugar can be life threatening. Since my milk had not come in yet, and our barely-6 pound-baby girl had little body fat to draw calories from, her brain was starving. I was nervous, scared, devastated. With my second baby my milk had come in full blown on Day 2 and I fully expected my body to be the same this time. I began trying so hard to feed my little girl non-stop. I kept her on my breast the rest of the night, just hoping she would get my milk in, and hoping she'd get the calories she needed. She didn't leave my chest, and I hardly slept.
The next morning her blood sugar was still low, and the nurses suggested formula to get her more calories, which I initially refused. I was so determined to strictly breastfeed, and not to confuse her with other nipples/pacifiers. So I asked the nurses for other ways to keep her at my breast. We tried SNS several times but after so long my baby would either fall asleep, or get so frustrated that we had to remove the tube. Thinking back on this day, I am so grateful for nurses who worked with me to try and get Reese fed while still at my breast.
Ultimately nothing I was trying really worked. My baby needed calories to survive that I couldn't provide. At least not yet as my milk hadn't come in. So, when the doctor came that afternoon, he told me they would have to start a glucose IV and that meant she could no longer be with me in the room. They took her away and I sat alone in the room heartbroken... and defeated.
The lactation consultant on duty that day helped me figure out a feeding routine. Reese would get fed exactly every three hours, that way they could monitor her glucose readings after each feed to make sure they could wean the IV eventually. Together we decided that Reese would get formula for her first feed, and breastfeed after. Then I would go pump what I could, and it would be used towards the next feed three hours later. Reese's feeds would be made up with breastmilk+formula, then we would breastfeed after to make sure she got what she needed.
After her first feed in the nursery I went back to my room to pump.... and I literally got a drop of mostly colostrum. I cried. But the lactation consultant reassured me it was normal... that it would come eventually. During my next pump session, I got about 1 mL- one tiny syringe of milk. Then the next session with some heat applied to my breasts with lil'buds and I got about 3ml. I was so determined. I took my initial defeat and turned it into determination. And slowly I saw my body responding. With every pump session I would get a little more, and a little more. After about 12 hours, I was getting 6-10ml each pump session and slowly we were minimizing the formula supplement, and weaning the glucose IV!!
After 3 long days of IV and pumping we were back to breastfeeding on demand and IV free and ready to go home. Those days were some of the most difficult days I have had, and I think of new mothers who have endured so much more than me and I utterly admire their strength. Getting to the point where we could be discharged came with a huge struggle, so many tears, hardly any sleep, and so much hard work. When we finally went home, we continued to exclusively breastfeed for 17 months.
The whole experience taught me so many important lessons. The first is - everyone's milk comes in a different times. If your body takes longer than 3-5 days then that's OK. Don't think there is anything wrong with you - because there is not. Trust your body and give it time and it will come as long as you keep up the demand. Keep feeding or keep pumping, and it will come slower or faster than you might think.
The second lesson I learned is that every birth and breastfeeding experience is different no matter how many times you do it. Every baby is different, and your body is different too. You never really know what will happen when you give birth, but whether you are home with a midwife or in the hospital, know that you are in good hands and you will have support if you need it.
The third lesson I learned is that supplementing with formula, when necessary, will not ruin your breastfeeding experience if you continue to pump for those formula feeds. I was so so scared to give my baby formula, because I thought she wouldn't re-latch at my breast. But really, she was getting fed with the calories she needed, and I kept pumping to help my milk come in, and I kept her at my breast as much as I could that first week too. Even when you have a decrease in supply, for whatever reason, know that successful breastfeeding is not exclusive breastfeeding, and know that every drop you give is what matters most.
Breastfeeding is the easiest thing in the world they said…
And it is! Only after you have both figured out how to do it. Don't get me wrong. I love it now that we have the hang of it but there were a few hiccups along the way...
It turns out there can be lots of problems. In breastfeeding class they talked us through how to get the perfect latch and what you can do before the baby comes and what to do if you don't have enough milk. But never was it mentioned that you can have TOO MUCH MILK or an overactive let down.
Our first encounter with book leakage was when I was 16 weeks pregnant and after a hormonal cry in bed I noticed a wet patch on my top in my boob area. " I think I dribbled" I blinked at my partner through my tears to. He smiled and pointed at my other boob. "On both sides?!" I quickly realised my colostrum was leaking. How embarrassing… From then on accidents happened more often and I decided to wear breast pads whenever out in public and in bed to avoid waking up with wet nighties.
From then on it never occurred to me breastfeeding would be challenging as my boobs obviously seemed to know what to do.
Once we had Rose it was different. Although she latched perfectly she choked a lot and my breastpads couldn’t keep up with the leakage from the other side. A midwife explained to me that I had an overactive let-down along with too much milk, so she recommended a feeding cup to pop in the other side of my bra when feeding. Thank you to whoever invented these glorious cups that would safe me from changing my breastpads what felt like 100 times a day. Often I had to empty them half way through a feed, but at least it saved us a lot of money.
A few weeks in when we were out with other new mums I had to excuse myself to the bathroom to empty my feeding cup. So, I asked one of the other mums to hold my baby so I could pour the contents away. She was horrified! How could I be pouring this liquid gold down the drain? She had been to hospital for an extended period and had gotten to know that the local milk bank was desperate for breastmilk. I hadn't realised that premature babies, mothers of babies with mastectomies and babies who were in hospital in intensive care so desperately need real breastmilk with all its precious antibodies and nutrients to build their immune system in this vulnerable time. Unfortunately, technology hasn't managed to create a formula with all these vital ingredients.
So I called the local milk bank and after a quick blood check I became a milk donor. I express as and when it suits me. There are no obligations what so ever. I don't need to donate a certain amount or by a certain time. I express at my leisure. Personally, I pump once a day and/ or save the excess milk leakage caught by my breast milk cup, put it in the sterilised container the hospital provides me and freeze it until I meet with the breast milk collection lady from hospital. All I have to do is put it in a cooler bag with some ice packs and hand it over to her. It's so easy! They are in such desperate need of milk, my local collection lady even drives all the way to meet me in her free time to take it to hospital.
It feels great to know I am helping other babies out there. And my boobs feel better for it too!
I am writing this because I would like to spread the word. Hopefully together we can give more babies a great start on life with all that important nourishment they need so much in their first days and weeks of life!
My wife and I are planning to co-nurse, and I have been in the process of Inducing Lactation since January. We are currently 27 weeks pregnant! I am getting ready to start pumping every 2-3 hours starting June 30th!
I am passionate and so excited to be doing this that I created an Instagram page to detail every single step of my journey. I wanted a safe and open environment where I could share all my milestones. I also am an advocate for breastfeeding and I wanted to use this platform to do just that. I am already able to hand express 1 oz a day!
For me and in my experience, I received the most pushback from doctors. I found out through this process that many doctors don’t even know that inducing lactation is even possible. I had to see 4 different doctors before I could find one that was willing to work with me through this journey. For me, being under the care of a doctor was very important because I was about to embark on a journey that I have never been on before and I was going to be taking medications to do this. I just didn’t feel comfortable doing this alone.
For my wife and I, our goal is to co-breastfeed our baby. Since I will be staying home with my wife and the baby for the first 2 months, we plan on taking turns nursing in the beginning. Once I go back to work, I am planning on pumping at work and breastfeeding in the early mornings and evenings. My wife and I will have to pump when we aren’t breastfeeding to keep our supply. I know this won’t be as easy as it sounds and maybe our goals may change once the baby is here but the most important thing is that my wife and I will be working together as a team and communicating with each other. Our hope is that we find a rhythm that works for us so that we can breastfeed as long as the baby is interested. We don’t have a cutoff date, and to us it doesn’t matter what society feels comfortable with.
What inspired us to want to co-breastfeed was so that we could both share the bonding that comes with breastfeeding and to also share the responsibilities of motherhood. When we both became aware of inducing lactation, it was a no brainer for us. We knew right away that co-breastfeeding was the route we wanted to go.
This will be my wife’s first time being pregnant and breastfeeding. I didn’t receive as much support as I should have with our first two children with regards to breastfeeding and I found out the hard way that breastfeeding isn’t always as easy or as natural as people make it seem. Luckily my wife has me. I have so much information and experience to share with her regarding breastfeeding. I also plan to be there for her every step of the way to guide and support her through this process.
I have lots of advice and tips but the most important one that I could give is to NEVER give up on a bad day! Inducing lactation is not easy and it takes time but if you focus on the reward then it will all be worth it.
It’s important to note that the Newman Goldfarb Protocol isn’t the only way to induce lactation. But after doing extensive research, I found that the Newman Goldfarb Protocol seems to be the most popular and most effective to induce lactation. It starts by “tricking your body into thinking it’s pregnant” by taking a combination birth control (active only pills) and increasing your prolactin levels by taking a medication called Domperidone. The hormones each have a role to play to prepare your breasts to make milk.
The protocol suggests having at least 22 to 24 weeks in preparation time, it’s very important that if you decide to go with the protocol that you start as early as possible for best results. For the most up to date information I recommend visiting Dr. Jack Newman’s website on inducing lactation.
Breastfeeding was always something I was open minded about. My mum breastfed me, my brother and two sisters. She had my younger sisters when I was in my late teens which even then I could see the bond breastfeeding gave them and how it nurtured them. I knew it was something I wanted to try and do from before I even became pregnant. I work with a lot of women and have several friends with children and got lots of mixed stories about pregnancy, labour and feeding. Some negative ones that could of easily put anyone off for life. However towards the end of my pregnancy my husband and I met with a midwife assistant. She was going to give us a feeding talk....I had no idea what to expect beforehand but it was so helpful. She fully explained all that was necessary to know about breastfeeding (she also covered alternatives) and made it so easy to understand for both me and my husband who to be honest was a bit clueless (I mean that in a nice way). She explained each part of the process and what to expect (milk coming in, emotions, latching and let downs etc). She also told us her breastfeeding journey with her own children. To have a health professional sit and take the time to explain this clearly was the best possible opportunity for us both and I am so glad she did. One thing completely stuck in my head she said which was “breastfeeding can take up to six weeks to become established, but if you get to day ten you have cracked it”.
So when my little bundle arrived 18th December 2017 I was fully prepared and equipped with my new found knowledge and ready for it all to begin. Unfortunately due to a reluctant placenta I got whipped away to theatre so couldn’t have the “golden hour” everyone goes on about the importance of but once I got back I popped her on and she took the boob no problem. After a few days I noticed my nipples were beginning to become painful and chapped which worried me that my journey was going to get cut short but in my head I kept thinking I just want to get to day ten and persevered. After some googling, guidance on latch positioning from my lovely midwife and plenty of nipple cream I was able to continue and have been exclusively breastfeeding my daughter since. She is now nearly 5 months old and everyday when I look at her I think “I’ve made them little chubby cheeks chubbier” or “that little fat roll came about because of the milk my body has produced”. As cheesy as it sounds I absolutely love feeding her myself and watching her grow. It’s also created a bond with her I cannot put into words how special it is.
I recently got a visit from my two young sisters (age 11 & 9) who when I asked if they would try breastfeeding when they had a baby, I got an immediate “Yes!”
I felt so proud and happy they would feel comfortable and confident to try it too and I really hope they do.
I am so lucky to have such an amazing husband, family and friends who have supported and encouraged me to breastfeed which I feel as made it easy for all of us to do. Along with the support of our local nhs services. I have had such a positive experience and would love to share my story to inspire other mamas/mamas to be.
I’d always known I wanted to breastfeed, I loved the idea of the closeness and bond I would share with my baby so when my daughter was born in October last year it was a no brainer.
My active labour was 26 hours and I was expecting to have skin to skin straight away and to feed my baby. Due to complications during labour she had to be taken away 20 minutes after delivery to have a cannula inserted into her hand so she could be given antibiotics. It was the longest 1.5 hours of my life!
By the time she came back, I’d been stitched up and she had woken she had already been earthside for 7 hours. I asked a Midwife to help me feed as I have inverted nipples so new it may be more difficult and I didn’t have a clue what to do. The Midwife pulled and fiddled with my breast until there was something for my daughter to try and latch onto but she really struggled and the pain was pretty intense because she couldn’t latch properly. I cried with the pain (and the exhaustion!) and the Midwife told me I was going to struggle so maybe give her some formula. The help ended there.
We gave my daughter the colostrum the midwife manually expressed from me (which was a little humiliating even after giving birth!) from a syringe which she took but I already felt like a failure 7 hours into motherhood.
3 days after my daughter was born we were waiting to be discharged when a different Midwife came round to organise my discharge papers. She asked how I was feeding and I explained to her that I wanted to nurse but why I couldn’t so baby was on formula. She went away and came back with a nipple shield for us to try. It took 10 minutes and my daughter was breastfeeding! This Midwife took an hour out of her busy schedule to teach me how to feed my baby. I cried tears of joy that this simple tool could allow me to feed my baby. The Midwife was concerned that my milk may have started to dry up but it was flowing out easy and baby was loving it. We had to say in hospital for 3 nights and I strongly believe that meeting this Midwife was the reason, if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be feeding my daughter. So I guess my breastfeeding story is mostly down to luck and a little perseverance. If someone tells you you can’t do something, chances are there are ways around it. 7.5 months on and I’m still feeding my baby and I LOVE it.
In June 2016 my partner and i received the most devastating news. I was nearly 37 weeks pregnant and our first precious baby Reuben had died. Four days later, on Fathers Day, I gave birth to our perfect baby boy, who looked as if he had just slipped into a newborn slumber. I was petrified of seeing him, holding him, falling in love with him. I didn't know if my heart could take it.
During my pregnancy I had thought about breastfeeding, but I was of the opinion I would give it a go but if it wasn't for us I would bottle feed. Of course, this became irrelevant. I would never get the chance. What surprised me when I held Reuben for the first time, tears pouring from my eyes, is that my maternal instinct kicked in straight away. I felt such a rush of love. I was ecstatic that I was holding my boy, I was desperate to feed him, to nurture him. Emotions that I never expected. I knew he had died but I couldn't switch off the instinct to care for him. I held him to my chest, desperate for him to wake up and latch for the first time. For me to wake up and realise it was a nightmare and our lives hadn't fallen apart. His death was unexplained. The consultant said "it was one of those things". Words which still haunt me.
I guess this was the beginning of my breastfeeding journey. The beginning of a fascination and a love affair with something so natural but so magical. 5 months after losing Reuben I was pregnant again. Petrified, anxious, afraid. But absolutely determined not only to have a living, breathing, screaming baby but to breastfeed. This time would be different.
Like all journeys in life, there are bumps in the road. I was induced early due to my overwhelming anxiety and 4 days before Reuben's 1st birthday our second son, Thijs, arrived. All was well at first until he was struggling to oxygenate and was whisked off to the NICU. I was dazed, confused and overwhelmed.
Thijs spent a few hours in the NICU and was soon breathing independently and transferred to the Special Care Baby Unit. He slept a lot (He arrived very quickly) and was jaundiced. He was fed glucose via a tube but I had made it clear I wanted to breastfeed and was keen to get going. Due to his sleepiness latching on was near impossible. I was advised to pump to bring my milk in so sat day and night by his little cot with a hospital-grade pump attached to me. Slowly but surely I was pumping colostrum which he was fed first by tube and then by cup. I felt so proud of myself - even though the amounts I was producing were tiny I knew how beneficial it was for Thijs.
We were unable to go home until Thijs would feed. He lost 8% of his body weight and I began to feel the pressure. It was suggested I give him formula via a cup. I felt defeated. I thought my body wasn't working, I wasn't doing enough. So I looked for help. Apparently there was breastfeeding support available in the hospital but no-one could find any details. It turned out there was no support anymore. The staff did as much as they could, but understandably their focus was on the sick babies in their care. I felt so alone.
My ray of sunshine was a trainee nurse who was only 19. She was on placement and sat with me first showing me how to express by hand to give Thijs a taste and then encouraging him to latch. After many failed attempts, Thijs latched. I felt it. It felt different. I cried. This trainee nurse gave me so much encouragement. After noticing the pressure I was under to give him formula in order to get him home she whispered "if you want to breastfeed stick to your guns. You can do it."
I practiced feeding Thijs anytime he was awake. Luckily we had a room next to the unit so I could be with him at any time. I kept pumping. I kept feeding. His weight stabilised and I insisted we could go home - I knew we could succeed together. The consultant said he admired my drive to breastfeed and told me to keep going. Words which meant so much to an exhausted and overwhelmed mum.
It was a rocky couple of weeks at home, the health visitor came out often and as Thijs was slow to gain weight at first she insisted "I wasn't producing enough milk." I knew this was inaccurate. Thijs had wet nappies and was satisfied and alert. His jaundice levels were subsiding. He just needed time. She came out when Thijs was around 4 weeks old and before she had even weighed him she said again "you're not producing enough, you need to top him up". However, she weighed him and he had put on a pound in a week. I felt vindicated. I WAS enough. I COULD do it. There was nothing wrong with my supply. She didn't apologise, but she never questioned my supply again.
He has gone from strength to strength. Breastfeeding is so hard but oh my goodness so worth it. For the first 3 months he fed every hour. For the next 3 he didn't sleep at all during the night unless he was feeding. And now, at almost a year old he still loves the boob. We co-sleep (I wish I had done this from day one!), he naps on me during the day and feeds whenever he wants to. The bond between us is so special and I will continue to breastfeed for as long as he wants to. I'm proud of him and I'm proud of me.
If it hadn't have been for that young trainee nurse perhaps this story would have been different. Despite being told by every healthcare professional that breast is best, support for new mums to breastfeed is not always available. Support is vital to encourage mothers to continue and persevere. It gets easier but it takes hard work. It takes practice. It takes confidence. I knew we would get there but I was determined.
As the weeks have turned into months, breastfeeding has become second nature to both Thijs and I. If I could pass on any advice to new mums it would be trust your abilities, trust your body and trust your instincts. Don't give up on your worst day. It gets easier.
Reuben, thank you for making me a mother. I didn't get to feed and nurture you but you will always be my first born and my inspiration. Thijs, thank you for giving me the chance to be a mother again. I am so proud of you.
The previous trip:
From 2016 to 2017, I was travelling on my bicycle with my partner throughout South
America. We did parts of Venezuela, we then explored Colombia’s beautiful beaches, we
pedalled our way through Ecuador and we found out about Lautaro (our baby) in Peru.
In Ecuador, we stayed with a family of 7 on the coast. We were always talking about life, our
plans, and how different our cultures were, especially with the mum and her grandchildren
...but I remember one day in particular when she started telling my partner and I that she
gave birth to all her sons and daughters in her house and how she squatted when the actual
birth was happening so she could ‘’release’’ them in a ‘’better’’ way...as it was something her
mum and grandmother had told her to do.
She also told us how she drank an alcoholic beverage her family had prepared as soon as
they found out they were pregnant and would leave it hidden under the earth so it could be
fermented and they would drink it a couple of hours after the birth. So yeah, you can imagine
this stuck in my head up until now. Why was she talking about all of these things if we
weren’t really thinking about becoming parents...yet.
Less than a month after that conversation happened, we were expecting our first child.
Planting some roots:
Back then we decided that the best thing to do in order to keep us all safe was to sell
everything and start making our way to Argentina - where my partner is from. Everything was
changing really fast, things were hectic, we didn’t know what to do or to think.
We decided we wanted to do things our way. This meant we would give birth in our house
(even though it is changing now, there is still a long way to go, home births are something
that is not very common to see in Argentina, especially as it has one the highest rates of c-
sections in South America). I mean, all I could remember was this woman in Ecuador telling
us her birthing stories and we just thought that was the path we wanted to take.
Lautaro’s personal choice:
I remember week 33 of my pregnancy as if it was yesterday. It was on a Monday morning
when my main midwife and 2 doulas (one of them was also pregnant at the time), would
come to the house for another check-up. I made breakfast, we drank some mates (a
traditional guarani beverage that is highly consumed in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay),
and we couldn’t stop laughing and talking.
Carolina -my midwife- felt the baby’s heartbeats, Marian and Mercedes -my doulas- were
touching the belly and giving me massages and they were being the most amazing women
and friends I could have ever asked for. The sun had come out that day and things were
truly magical...and they were about to be more intense and magical than ever before in life.
After they left I went to the town centre to get some things. I remember I felt very tired once I
got back home so I decided to lay down for a bit..and I just thought ‘’Ah, I’m really tired
today, must be all the walking, I can’t believe I used to do 100 km a day on a bicycle now I
can’t even walk from the bus stop to my house without getting tired’’
The lifelong trip:
After that everything comes and goes. I thought I had peed myself. It turns out my water
broke during sleep and I found myself calling Carolina, I was shocked, not knowing what to
do and wanting it to be all a dream. But it wasn’t. In reality, I had to take a taxi and headed to
the Maternity ward, and I waited and waited and waited. Our family dream of having our
baby in the house was now shattered ‘’as you will leave this maternity with your baby in your
I gave birth to Lautaro three days after that. I was amazed at how good he smelt and how he
was so tiny yet so big because he just came out of me. He was perfectly fine, we were really
lucky I thought, he weighed 2.270 ks and he had a nice length as well. I wanted to keep him
there with me, I had read so much about the first hour of life and I just wanted us to stay in
that moment forever. But reality is different, as we all know. The nurses took him away and
his dad followed them, so they could perform all these exams they do once the baby is born.
He was born at 8:30 pm, and at 10 pm I went to Neo for the first time to offer him my
Breastfeeding is the new journey:
Oh boy, little did I know. He latched immediately to my left breast, all the nurses were
surprised to see him eating away from his mum. Doctors wanted to keep him in Neocare
because of legal procedures and to see if he was sucking well enough to be released from
the ward. Every three hours I had to go to Neo to feed him. The first night they allowed me to
stay there for longer periods of time because I genuinely didn’t know what was happening or
what to do. His first latch was perfect...the second one not so much.
My body was not fully prepared to receive Lautaro. My colostrum was still up there
somewhere and during his feedings he would get really nervous (because I was also really
nervous), he would fall asleep (as I would fall asleep too), he would start crying (as I couldn’t
stop crying as I felt minimized because I couldn’t even offer him my milk). Of course, I now
look back and understand my hormones were dancing inside of me, and the situation was
really different from what I had imagined for 8 months in my head. I had just given birth!
On that Friday the lactation consultant came for a visit and she offered her tips and would
explain the importance of a correct latch. But I still wouldn’t get it right, I didn’t understand
why Lautaro wouldn’t eat if I was offering -perhaps too intensively because I wanted him to
gain weight and suck on properly so we could be in our house- and he would keep on
All the nurses started coming to see me, and we all reached the conclusion that my nipples
were not really out for him to find a proper way of feeding, so the doctors decided to put a
feeding tube on Lautaro’s nose. It was horrible to see him like this, I felt even more guilty,
depressed like no one was really understanding how much I wanted to feed him. I kept
talking to the nurses and one of them suggested ‘’what if you pump yourself and we give him
your milk instead of formula?’’. And that is what saved us.
I started pumping myself and soon enough Lautaro was steadily gaining weight and he was
happy and well enough. I spoke to the doctors and asked them if we could give it another try
to breastfeeding and they agreed but ‘’Lautaro would still have the tube just in case though’’.
I realised I had to calm myself down first if I wanted Lautaro to latch on and feed himself. I
understood the importance of the milk I produce and how everything I eat would give him the
nutrients he needed as well. I came to terms with the way I gave birth because he was now
with us and he was getting better by the day. I realised I had to let go of many beliefs,
feelings of despair and sadness, because I now had met the truest joy, the truest light, and
the truest love, and above all, I realised we were so very lucky to be experiencing all of this
because it was a truly humbling experience.
Two weeks later we were officially on our way home.
Time is going by:
It wasn’t until Lautaro was born that I knew the meaning of the phrase ‘’time flies’’. He is now
7 months old, loves his boobies and his boobie time. He has perfectioned his feeding
techniques, well, to be fair both of us have. We sleep together so he is on a ‘’self-service’’
regime during night feedings, and nowadays two of his teeth are coming out, so you can
imagine what is like: breastfeeding 24/7.
All our family members were telling us we should give him formula because we needed to
rest and they would explain how babies gain weight faster if they are formula-fed, (and if it is
your case I completely respect you and will never judge you), but for us as a family, for my
baby and I, for our relationship, breastfeeding was the only way we wanted to feed our son
and it was the right thing to do for us..still is.
I have now become a breastfeeding enthusiast, even if a couple of years ago a part of me
was still somehow ‘’shocked’’ whenever I saw someone breastfeeding. I love it, and I want to
normalize it, because it is the most normal, beautiful, mammal thing we do. We give love and
nurture our babies.
When I fell pregnant with my first I knew I really wanted to breastfeed. I hadn’t really thought about
how I’d feel if I couldn’t as I knew I really wanted to. I spoke with my midwife and attended NCT
classes which really promoted breastfeeding. Luckily when my first was born he latched on straight
away. This is easy I thought. Once I was home and 3 days in he fed from 11pm until 4am when I
woke my partner up to take him away. This was the day my milk came in hence the feeding all night
long. For the next few days my nipples were so sore when he latched on, it hurt so much I can
remember biting down on my hand. Within a few days it had past and I was really enjoying feeding
him. Day 10 arrived and he got weighed, he’d lost 10% of his birth weight so the midwife said I
needed to top him up with formula. I didn’t want to do this as I wanted to exclusively breastfeed, I
spent the next 2 days crying. They came to weigh him again and weren’t happy that I hadn’t topped
him up with formula, I’d tried expressing and topping him up with that, They told me if he wasn’t
topped up with formula he would end up in hospital. As a first time mum I “did as I was told,” and
topped him up. Once he retured to his birth weight I stopped the formula feeds and began soley
breastfeeding again. At 3 weeks old I was finding that he was really hard to settle at night and was
constantly bringing his legs up. He would also feed on one breast and poo (green poo) before
feeding on the other side and pooing again. Several visits to the GP and he was diagnosed with cows
milk protein intolerance and was prescribed some special formula. After a few days he was like a
different baby. I did some research and discovered I could continue breastfeeding if I gave up dairy
however it takes 2 weeks to leave your body. For 2 long weeks I pumped my milk and poured it
down the sink in order to keep up my supple. I was determined to continue feeding, I really loved
feeding him and felt that our feeding journey had only just begun. After 2 weeks I returned to
feeding him, still giving him the odd bottle of formula. I remaind dairy free for 8 months until I
returned to work full time and made the decision to stop.
18 months later I gave birth to my second baby boy, again he latched on straight away. During my
stay in hospital I had several chats with the breastfeeding support worker where she checked my
latch and assured me we were doing it right. I was discharged at 6pm and by 1am I was on the
phone to them crying. My baby wouldn’t latch on and was screaming, I was told that he’ll latch
when hes hungry. It was a long night. Luckily I managed to speak to my community mideife first
thing the next day and she requested an early home visit. The midwife came and supported me with
my latch and position. My nipples were sore for a while and we have had days/nights where it felt
like he fed for ages. He didn’t lose much birth weight but took a while to return to his birth weight
due to reflux. Hes 9 months old now and we’re still breastfeeding. Since starting weaning he only
has 3 feeds a day, morning, morning nap and evening. He does however wake every 2 hours for a
feed. Des[ite the lack of sleep I am loving every minute of it and have no plans to stop anytime soon.
I was anxious throughout my whole pregnancy. It all started around week 6 when I'd had some heavy bleeding, a dash to the hospital to check if everything was okay fuelled with nerves, this sort of set the tone for my whole pregnancy. The bleeding continued on and off throughout the first trimester, every time I was scanned the baby was fine. And on we went. I'd met my partner in September '16 and we moved in together soon after. I was pregnant by the 5th month marking us living together, completely planned so no surprise just joy that it hadn't taken us very long to conceive. I'd lost my older sister to cancer in my 20's, had many failed relationships along with a history of child abuse which resulted in years of therapy so getting pregnant was a huge deal to me I wouldn't take the blessing for granted. I wanted to protect the baby I'd wanted for so long as the thought of miscarrying was, well just not happening. So on we went. My morning sickness was horrendous, I was sick like nothing I've ever felt before. Most foods along with body products like shampoo made me gag horrendously, I had to eat every hour and a half white bread and sliced cheese one of the few meals I could stomach. I drank sparkling mineral water only for months, at times I cried the sickness was so intense. Then along came week 20 and I started to get my appetite back. Slowly I started to exercise and found my new rhythm as a pregnant woman. I was working as a nanny at the time which had been my chosen career for 20 odd years but the long days had me exhausted so I quit at week 26. From this time on I took care of myself, my partner and our growing baby along with catching up on paperwork and looking for a new place for us to live as we were in shared accommodation. All our scans went well. The baby was growing and I enjoyed feeling her wriggle and kick day to day. The anxiety never subsided though and I took extreme care going about my day to day life. Around week 30 another type of sickness set in and I felt dizzy and weak a lot of the time which carried on until I gave birth. Eating wine gums and drinking ginger beer was a saviour albeit very unhealthy it was all I could do to help. Trips to the shops were hard, I managed to keep up my daily walks which I was happy about as it gave me time to bond with the baby singing and talking as I went.
Fast forward to week 36, baby was breech so I employed lots of ideas to help move her which worked. I was happy as a csection was not on my to do list. By week 38 talk of induction was happening. This is where it all went wrong for me. I never wanted an induction but I was influenced greatly by my family situation and bearing in mind that my babies placenta might stop working past 40 weeks I got scared. 40 weeks and still no sign of our baby. Induction booked for 41+3. Nervously we went along to the hospital not knowing what to expect my pessary was inserted on a Sunday afternoon and the time between this and our daughter being born was far from the wholesome birth experience I had written up in my birthing plan.
Contractions started within 1/2 hour and at first they were remotely manageable. After around an hour of experiencing 7 contractions every 10 minutes I was a wreck. It burnt like hell. It was like the weight of an elephant was pressing down on my uterous. I paced the halls. I took gas and air. We were transferred to the Labour Ward as soon as a room was free and there I sat contracting like a maniac for 48 hours. I was in agony so I opted for an epidural which worked for some time and the wore off completely. I sat unable to move in my hospital bed being examined continuously awaiting full dilation in a haze of drugs with those awful belts wrapped round my stomach monitoring the baby who everyone said 'seemed very calm' throughout.
Finally I dilated. I pushed for over an hour with no joy. I had more pain relief and was advised that my baby would need help being delivered. At this point I cried and agreed to an instrumental delivery because again - a csection was not on my to do list. The recovery time was not an option as my partner had to work long hours so I would need my strength to look after the baby. More pain relief, unable to feel anything from my breasts down I was guided by the hospital staff on what was happening and when I am needed to push. Forceps and suction were needed and our baby girl was born at 2:39pm 7/11/17 weighing 4.2kgs, 62cms long. My partner saw her first he held her as I was having her placenta manually removed. She was out. I felt relief. And on we went.
I lost a lot of blood and we both caught an infection due to the length of time my waters had been broken. Our girl was taken to the NICU and I was left to recover on Ward. Well that I did not do. I couldn't walk but I needed to be near my baby so my partner pushed me in a wheelchair to sit with her. It was harrowing. I was so weak and she was ill. I had severe bladder and bowel incontenance and so began my road to recovery after my instrumental birth experience. Home we went on day 6, to be honest I didn't want to leave the hospital as I had support, at home it was unknown how I would cope. I muddled through. I am still muddling through. On I go.
5 months later and our baby is beautiful. She has hit all her developmental milestones so far, we've had the most beautiful breastfeeding experience (after a painful establishment as most must endure) in which I am able to exclusively breastfeed her night and day with no pumping. I love this time we have together and in some way it compensates the agony I have had to face and still face daily. From the pelvis down I am weak to my knees, going to the loo walking etc have all taken time to establish new strengths. I've been back and forth to various doctors but all the tests I've had so far show no major damage nothing that extensive physio cannot fix. My belly still sits at 4 months pregnant and I'm okay with that. It's taken time to get my head around the fact I have had this experience but talking it out helps, I've been able to gain knowledge and know others too have been affected the same way and my case is in no way the worst. I am fortunate. I am blessed. She is here.
And on we go. Me and my daughter attended our first playgroup yesterday, one of many activities I can't wait to see her grow and flourish in.
I pray all you pregnant first time mums out there have the birthing experience that you desire. Seek advice on alternatives and be prepared. I am blessed to have my baby and a very supportive partner and to me that is all that matters from here on out. Minnie Valentina Apollonio, a gift from God.
Thank you for reading my story!
When I was pregnant with my little girl I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I attended prenatal breastfeeding classes and bought some nipple cream and thought that was it.
When she arrived I couldn’t feed her straight away as due to some complications with the birth. The Midwife helped me with the first feed and pretty much clamped her to my breast for about 30mins.
For the first 24 hours the baby just wasn’t interested in feeding at all, she’d just go to sleep. Alone in the hospital I was terrified that she was dehydrated and just sat there with her asleep on my chest willing her to wake up and latch on. After the first night it was all on...she was so hungry and I had no idea what I was doing. I’d used up all the antenatally expressed colostrum that I had bought to the hospital and the hospital Midwife offered to express colostrum for me. In my exhausted state I agreed; it was pretty humiliating.
Once we were home I tried so hard to feed her, through toe curling latches, extreme engorgement, severely damaged nipples and a hungry, constantly screaming baby. My husband and I developed this ridiculous routine of him holding my breast while I tried to latch baby on...if only we had filmed it, it could have been used as a “how not to breastfeed” video 😬
On day 8 I had a melt down and decided to ring a lactation consultant. She agreed to see me the same day and gave me nipple shields to help empty my red, sore, engorged breasts. Baby had a severe tongue and upper lip tie. We decided to leave it alone and see how we got on. She also had terrible reflux and wind and was always hungry.
I was told by health visitors to stretch out her feeds to 2-3 hourly but this only made things worse.
At 6 weeks we decided to get the tongue and lip tie treated. Things got better, but I continued to use the nipple shields until she was about 3 months old. I was too scared to stop using them and every time I tried to wean her off them I convinced myself she wasn’t getting any milk. Feeds would take well over an hour and were very frequent, she’d constantly fall asleep while feeding.
At about 10 weeks her weight started to drop. I was told by health visitors to top up feeds with formula and that my milk wasn’t enough for my baby.
So another visit to the lovely lactation consultant gave me confidence to ditch the shields and try to learn to breastfeed without them. After a couple of weeks spent at home continuously nursing, something clicked. I was finally feeding my baby. It wasn’t taking over an hour. She was gaining weight. I couldn’t believe it. After feeling like a failure for 3 months with a scrawny, underweight, hungry, crying little baby, my girl got little rolls and chubby cheeks.
She’s now 7 months old and still nursing. I’m back at work part time too and pumping so that she can continue to have breastmilk when we are apart.
I love nursing now, except the biting with the new teeth...I don’t love that 😂
I wish I had known about your page in those early days. It turns out I just needed some support and advice to be able to continuing nursing my bubba.