I would say that breastfeeding is quite an emotional journey. It’s far more than just what the word says “feeding”. It’s a unique bond between mum & baby and it’s quite an emotional one. Once I discovered I was pregnant I’ve decided that I wanted to breastfeed. I hadn’t defined for how long, just at least the 6 recommended months, but the more time went by the more protective I’ve become of it. I now see myself as a breastfeeding advocate even though it’s really hard!
The first months
They say the first 3 months of breastfeeding are the worst and I have to agree. I was lucky that my little one knew what to do straight away, the fact that she was born low weight and starving probably helped on the matters. I felt really frustrated with the lack of support from the midwifes. Yes they would encourage to breastfeed, fortunately in UK there is a lot of encouragement for mums to start breastfeeding but on the other hand not a lot of support. There were so many things I wish I had known before. In the classes they just tell you “Nose to nipple, wait for the big yawn and go”. My little one never did a big yawn and after the first weeks I was in a lot of pain. I had bloody nipples and had to rely on nipple shields. I thought it was just me being a failure and not being able to master something so simple as “nose to nipple”. Turns out that she had undiagnosed tongue tie. I’m sure I’ve asked at the hospital if she had a tongue tie and was told she was fine. It was thanks to the support of my private midwifes that we’ve identified that she had it.
How to diagnose a tongue tie?
The proper assessment is done by inserting a finger into baby’s mouth and analyse the movements. Only trained midwifes can do a proper assessment
Once the tie was cut nipple shields were gone and the pain was no more
The reflux days
But the journey was far from being an easy one from me. I thought I had a fast let down, whereby milks comes to fast for baby to handle it and this is why she was suffering from reflux. So I was trying to feed in upright positions (so her head would be above the nipple and beating gravity to handle the fast let down). Also went on dairy and soy free diet for a couple of months in the case she was like me, CMPA (cow’s milk protein intollerance or allergy). She wasn’t. But it takes at least 6 months to see the difference. Because of the reflux I’ve also cut tomato, oranges and any acidic foods. For a couple of months had a really restrict diet, but I was willing to do anything that could potentially help my little one.
Everyone told me: why don’t you get the special reflux formula? Me stop breastfeeding? No way! If it was a dairy problem I could deal with it. It was more than just feeding her, it was our bond together and I was not willing to let that go. And let’s not mention the horrible nights without sleep. Because I was food and comfort, I was the one getting up all the time, sleeping around 2 to 4h per day.
Did you know what if you use breastmilk you can cure a conjunctivitis in around 24h? Oh yeah, the beauty of human milk 🙂
Currently, still a struggle
One of the things I had to do while she had reflux was to pump so I could had a thickener. At 5 months my supply had dropped so much (she had a phase where she was refusing to eat) that it would take me 1h to pump a feed (around 120ml / 4oz). Did I say how much I hate pumping? I do, with all my heart! Also she wasn’t getting much weight, so at this point even my dear one started to say we should give her formula so she would get weight.
Once I went back to work at 6 months my supply dropped even more and then I had no other option but to pump during work. I’ve been trying power pumping and teas, and trying to drink loads of water to keep the supply coming, but it has been hard. At around 7 months I had used all my frozen stack and was in tears when he told me he had to give her formula for the first time as I was still at work. I felt like a failure, that my milk was no longer enough to hold her. Fortunately she takes bottle really well and it’s a pleasure for me that she actually prefers my milk to the formula (a few times she will reject formula). My family is like: “why are you still feeding her? she’s 8 months now, you’ve done your best already for 6 months”. But oh, it’s so much more that just a feed matter.
Booby juice is the best!
Breastmilk adjusts to the baby needs, can become fatter or more watery depending on what baby needs. If someone sneezes, mum’s milk will start to produce more antibodies to protect baby from infection.
Breastmilk protects baby’s developing immune system and it’s said that breastfed babies will be sick a bit less than formula fed babies even though they tend to be lower in size.
Breastfed babies will tend to be less fussy children in the future as they get used to different flavours through mum’s milk (this one doesn’t feel quite true at the moment for us as she’s really fussy but oh well)
Then the fact that I’m holding her to offer boob it’s more than just feed her. It’s to offer her comfort and knowing that I’ll always be there for her. It’s love and protection! Everyone keeps on praising me for her being such a happy baby. I’m sure she wouldn’t be like that if I would let her cry or just send him to give her a bottle as opposed to mum’s cuddles.
Yes I am tired. Yes I am exhausted. It’s so bloody hard to go to work with just a few hours sleep. Yes it’s hard this dependency on me to make her sleep and comfort her. But I’m not willing to stop, not for as long as I can keep some supply up!
Are you breastfeeding? How is it going for you?