Happy World Breastfeeding Week - my journey

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!



After a difficult start with my first-born (Miss 3) that involved cracked & bleeding nipples & excruciating pain for weeks and weeks, I persevered (with lots of support, information & advice) and went on to successfully nurse her for 15 months when she self-weaned off her last feed when I has three months pregnant with her baby brother.

As she was jaundiced and received light therapy from day two, I remember having to pump by her bedside every two to three hours to try and bring my supply on as she desperately needed the fluids to help break down the bilirubin levels (that caused the jaundice).

I remember when she was just a couple of hours old, a nurse I hadn't met, coming in to help me feed her. It was quite an experience as, as much as I had read and researched about breastfeeding and knew it might not be easy, I still expected to just pop bub on and off we went.
But it was definitely tricky and uncomfortable.
I remember the nurse coming in to 'milk me' to get small amounts of colostrum in a syringe to be fed to bubs.

When Miss 3 was five days old (and we were home, after having to be readmitted to hospital due to her jaundice levels), I attempted my first public feed. With much fanfare.
My mum was visiting and hubby was playing footy, so we were sitting back from the sideline and it was time for bub (who was very sleepy and had to be woken for feeds) to have a feed.
I was very cautious about flashing any skin, and felt like all eyes were on me. So my mum and a friend's mum each held up muslin cloths to give me some privacy while I got bub attached. It was hilarious, because really, the makeshift tent probably attracted more attention. But it really was a great help while I worked out what I was doing (in my awkward and sleep-deprived state).

When Miss 3 was two weeks old hubby and I took her along to a friend's birthday dinner.
By then, I was quite comfortable with feeding and happily fed bub at the table without anyone really noticing. Except I do remember one of the party guests (a mum of two), coming over and congratulating me on a) being out of the house with a newborn and b) managing to comfortably feed in public.
It was a welcome confidence boost that stayed with me.

I never hesitated to feed bub whenever she needed it - shops, cafes, planes, trains, restaurants and more.
Though I've always preferred to be slightly discreet by ALWAYS wearing the Target & Kmart built-in maternity bra singlets with a top over the top, so I could easily unclip the singlet bra and lift my overshirt up and latch bub on - which then covered any skin.
The only time anyone might've seen a nipple flash, was as bub got a bit older and more distracted, or would suddenly pull off, but I'd quickly cover up.
I'm a huge fan of the built in singlets as, not only does it cover your breasts, but also your tummy.

When Miss 3 was around four weeks old, my nipples were absolutely shredded!
I had to use nipple shields for a few weeks while they healed.
It was excruciating and I would wince each time bub would need a feed.
When she was six weeks, and my Nanna was visiting us, I put on a nipple shield for a feed and the strength of bub's sucking saw the scab tear off my nipple and it was IN the teat and there was more blood! Ewww! Ouch!

But I was determined to persevere as I knew it would improve (it had to surely? ha ha).

Even though she was showing all the signs of thriving - putting on weight, lots of wet nappies etc - I still worried whether my supply was enough (as you never really know how much they're actually getting) and whether we needed to 'top-up feed'.
But we pressed on as she was mostly content and everything was going well.


And then, as if by magic, by around eight weeks, bub and I finally got it right and all was perfect from then on.




 

When she was around 12 months I returned to work so would express for her to have a bottle in my absence. At around 14 months, she was wanting more and more milk, which my dwindling supply couldn't keep up with, so we mixed fed with toddler formula in bottles (as she wouldn't take cow's milk).
She was still having a breastfeed at night before bedtime and then. Then, at 15 months (when I was pregnant with her brother and suffering all-day sickness), she just went off it.
But she continued having bottles occasionally for a couple of months after that, which we were able to phase out (thanks to a Dora doll bribe ;-).




*******

With number two (Mr 18months) I expected to be an old-hand, given my previous experience.
But those first few days were a learning experience for both him and I.
The morning after our son was born, hubby and I even popped into the breastfeeding class at the hospital, with the lactation consultant, to get a few reminders which was great as hubby could then remind me 'is his latch ok' or 'remember to get the nipple right in/ it's not nipple feeding, it's breastfeeding'.

After a couple of days, all was fab and our son (who weighed 10lb 3oz or 4.55kg at birth) was a trooper and was piling on the pounds from nursing. Some weeks at the weigh-ins, he was stacking on 300-400grams in a week!

We were very proud of our little roly poly bear.

When I returned to work part time when our son was six months old, I would express in the first aid room at work (where, thankfully, there was also a mini bar fridge to store it safely).
Hubby (who works nights so has the children while I'm at work in the afternoons) would feed our boy expressed milk & I would race home from work to express again and feed our son.
So I managed to maintain a good supply but it did require a lot of time and effort (and sitting there looking at my phone/Facebook/photos of my kids while spending 40 minutes pumping).

Over time, and closer to 12 months, Mr 18 months reduced his feeds and I didn't have to express as much.
I continued breastfeeding him to sleep each night (even though hubby and I had got him into a great routine of not needing a sleep association to self settle).

Mr 18 months also self-weaned from his last feed around 16 months when I was a couple of months pregnant with the twins.
He's a great eater, loves eating dairy and loves drinking water from cups and sippy cups (no bottles or formula) so thankfully we managed to skip the whole bottle or formula thing with him that required some effort to un-do with our princess (we knew better second time around hee hee).

Breastfeeding has been a fantastic experience and while some people say those who don't, for whatever reason, breastfeed take the 'easy route', I would say, after the initial speed humps (& pain, blood and tears) it's breastfeeding that is soooo easy and convenient as I could just feed bubs anywhere anytime, and straightaway without having to worry about formula, sterilising and all the equipment.
And the best thing: when bub would wake in middle of night, I could just bring them back to bed for a quick nurse (where we'd all be warm and snug) then they'd drop off back to sleep with ease.

So either way you look at it, there are challenges for every parent, no matter which feeding avenue you go down.

I'm just proud I stuck to my guns and persevered to breastfeed my two as long as I did (with hubby's great support) and am hoping I can successfully breastfeed the twins once they arrive (I've already been checking out You Tube clips on the logistics of feeding two at the same time and have a twin feeding pillow at the top of my must-have list!)

Happy Breastfeeding Week!












2 comments

  1. Great post , I am a great advocate of BF.
    I BF my twins till they were 4yrs old (+ 3months) I had to make them wean in the end.
    My little twin2 (2.1kg) refused to BF till he was 5 months old then one day like a duck to water - he stopped EBM in bottles.
    Twin 1 (2.8) never had a bottle after leaving special care (even then they made us stay longer because of his bottle refusal overnight when I had to go home)
    So initially I single fed my boys but by 5 months it was easy to twin feed and juggle both of them too on my lap - I cut body shaped a foam cushion to start with but soon enough it wasn't needed.
    Some Multiple birth clubs hire them because they tend to short term.
    As they got older I single fed them sometimes because they liked to poke each others eyes out - LOL and compete for the biggest mouthful of me.

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    1. Oh wow, good on you, that's fab! Yes I'm waiting to hear back from our local Multiple Club re hiring twin feeding pillow and double pump if required, as my lil single one will be in overdrive I imagine ;-)

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