My Breastfeeding Journey so far

This might sound strange but I’ve never been more determined to do anything in my life other than to breastfeed. I remember pretending to breastfeed my dolls as a small child, looking forward to a time when I’d have my own real baby!

It was only when I fell pregnant, and my Instagram account began filling with ‘new mum’ content, that I realised breastfeeding might not be as easy as I imagined. I saw women struggling, they were in pain and exhausted.

I had no idea that a baby’s bad latch could cause nipple trauma leading to servere pain, the main reason women give up on breastfeeding. It turns out babies don’t automatically know how to properly latch (i.e. getting the whole areola in their mouth rather than just the nipple).

All this content worried me, so I began watching YouTube video after YouTube video on “How to Breastfeed”, thinking I’d prepared myself for what was about to come.

Unfortunately, my baby’s birth ended up in ventouse delivery (a vacuum to help get her out). This meant she was taken away from me during that first precious “golden hour”, which is believed to be vital for successful breastfeeding. The difficult delivery also meant she was very lethargic. This caused the biggest problem. She would not suck. I had worried about her having a bad latch but never considered this!

In those first 24 hours postpartum I resorted to collecting my colostrum by hand expressing and giving it to her using a syringe.

The next day, a midwife came to weigh her and gave me the bad news that she had lost 10% of her body weight. She told me I must start giving her formula. I was devastated. I burst out crying. I had read about nipple confusion so thought it was game over if she started drinking from a bottle.

Reluctantly, I gave her the formula but I continued to attempt breastfeeding. Noticing my determination, the midwives sent a lactation consultant to my bedside, who told me I: “Didn’t have an easy baby”, as even she struggled to get her to feed. She suggested I use a nipple shield to help my baby latch and to do as much skin-to-skin as possible.

In the days that followed, I put her to my breast for every feed. Sometimes it would take my husband and I one whole hour to get her to latch, and once she was on, we had to do everything we could to get her to continue sucking. It was a three man job! With the help of my husband and sister-in-law we would keep her awake by gentling pinching her shoulders, and rubbing her feet. It was exhausting.

Slowly but surely my baby’s confidence grew and after one week, she no longer needed the nipple shield. After all that effort, I didn’t want nipple pain to be a reason to give up, so each feed I would make sure she latched properly, de-latching her countless times before she would get the whole areola in her mouth.

I began exclusively feeding my baby from the breast when she was two weeks old and I am so grateful we managed! My baby and I worked as a team to get there. Those moments of bonding whilst breastfeeding are so precious. She is now four months old and a boobie pro!

If you really want to breastfeed my advice would be do not give up! It’s so worth it. If breastfeeding isn’t for you though, don’t put pressure on yourself to continue – that’s not good for you or the baby. I believe fed is best. Like all decisions surrounding our babies, it is a personal one.

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