I was 26 when I had my first son and whilst I tried to breastfeed, for various reasons, we decided bottle feeding him was best for our family. Looking back, it’s perhaps a decision I made too lightly. So this time, I was more determined to breastfeed. I’m still not sure how much I actually believed that I would breastfeed because I bought bottles and a steriliser ‘just in case’. However, this time I was very clear that I wanted skin to skin as soon as the baby was born and I wanted to make sure the baby had a feed within that first hour.
I’m so lucky that I got my wish and had skin to skin straight away. The midwives were fantastic and as soon as Nate was born, he was put on my chest and he latched straight on for a feed and fed for a whole 45 minutes. He stopped for a little while, then fed again for almost 15 minutes. I couldn’t believe he’d fed for nearly an hour! The midwife was also really pleased.
I decided that I wanted to stay in for the night to get as much help as I could with feeding even though I could’ve gone home within six hours of the birth.
That first night was hard. So much so, I had to buzz for assistance with every feed. It was a huge shock as Alfie slept for the whole of his first night, whereas Nate was up all night, cluster feeding. I was so grateful to have the support of the midwives and the support worker through that first night.
Once home, I struggled again, and it was so painful – nobody ever tells you how much it hurts. It is toe curlingly painful. After a day or two, I was ready to throw the towel in again. I was struggling to latch him properly, it was really painful and I’d had really bad after pains, to the point of tears. I remember the midwife coming to visit on the third day and we were just about to give him a bottle. She stopped me and asked if I was ok if she helped latch him. We gave it a go and sure enough, he latched and fed like a dream, but the next feed I was back to struggling. In the end, I ended up stopping for about 20 hours and he was given a bottle. The following day he was crying to much as Michael was getting his bottle ready, so I just tried to latch him to see what happened. I couldn’t believe it when he latched and had a really long feed.
Since that day, I’ve never looked back and I am so incredibly grateful that the midwife came that day just in time to stop me giving him a bottle (I must add that she didn’t ‘tell me off’ or make me feel guilty for bottle feeding, but she knew how much I wanted to feed him myself and she said if I wanted to then she would help me and I’m so, so glad).
I have faced some difficulties though but each one made me more determined not to give up. At five weeks old, we were told he had posterior tongue tie, which was only discovered because I mentioned that he was suffering with wind, so the week before Christmas, it was corrected. I also had mastitis a couple of times, but thankfully caught it early on.
I also had to get over my fear of feeding in public which took a lot of courage for me, so I made sure the first few times I did that I was with Michael and it instantly put me at ease. Now I don’ t even think about it.
Possibly the biggest problem I’ve faced is getting an infection on my left side, which has now resulted in me being unable to feed from the left side now. It started out just as a blemish caused by an incorrect latch. This then turned into a blister like mark, which just got worse and worse and would bleed after every feed. It wasn’t healing, so after a while (too long), I finally went to the doctors and had to have two courses of antibiotics just to clear it. Sadly, it meant my milk dried up on that side because I’d not fed for so long, so I’m feeding from just the right side now. However, I’ve noticed that the same thing has happened on my that side, so I’m on antibiotics again. Thankfully, it’s not too painful so I’m still able to feed him. I would be devastated if I had to give up now. Especially as I feel like I’ve had to over come quite a lot to get here, I’m just not ready for it to end.
I’m at the stage now, where I really don’t have an end date in sight. At first it was a few weeks, then it was three months, then six months and now that I’ve got past all those milestones and I’ve been doing it for eight months, I think I’m just going to leave it to Nate to self wean.
If I could give advice to anyone thinking about breastfeeding – or even if they think it’s not for them, I would say just give it a go. Just try. You never know where it could lead.
It’s one of my greatest achievements. I asked Michael to take these photo’s of us the other night as I was feeding him before bed as I know this period will be over all too soon, and I really want to remember these special times.