I’ve been wanting to write about my feelings and experiences of breastfeeding for some time. I am glad I now have my blog so that I can do this.
I have breastfed both my children for at least a small portion of their lives. It is something I always just assumed I would do when I had children. Bottle feeding didn’t even enter my mind as being an option, unless there was some reason that popped up and prevented me breastfeeding. Jack wasn’t such an easy baby when it came to feeding. Lili is really the complete opposite to Jack in every way. But I never expected it to be as hard or as complicated as it is, so I just want to share a little bit of what I went through.
Jack’s birth was tough. It was a 44 hour, stressful labour. He was born at 1.11am and I believe (I say that as I can’t remember much of the occasion), I was up on the labour ward by 2.30am, on my own, having only been very briefly shown how to breastfeed in the delivery suite. He didn’t really take to it, so when I was left to just get on with things, I was actually completely incapable of feeding my new baby.
Jack then decided that after his LONG, SLOW entry into the world, that he was pretty tired himself and he just slept. And slept. And slept. He must have been asleep for a good 6 to 7 hours and me being a first time mum, had no idea I was suppose to have woken him to feed every 3-4 hours.
When he did start to stir, I got him out of his cot and started to try to breastfeed. I didn’t have a clue. I just held him sort of near to my breast, fumbled around a bit, panicked when he started to cry and promptly gave up and just cuddled him.
A midwife popped her head round not long after and asked how feeding was going. I replied that it simply was not ‘going’. He hadn’t fed. She came round the side of the bed, grasped Jack in a vice-like grip, which alarmed me, and then thrust him onto my breast with great force. It was very undignified and it also didn’t really work. He sucked for a just long enough for the midwife to think he had got it and leave. As soon as she was gone and I was alone, he let go again. He went back to sleep. I left him to it.
We still hadn’t really mastered feeding by the time we left the hospital. I took home a baby, that essentially, wasn’t feeding.
I went to my mum’s the next day as my husband was working and I didn’t want to sit in with a new baby on my own. Jack was crying a lot and was constantly wanting to feed. This is when I got given the classic piece of advice, “He’s not getting enough milk, he’s starving, just give him a bottle”. I know now that, he was/would have been fine, he was a newborn and newborn breastfed babies feed A LOT! Breast milk is digested a lot quicker than formula and breastfed babies will not generally go 3-4 hours between feeds.
From that point on, Jack was combine fed both breast and bottle until he was 3 months old, when I decided that he much preferred his bottle feeds and was really starting to lose interest in breastfeeding. Obviously it didn’t come as quickly and it didn’t fill him up for as long as formula. I dropped the breastfeeding suddenly one night. I didn’t get engorged (full of milk) and Jack didn’t once look for a breastfeed again. I think we had both just had enough of the somewhat difficult task it had proven to be.
Now let’s move on to Lili. The experience has been so unbelievably different. I hired an independent Midwife for the pregnancy and birth with Lili and the amount of extra information I had going into motherhood for the second time was unbelievable. I kept commenting that I couldn’t believe that I had already been through everything once, but still felt so uninformed about so much. Or maybe it was more a case of being misinformed?
As soon as Lili was born (at home in a birthing pool in my living room), she had that immediate skin to skin contact, as she was laid straight onto my chest. It was calm, it was peaceful, it was lovely and such a contrast to Jack’s birth.
As soon as we were out of the pool and all settled, Michelle (my midwife) helped me to latch her on to feed and explained every step of the way.
Breastfeeding with Lili was/is very successful. She is 6 months old now and is still breastfeeding. In fact Lili was such the opposite to Jack, that I have really struggled to get her to take a bottle. I want her to be able to take a bottle in case there is ever an event in which I have to leave her with someone else. I give her one bottle a day, which has been a challenge to get her to take, but I want it to be familiar to her as you never know what might come up.
I believe that there are a lot of factors that have resulted in the successful feeding with Lili. The main one being the correct advice and information I was given this time round. I knew from the start how often breastfed babies feed. I knew what to expect when it came to all the obstacles we may face, sore nipples, incorrect latch etc, and I knew how to prevent or correct them so we could get back on track.
While feeding Lili, we both suffered something called ‘Breastfeeding Thrush”. The baby gets it in their mouth, it can be identified by a white tongue or white spots around the gums. It’s very sore and can affect their feeding, making them very fussy. The mother gets it inside the breast and it feels sort of like a stabbing pain from within, also a sort of tugging pain to the sides. It has been described as feeling like you have broken glass inside your breast. You need to treat both the mother and the baby as otherwise it just gets passed backwards and forwards between you both and will never clear up. Most doctors will generally not really have a clue about these breastfeeding problems, so I didn’t go to the doctors, I looked up natural homeopathic remedies on the internet and ended up treating me and Lili successfully with Grapefruit Seed Oil. And STILL, we continued to feed with no problems, just a little bit of pain, all because of fantastic advice.
I think the main thing you have to remember with breastfeeding is:
If it hurts, then generally you’re not doing it right. You shouldn’t be in pain during a feed. If you are, the most likely case is that the latch is incorrect. I would suggest finding your local breastfeeding consultant/group and asking them to check things out for you. They will then be able to advise you as to whether it’s just the latch that is wrong or whether it looks like there’s a bit more to it. Or if you are too shy/embarrassed for something like that, then there are some fabulous videos online on sites like You Tube.
I am going to continue to feed Lili now until she decides she doesn’t want it anymore. Or until I feel she is getting to old for it still to be in my comfort zone. I really think it is personal preference as to how long you feed, but all I know is my Chunky Monkey is really thriving on her booby milk and I don’t plan to take it away from her anytime soon.
I am going to write another post on breastfeeding in public soon, so if you are interested in this topic and feel like subscribing to my posts via email, you can do using the box at the bottom of my ‘Home’ page.