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,