Ahhh, the taboo subject of breastfeeding. Isn’t it a shame that I use the word ‘taboo’ on such a natural, beautiful thing? I knew straight away that breastfeeding was the route I wanted to go down, but what I didn’t know, was how hard it would be. Today’s blog post is going to be a bit of a long one so go grab a cuppa and biscuits and sit down ready to read! Here you’ll read all about my breastfeeding experience so far, what made me do it, tips/advice, pumping, why I didn’t give up, how to get through those growth spurts, why breastfeeding is so totes amaze and breastfeeding in public! If you don’t wish to read the words ‘nipples’, ‘boobs’ or even about my tits.. then this my friends, is not the post for you to be reading (but please do!) I hope you enjoy and potentially even help some of you breastfeeding mama’s or one’s who’re considering it! AND, a massive thank you for taking the time to read. I appreciate each and everyone of you ♥
*Before I start my post and possibly offend anyone, if you don’t breastfeed for whatever reason; that is fine! What you choose to do with your baby, is your choice and whilst it’s advised to breastfeed; A) don’t feel guilty if you don’t, B) don’t feel pressured into it & C) your baby will still thrive and develop as well as a breastfed baby. I cannot stress these 3 points enough! In my opinion, the phrase ‘breast is best.’ is bullshit, but of course, I agree to a certain level otherwise why would I breastfeed? It’s scientifically proven that breast is best, but whether you formula feed or breastfeed; making sure your baby is fed is the most important thing. “FED IS BEST.”
What made me want to breastfeed and why is it totes amaze?
Considering I knew hardly anything about breastfeeding, it was something I was passionate about, even before I fell pregnant. It always used to (still does) anger me when someone has a problem with mums feeding their babies in public – do we complain when an animal feeds her baby? No. We sit and go “aww, look how cute and natural that is.” so why is it any different to us humans feeding our young? Oh yeah.. it ISN’T! Anywayyy.. I chose to breastfeed regardless of how little I knew because I wanted to try it, I’d have much rather tried to breastfeed my baby, it not work, than not trying at all. I craved that closeness & bond, knowing what it felt like; I craved it all. What I did know however was:
- breastmilk was full of nutrients and goodness. As a mum, of course you want the best for your baby, so my breastmilk was better than formula
- breastmilk would help boost my baby’s immune system and help to fight off illness’ and infections (thank god I knew this considering he was 4 weeks prem!)
- breastmilk wasn’t only a source of food, but it could act as comfort
- breastmilk was free and I wouldn’t run out of it because our bodies constantly produce it to meet our baby’s needs. If I expressed milk, I could put it in the fridge and it would last for 6 days and I could also freeze it and it be good for 6 months, ready for going back to work or a day to myself
- I wouldn’t have to spend a large proportion of my day washing and sterilising bottles – for anyone who’s as lazy as I am – perfect!
But why do I think it’s so amazing? For all of those reasons above.
Breastfeeding with Freddie and why I refused to give up:
At 30 weeks pregnant, we found out that Freddie would be premature, but we didn’t know how premature. We made it to 36+2 and then, he finally arrived so I was even more determined to breastfeed him because I wanted him to have the best off of me to get him fighting fit and I didn’t feel as if formula could do that for him. I knew breastfeeding wasn’t an easy thing to do, but I never anticipated how hard it was going to be, especially with my tiny 6lbs2oz, prem baby.
In the first few days until your milk comes in, you’ll have something called colostrum and I had very little of it. Freddie was so sleepy, that he didn’t even want to feed but of course he had too. I began to hand-express into a syringe ready, I managed 1ml the first time and Freddie took about 0.3ml of it. We had to offer Freddie formula in hospital to keep his sugars up, but he just didn’t want to feed and at each feed, he’d only take the tiniest amount. Once we were home, we decided to give Freddie formula so we knew we were getting something into him and then, once my milk had come in; I began to pump so he could have it in a bottle and reduce his formula until there was no more need for it. This was going great for us whilst Ryan was at home and I had extra hands to help with Freddie whilst I pumped, but as soon as Ryan went back to work and I didn’t have that other pair of hands.. it got hard. Freddie constantly wanted to be in my arms snuggled in to sleep and if I put him down, he’d cry. I began to feel like I was spending more time pumping, than I was with my baby. My boobs were hurting from the continuous pumping and no matter how hard I kept trying to get Freddie to latch, he wouldn’t which just upset me more. I decided I couldn’t do it anymore and he needed to go back to formula, so we began to combi-feed. DISASTER. I hated it and I hated it more due to Freddie rejecting the formula and throwing everything back up within seconds. I couldn’t give up, it lasted for 8hrs, I felt guilty and hated seeing him so sick; so, I began to pump again.
A few days later, my friend recommended trying a nipple shield. GAME CHANGER – FREDDIE LATCHED FIRST TIME, I WAS FINALLY BREASTFEEDING MY BABY!! I was quite lucky in that I didn’t really get any pain from feeding Freddie, but when I did on the odd occasion, the shields were fantastic for helping with the pain! As well as nipple creams! It took Freddie the best part of a week to get the hang of latching on and properly feeding but he did it and I no longer had to feed him with a bottle – only if we went out.
Although Freddie was now latching and feeding, we were still having issues which led to me being stressed and dreading every feed. I’d get so stressed out, I’d cry and shout and then cry more for shouting and was just going round and round in circles. The more stressed and upset I got, the more Freddie did too and it was such a horrible feeling, trying to feed your hungry baby, but not being able too. I was struggling and I didn’t know what to do and felt like I could’ve given up again but still, I persisted. I was lucky in that I never developed mastitis, but ladies watch out for it and get on top of it ASAP!
When a midwife came to visit, I got her to check him for tongue-tie and she was satisfied, he didn’t have one; I was NOT convinced. Call it mothers instinct or whatever, but I knew Freddie was tongue-tied, so my family nurse put us in contact with a breastfeeding specialist who came out and assessed Freddie.. the outcome? He WAS tongue-tied. We had Freddie’s tongue cut (which I promise you, isn’t as scary as it sounds!) and he began to feed, with no problems. Freddie began to latch without shields and fed well, but still struggled without them so I made the decision to carry on using them. I’m glad I did because I don’t think breastfeeding him would’ve been as easy. They do cause mess and can be fiddly but I wouldn’t have managed to breastfeed without them. I use Medela ones – Medela Nipple Shield . After getting through that, we had another hiccup. Freddie began throwing up every feed and barely keeping anything down, we were going through about 6 outfit changes a day and running out of clothes ourselves. I went back and forth to the doctors, arguing with them that it was reflux but of course, they’re the professionls and know best; not me – the mum who knows her baby better than anyone. I kept going back, until I saw a lovely doctor who took the time to check him over and listened to me, he DID have reflux and he gave me Gaviscon sachets to try. I gave Freddie them in either some water or expressed milk in a bottle and within the first feed with one, there was a huge difference.
Giving up for me was simply not an option and I’m glad I persevered because the feeling I got from knowing Freddie’s rapid weight gain was from me, and me only, was the most incredible feeling. I felt so accomplished, proud and just amazed that I had done it. The bond I gained with him, was indescribable – his big blue eyes staring up at me when he was feeding, his hand wrapped around my fingers or clinging to my top, the nuzzling on my boob, the snuggles once he’d fallen asleep on the boob and the skin-on-skin contact.. that feeling and those moments are irreplaceable and I will cherish them forever. It made me feel like a ‘mummy’, like I had finally got and done something right.
You may find, you have a crazy amount of milk in those boobies of yours and your baby just isn’t emptying them fully for you; this is where pumping/expressing comes in handy. When in hospital, I hand-expressed milk for Freddie to have (he was so small, he couldn’t latch and was only taking up to 0.5ml from a syringe at a time – I also didn’t have enough milk to be giving him feeds as it hadn’t come in yet.) Once home and my milk had come in, I used a pump and bottle fed him for the first couple of weeks until he latched. Pumping not only relieves the pain of full boobs, but it helps to keep your milk supply up by telling your body ‘she needs more, keep going.’ Pumping extra milk means you can start building up a freezer supply ready for emergencies, top-up’s, going back to work or for a day out without your little one. I recommend using an electric breast-pump as it’s quicker and I find I get more from that than what I would using a manual pump. My recommendations for pumps are: Medela Electric Swing & MAM manual . Make sure you pump regularly!
The dreaded breastfeeding in public:
I didn’t manage to breastfeed Freddie in public, around actual humans for the first time till he was 11 weeks old. I’d done it around some family members and close friends but not in a public place. We’d gone to Cotswold Wildlife Park for the day and I was determined to do it because breastfeeding was finally going so well after a really terrible start. I took a bottle of breastmilk with us, except, I made sure it wasn’t enough for a full feed so I had no choice in feeding him at some point. I was so nervous and could feel the anxiety building up inside of me whilst waiting for Freddie to wake for his feed. I had all these questions and thoughts running through my head – what if someone comes and tells me to stop? what if Freddie screams and refuses to latch? what if everyone watched me? what if people laughed? I felt sick. I knew I was being ridiculous. I couldn’t just leave my baby to cry because I was scared of a few people looking at me and so what if they did? All they were going to see was a bit of boob for a few seconds and me feeding my baby. I can guarantee as well if someone had told me to stop feeding my baby, I’d have just smiled and told them to fuck off. (I’d have probably done that, then ran for the hills knowing me!) We went and sat on some benches in a quiet area where people were walking past, children were running around excitedly and the animals were calling out. I got comfy, pulled up my top, pulled down my bra, put my shield on and put Freddie to my nipple. He latched straight away, began to feed and fed for 20 minutes. I DID IT!!!!
I felt so proud and accomplished. No one stared. No one told me to stop and Freddie latched straight away with no screaming. I had whacked my tit out and Freddie had a full tum once again. It definitely helped to see other mum’s confidently and happily feeding their babies too! Go mama’s!!
Tips/advice and how to get through those growth-spurts:
- go into breastfeeding with a positive attitude, an open-mind and be aware of how hard and draining in all aspects it may be
- have plenty of breast-pads, nipple creams – you’ll need them! & nipple shields, just in case
- get plenty of well-fitted, supportive maternity bras
- have people around you who are nothing but supportive, helpful and understanding
- be relaxed and enjoy the feeding moments between you and your baby – they’re irreplaceable and you’ll miss them when they’re gone
- have a good pump, they’re expensive but they’re worth every penny
- I found having a breastfeeding pillow so useful – Freddie loved his and still does now. Even if you’re not using it to support your baby when feeding, they’re great for your baby to lie on. Freddie went to sleep instantly on his.
- massage your boobs and have a nice hot bath often to help prevent mastitis
- keep hydrated and eat regularly – in order to feed your baby, you need to feed yourself
- keep going, don’t give up when it gets hard
- remind yourself how amazingly you’re doing because you ARE doing amazing. Keep up the good work!!
I found Freddie’s growth-spurts the hardest out of all of the problems in our journey. My boobs were sore, he was so unsettled, he didn’t want to be with anyone other than me, he was never full, I couldn’t get a minute’s peace, I didn’t sleep, I was stuck inside often because he just didn’t detach from my nipple and so much more. I didn’t know about growth spurts so was totally unprepared for them. Freddie had a massive one at 6 weeks old which lasted for a good 3 days and then another around 10 weeks. My only advice – get your favourite snacks and drinks, get comfortable, binge watch tv shows and nap to your hearts content! You’ll feel as if it is never ending, but eventually, your little person would’ve taken all it needs from you and be satisfied and will be grateful to its wonderful mama for being the best!
Thanks for reading!
Chloe – x