First Time Mum: The Breast Feeding Post

This week I’m away in Barcelona and then next week we’re celebrating my Brother-in-laws wedding in the peaks, so I’m running a reduced schedule here with posts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Today I hope you’ll give Becky a warm welcome back with a personal and in-depth insight into her breast feeding journey. I’d love you all to chip in and add your comments as I’m sure many of you will identify with her struggle, or relish the opportunity to read more about breastfeeding in readiness for attempting it yourself.

Hi everyone, I hope this finds you all well. Firstly I’d like to apologise for my absence……it’s been so long it’s embarrassing. Connie is unbelievably 16 months old now. Since my last post, and in addition to surviving my first year as a Mum, we also moved house to a completely new area and into a house that’s a bit of a project. I also returned to work, and made some rather enormous changes to my work life. It’s been non stop and unfortunately my writing time diminished as Connie started eating solids and became mobile. It’s funny that I now look back with longing at those endless hours of feeding.


Image via

I’ve attempted to write this post on a number of occasions but I’ve found it incredibly tough to tackle. Maybe that’s because breast feeding is such an emotive subject. I stopped feeding Connie myself a few weeks ago which has spurred me on to finish writing this post that I started in the early months of her life. It’s certainly been a turbulent journey which I found limited support for along the way. I hope that if I share my story here, some of you will also share your own stories in the comments box and between us all, we might be able to cover most problems for anyone that might be struggling and stumbles across this post late at night, in the dark, with only a hungry baby and Google for company.

When I was pregnant I had always had the intention of breastfeeding but never assumed it would be easy or come naturally to me. I certainly wasn’t prepared however for the tough and emotional journey I was about to embark upon. Most ante natal information focuses on the act of giving birth. Not surprising really as when you’re pregnant it’s hard to think beyond the delivery room. I did attend a couple of feeding workshops late on in my pregnancy but neither of them taught me anything that I remembered or used post natally.

I had a pretty straightforward birth. I had to go into theatre straight after but had time to feed Connie for the first time beforehand. It was all such a blur. The midwives helped position her and that was that. We stayed in hospital for another 36hrs but once I was up and about, the midwives and I seemed to think feeding was going fine so we were allowed home. Once she’d slept off the birth and we were home alone, Connie became an incredibly unsettled baby. She wanted to feed 24/7. She hardly slept, even on me. I kept asking if there was something wrong. Everyone brushed it off as normal newborn behaviour so I just persevered and became more and more sleep deprived. Surely not all babies screamed that much? A few days in, one midwife suggested she may have a tongue tie but another dismissed it altogether. We were referred and waited for a month to see a specialist. During that month I battled on with the constant feeding and we did everything in our power to settle our screaming baby. The knowledge that an answer might be on the horizon was enough to keep me breastfeeding. A month later, her posterior tongue tie was diagnosed and cut by a specialist midwife. It was a quick and simple procedure and I immediately noticed a small improvement in her feeding. Two weeks later life had got a little easier but I still had my doubts that our problems had been solved.


Miranda Kerr announced the birth of her child with Orlando Bloom using this picture, via Twitter.

Connie’s weight gain was very slow. Slow enough for the health visitors to question and put huge doubts in my mind whether I was doing the right thing continuing to breastfeed. The trouble is, the Health Visitors I saw seemed so programmed to support breastfeeding that I wasn’t sure if they’d ever actually voice any other opinion. Every week I questioned whether I should give up and switch to bottle feeding. Life certainly would have been easier but there are historic health reasons in our families which made me want to breastfeed for as long as I physically could. Not to mention that by this point, I had no idea how else I would settle her. Every week, there seemed to be a new glimmer of hope on the horizon which kept me going and feeding for another week.

A couple of weeks after her tongue tie was cut, her weight did start to increase but it was very slow. At her 8 week check the GP actually used the words ‘failure to thrive’ discussing Connie with a paediatrician over the telephone. I hit rock bottom but my GP was amazing and couldn’t have been any more supportive of me and my attempts at feeding. We were referred to the paediatrician but were advised there would be a long wait as albeit very slowly, Connie was still gaining weight. I went home deflated but thankfully the support of my GP spurred me on and I continued to feed with the addition of a formula top up at night. Everyone told us she would sleep for a little longer and be easier to settle at night with the top up. Sadly it made no difference at all. There were so many nights that I lost count of the number of times I got up to feed and settle her. Whilst waiting for the paediatrician appointment, I continued to look for answers and attended all sorts of breastfeeding clinics and groups to gather as much information and help as possible. Finally, at around 10 weeks old, Connie was diagnosed with silent reflux by a midwife at a breastfeeding clinic who’d watched an entire feed and her behaviour afterwards. Reflux is like heartburn for babies and is pretty common and easily spotted as the babies are often sick a lot. Silent reflux is the heartburn but without the vomiting so far less easy to spot. It was a lightbulb moment. I felt ecstactic that we’d finally found the root of the problem, devastated that my poor baby had been in pain for all of that time, and completely let down by all of the professionals we’d sought help from. We immediately bought a wedge for her cot and the changing mat and swapped the carrycot part of the pram to ensure she was never laid flat. I kept her upright for 30 minutes after every feed and we were given infant gaviscon (which turns out is a total nightmare to administer to a breastfed baby) but the positioning made all the difference for us. It was like someone had swapped my baby.

I’d originally planned to feed for 6 months but as it took almost 4 months for feeding to become a totally relaxed, pain and stress free experience for us both, I wasn’t ready to stop at 6 months. It certainly wasn’t plain sailing from then on. We still had ups and downs such as the appearance of teeth and biting (ouch!), the nosey phase – when she was far too interested in the world going by to feed during the day but made up for it at night, and the Peepo phase – when emerging from behind the muslin I had draped over her and me whilst feeding in public became a hilarious game for her and terribly embarrassing for me. The final hurdle to tackle was when I made the decision that I really did want to stop. There’s very little information and guidance on how to stop but I expect that’s mainly because all babies are different and somehow, you will find a way that works for you. I found this useful though.

So, here are the bullet points that I’ve made during my journey of things that affected me which I felt might be beneficial to share:

Calories – Put losing your baby weight to the back of your mind and eat. Every cup of tea you drink should come with two biscuits. I was constantly hungry and I took a tray of snacks and a flask of hot tea to bed to keep me going during night feeds.

Growth spurts – these happen very regularly – get comfy on the sofa and rope in as much help as you possibly can at home.

Undersupply – as a result of Connie’s weak latch from her tongue tie and associated upper lip tie, I was told by the midwife it was likely that the milk transfer was poor and therefore my supply wasn’t stimulated enough. I ate copious amounts of porridge and flapjack (for the oats), drank alcohol free beer (for the brewers yeast) and fennel tea (which I’d read might relieve her reflux). During one growth spurt which coincided with some very long days at work when she was at nursery, I even made these lactation cookies. I also took between 9 and 12 fenugreek tablets (610mg) a day as advised by a lactation specialist midwife. NB. Please be sure to consult a medical professional before using any herbal remedies.

Blocked Ducts & Mastitis – unpleasant all round.

Expressing – I hated doing it and never got on with my breast pump. I also had a baby who wanted to feed all the time so had very little time to do it and get a decent yield. I accepted quite early on that I was one of many women who struggled to express. This doesn’t mean you don’t have enough milk to feed your baby.

Medication – unfortunately it’s highly likely you will be ill at some point whilst you’re breastfeeding. I found these medicine and breastfeeding fact sheets invaluable.

Feeding safely in bed – ask a midwife to show you how to feed your newborn safely in bed. I was shown about a week in and just the knowledge that i could rest whilst feeding was enough to drastically reduce my fear of the early sleepless nights.

And most importantly, where I went for help and advice:

  • The National Breastfeeding Helpline – 0300 100 0212
  • The National Breastfeeding Network.
  • Your local La Leche league.
  • The NCT breast feeding support line – 0300 33 00 771
  • Local NCT breast feeding counsellors.
  • Your local Sure Start centre will have a weekly group meet.
  • The hospitals in your area will usually offer a weekly drop in support group.
  • There are many websites you might stumble upon from a google search but I can’t recommend the Kellymom website highly enough. Don’t be put off that it’s an American site. It has the answer to every question you might have, no matter how strange or stupid you think it is. Every topic covered is backed up by factual evidence too.
  • A local ILCA registered lactation consultant.
  • Milk Matters – a great resource for breast and bottle fed babies with feeding problems.
  • Facebook – you will find numerous groups based on feeding and also problems such as tongue tie, colic etc. I joined a few to begin with and then once I’d got a feel for the type of group either remained a member or removed myself as I found some of them a bit too full on.

It may be a cliche but despite being one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, it has also been the most rewarding and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

I know each of us will have been on a very different feeding journey and I’m sure you can all add something to help any new Mum or Mum to be who might be reading this post.
I can’t wait for you all to get stuck in with your comments and to hear how you’re all progressing with your own baby journey’s.

If you would like to read another breast feeding story, Esme (who writes our family lifestyle posts) also wrote an honest account of her breastfeeding journey here.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

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42 thoughts on “First Time Mum: The Breast Feeding Post

  1. My little boy had silent reflux symptoms too which turned out to be a dairy and soy allergy. Those first few weeks are crazy enough anyway without that kind of nonsense! I was amazed at the lack of support from health professionals. They were constantly contradicting each other and offered very little actual information or support. After a parade of midwives and maternity support workers insisting nothing was wrong and urged me to feed feed feed , I went to a GP who told me it was a lactose intolerance (it was actually CMP and soy as it turned out) and urged me to stop breastfeeding together. I managed to eliminate soy and dairy from my diet completely and am still breastfeeding now at 9 months. His intolerances started to ease up at 6 months and are much better now (I can actually eat small amounts if cheese again….). However I have wanted to stop breastfeeding a couple of months ago and have had no support or advice….out in the information wilderness again!

    • Would hasten to add that my care otherwise has been great- just seems to be a black hole around breastfeeding if you don’t have a straightforward experience. Don’t want this to turn into NHS bashing as we’ve had great support on sleep and other issues! Glad Connie’s issues got sorted B. X

    • Serious respect Penny. I attempted to give up dairy for 2 wks to eliminate an allergy problem. It was a nightmare….everything contains some sort of dairy. Doing that for 9 months is dedication x

  2. Fabulous post Becky. I know a mum whose little boy had silent reflux – your story is identical to hers and silent reflux is something very few people have heard of or know about but I’m glad your daughter is thriving. I loved breastfeeding my daughter, she stopped last month and I had no idea of the mix of emotions I would feel – will our bond diminish, does she need me less etc, it was a very strange time. I do wish antenatal classes could cover breastfeeding in more detail, I know time and money are tight but i know I for one would have benefitted

  3. I’ve had amazing support from midwives/health visitors/bf counsellors but am just expressing now because of latching problems. I find expressing relatively easy so I guess it’s another thing that’s different for everyone!

    Sitting in my hospital bed just after giving birth and really struggling, I got really upset before reminding myself I was so lucky to have a baby. I think there is a lot of pressure (often from other Mums I found) but its a personal decision that others shouldn’t comment on (yet they do!).

    We also give Max formula and again, I won’t feel bad about it as I don’t have enough milk and I’m not ashamed to say it!

    No-one should ever feel about how they feed their baby (unless, you know, they’re giving them gin).

    I’ve gone off on a tangent but great post Becky x

  4. There are so many terrible bf myths. The worst is frequent feeding means you don’t have enough milk. It’s not normal newborn baby behaviour to be on a 3 hour feeding schedule. It baby is gaining weight, content after feeds and meeting milestone, plenty of wet and dirty nappies then don’t worry- unfortunately for mums trying to bf, a lot of people who didn’t bf tend to advise oh don’t worry we ff and are fine, and I couldn’t make enough milk either. I’ve now been bf my daughter for 15 months despite some tough challenges- it’s worth it! Since starting nursery it’s been germ city here but my milk has kept her hydrated and nourished during a particularly nasty tummy bug where she refused water and solids for a whole week- without bf she would have been admitted to hospital. It’s also a wonder cure for grumpy teething etc. the important thing to remember is it does get easier. As with all things children related phases pass and things change quickly even if you don’t believe it at the time. I don’t think it’s the end of the world if you do formula feed- we are lucky to have a perfectly adequate alternative, but I feel strongly that if you do want to succeed at bf you know you can! Your milk will be enough- follow your babies lead and feed on demand and your supply will grow according to your babies needs. Oh and la Leche league are amazing! I would recommend all pregnant women find their local bf support groups and try and go along in those early days- their help is amazing!

    • 15 months is amazing Holly – well done you and your little one!

      Just – and I hope you don’t take offence – please do be mindful of your wording, as “but I feel strongly that if you do want to succeed at bf you know you can” is dismissive of those parents who gave exclusive breastfeeding their EVERYTHING and for whom it simply did not work.

      I adore breastfeeding, I’ve had (and still have) an impossibly lovely and lucky feeding journey with my 13 month old, but I cannot condone the ‘everyone can make it work’ philosophy. It’s damaging and simply not factually correct.

      How lucky we are that we live in a time and place where our babies cannot starve. We should never forget that.

      • True, I should clarify that some do have milk problems but it is a less common problem than people think, and there is a lot of people that will criticise a bf journey. I think if you bf or ff you come up against criticism and judgement, and I personally despite bf have no issues with those who ff- at the end of the day if you feed and love your baby nothing else matters! I think I worded it badly, but typed quickly with a demanding toddler running around, but I meant that if you really do want to bf then there is a lot of support out there and a high chance you can do it, it may not be plain sailing but its certainly possible with the right support. Sorry for any offence- I certainly didn’t intend any. I have struggled with a severe lack of support in my bf journey- from health care professionals, friends and now my daughter is over 1 family, and I know others have felt the same. I wouldn’t want any other mothers to feel unsupported with their feeding choices. x

  5. I didn’t make enough milk, we are part formula feeding and are fine.

    For us it wasn’t a myth, my baby ended up in the nicu with blood sugar issues because I wasn’t producing enough.

    I have to say that the belief by some that this is the easy way out or is a result of just not trying hard enough is what made it hard for me.

    I really wanted to succeed but I couldn’t, despite the help of several professionals who in the end advised me to stop.

    But even if I had just stopped trying, that’s ok too. I don’t think it’s a badge of honour to struggle on regardless. And some challenges are insurmountable.

    • Agree with you wholeheartedly there, Fee. Poor milk flow is a very real thing and to claim otherwise risks unbalancing vulnerable new mums. I breastfeed Ellie with relative ease now but found the first two weeks difficult. I would never equate that with the struggle of mums who try everything they can and still can’t do it despite everything . It belittles their experience.

      I know the NHS can be very ‘breastfeeding is the Messiah’ but as you explain there are plenty of other breastfeeding professionals who will be more objective.

  6. Really interesting to read this, Becky – we had a relatively easy breastfeeding start but even so it was still tough going for a few weeks. Now L is almost a year and for the most part I can say I’ve really enjoyed it.

    I’d be really interested in hearing about how you stopped breastfeeding – I was planning on giving up once L is over a year but really struggling to find any helpful info. It all seems to be either “go cold turkey”, which seems a bit harsh on her, or “don’t give up, it’s so selfish!”

    xx

    • It’s hard to remember exactly how I did it and it was only a few months ago! Connie has always taken a bottle so in terms of replacing feed for feed, that was relatively easy for us. The hard part was the comfort side of bf. I gradually dropped feeds working from my own level of boob comfort rather than anything else. If i was uncomfortable, I would feed her myself, if not, I offered her milk in a cup. Apart from night wakes, the morning feed was the last to go. I think my supply just gradually dried up. Towards the end, I was going every other day without feeding her myself, then it became 3 days, 5 days, then a week. I suppose I was doing a bit of the ‘don’t offer, don’t refuse’ theory. There have been a few occasions when she’s clearly wanted boob since, only once was I not able to distract her so I offered but it wasn’t long before she realised there wasn’t anything left.

      Since giving up, I’ve met a Mum who told me how she did it and I think it sounds like the most sensible thing I’ve heard yet. She worked on the basis of dropping one feed at a time and replacing that feed with milk in a sippy cup. Although at first, her son refused the sippy cup, she was firm and insistent that he took at least the first sip from the cup. After that, she let him bf for as long as he wanted. He quickly learnt that taking the milk fro. The cup was easier and as he gradually took more milk from the cup, her supply gradually reduced too.

  7. Hello Becky, great post & just what I would have been looking for. I wish when I was pregnant that I’d asked friends quite what was difficult. I expected pain but not a baby who didn’t latch/fell asleep in the breast. If you’re having problems say – suddenly all these people will come out & share their BF struggles. I learnt so many tips for waking a sleeping baby that way. Also try in the fog to be clear. I kept saying BF was difficult, infact I should have said impossible.
    We got there. Through an Independent MW, more just great to have one person each visit. Bottle feeding (formula & expressed) & nipple shields were our way to BF, and a great breast pump (thank you my sister for giving me her old one so we just started straight when home having used a hospital one.) The purpose of colostrum apparently is partly to teach the baby to suck, as I expressed that Alice didn’t learn it. I was told if you lose too much blood & have low iron that affects your milk supply.
    I also had a slow weight gain through not enough milk. I fed from both breast each feed to increase it & drank Neal’s Yard lactation tea.
    I have loved BF & feel very lucky to have managed it. At the time when it’s not working it feels like time is running out but you do have time.
    The support is out there but you have to look. The hospital BF support was lovely but works Monday-Friday, gave birth on a Saturday. The MW were all lovely but each has their own theory so it’s not consistent advice. I’ve loved the BF group at our local Children’s Centre. Such great support at the start, then when Alice lost weight, to help with weaning.

    (I hope this makes sense & isn’t too much of a waffle I’m unable to read it through on my phone!)
    Great post x

    • I never knew that about iron levels. I lost 1l of blood in labour so that would possibly explain why I never felt like my milk properly came in. Another reason to pack a bar of dark chocolate in your hospital bag!

      I also didn’t know Neal’s yard did tea…. one to add to the list thank you.

      You’ve also reminded me about Switch Feeding……something the midwife told me about and I did very regularly to boost my supply. I’d feed for one let down on one side and then swap her to the other side for another let down, then keep swapping like that until she’d finished. She always fed for at least half an hour so there was never any worry that feeding her that way would mean she didn’t get any hindmilk. I found doing that for every feed over a 48hr period was the easiest way to boost my supply.

  8. I think this is a really great post. My breastfeeding experience has been relatively straightforward. We did have some issues in the early days as baby kept falling asleep during feeds – we found gently blowing on her and tickling her feet kept her awake long enough to feed however I wished I had known that during the first difficult days.

  9. I just want to add my voice to the interesting comments here. I actually think there is a lot of information out there if you know where to look – unfortunately a lot of what is written about breastfeeding focuses on how hard it is. I do worry that this may put some people off trying in the first place. I also find it hard to say actually, for me it was easy – because I think I am going to make people who struggle feel bad about it. So I end up feeling bad for having had a lot of success with it! I think it is a combination of being lucky that my baby was always a very efficient feeder, having just seen my sister breastfeed her baby for a year, and not minding at all that my baby relied solely on me for sustenance.
    You do need to be prepared for your baby to feed, like, all the time.
    At first feeds didn’t take long but I would put him back on the breast as often as I could. It took a week for my milk to come in as I was anaemic and in that time he lost 10% of his body weight. As soon as my milk came in he started to regain and I think it only took about 4 days to get back up to birth weight. From then on it was smooth sailing, until he was 4 months old he fed and slept well, and was so big that I felt comfortable leaving him to sleep at night for 5/6 hour stretches. At 4 months he had a sleep regression which didn’t really end until he was around 12 months old! For various reasons (laziness being one of them) I didn’t night wean until Christmas (14 months) and we continue to cosleep now at 17 months. I still feed him at bedtime, it’s very nice and relaxing for us both and helps him go to sleep quite easily (most nights). It has been great when he has had bugs etc for instance at 11 months he had a suspected urine infection, I was able to breastfeed him in the hospital to encourage him to produce a wee. There are lots of benefits to breastfeeding for the baby and for the mother too. Now we are at the stage where it provides him with a great deal of comfort rather than being essential for his health/nutrition it has continued for longer than I had planned but I am happy to continue until either one of us has had enough.
    ps. We did go through a biting stage at Christmas which was excruciatingly painful and I did cry but it was just a phase thankfully!

  10. I breastfed my little boy for the first 4 weeks. It was agony, and I got to the point where I would dread feeding him, and found myself trying to make him wait longer for food then cry when he did feed. I got help with technique, but it was still so painful. I felt so pressured to bf by other mums, antenatal groups and midwives, the midwife even refused to let me leave hospital until she saw me breastfeed my baby for at least 15 minutes. It makes me sad even thinking about that time. I wasn’t bonding with my baby, I was starting to resent him. Until finally, when we had to go back to hospital because my son hadn’t been drinking enough milk, a kind nurse said “I know we’re supposed to be a ‘breast is best’ hospital, but it really doesn’t matter how your baby is fed, aslong as he’s happy and you’re happy, so try him on a bottle and don’t feel guilty”. I went home and took her advice, and never looked back. It wasn’t an easy decision, but It took the pressure off me, and he was so much more content. I will always tell new mums to do what’s best for both themselves and their babies, breast milk is great but formula milk isn’t some kind of poison either.

      • Hi Becky,

        Thank you so much for sharing that, I can totally relate to it what she says, what a fab post!!

        I remember trying to get to grips with being a new mum, and battling with the guilt of wanting to ‘give up’ breastfeeding. It was tough. But now, six months have passed and me and the little man are great! I know I made the right decision for us, the only time i’ve ever felt ashamed, was when a random stranger in the street asked if I was breastfeeding…I lied and told her I had breastfed him for longer than I really did. I wasn’t ashamed that I don’t breastfeed him, I was ashamed at myself for lying. I vowed from that moment to own my decision, and not give a hoot what people think! 🙂

  11. I’m actually in awe of all of you and your sensible approaches to breast feeding, whether you found it straight forward or not. Rebecca very kindly put a link to my blog so you can read all about my experience there if you’d like, so I won’t go into it. What I will say is that, for me, breast feeding was the hardest thing I have ever done and I wish now (6 months after stopping when F was 5 months) that I had been more like these guys rather than feeling like I had failed. It felt like I had to breast feed because that’s what mothers ‘like me’ did. But that is complete bollocks.

  12. I wish there was some advice on stopping breastfeeding. I’m 14 months in and there is no sign of my daughter making the decision for herself so I’m going to have to cut her off somehow – I just don’t know how mentally or physically. We’re down to two feeds a day (morning and night). I go through phases of thinking I’ve had enough and then she gets ill or my hormones take a spike and I can’t imagine stopping. It was hard enough to get started.

      • I stopped a month ago (E was13 months) and too looked everywhere for advice for a mentally pain free way of weaning and found nothing. Everywhere said babies will not self wean before the age of two. In the end we were on a morning and bedtime feed and I just stopped offering the breast and offered a cup of milk instead (she has always refused a bottle). It must have been the right time for us as she didn’t fuss at all really and bedtimes have actually got so much easier. I feared I would go into mourning for our time together but of course that was silly as we still have exactly the same amount of time together, she’s just not clamped to my boob!

        Good luck with finding a way to stop feeding that works for both of you x

    • I’ve replied to Em above with how I came to stop by it was by no means a quick process. It happened over months so I’m not sure if you’d have to go a bit more ‘cold turkey’ for a quicker result. I constantly struggled with the ‘am I really ready to stop?’ until a friend pointed out that I’d miss it just the same, no matter what age she bf until.

      One huge positive for us since I’ve stopped feeding is that she’s settled into nursery now beautifully and loves going and I really don’t think that’s just a coincidence with the timing.

  13. Oh, so taking a deep breath before posting this. I began breast feeding my daughter, not really through choice but because I had left it late to sort out bottles etc as she surprised us a few weeks early. It was so hard to start with, and we had to feed her expressed milk through a syringe but I was so determined to make it work as I felt I had failed her by having a n emergency c section. 3 months in she is putting on tons of weight- so much so the health visitor asked me if I was topping up which I’m not . I’m pleased I persevered but if I’m bring really honest I do it for her, not because I’m really enjoying it. Some feeds I love, those soft snuggly ones, and I know I will miss those. But, also part if me really doesn’t like it and can’t wait to have my body back. My aim is to get to 4 months then try combination feeding. Everybody’s feeding experience is different, and I wish there was more support out there for all feeding options – starting / stopping etc

    • It took me until about 4 months to not hate feeding. I thought I’d go until 6 months and then stop but I just kept going. A happy Mum is vital to a happy baby so do what you need to do.

    • Thanks for sharing this Sharon. I think you might like to read the post I’ve linked to in my reply to Gemma B. Good luck with the next step of your journey and finding what suits you and makes you happy x

  14. This is a great post Becky, well done you for reliving it all, I’m sure your experiences will help many people. I agree with the person above who said the only posts mums tend to write about bf are people who found it hard. I guess that’s because all the official information the nhs/nct etc provide indicates the exact opposite and the reality is that it is hard for a lot (not the majority?) of mums. I know reading these posts might make those mums who are finding it ok feel bad or it might even put some mums off trying, but sharing is invaluable for those who are having or have had a hard time.

    I agree with Penny, it seems like the NHS for all its glorious positives only knows how to offer breastfeeding advice in straightforward cases and in most other cases they don’t present a united front.

    I think the best thing to come out of this post is that there is a wealth of local free support if you know where to look and that you shouldn’t wait to ask for it. Failing that there are also private options for paid breastfeeding support if you need/can afford it.

  15. Everyday I have a breastfeeding dilemma. My little girl is 4.5 months old and totally addicted. She won’t take a bottle or a dummy so she is always attached to me. The best advice someone have to me was ‘never give up on a bad day’ this has really spurred me on because it’s only on the bad days that I want to give up.

    Of course I would love my body back, my wardrobe back and to wear a normal bra again (!!!) but I know this will all come and I really need and want to treasure this amazing time with her.

    Roll on weaning and maybe she’ll give me a bit of a break.

    Great post!

    Sx

  16. Thank you everyone for all of your comments. I intend to try breast feeding our baby when he or she arrives but I’m planning with an open mind. It’s great to read this with both my future mum and health professional hats on.

    Having watched many friends and patients breast feed I already know it may not be easy and may be bloody difficult, but fortunately I know people who have also found it more straightforward, so I feel it is very much luck of the draw how it works for me. Personally I prefer to be prepared so I like to read about people’s experiences either way, I always think if you are told something is bad and you are prepared it’s never as bad as you thought it would be! (But I know for some people that would just psych them out and cause undue worry.) what I do know is that (on the whole,) those women who bottle feed are usually more relaxed and the baby sleeping better etc at the 6-8 week check when I see them, but that is early for people to have established BF well so it doesn’t make me think it is inferior in anyway, it just confirms to me that it probably won’t be easy!

    With my GP hat on, I would admit that our BF advice is poor – in all honesty it’s not something we are taught anything about and anything I can offer is as a result of friends experience. At the end of the day although the GP is somewhere people can and do frequently go for emotional or non-medical support, really it’s where there is a medical issue like reflux or lactose intolerance that we can try to help. What I do wish us that there was better support from the wider health service for BF, (as it’s us who most often encourage it,) but I don’t believe it can be consistent as there just isn’t a one size fits all approach. What we do all have access to though and should be recommending are all the resources Becky listed above..

    Lastly, although I do encourage BF, I do also believe it’s not right for everyone. I’d encourage mums to be honest with the people they seek advice from, even if it’s friends or family. I often think women are seeking ‘permission ‘ from a health professional to stop breast feeding, and I often I feel that would be better for them, but I always have to be careful not to make them feel undermined or unsupported. It would be a lot easier iif people said they wanted to stop or carry on , but I understand that making that distinction in the face of social pressures and hormones and maternal instinct is not always clear either! Personally I wouldn’t hesitate to top up with formula, and I don’t judge those who end up formula feeding either. In my eyes it is much better to have a happy mum. Happy mum = happy baby.

    Thanks for getting the conversation started Becky x

    • I’m loving this post. Feeding both my babies was such a different experience for me, I’ve done both ff and bf and a lifetime of expressing.

      The advice I would offer is although midwives and health visitors have professional and personal experience and knowledge they don’t specialise in making milk/lactation etc

      An IBCLC is someone who’s job is to get babies feeding, seek one out (la leche league are a great source of info).
      http://www.lcgb.org/consultants_local.html

      It changed my life seeing my IBCLC and I wish I had done the same when my first was born.

      Best of luck, I do miss nursing my Lily I adored breastfeeding x

  17. Thanks everyone for sharing your stories. I know how difficult it is to put it down in black and white for some of you.

    Seeing these beautiful photos of these women that Rebecca has used to illustrate my post has made me realise I have no photos of me feeding Connie. Something I did for 15 months and not one image. I suppose it’s not PC to photograph a woman feeding unless you’ve been specifically asked to do it. Anyway enough rambling, but if you’re still feeding, or intending to feed, make sure you capture that moment please. Oh to have looked even half as good as Miranda Kerr!

    • This is why second time round I have an encyclopedia of me with me mamms out, feeding Lily. First time round I think I have one rather shaky selfie. It’s beautiful to look back on but the memories are more important x

  18. It’s a bit late but I wanted to add a positive story from having had 2 babies. I struggled so hard breastfeeding my first – poor latch, non-existant care in hospital, inconsistent and contradictory advice in the community, being made to attend clinics all over the county every 3 days to have her weighed (whilst also being told to rest lots!). It was horrible and made me feel like a failure as a woman and mother. Even now when I think back to.that time my tummmy starts to churn. I finally gave up at 4 months and once the emotions had begun to subside I slowly began to feel like a different person and started to enjoy my baby. But then with my second, despite me still having no clue and having to go to theatre before I could try to feed her, as soon as I offered her my boob she latched on perfectly and we never had any problems. Some long feeds, some short feeds, some cluster feeding, no up all night feeding. It was wonderful! So my point is not to be insufferably smug but to say to anyone like me who was worried about feeding a second after having to ff a first, and with no statistical basis, I strongly suspect that the baby plays a significant role and your experiences with your first may not matter with your second.

  19. First time round I felt I failed at bfing. Heartbroken and with a fresh determination when William was 6 weeks old I sought the help I needed to relactate and get him back on the boob. I managed to express for a further six weeks and his bedtime bottle was expressed milk – I was beyond pleased with myself! It was hard work but worth it.

    Second time round, and armed with experience and knowledge of low supply (I’m a BFAR mama – breast feeding after reduction surgery) I knew the challenge I faced and with a shed load of domperidone, fenugreek, blessed thistle, water by the bucket load and an amazing la leche league leader in HK I managed to nurse for ten months! Some nights she would latch on every hour on the hour, during the day she fed every 45 mins, and even at ten months old she fed every two hours. In western culture where we put our babies on schedules and sleep train them, this feeding behaviour might have rattled me, but i went back to basics. I co slept because biologically it was the only right choice to make with her constant feeding. I carried her in a wrap because with an 18 month old William to run around after I needed my hands free, I ate like a beast and gained weight because that’s what I had to do to cope with the demands both my little ones had on me.

    Breast feeding comes so easily to some, and for others it’s a constant slog, and for me it was a slog but it was what I wanted, and even though she stopped at ten months, I kept offering myself to her, longing for her to take my milk and drink until she turns 4 years old but sadly that was that, and at 17 months old she looks at my boobs on the shower now, points at them and says “BLEURGH!”

    See how quickly they forget?!

  20. Long time lurker here (Rebecca, I tracked you down after you left RMW!). But this post really spoke to me so I had to comment. I have a lovely 6-month old daughter who also had silent reflux, which was finally diagnosed at 3 weeks. Definitely the longest 3 weeks of my life! It was such a shock to have such an unsettled, screaming baby who seemed so angry all the time. I found the doctors kind but a bit dismissive. The general gist was that babies cry… deal with it. It was great to finally get a diagnosis as my instinct all along was that she was in pain.

    I actually decided to give up bf at 2 weeks as I was in so much pain with repeated mastitis and Charlotte screamed during and after every feed, as well as for 2-3 hours every evening. I started using medication and oesteopathy for her reflux, which was great. I also went to a bf clinic and they gave me some good tips. I decided to take it one feed at a time and each feed I was prepped to give her formula if it didn’t work. I think that by taking the pressure off myself something clicked and it somehow started to work. I ended up breastfeeding her exclusively for 6 months. I really loved it after a while. I’m weaning now so she’s just having feeds first thing in the morning and last thing at night and she’s on formula in the day. This frees up my time (and body!) and I’m lucky that she has taken well to the bottle.

    My tops tip to anyone struggling is to try to relax, although I know how hard that is when your baby is screaming in your face! My hubby used to rub my feet while I fed Charlotte, and make me cups of sugary tea. I also had some massages and used to sing to Charlotte during each feed in an attempt to relax both of us. It’s also good to hold your breath for 10 seconds when you start each feed if it hurts. But of course, the most important thing is to remember that formula is amazing stuff and if it works for you, that’s just great. Sorry for the essay!

  21. Thanks for this post. While my bf journey was relatively smooth and I fed my first daughter for just over a year, it was not without issues and not always easy. Our daughter failed to gain sufficient weight between 3 and 5 months (she is still on the small size, now 2), so I ended up seeing many paediatricians and health visitors to try and improve feeding techniques and increase my supply. It all made me feel a little inadequate, especially when the phrase ‘failure to thrive’ came up. Our second daughter arrived two weeks ago and so far so good, so hopefully I don’t have to go through the same as last time.
    I would say that support from other mums, through LLL, children’s centre groups, and bf drop-in groups is invaluable and really helps when things aren’t going that well. Specialised bf and lactation consultants can also be really helpful. I have heard it said the the main support for a breastfeeding mother comes from her partner, so it’s important to get your partner on side! Having said all this many friends and family have struggled with a whole range of breast feeding issues and it isn’t always easy and it doesn’t always work out for everyone. The main thing is that you love, cuddle and nurture your baby any way that works, (easy to say but try not to feel guilty), happy mum = happy baby (as much as possible anyway…)

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