Little Sunday Story Time Peach by Rachel

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. 

Little Sunday Story time Peach by Amelia

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. 

Little Sunday Story Time Peach By Lucy

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.

 

Lucy x 

 

 

Little Sunday Story Time Peach by Eugenia

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
arms’’.
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
blessings...my breasts.

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
refusing.
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.

Little Sunday Story Time Peach by Emily

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.

Little Sunday Story Time Peach by Leah

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!

Little Sunday Story Time Peach by Julia



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. 

 

Little Sunday Story Time Peach by Emily

 

 

Growing up, I had watched my mum breastfeeding my younger sisters and it always seemed so natural and normal. I had always assumed I would also breastfeed my children with no problem and when I became pregnant this was reinforced further. To be honest, I hadn’t given much thought to the possibility of not being able to. As my pregnancy progressed, I read a little about breastfeeding and there was a separate breastfeeding session within the NCT course I was on which we attended. During this taught session, I could answer a lot of the questions and felt pretty clued up. My midwife asked if I’d plan on breastfeeding. I said yes and this was the end of the discussion.

So fast forward to the birth of my daughter. I’d written in my birth plan that it was important to me that I attempt breastfeeding as soon as possible and as soon as she was born she was put to my breast. She didn’t latch and the midwives reassured me that this is normal and to just spend time doing lots of skin to skin and we’d get there. Six hours after she was born, she still hadn’t latched but I wasn’t too worried. At that point, a midwife support worker asked if I would try hand expressing into a syringe to feed my baby. Of course I would but I had no idea how to! I was grateful for her to just do it for me and collect enough to feed my baby. After all, I’d had a six day labour which ended in a forceps delivery and I was beyond exhausted.

Throughout the night I managed to get a couple of millilitres of colostrum into my baby via syringe but she still hadn’t mastered latching. From everywhere I’d read and heard, new babies fed roughly every 2 hours so why hadn’t my baby even cried for milk? Again, I was reassured that it had been a long labour and a stressful delivery and her head may be hurting and she’s tired and may not have fancied feeding. Also, their little tummies can get full of mucous so they feel full despite not having had milk. About sixteen hours after she was born, a breastfeeding counsellor came to see me in my hospital bed to offer support. I was in a lot of pain from an episiotomy despite regular pain relief so couldn’t sit upright. She suggested lying on my side and getting baby to latch that way. She stayed about ten minutes, baby hadn’t latched and she said ‘don’t worry, she’ll pick it up at some point' and off she went. This was fine except, when? How long would it take? For now, I was resigned to hand expressing and giving my baby small amounts of milk via a syringe.

Twenty four hours after the birth, a midwife came round and asked if I’d like to go home. To be honest, I wish I’d have said no. I wanted to say that I was worried that my baby hadn’t fed and no one could tell me why. I wanted my baby to have at least latched once before leaving the safety of the hospital. But I was also desperate to get home after such a long labour and no sleep for almost a week. Because I was able to hand express enough to give her, we made the decision to go home. So off we went and arrived home with our precious new baby...who wasn’t at all interested in feeding. She didn’t really give any clues that she wanted feeding and never really cried so I just guessed that we should try every few hours. We went to bed that first night home and it was the best night’s sleep I’d had in a couple of months! Not what we were expecting on the first night with a newborn baby! She only woke once that first night for a feed, where I hand expressed a few millilitres to give her. In hindsight, I probably should have set an alarm but I honestly thought she’d wake as we were always told that babies wake frequently.

Throughout the next day, we made several attempts to get her latched. A midwife came to visit who could help me for a few minutes but had to leave due to other visits which I totally get as I know how stretched the services are. On the second night home, we noticed she’d had hardly any wet nappies and was very sleepy. We tried the usual stripping off, splashing with cold water etc. to wake her enough to feed but by this point she was too sleepy to even swallow what we put in her mouth with the syringe. My milk obviously hadn’t come in by this point as we were only day 2 so a bottle of expressed milk wasn’t possible. You might be wondering why I didn’t just give a little bit of formula at this point but to be honest, it hadn’t even crossed my mind. I didn’t have any in the house and no one suggested it any point which I was glad about as for me personally, it wasn’t an option at this point.

I called a community midwife at 11:30 that night and explained what was going on and she asked us to come in to the local community hospital to check her over for jaundice. She was given the all clear for jaundice but said that she was a little dehydrated. I felt so guilty that I hadn’t given her enough but equally, as a first time mum very new to all this, it’s really hard to know what you should be doing. It turns out, hand expressing is actually pretty hard and is quite a skill! That evening, the midwife asked me if she could do the hand expressing for me. I’d never been so relieved to have a stranger quite literally ‘milk' me! She got loads more than I’d been able to and it made me realise how much she should have been having. Despite not wanting to give a formula feed, I absolutely would have if my baby’s health had truly been at risk.

Until my milk came in, I continued to hand express day and night into little cups which she would lap up like a cat. I felt reassured that she was getting enough but my goodness, hand expressing was hard! My husband even had to help as I was getting terrible neck pain from doing it. I don’t think either of us thought we’d be having to do this...it certainly took our marriage to another level! I was looking forward to my milk coming in so that I could at least express with my pump and bottle feed to make it a little easier. I mentioned this to the midwife who said that it was really important that I didn’t go down this route as baby may then be even less likely to ever master breastfeeding. I felt really stuck because I wasn’t getting much support with getting her to latch but also being told not to bottle feed as it would hinder our chances further.

On day four, my milk came in and despite being advised not to, I expressed milk and gave in a bottle. I’m so glad I trusted my gut in doing this. I was still frequently trying to get her to latch herself by doing lots of skin to skin and reading everything going on the best positions and what I could do to help her. But this kid was just not interested. On day six, the nursery nurse who works with my health visiting team came to my house for an hour to give us some support. My midwife had told me that she’s specifically trained in breastfeeding and that I should finally get the support I needed. I was feeling hopeful that she’d be able to wave her magic wand and get my baby breastfeeding. So for a whole hour, the nursery nurse just kept forcing a screaming, hungry baby at my breast until she had to give in and say that it was no good. So off she went. My only hope of getting my baby to breastfeed. I felt pretty deflated but not willing to give up hope.

The following day, I spoke to another midwife who suggested I go to my local breastfeeding cafe for support which had never been mentioned until this point. I was assured that if they couldn’t help, not much could...how reassuring! For the first time since my baby’s birth, I cried because it suddenly hit me that perhaps by baby would never master breastfeeding. I felt so sad as it was something I desperately wanted to do. My husband was fantastic, as were my whole family in supporting me and not once did they suggest I give up but also put no pressure on me to battle on. To this day I’m so grateful for this. I made the decision at this time, that if I had to express milk using my pump for the next six months, then this is what I would do.

The following day (day 7) I went off to my local breastfeeding cafe and met a midwife there who changed everything. She did a full assessment of my baby, including checking for tongue tie and her jaw and just looked at me and said ‘she’ll be fine and will feed from you’. Confident? Yes. But she was absolutely right. It also turns out she was my mums midwife almost 30 years ago which was wonderful to know. What eventually enabled my baby to feed was nipple shields. It turns out that my baby’s mouth couldn’t open fully due to her forceps delivery and by using nipple shields, she could open her mouth just enough to latch. The moment she latched, I burst out crying. I was just so happy. I also didn’t really mind at that point if this was all we ever managed, I was just so relieved!

We continued using these for the next week, day and night. When she was 2 weeks old, the same midwife managed to get her to latch for the first time without a shield. From then, we used the shields for most feeds, especially at night time when she was too sleepy to latch properly and she’d do the occasional feed without them. I was absolutely OK with the idea of potentially using nipple shields for the entirety of our breastfeeding journey, however long that might be because to me, that was better than not being able to feed my baby at all. Over the next couple of weeks, we managed to wean her off the shields in the day, just using them at night. They did make feeding in public even harder for a first time mum but from quite early on I was adamant that I if my baby needed feeding, she’d get fed, wherever we were. I soon became very confident, realising there is nothing to be embarrassed about. Luckily I’ve never experienced any negativity from the public. By week 6, we had stopped using shields altogether.

I’m really happy to say that, 9 months down the line we are still breastfeeding and see no signs of stopping anytime soon. It’s now become so easy, I don’t even think about it. All the hard work in the early days truly paid off. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve certainly still had our ups and downs with over supply, engorgement and nursing strikes but with the right support, I feel we’re out the other end. I feel quite emotional when I think that one day, our breastfeeding journey will come to an end but I feel so proud of what we’ve achieved together.

My advice to pregnant women planning on breastfeeding and new mothers at the beginning of their breastfeeding journey would be to seek support early on and insist on daily help in the early days if you’re struggling. Get to your local breastfeeding cafe or seek help from the specialist feeding team at your hospital and perhaps seek support from a cranial osteopath (something I wish we’d done). I also found Facebook support groups, Instagram accounts offering support and other mums an incredible help in those early days and sometimes still fall back on them now if we have struggles or questions. Luckily, I never felt that I was mentally suffering with these difficulties which is why it’s so easy for me to say ‘don’t give up’. I also realise that this isn’t the case for a lot of new mothers and there should be no shame in introducing formula feeds for your baby.

We often hear the term ‘fed is best’ which is of course right, but in my opinion information and support is surely better no matter which route you end up going down in making sure your baby is fed. Whether that be exclusively breastfed, bottle fed with expressed milk, combination feeding or formula fed, a healthy and happy baby is paramount.

Little Sunday Story Time Peach by Jennie

 

When I was pregnant with my daughter I honestly didn’t give much thought to breastfeeding. We went to the NCT breastfeeding session but very much thought I’ll give it a go but if it doesn’t work out I’ll formula feed.

When I look back now I’m a little shocked that no one around me told me that feeding a baby is a big deal! My mum breastfed me and my mother-in-law breastfed too yet neither of them spoke to me about it. I had one friend who I’d seen breastfeeding a few years previously but she was combi feeding so I genuinely thought all babies were mostly fed from bottles and this was the norm. 

Breastfeeding was straight forward for us. After a planned c section for breech presentation Lennie latched on immediately. She fed well, only dropped a little of her birth weight and I was terrified of her crying so just offered boob every time she made a peep. 

At two weeks old her feeding changed. Was there something wrong with my baby?! Breastfeeding is natural why is it so hard?! Why was she feeding so much?! 

Luckily my friend who’d had her baby just a few months before told me about cluster feeding so I started to read. I read and read and I learned and it kept me going. 

Several of the mums in my NCT group stopped breastfeeding fairly early and made comments about how Lennie still feeding frequently at night didn’t seem right (we were in the 4 month sleep regression). My confidence was knocked and I felt isolated. Thankfully around that time I met two other mums who were still breastfeeding and I think my friendship with them helped me to keep going.

Lennie stopped feeding just before her first birthday. It was very natural no fuss no pressure no symbolic final feed she just stopped. 

By then I was already 6 weeks pregnant so I’m convinced that had something to do with it!

Fast forward 9 months and my baby boy was born. Just 19 months behind his sister it was so different to the first time. 

I was complacent about breastfeeding, I knew what I was doing this time.

After a second c section and a bad reaction to the a aesthetic my little boy was feeding well but I knew his latch was terrible. However, there wasn’t much I could do about it while I vomited over his head for the first 12 hours! 

By day 2 my nipples were scabbed and every feed the pain was toe curling. 

If this was my first baby I’d have given up but I knew I could make it work and it was the best option for us. I spoke to a lactation consultant over Skype and went to a cranial osteopath. I was basically topless with a constant supply of nipple cream for a week and by day ten my nipples were healed, my little boy was past his birth weight and we were back on track.

My son has just turned 6 months and we’ve exclusively breastfed throughout. 

We chose not to express or give a bottle as my husband gets up before 6 every morning with my daughter so doesn’t have the scope to take on a night feed too. With two young babies this is just the best way to divide and conquer! 

I’ve definitely learnt breastfeeding is a lottery. My son is very efficient only really on the boob for 10 mins at a time which has been so helpful with a toddler running around needing entertainment. 

I hope to feed him to a year like I did my daughter but at the moment we’re very much going with the flow and will continue to do what works best for us as a whole family. 

 

Little Sunday Story Time Peach by Sophie

When I was pregnant I had full intentions of trying to breastfeed. I thought it was normal, my body had created this growing human inside me therefore to carry on giving our baby the nutrients from my body was just natural. 

When Tabitha was born she latched on pretty much right away and her little mouth created the perfect latch yes it hurt, my boobs where huuuuge but I was fully aware of that happening in the start. 

Unfortunately when she was 6hours old, she had stopped breathing 3 times, with the third being an instant rush to neonatal unit. "What milk would you like us to give your baby" a nurse came and asked me. "My milk, she's breastfed and has been feeding off me all morning" but apparently she was too unwell to feed and they wouldn't allow me to pump. I was devastated. But this was the start of our dedicated breastfeeding journey together. 

 

During our time in hospital I hand expressed every two hours to send down to Nicu the only milk her tiny tummy could handle was mine. And finally 24 hours after she was admitted to Nicu I demanded I fed her myself, i was so proud. 

 

Day 6 we came home, Tabitha lost 10.5% of her birth weight and I kept being encouraged to feed her formula but I new it wasn't right for her, for us. So I persevered, I started pumping after each feed and feeding her with a cup like we did in the nursery before being sent home. 

 

Within 3 weeks her weight was back upto 7lb 8 3/4oz and she was filling into her newborn clothes. I was tired but I new it was worth it. Tabitha wasn't even a month old and I was getting questioned on how long I'm planning on feeding for? I didn't know there was a timescale I just thought a baby fed either breast or bottle surely it didn't matter. 

I loved breastfeeding, I loved the 3am cuddles when it was quiet and just us two. 

These questions continued, at 4 months we went along to our local breastfeeding support group where I mentioned that feeding had been quite hard since around, she was fussing, really windy and arching her back. At this point I was told Tabitha had a slight Tounge tie, which explains not only why she lost so much weight but why it took her a little time to gain. I felt personally she was too old to get it cut and I was taught other positions to feed that may help with the discomfort. 

 

We carried on, 6 months we introduced solids.. what did she prefer? Boob! Around 8 months she really took to her food but I decided to continue feeding on demand, it settled her and provided her with comfort she needed. After learning about Tounge tie and re positioning our feeding techniques Tabitha was gaining weight nicely and we had no further issues. 

 

At 10 months I returned to work, only two days a week but it was hard to start, she refused a bottle id express around 18oz in a 8 hour day for her but the cuddles after work were so lovely, I continued to pump at work every 2/3 hours mimicking our usual feeding so I didn't get sore. Luckily this worked well and I have a great team I work with that understood what I needed to do for our daughter. By the time I'd been back to work a month Tabitha had decided to take a bottle and finally found comfort from that along with her muslin she takes everywhere. 

 

ONE YEAR arrived.. one whole year of booby magic. Tabitha still fed on demand all day everyday out in public, through the night. But I was happy I was proud i gave her everything she needed. 

 

Here is a photo of me feeding on our wedding day. 

 

I stopped expressing at 18months it got to a point where I was getting uncomfortable but also we introduced cows milk too which Tabitha had taken too well. If she is unwell I will still express to give her my milk from a bottle if it's needed. 

 

At almost 21 months I am still feeding on demand. We are still co sleeping, my husband is extremely supportive of this journey. I am so proud of our breastfeeding journey together. She will now ask for "booboob" and it makes me feel so happy I can provide her with what she needs. 

People ask me why I still feed my daughter.. because it's milk that my body made for her. And when she's ready she'll stop. But for now we're happy boobin. 

 

Little Sunday Story time Peach by Suzy

I have been asked by the wonderful Maria here at Little Peach Mama to share with you lovely lot my story. I am a mother to two gorgeous girls, age 4 and 20 months. With both, I had relatively straight forward pregnancies and deliveries ( although I was "blessed" with preeclampsia with my first -but you can read more about that on my own blog) With both girls, I would say th I had a "successful" breastfeeding journey and I absolutely adored every minute of it. However, both experiences were very different and that is what I would like to share with you today.

When I was pregnant with Lily, I didn't really think about formula feeding. I work in the NHS and the benefits of breastfeeding are fairly plastered around the wards and waiting areas in most of the buildings I work in. When I was 31 weeks pregnant, my first niece was born and my sister in law took to breastfeeding like a pro, so naturally I thought I would follow suit. 

At 40+1 I delivered a beautiful baby girl who was immediately brought up to my chest and encouraged to attach to my boob. She didn't latch and didn't really show much interest in it until a couple of hours later. When up in the ward, the midwives were so lovely. Gary had been sent away as she was born at 2am so they attached her for me lying down and we both snuggled together- bliss. I then managed to get her to feed a couple of times after so I was allowed home, just 10 hours after giving birth. A couple of hours after getting home, I received a phone call from my local authority breastfeeding support service to check how things was going and how I was feeling, and arranged to come out and see me the next day. They were so incredibly supportive and we practiced lots of different holds and and techniques to ensure Lily and I were comfy and were off to the best start possible.

Of course I had the common struggles with breastfeeding, the Pamela Anderson-esque engaged boobs, the cracked nipples, the sore back from trying to protect this tiny bundle of joy but soon those things all settled and I remember when she was 6 days old, both Lily and I had our first lunch out in public. I felt like an absolute boss, as if this little peanut and I could rule the world. Things continued this way, feeding on demand and getting herself into her own routine once solids were established. Unfortunately, when I went back to work, my body decided that we had completed our quota and at about 11 months old, Lily moved onto formula and then cows milk and she has never looked back. She still adores milk and has it first thing in thee morning and before bed at night.

My second experience of breastfeeding with Ivy was quite different. As I've said, I would still say it was successful but it wasn't an easy road to get started. Ivy was born in a water bath and has been a totally water baby ever since. She latched on with ease and seemed to be feeding really well from the offset. We got home quickly again and I was ecstatic. My two girls  got to meet for the first time and I cried with happiness at my perfect family. 

That first night home was a long one as Ivy fed pretty much constantly between the hours of 11pm-4am...cluster feeding to get my supply up was my thought, I remembered Lily doing something similar. Little did I know that this was going to be the start of a tricky road. Now this is going to be quite a graphic post, but it is the real life and it did get better, much better. When you first begin breastfeeding, your nipples ache and crack and they have to learn to toughen up. So second time round when the cracking began, out came the Lansinoh Creme and on I went trying to keep two little people alive. I remember calling the breastfeeding support team who had been so helpful with Lily. Their advice was to keep going and things will settle themselves so another few days of cold cabbage leaves and lots of nipple cream continued. About this time, my nipples started bleeding and I ended up doing own thorough research. I quickly realised that Ivy's latch wasn't right and so she was in fact just slowing ripping me. Fortunately for me, but not for her, my friend was also going through the same horrendous ordeal as I was with her second bambino not latching. Having her there to text and share tips with definitely got me through some difficult nights. I also can't thank my hubby enough for letting me sit completely topless all evening, airing my boobs, without trying to jump on me! It did get better and I was soon able to feel the difference between a good and bad latch, and able to correct it when it wasn't right....it was toe curling, silent screaming at 3am trying not to wake the house up sore! It took quite few weeks for my scabby nipples to heal up and they definitely have changed in appearance quite a bit. Every feed would knock the scab off and that post milk dribble down Ivy's face was tinged red so she actually looked more like baby Dracula.

When she was 3 weeks old, I was confidently feeding in public and together we made it to about 7 and a half months. She became so uninterested and independent that we decide to switch to formula at around that age. I've often wondered if our difficult start was part of the reason I wasn't able to feed her as long as I had wanted to? I guess i'll never really know. I do feel as a second time mum I was treated differently and wasn't as readily offered the same services, although they were available. There was also an element that I felt "I knew what I was doing" If you ever need advice, please don't struggle in silence, there is plenty of people, including Maria who have amazing knowledge and will always be willing help...so just reach out.

Lots of love,

Suzy x

Little Sunday Story time Peach by Shona

The moment I found out I was pregnant I planned to breast feed my baby. The thought of not breast feeding my baby didn’t enter my head once but the day after my baby was born we found out that he had a cleft palate and I was told that breast feeding wouldn’t be possible as my baby wouldn’t be able to get a proper latch. After 9 months of anticipation and excitement of experiencing the magical bond I would have with my baby through breast feeding, I was completely heartbroken. 

After lots of research and reading post after post on “littlepeachlondon”’s Instagram page about expressing I decided that this was going to be the way that I fed my baby. After being told that my baby wouldn’t be able to get a proper latch from numerous midwives, nurses and paediatricians my stubbornness kicked in. I was determined not to give up. Every time my baby was hungry, I would start by putting him on the breast and then give him a bottle of expressed breast milk. He tried his hardest to get a proper latch while on the breast but he would start screaming after 10 minutes, which I’m guessing was out of frustration. After about a week of putting my baby on the breast, he finally managed to get a proper latch. I cannot put in to words the feeling that I experienced at that moment. 

When the cleft nurse and health visitor came to visit next, they were completely baffled with how well Thomas was doing with feeding on the breast. He still couldn’t get a full feed on the breast so we would top him up with a few ounces of breast milk each time. I don’t mind this though because I still have the luxury to breast feed my baby whenever he wants, even if it is just for a little “snack”. 

Don’t get me wrong, after weeks of expressing every 2-3 hours day and night, breast feeding, bottle feeding, colic, reflux and my poor baby being  in and out of hospital things were starting to get too much and I was ready to give up. I found myself crying at 3am while up expressing, when I started reading more posts on “littlepeachlondon”,s page. I don’t know what happened, but reading all the different tips and stories about expressing made something click inside me and my motivation reappeared with a vengeance. I was more determined than ever to succeed in expressing for my baby. 

We are now 3 months in to our breast milk journey with a freezer full of breast milk and a little boy thriving and gaining weight like a trooper. Seeing this makes all the stress and exhaustion so worth it. It even makes all the “funny looks” from strangers worth it when they have seen me pumping in the car, or in a waiting room or any other public place that I have expressed. I can truthfully say that “littlepeachlondon” has a massive part to play on my confidence and motivation when it comes to expressing, so for that, I will be eternally grateful and I am sure my little Thomas is also grateful. 

 

Lots of love 

One very exhausted (but happy) mummy, Shona and her “chunky yet funky” baby boy, Thomas. 

 

Instagram- shonadocherty 

Little Sunday Story Time Peach by Charlie

 

When I found out I was pregnant it was the biggest shock, after suffering 5 miscarriages and being told I would need medical intervention to help me get pregnant in the future the whole pregnancy didn’t seem real at first and I must have done 50 pregnancy tests! 

One thing I always knew I wanted to do was breastfeed and I set myself the goal of atleast doing it for the first 6 months I was so thankful that I had so much support, my mum my sister and my sister in law all made sure I was ready to succeed from nipple pads to the name of the best lactation consultant in the area I definitely felt like I was ready! On the 23rd July 2017 my beautiful rainbow daughter came in the world and handed to me I was so overwhelmed I didn’t even think about how to feed what to do as my Midwife had never really given me any advice, but thankfully that gorgeous baby knew exactly what to do she started rooting and latched beautifully! Because of the lack of information from my Midwife I was a complete mess when she started cluster feeding I thought my milk wasnt good enough and spent so long crying worrying not knowing if I should switch to formula I was at a complete loss. Then I was diagnosed with PND and again questioned Everything I was constantly ill my supply dipped ant I felt like I was failing. That’s when the NHS perinatal mental health service stepped in to help and were absolutely fantastic they and the support of my husband and family got me to where I am now I reached my 6 month goal and now about to hit 7 months! Yesterday I achieved something i never thought I would feeding in public by myself! If you had said to me 6 months ago that I would be doing that I never would have believed it ️

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Little Sunday Story Time Peach By Shikha

An hour and a half after a c section painstakingly  hand expressing 1ml of colostrum every hour to the mechanical whirring of a hospital grade breast pump, every 3 hours is how our breastfeeding journey began.

 

My son was born at 32 weeks; delivered by an emergency c section. I was only able to hold him for a few seconds before he was whisked away to intensive care. We knew he would be early, our lives had consisted of obstetrician appointments and constant monitoring from 24 weeks (due to an issue with my placenta and IUGR) but nothing could have prepared me for how I felt; I was the mother of a preemie and this body which should have kept him safe, nurtured him and nourished him, had failed him.

 

Providing him with my breast milk is what kept me from falling apart, from feeling so helpless. It was something I could actively do to help him thrive and grow. For the first 24 hours I would hand express every hour with the help of my wonderful husband. 20 minutes of painful expressing would produce just 1-2ml of milk. Those first few days, waiting for my milk to come in were a blur, it was emotionally and physically exhausting. Seeing his tiny body connected to machines and wires, I felt such a squall of emotions; fear, anger, guilt and joy. 

 

The doctors and nurses stressed the importance of breast milk for my son. They explained that my milk was higher in protein and other nutrients than the milk produced by the mother of a full term baby and that it contained invaluable nutrients and immunities that would aid in protecting him   whilst his immature immune system developed.

I quickly fell into a routine, for the next 6 weeks, every 3 hours, I would pump for 20/30 minutes, sterilise the pump parts, label up my milk and then spend the rest of my time skin to skin with my baby boy. Providing him with my breast milk became my sole focus as I knew it was essential to him forming a strong and healthy immune system. Even after my milk came in I wasn’t producing more than a total of 2-3 ounces every pumping session. I became almost obsessive, logging the amount I pumped so I could monitor my output over 24 hours and ensure I met his needs.

 

10 days after his birth we attempted breastfeeding. He just wouldn’t latch. The nurses watching would tell me I was doing everything right and to keep trying. I felt like a failure, something that should come so naturally wasn’t happening for us. A few days later, I was given a nipple shield, to help him latch; it worked immediately and he was able to feed for a few minutes before falling asleep. Slowly, we built up to breastfeeding before every 3 hourly pumping session. But the nipple shield bothered me; it added another dimension to my feelings of failure, but he was feeding and gaining weight and 6 weeks later we were ready to come home.

 

For weeks I tried to wean him off of the shield, I saw various Lactation consultants, we had his tongue tie corrected but to no avail. Then one day, a couple of months in, he knocked off the shield, latched on and nursed. It was a magical moment. At that time I was determined to get to a year of breastfeeding and now here we are at 17 months. It’s not been an easy ride, from the endless pumping sessions, through to cluster feeding for hours, issues with my milk supply when I was extremely unwell, to milk blisters and blocked ducts, but here we are, sharing an amazing bond and experience.

 

What a journey it’s been so far, it’s been one of the hardest things I’ve done but also the most rewarding and magical experience.

 

Breastfeeding, feels to me, one of the most empowering parts of becoming a mother. It has been an incredible bonding experience and all those hours spent feeding have allowed me to just be present and enjoy these special moments with him. It truly is priceless. I know one day this breastfeeding phase of our journey will come to an end and then the next journey of nourishing him with the healthiest of meals will continue. I will always cherish the beautiful memories and moments I have been able to share with my baby boy and know what a wonderful platform he has been given for the future phases of his life.

Little Sunday Story Time Peach by Laura

If you told before I became a mother that I would still be breastfeeding my nearly 4 year old son, I wouldn’t have believed you.  That’s a bit odd, isn’t it!?  To be honest, it’s not really been my choice.  Sure, I could have weaned him if I had really wanted to but once breastfeeding was well established, I never had a strong desire to stop and I decided that I’d take Hugo’s lead and let him self-wean when he was ready.  I am still waiting for that to happen…

Before I had Hugo I had no great ambitions to breastfeed.  I was only breastfed myself until I was about six weeks old, and I thought, perhaps I would do the same.  I attended NCT classes which did change my view in that I wanted to try and get to six months, mainly due to the health benefits, but I still didn’t really put any great pressure on myself and I was open to the idea of bottle feeding and had some Cow & Gate formula on standby at home.

After quite a difficult birth, Hugo pretty much latched on to me straight away and we never really looked back.  I feel so lucky that I never experienced pain or much discomfort.  Sure, it felt a bit weird at first but I soon got used to that.  When he got teeth there were quite a few painful instances but they soon passed and we carried on.  I also had a very nasty case of mastitis when he was around 6 months old (apparently this is really common as when they start eating solids, they breastfeed less so infection can happen quite easily if you get engorged) Mastitis was horrible.  You basically feel like you have the flu, on top of having a really sore boob and, of course, a baby to look after! We got through it though and we kept going and going and going and going.

I am aware that I was hugely lucky to be able to breastfeed my son with little physical trauma.  That said, and this is something I don’t think gets spoken about enough, the emotional toll breastfeeding can have on a mother is massive.  I basically had no social life for the 18 months.  Writing this, it sounds a bit pathetic, self-indulgent even.  Isn’t it right that a mother stays with her baby? To an extent yes but I felt, especially during the first six months, so trapped and isolated.  I had become a feeding machine.  The girl who used to enjoy spending time with friends, going to the gym, running and putting in long hours at work was now pretty much confined to home with just a baby for company.  I spent so many hours on my sofa watching various box sets.  Again, I feel bad for complaining about this.  It probably sounds lovely to a lot of people to have the time to just sit around doing not very much.  I remember, when Hugo was about six weeks old, I told my husband that I wanted to go back to work!  I was so desperate to get back to normality, and back into the real world.  I felt like I was living in a bubble.  I felt trapped knowing that I was the only person who could feed this tiny baby (he never took a bottle despite our best efforts).  He was 100% dependant on me.  I think this was something that my husband struggled with too.  He felt side lined and frustrated that he couldn’t do more to help.  My husband was amazing though.  He couldn’t really help that much with Hugo, other than nappy changes, so his whole focus shifted on to me.  Whilst I was busy feeding Hugo, he’d make sure I was fed too.  I know that if my husband hadn’t been totally on board with my breastfeeding then I probably would have had to stop ages ago.  Plenty of other people encouraged me to stop, including my own mum.  Hugo was a terrible sleeper for pretty much the whole first 2 years of life.  I’d be up for hours every night feeding and was I completely exhausted.  I was told by so many people that the answer was to put him on the bottle.  He’d then, apparently, sleep right though.   I don’t know why but I didn’t listen, plus I had plenty of friends with poorly sleeping babies who were bottle fed.

I feel I may have lost my way a bit here as I wanted this story to be a positive one.  I’ve read so many blog posts and comments about how awful breastfeeding can be and the pressure and guilt that mums face if it doesn’t go well.  I wish there were more positive stories as I think so much negativity around it has the power to put a lot of people off even trying. 

I can honestly say that if I had my time again, I wouldn’t change a thing and the positives have definitely outweighed the negatives.  I think it’s hard to keep perspective when you are in midst of it all; when your tiny baby is cluster feeding around the clock, when you are completely exhausted, your clothes are covered in your own milk and you haven’t left the house in days.  As hard as it is though, like everything else when you have a child, it is just a phase.  Things will and do get better.  I wish there was more information about the realities of breastfeeding.   So much emphasis is given to the health benefits (which is obviously a good thing) but I don’t feel like anyone every really told me what really to expect, especially during those first six weeks.  I didn’t know what cluster feeding was, I didn’t know about colic or mastitis or that it’s completely normal for babies not to sleep through the night.  It was all stuff I learned “on the job.”  I honestly think that if mothers were better informed in terms of the realities of breastfeeding and how hard the first few weeks can be when trying to get it established, many would continue to do it for longer.  The “getting established” bit is hard but if you can get through that, there are so many benefits.

From my point of view, breastfeeding has been the best choice for me and my baby. I’ve heard some horror stories about how some mums have been treated when they have tried to breastfeed in public.  Luckily for me, I never experienced that.  Sure I’ve has a few odd looks but that’s about it.  I soon realised, that most people don’t really care.  They are busy getting on with their own lives.  That said, I would never breastfeed Hugo in public at the age he is now as I am sure that would provoke utter outrage.  We flew to Australia last year and I breastfed him on the plane to try to get him to relax.  That was our last public feed and I have to admit that I felt incredibly uncomfortable doing it.  Breastfeeding these days is only ever done at home, at bedtime and in the morning.

The other benefit I found was that of convenience.  It is so much easier to whip out a boob than to make a bottle, plus I’ve saved an absolute fortune on bottles and formula!  Also, Hugo very rarely gets ill.  He has never had to take anti-biotics and when he is unwell it passes quickly.  Whether this is down to breastfeeding, who knows.  As Hugo’s got older too, I’ve found breastfeeding to be an invaluable tool to help him to calm down if he’s upset.  During the terrible twos, I found that a quick feed could completely change his mood.  That’s one of the reasons I’ve been a bit reluctant to wean him as I worry how I might deal with a tantrum without my boobs!  I also found breastfeeding such a lovely way to bond.  I’ve moaned above about being stuck on the sofa for hours when Hugo was small but, on the flip side, some of my most precious memories are of the times Hugo has been in my arms whilst he’s feeding.

So, when are we going to stop?  Who knows?  I originally said we’d stop when he was 2, then 3, then 4 but now his 4th birthday is looming, I am not so sure.  That said, I definitely want to have stopped by the time he starts school in September so I pray that his self-weans by then! Any tips in this regard would be very gratefully received…!

Little Sunday Storytime Peach by Rebecca

My journey with breastfeeding started in 2015 with my firstborn daughter. 
I had been breastfed and brought up around siblings who were breastfed and naively hadn't given it a second thought that I would do otherwise. I had a quick birth with my daughter & she was handed to me for some skin to skin and almost instantly and very instinctively found her way to my breast and latched on. It was a very beautiful and memorable moment. 

Even though her latch was great my milk didn't come through until day 5 which saw her weight drop by 13%, which was fairly significant. We were sent to the hospital and told to give her bottles of formula milk as a top up until her weight was back to normal and my milk was fully established.

This only took one week and then I was back to exclusively breastfeeding. Because she had taken a bottle of formula so well I started expressing and giving her bottles of express breast milk as well as breastfeeding which I found helpful as she didn't sleep well and it meant I could have some help with feeding her.

Our breastfeeding journey continued until she was around 9 months old when one day she started to refuse my breast and turn her face away. And when she did go on she clamped her gums down on my nipple in protest. I continued to offer her my breast for 3 weeks but she kept refusing. I expressed and she took my milk from a bottle but I found this very  difficult (to exclusively express) as I found I didn't get the volumes she needed so reluctantly and on the advice and encouragement of those around me started to give her formula from a bottle.
I remember vividly, standing in the shower with milk pouring from my breast, sobbing and grieving our breastfeeding journey and the closeness that I felt to her during the time. When I write this I still get a lump in my throat thinking back to that time. My wonderful husband encouraged me that I had done so well to breastfeed for as long as I did but I felt in my heart I hadn't felt ready to stop. It took a further 3 weeks for my breasts to stop producing milk.

At this time I didn't know about breastfeeding strike and that she may have come back to me had I given her a little more time.

In 2017, 2 years later my son was born.

His birth story was very different and nearly 6 months on still a bit raw to put into words.


He was born via emergency c-section due to foetal distress and following this I lost 60% of my blood volume due to a major haemorrhage during surgery. I only got to look at him for a moment before they had to look after me, so we didn't get the skin to skin and I didn't see him for another 3 hours. 

After theatre, I was told I may not be able to breastfeed as I had lost so much blood that my breastmilk might not come through. Everything had been so out of control during and after the labour and birth. There were moments where I thought that we were both going to die. 


I felt so determined to breastfeed him so after some much needed skin to skin I put him to my breast where he latched perfectly. The rush of emotions are too much to think about. From that moment he stayed attached to me and we both worked hard to beat the odds. I realised we both shared the same determination and by day 3 my milk had come through and doctors and nurses alike were astonished.

My son hasn't taken a bottle so I am exclusively breastfeeding him going on 6 months. It's tough going sometimes as I get no 'time to myself' but I wouldn't change it for the world. I love the closeness I feel to him when breastfeeding (that gulping sound ) and knowing I'm nourishing him with my breastmilk, as I did with my daughter. 

I'm often asked when I will stop breastfeeding. I don't have a 'stop date' for breastfeeding my son- he will let me know! What I do know is that I feel more informed this time. 

I would like to offer some notes of encouragement to other breastfeeding mums or anyone thinking about breastfeeding.

As with motherhood, breast feeding doesn't come without its challenges. While I am aware I have had a fairly smooth sailing journey in terms of babies who latch properly I would like to encourage you to look at your breastfeeding journey as your own. Don't compare - after all comparison is the thief of joy! Focus on the postives and be proud that you are doing such a great job nourishing your babe no matter what your journey looks like. 

 

I had sore and cracked nipples with both of my babies for the first 2-3 weeks. This can be really sore (toe curling) but I promise with some good nipple care, good latch technique and perseverance it does get easier. 

 

There is always support out there.

 

Lots of love X

 

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Little Story time Peach By Louise

I was so sure that i wanted to breastfeed and so worried about complications that i visited my local Peer Support Group whilst 38 weeks pregnant. As a child i had issues with cows milk and dairy products and used to get very sick - so i was concerned about the lactose in my milk and wanted to get information and advice. I was so glad i did as i met a group of lovely women who all had slightly older children so were a wealth of knowledge not just on breastfeeding but also birth experiences, sleep deprivation, weaning and everything in between. 
I attended the Breastfeeding group from when Frankie was 6 days old and every week after that until my milk dried up, Frankie was almost 2 and i was 15 weeks pregnant. Neither of us were ready to stop breastfeeding and it was a rough couple of days when it happened but we both adjusted quickly. Later in the pregnancy i did get terrible aversion to her touching me too much so I'm sure i would have had feeding aversion had we carried on. 
Frankie was a very sleepy newborn and we syringe fed her for the first few days, when she did wake up and latch on i was over the moon. I had huge engorged breasts and she had a tiny little mouth, no tongue tie, but just a tiny mouth and we did struggle a bit. I have to say i did not ever experience what i could call pain, i had sleepless nights and headaches but no pain. 
I think it is really important that we share our experiences and we are honest, and that means the good as well as the bad. I LOVED breastfeeding from the very start. I loved the days and weeks of just sitting on the sofa feeding my tiny baby and just having time to look at her. I loved the fourth trimester, the skin to skin cuddles, the warm baths together daily and just drinking her in! I know that many new mums find the first few weeks hard going but for me it was the best bit. She was so small and so new and I just relished it all. And I'm so glad i did because at about a month old she started to suffer with silent reflux and colic and it all becmae very stresful. We would have long sessions of intense crying and there was nothing i could do to soothe her, she wanted to feed for comfort but that only made her tummy worse. I forced a dummy on her because it was the only way i could get a minute peace in a day. I cut all dairy out of my diet and started taking vitamins and cut out any spicy food, all alcohol andjust tried ot eat as cleanly as possible. This in turn made it really hard to cope with the sleepless nights and hard days because i was also denying myself the simple pleasures. I kept reminding myself that it would pass and she would grow out of it, and she did, and it was all forgotten BUT it was hard work, and it broke my heart to see her struggle. Through it all i was so grateful to be breastfeeding and to be able to offer her the comfort she needed. 
We are now on week 4 with a newborn and a toddler and this second breastfeeding journey is off to a great start...although we do seem to have similar tummy issues to the first time, but we are taking it in our stride. Life with 2 is hard and finding the time to give him the attention that i so happily gave her is difficult to say the least. In 23 days i think he has had 4 baths, only one of which was with me. Alfie was a great feeder from the very start and he has gained weight so quickly and easily, he is a hungry little boy and it is so great to be able to just feed him any time and any place, the convenience of breastfeeding really comes into play with number 2!
I am incredibly tired but getting far more sleep this time than the first time round! Frankie has never been a good sleeper, she still wakes a few times a night. I miss being able to feed her back to sleep. We co-slept until she wanted her own space, and now that baby Alfie is here she is often in my bed by midnight. She has not asked to breastfeed and i must admit part of me is a little disappointed! 

Little Sunday Story Time peach by Sophie

When I first found out I was pregnant I always knew I would really like to give breastfeeding a go, it was never a biggy though and definately not the be all and end all. Id had a number of friends who were either unable to or had decided not to breastfeed so I never put too much pressure on myself. Either way my baby would not starve.

My daughter then came along, I still remember the midwife trying to help her latch on for the first time and failing miserably, and then ending up expressing into a syringe for her very first feed. I remember feeling a sence of failure right there thinking that would be it. We kept trying though and within a couple of hours she had latched on and was feeding ok. 

The midwives and health visitors I see over the next few weeks kept saying I was holding her wrong when she was feeding but the way they said to hold her was really really uncomfortable. I stuck to the way we were both comfortable with and to this day that’s the way she likes to be held.

I returned to work when she was nine months old, I had done the odd KIT day and had to express, I was told the only place I would be able to express in privacy was in the disabled toilet, there was no chair to sit on so I literally had to sit on the toilet floor for 2-3 expresses a day. I didn’t feel so bad when it was just the odd day but when I returned back and the more I did it the more degraded I felt. If ever there was a time I could have easily given up it would have been then. Thinking about it now I am so lucky my baby didn’t get poorly from that. All those germs!! Unfortunately I didn’t realise how wrong this was of them until it was too late.

After a lot of thought I decided to give up a job I loved, there were a number of reasons, this being one of them. 

I was lucky enough to get work from home so I could continue to breastfeed.

At first I’d said I wouldn’t breastfeed past 4 Months then it went upto 6 Months and then a year. My little lady is now 22 months old and I still breastfeed at night. Because of the stigma and critisim around breastfeeding past the age of one I choose not to breastfeed in public and do not approach the subject around friends and family. 

My reasons for still breastfeeding are not selfish, I am still producing milk, if i was to stop breastfeeding I would substitute my milk for cows milk. Surely her own mothers' milk is better and more beneficial to her. 

I know my breastfeeding journey won't last forever but for now I treasure every feed (even if she does still wake me up twice a night)  I refuse to put a deadline now-much to my husbands disgust! I don’t expect to be breastfeeding much past her second birthday, but if I do continue I don’t think there’s nothing wrong with it. 

This journey is definately one I will treasure for the rest of my life. I am so very grateful to have got this far with it.

There is definately not enough support or encouragement for mothers to continue breastfeeding. I dont see why we should be made to feel embarrassed about the most natural thing in the world. Its something you should be proud of and most definately not something you should take for granted.

 

Little Sunday Storytime Peach by Michele

 

My breastfeeding Journey by Michele Marriott

 

Whilst pregnant with my little boy, the thing I was looking forward to most, when he was earth side, was breastfeeding. I hoped our breastfeeding journey would be a successful one and that I’d be able to do extended breastfeeding.

 At 32 weeks gestation, I went into spontaneous pre-term labour. I was able to deliver naturally but he was taken away from me straight away as he wasn’t breathing. The paediatricians worked their magic and whisked him off to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). 

Whilst the midwife was stitching me up, I panicked. I told her that my milk hadn’t come in yet. I’d never had leaky boobs! She told me not to worry because once the placenta is expelled milk production begins. 

Once the midwife had left the room, I was left feeling in a dream like state. I didn’t have my baby with me, I’d never held my baby. Where was he? Was this all a dream? Was I still pregnant?

I imagined my first moments with my little boy to be more along the lines of precious skin to skin cuddles that lead to that beautiful first latch moment. But that wasn’t going to be how our breastfeeding journey began. 

When the midwife returned, I asked her what to do about my milk. I knew I needed to get milk from my breasts within a few hours of his arrival. She told me not to worry about it right now.

A few hours after Beau’s arrival, I was able to go and visit him in the NICU. Before I left, I asked them again about expressing. They just told me to go and get some sleep and we’d discuss it in the morning.

At 6.30am the next day I was back in the NICU visiting Beau and asking about expressing. They just gave me a small plastic bag with a leaflet and some syringes in.

I went back to my room and sat on the bed trying to work it all out. The leaflet told me how to correctly hand express and to collect the colostrum in the syringes. It took quite a while to get the first drop from my breasts. I couldn’t work out how to collect it with the syringe so instead used a little cup. After about an hour of trying, I got really upset. I was hardly getting anything out. Probably about 1ml. I expected to be filling these syringes. I rang the bell for a midwife to come. When she arrived I told her that I couldn’t get much milk out. She told me that I’d done a fantastic job and that was the amount they’d expect. 

Beau was on a glucose drip for the first few days as he had to have CPAP (a mask to help him with his breathing). So, I was able to build up a stash of colostrum for him in his fridge. I spent hours hunched over, squeezing that precious liquid gold out. Filling the syringes. I hand expressed every few hours. My neck and shoulders were so stiff, but that didn’t matter as I was providing for my little boy.

Expressing milk for Beau made me feel like his mum. I didn’t get to hold him until he was 4 days old. The nurses did everything for him but providing him with that all important milk was something that only I could do for him. I used to feel such pride when I entered the hospital in the morning with the milk I’d collected over night. I’d fill his fridge and collect more syringes to take home. 

On day 4, Beau began to have my milk. He had a NG tube. So he was fed through his nose. He started on 1ml per hour because his stomach was too tiny for any more. They had to gradually stretch his stomach. On day 7, I had a bit of a meltdown. They were quickly upping his feeds. He was on 16ml every 2 hours as he was taking to it so well. I felt like I couldn’t keep up with the amount of milk he would be needing. I knew breastmilk was the best thing for a premature baby. They have immature digestive systems and they struggle to cope with formula. Beau was being such a brave warrior, coping with everything that comes with arriving early and breathing on his own, I just couldn’t let him down. I had a big cry in front of one of the nurses and she told me that I was doing a fantastic job. She told me it’s a much harder job for preemie mums as our bodies aren’t ready to be producing milk yet, so we have to work extra hard for it. She told me, when I went home that night, to have a bath and not worry about it. She said the more I worried about it, the more it would affect my supply. I felt like I was letting Beau down. The only thing I could do for him and I was failing at it.

The following day my supply had increased and for the next few weeks I was able to meet his milk needs and also start to build up extra in the hospital freezer. I was double pumping now, using a pump the hospital let preemie mums take home. There was a pumping room in the NICU, where I’d go throughout the day to pump for him, whilst my husband stayed by his side. I looked at photos of him and had a little crocheted heart that he kept in his incubator, which had his smell on, to help stimulate let downs.

At 34 weeks, Beau was able to begin practicing locating my nipple and having a little go at breast feeding. Babies don’t begin to practice the suck and swallow reflex until 34 weeks gestation. We used to put Beau to the breast whilst feeding him through his NG tube, so he would relate getting a full tummy of milk from breastfeeding. 

The breastfeeding support in hospital was limited. I was shown how to hold him across my body and where to place him. Whilst Beau breastfed, they would come over and check to see if I was doing it right and they seemed happy with how it was all going.

After 3 weeks, we were able to stay in the hospital flat, so we could move onto exclusively breastfeeding Beau. It started off well. The nurse said he was doing fantastically. We’d record all his feeds on his sheet and they didn’t have any concerns. They told me not to express anymore. 

A nurse on the night shift had concerns though. She said Beau was feeding for too long and he seemed lethargic. She said he was probably exhausted from breastfeeding as it uses up a lot of their energy. She also said he wasn’t latching correctly. When we tried to get Beau to feed again, he wasn’t interested. She had a big chat with me about it all. She said that he was struggling to keep his temperature and that breastfeeding wasn’t helping him. He could use his energy to keep warm or to feed, but not both. She said that if we wanted to get him home the best thing was to bottle feed him my expressed milk. This was something that hadn’t even crossed my mind. In my head it was either breastfeed via nursing or bottle feed him formula. She said that they’d put the NG tube back in if we couldn’t get him to take milk. She said if I really wanted to breastfeed him then to wait until we were home in a more relaxed environment. So, we went with the bottle of expressed milk. He took to it like a champ and in the next few days put on a big chunk of weight. 

After a month in the NICU, we were able to bring Beau home. My health visitor came out the following week to help with breastfeeding. She said Beau’s mouth was too small, that’s why he wasn’t latching great. So we used a nipple shield. It worked perfectly for us. Beau was to breastfeed, then we would top him up with expressed milk and I would pump. Over a few weeks we dropped his top ups and weighed him weekly to check his progress. The first week he maintained, so we upped the top up again and he started to put on lots of weight. It was an exhausting process but seeing him thrive made it all worthwhile.

Over the next couple of months I managed to get Beau to just breastfeed during the day, using the shields still. It was so much more relaxing for me. I finally felt that we were getting close to the top of the mountain. I couldn’t get him to breastfeed at night, but my husband gave him his milk via a bottle and I expressed during these feeds.

At 4 months old, Beau began teething. He started to refuse the breast. I was very persistent but he used to scream hysterically. I didn’t want him to see it as a negative thing so I wouldn’t force it. I had to bring bottles of expressed milk back into our daytime feeds. He began to really hurt me when he fed, too. It was so painful. I tried to get him off the shield as he was sucking my nipple through the holes in the end. But he wouldn’t feed without it. I carried on offering the breast first for every feed but he refused it. 

By the time he was 6 months old, I was exclusively pumping again. I still had hope to keep me going. I hoped so much that I’d be able to get him back to the breast. But it never happened. I struggled to come to terms with this. As a prem mum, your options and choices are taken away from you. Beau having my milk was the one thing that I could control. It was my choice. I had a very supportive group of people around me, in real life and online. Yes, some people would suggest formula feeding him as “it’s easier”. They couldn’t understand why I had a strict pumping schedule, why it was so important to me for him to have my milk. But being a very determined person, I stuck to it.

When Beau was 8 months old, I knew that our breastfeeding journey was never going to look like the way I dreamt it to be whilst pregnant. Our journey was to look much different. I had got to 8 months, I may as well keep going for another 6 months and reach his corrected first birthday. I’d got through the hardest part. I’d got through those days when I thought I couldn’t do one more pump. The months were it felt like he cried constantly with colic and norovirus and I just didn’t know when he’d let me pump. The driving around whilst pumping as it was the only way he’d let me pump. 

So, we kept going. 

When Beau was 10 months old, I began hand expressing rather than pumping. I did this three times a day and kept up with his demand. When he was almost 11 months old I started back at work and began to hand express morning and night. I had a freezer stash that I dipped into when needed. My health visitor told me that once he reached a year old I could mix feed him with plant milk to take the pressure off me (I’d always been a just enough milk maker, I only had a little freezer stash to say I’d pumped for the majority of our journey). We did this. Beau decided that Soya Growing Up milk was way nicer than breastmilk and began to refuse my breastmilk. So after 13 months of expressing, I stopped. There was no point in continuing if the little monkey was no longer interested. I got him through that first year, with all of those antibodies to protect him. I looked back and realised what an achievement it was and I was so proud of myself. A feeling that for most of the year I’d never felt. Instead I’d felt like a failure. I was the complete opposite of that though.

Looking back, knowing what I now know, I would have done a lot of things differently in those first few months. But at the time I did what I thought was the best for Beau with the advice and support I received. If I am so lucky as to be blessed with a babe again, I will make sure to have a lactation consultant ready to support me in those first few weeks. During our hospital time, there was very little support because of lack of staff and funding. I was naïve in thinking that I would go full term and breastfeeding would be something that came naturally and easily to us. I feel a lot more prepared and educated if there’s ever a next time.

Expressing was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. So very worth it though. It’s changed me as a person and looking back, I don’t even know how I made it through some days. But you just do. You have no other choice. You just do it. Your baby is your world and you’d do anything for them.  Most days in those first four months, I’d have Beau over my shoulder, trying to soothe him, whilst holding my pumps on with one hand. I’d have him on a cushion on my knees, bouncing him up and down so I could pump. When my husband went to work in a morning, I’d think to myself, just 4 pumping sessions until he’s home to help again. As he got older and I purchased a pumping bra and a rechargeable breast pump (life savers) I would be able to sit him down and we’d read stories and sing songs. As he dropped his naps, I dropped pumping sessions, otherwise it became too stressful. 

If I’d have known the path that lay ahead for me, I would have dreaded it. I found it really difficult. I just used to take a pump at a time. There were many days in those early months where I’d cry because I was finding it hard to keep to the pumping schedule. Beau was a very demanding and intense baby. 

Exclusively pumping is not something I’d want to do again but I know I would if I had no other choice. The benefits outweigh the downsides.

When you express for your baby, it is a selfless act. You don’t get the little face looking up at you whilst feeding, the closeness, the being still with your baby. You literally put your life on hold to pump for your baby. Every nap time is a pumping time. But you see your baby thrive and grow because of you. You give them the best possible start. But when that pumping journey comes to an end, don’t forget to fill up your cup, make it over flow. You definitely deserve it.

Little Sunday Storytime Peach by Anna

 

21/01/2018

"Breastfeeding has been one of the hardest yet beautiful things I have ever experienced. 

 

When my little girl was born, I never ever imagined breastfeeding would be hard. You just think it’ll work and be natural straight away. For us that wasn’t the case, my little one had a very lazy latch which resulted in her wearing down half of my nipple! I would cry every time I put her on to feed and had the worst panic attacks when it came to feeding time. To top it off she only fed from one side, no matter what I did. As you can imagine that made it a lot harder to feed her as I was so sore but had no let up. I remember feeling so alone, I’d sit and cry at night, totally and utterly exhausted...but holding on to the hope that tomorrow may be the day she finally latched on properly and the pain would go. 

 

That day eventually came around 13weeks into feeding. I was still sore but started to heal, and that’s when the experience of feeding completely changed. Yes I still had very little sleep, yes I still cried at times but I realised through all of those tears and pain in the beginning that my baby and I had created the most amazing bond. Words just can’t describe it. I am so glad I persevered as I love the little smiles she’ll give me whilst feeding, the way that I can console her like no one else can and how she’ll climb up on my lap and tap my chest asking for milk. 

 

Throughout our time feeding we’ve still had ups and downs but we are 15 months into feeding now and every day has gotten easier. 

 

Some health visitors and breast feeding support workers said I wouldn’t be able to do it, feeding from one side...oh how we proved them wrong!
P.s. - I know what you're thinking and yes one boob looks like a watermelon and the other a grapefruit"

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