Breastfeeding: The age old way to feed your child, to provide them with the best nutrients possible, the natural way, the way your body is designed to feed your child. You’ve seen women in public, in magazines, on TV & don’t forget that perfect instagram shot breastfeeding their baby with such ease. They gaze into their baby’s eyes & have that amazing bond that is unbreakable. But, Mums, what they forget to share with us is the blood, sweat, tears, confusion, overanalysing, stress, the pain (oh god the pain), cracked nipples, blocked milk ducts, milk blisters....the list goes on.
If I could tell any Mum to be something, it would be that I found breastfeeding harder than my labour!
But no-one tells you this! Society makes breastfeeding look easy because that’s ‘how you feed your baby’. I found it far from easy... one of my biggest learning curves.
Please note: this is in no way to discourage you from breastfeeding or to make you feel concerned, but to empower you with knowledge to tackle what ‘may’ come.
After 32 hours Charlotte arrived in this world happy (well, actually crying) & healthy! Quite quickly she worked her way up my body until she found my breast. I was stoked!!! “Here we go” I thought “This is going to be easy”. This was my Parent Fail #1 & our child was less than 2 hours old. Once Charlotte had reached her destination she had no idea what to do. Quite frankly, neither did I. So, this was our first hurdle & I had NO idea what was to come over the next 8 weeks of hardship.
Whilst in hospital Charlotte was unable to feed, or latch due to a ventouse delivery as she got stuck just at the end of my labour. Little did I know that this would actually start a snowball effect that would ultimately make the next 2 months some of the toughest. We worked with her by hand expressing enough for her to have via a syringe. This continued for 2 days. Quickly the midwives realised that I couldn’t leave the hospital feeding our baby via a syringe & we changed tactics. We would start by trying to get Charlotte to latch to the breast using a nipple shield. The poor little poppet would try her best but it just wasn’t happening for her. I would then top her up with a bottle of expressed milk which she took like a champ & would then pump after each feed. Feeds were approximately 3 hourly. I left the hospital following this feeding schedule & thought it would all sort itself out soon. Boy, was I wrong!
For 8 weeks I fed this way - shields, bottle & pump round the clock. It was utterly exhausting & I definitely was not prepared for breastfeeding to be this difficult. I also wasn’t prepared for when Charlotte was 2 weeks of old to have my milk supply drop so low that my child was loosing weight. This still breaks my heart to this day...This way of feeding also meant I couldn’t stray to far from home because before I knew it, it’s a pump time again.
Luckily in this 8 weeks I began taking Charlotte to a local Bowen Therapist who immediately noticed Charlotte was out of alignment & had an extremely stiff jaw. We visited her twice weekly for 8 weeks. I also had been referred by the hospital to a local Lactation Consultant who massively helped us greatly & single handedly saved our breastfeeding journey. She got me onto medication that would increase my milk supply greatly ensuring Charlotte never went hungry. On top of these appointments & my insane feeding schedule round the clock, being a new Mum & sleeping somewhere in between all of this we made it to 8 weeks!!!
At 8 weeks of age I no longer had to pump a million times a day, use shields or give Charlotte bottles. Her jaw had relaxed & she knew what she had to do! I can’t explain the relief, the freedom this gave me & how easy breastfeeding became. I was ecstatic!!!
We are now 7 months on which I can’t believe!!! I didn’t think we were even going to make it 4 weeks. The best piece of advice my wonderful girlfriend gave me was “Breastfeeding is a mind f%#*”. Nail on head!!!
So here’s to the Mums that breastfed for 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 1 year & beyond. To the Mums who sat on a pump for days at hospital to learn that their milk would never come in. To the Mums who exclusively pumped. To the Mums who mix feed because it’s what is best for their baby. To the Mums who gave it their best shot. To the Mum who had the guts to stand up & say they didn’t feel comfortable breastfeeding. Lastly, here’s to the Mums to be , may your journey me smooth sailing - knowledge is power.
I believe these two photos symbolise ‘my’ journey. Photo #1 Charlotte at 2 weeks old having a bottle of expressed milk & me totally exhausted as there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Photo #2 Charlotte & I 6 months on.