Breast feeding Stories: A collection

For World Breastfeeding week 2021 some of our committee and service users shared their stories on social media. We have collected them into this post and hope you enjoy them.

RALA’S STORY

Rala is our Rep for North Oxfordshire

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After my daughter, E was born in 2019, in the very early days, she would latch on to the breast but she would fall asleep a lot. She lost a fair bit of her birth weight, so it seemed that she wasn’t getting quite enough milk from the breast directly alone.I was encouraged to express milk and feed it to E using a bottle. This quickly led to her preferring the bottle over the breast, which I was gutted about, though it did mean she regained her birth weight quickly.

For a while we fell into a pattern of exclusively expressing and feeding using bottles, which was exhausting. During that time, I continued to do a lot of skin to skin with E, convinced that the possibility of breastfeeding hadn’t completely dissipated. She would root around when lying skin to skin on my chest so I felt encouraged to continue but without putting any pressure on her to actually feed. After all, even if she didn’t breastfeed, lying skin to skin on the sofa with her every afternoon while I watched Mad Men was a lovely way to spend time together.

During that time, I also consistently went to the Oxfordshire Breastfeeding Support weekly sessions, where the team were incredibly knowledgeable, supportive and encouraging.Amazingly, after about 3 months of lots of skin to skin and encouragement from the team at Oxfordshire Breastfeeding Support, E started to discover breastfeeding all by herself and I started to drop expressed bottles slowly one at a time. She was 4 months old when we finally dropped the last bottle in favour of exclusive breastfeeding.

E breastfed until she was around 14 months old when we dropped the last of the night feeds after she had stopped asking for feeds and thoroughly enjoying her food.

CLAIRE’S STORY

Claire is Vice Chair of OMVP

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When I started producing colostrum at 38 weeks pregnant I will not lie, I was cocky. I mean how hard was it to breastfeed?! Plonk baby on boob, suck suck suck and done. But after my daughter was born I was…well…a little surprised it didn’t come as naturally as I thought it would.

My boobs were squishy and wouldn’t point the right way, my MASSIVE daughter was hungry but more floppy than I thought she would be (the neck flop was something I hadn’t quite factored in during antenatal classes) and she seemed to bob on and off like a yoyo (undiagnosed tongue tie it turned out) and then two days later when my poor nipples looked like a war zone, my milk came in. And boy…did it come in. When she came off mid feed I could get a 2 metre spray radius! It was like those Medieval paintings with the Madonna spraying people in the eye (I did that as well; poor husband).

Over supply sounds wonderful but is also very stressful. Coupled with a terrible latch and with my (to me) rather wimpy nipples we had blebs, Pamela Anderson style engorgement, thrush and blocked ducts which by some miracle never turned into mastitis. I had so much help and support but we just didn’t seem to get it quite right. An amazing Lactation consultant at the Abingdon Baby cafe noticed the tongue tie at 5 months when I asked how to improve our latch, but by then we had got settled into things and there was no point in correcting it. We had kept going. Grimly. I was so glad we had (my nipples less so).

She settled into it at 4 months and we had a lovely time with feeding (even coupled with a dairy and egg allergy meaning I gave up cheese for a while) and she was weaned at 14 months onto soy milk. I hadn’t reckoned on my PND kicking in at weaning however which was a shock. It makes sense now as the hormones slope off, but my body (which perversely finds estrogen depresses it) really struggled.

A year and half later and the Girls were back in action with my son. This time I knew better. I was experienced, I had Done it Before!

I never learn do I.

After being gently reminded by Alex at the IFT the day after he arrived that I was feeding a newborn not a toddler (doh!) I got him placed well. He was a hungry little beast but after two days carefully watching a LLL video on latch, I realised something wasn’t right. He just couldn’t get on deep enough and yet we were both bossing it with positioning and gape. What was wrong?

A support worker confirmed the next day; in her (unofficial) opinion we had another tongue tie. A visit, made in the depths of covid, to a private lactation consultant confirmed it and we had it corrected at 1.5 weeks. My goodness, it was so much better!

She went through correcting my over supply as well. No blebs, no engorgement, no blocks, no accidentally hosing people down at restaurants (yes I did that too 🙈).

We are weaning (sooo slowly) now and as he is my last these are my final days of feeding a baby. It is a huge mix of sadness and relief!

I feel very lucky to have breastfed both my kids to a year and over. I worked hard at it, but I know sometimes even when you work at it, it doesn’t always work out for everyone. Everyone and every baby is different; and remember, 50% of the work is done by the baby. It is a true team effort.

My advice is if you want to do it, try it for a few weeks and take it one week at a time. Don’t set yourself hard and fast goals, don’t punish yourself if it isn’t how you thought. While the nights are long at the time, you look back 6 months, 9 months, a year and suddenly it’s been so fast and you have forgotten the reality of those exhausted nights up feeding or where you puzzled over latches at 3am with a YouTube video in your hand.

LESLEY’S STORY

Lesley is a service user and one of our MVP reps
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With my second baby now 6 months old I can look back and say I have been very lucky in the breastfeeding department. Both of them took to it fine, with no real issues, and (for my first child) managed to feed right up until a nice straightforward weaning off it at around 16 months.

After our baby girls was born we were fortunate that she latched on well and did her thing. She knew what she was doing because my milk came in quite quickly. We started off with some bloody nipples but I was determined to keep going. It took months to get into our own little groove. Initially it seemed that my milk was coming in faster than what she could swallow and with the help of a breastfeeding consultant I learned that a small tweak such as leaning back could help and it did!

Before getting pregnant I wasn’t sure whether I would enjoy breastfeeding, so I told myself as long as we made it to 3 months, I’d be fine and then once we made it to 3 months, I told myself, just keep going till 6 months and here we are 9 months in and it’s become one of my favourite bonding times with her. Although we are currently working on getting her to understand that biting mommy while feeding is not OK! (any tips would be appreciated 🙂.

I really don’t think I could have done it without support from friends, the infant feeding Q&A sessions, our NCT breastfeeding consultant and learning from other families’ feeding

LAURA’S STORY

Laura is a service user and has had two babies in Oxfordshire
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With my second baby now 6 months old I can look back and say I have been very lucky in the breastfeeding department. Both of them took to it fine, with no real issues, and (for my first child) managed to feed right up until a nice straightforward weaning off it at around 16 months.

But, much like childbirth, even the ‘straightforward’ cases can have their tricky bits, which no-one really warns you about. For me, these were mostly over the first two weeks or so, for both children.
Both did that miraculous thing a couple of minutes after birth, where they scoot towards your nipple like a baby turtle making for the sea, somehow knowing exactly what to do. But for a couple of days after that, there was still the worry of ‘are they latching ok?’ ‘ Are they getting enough?’

The thing that really helped me in both cases was expressing colostrum in the couple of weeks before giving birth- although it’s not necessary, it gave me the confidence of how to express, (I think) made my milk supply come in quicker, and meant I had a back-up in syringes if needed, if feeding was difficult for any reason. And, as mentioned, the first couple of weeks were hard, especially with the first one, where all the challenges came as a big shock. For the second, the challenges were mostly the same, but at least I knew to expect them, and that they would pass relatively quickly. But the first couple of weeks were dogged by:


• Cluster feeding – This was probably the biggest shock with my first, that no-one warned me about. Childbirth classes and books tend to say new born baby will feed for a while, then doze, then be awake for a bit, on roughly a 3 hour cycle. No-one warned me that baby may want to feed NONSTOP from around 6pm to 2am for the first couple of weeks, and scream whenever I tried to take her off. Although, as with anything, talking to my friends with babies about it afterwards showed that it was completely normal. In fact I was lucky it wasn’t from 10pm to 6am. The problem that came with cluster feeding was reflux. Baby had a sore tummy from reflux, so wanted to suck for comfort, which then made her sicker cos her tummy was already so full! Noone could give me an answer as to whether it was best to let her feed or try and stop her in this scenario, so I went for somewhere in the middle

.• Engorgement- around day 5 when your boobs are sooooo full it feels like they might explode- a regime of (some slightly strange) actions like hot showers, expressing (just a bit), combing and vibrating (with an electric toothbrush) helped with this, but still not fun. But, it only lasted a couple of days, and you do get to take a picture of yourself looking like Pamela Anderson.

• Sore nipples – with my first, everyone said that if your nipples hurt, they weren’t latched right. So we went to various breastfeeding classes, to generally be told the latch looked fine. After a while, i decided it was just because my boobs weren’t used to being chomped on for 12 hours a day- Lanolin was helpful while they adapted.


And around 2 weeks after giving birth, it all started getting much easier. Touch wood, I have avoided the other nasties like mastitis and milk blisters and if you can get through the inconvenience of the first few weeks, breastfeeding just strikes me as so much easier than bottles. I am not particularly wedded to breastfeeding as a philosophy though, and will be happy in a few months’ time when my youngest one is ready to come off, to get that feeling of having my body back, but in the meantime, I am enjoying the convenience and closeness that it brings.

JESS’ STORY

Jess is a recent service user and has one three year old and a newborn

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I’ve never enjoyed celebrating breast feeding week, mainly because my feeding journey with Samuel was so traumatising at the time but, I’ve come to realise that every single mum has a story to tell when it comes to breast feeding. It takes a lot of time, energy, commitment and emotion to breast feed. Women should be celebrated for it 💗
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My first experience breast feeding: Like any new mum, you want the ‘best’ for your baby and you’re told that breast feeding is best. So I went into it knowing absolutely nothing! I had no idea how a baby should latch. I had no idea that you have to feed the baby every time it cries or fusses.

I was engorged and miserable as well as recovering from a heavy blood loss during labour. I also felt shame feeding him in public, so I’d hide in a feeding room with nothing but four walls to keep me company. There’s no surprise that Samuel ended up on formula (combi fed) after 6 weeks of him constantly losing weight. I felt like a failure and the guilt I felt consumed me. I can remember crying in the shower every morning feeling a bit lost and overwhelmed by it all.

Fast forward 3 years and my breast feeding journey with Molly is such a joy and a totally different experience all together! I’ve felt more relaxed and I’ve had the confidence to take ownership of it. I’ve even whopped a boob out in public which I never did with Samuel 🥰. I feed her when she’s hungry, when she’s worried and when she just needs comforting. She’s gaining weight and she’s content.

Most importantly, My amazing friends have been such a great support – encouraging me when I’ve doubted myself and telling me what a great job I am doing.
The following are what I consider your “breast buddies” during those first weeks of breast feeding (and beyond!).

Lansinoh nipple balm (heaaaaven).
Cabbage leaves (heaaaaven).
SUPPORT: A bunch of friends offering invaluable advice and encouragement – this is so important!
Nursing bras/ tops
Nursing pillow
Talking to your baby, keeping calm and taking your time with the latch (CHIN).
You can’t over feed your baby- feed as often as you like. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. You can’t over feed a breast fed baby nor can you “spoil them.” It also helps with engorgement 😅
Feed in public with other mums!- the more you do it the easier and less awkward it becomes.
Seeking advice from local breast feeding support groups- I didn’t even know about lactation consultants 3 years ago!!

And most importantly…. If it doesn’t work out, PLEASE don’t beat yourself up. As long as your baby is happy and healthy and you are happy- then it’s a job well done! 🙂

BETH’S STORY

Beth is our community rep and has had 4 children

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Our four girls have all been breastfed, it’s been fairly straightforward for me and one of my favorite parts of parenting.

I’m a breastfeeding counselor so I totally understand that breastfeeding is not always straightforward and there can be many bumps in the road to overcome. But I think it’s important to share that for some people, once you and baby have worked through any early issues, it can be a hugely positive experience.

It’s been 11 years since I had my first baby and I was fortunate to be surrounded by family who had breastfed who supported me greatly as we worked out breastfeeding. Every day before my husband went to work, he would bring me a tray of water and snacks to get me through those hours of snuggling up on the sofa together; that was so helpful!

My best pieces of advice after 4 babies is loads of skin to skin and feed feed feed!


Reach out for support if you need it. On the National Breastfeeding Helpline, we get hundreds of calls from new parents (including partners, grandparents, friends etc) and often just talking something through or getting one piece of vital info can make all the difference.

National Breastfeeding helpline: 0300 100 0212

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