A Breastfeeding Journey – From Bump and Beyond

So my little man and I have just reached an end of an era, or at least it feels that way. We have now stopped breastfeeding and I feel a bit emotional about it all. I’m sad to say that this part of being a mummy is now over. I am proud to say that I breastfed until just before his 2nd birthday. I never imagined that we would keep going for quite so long, but very happy that we did. In celebration of this, I thought I would share a published article I wrote last year about just some of our breastfeeding journey. Hope you enjoy reading x

Early on in my pregnancy, a decision my husband and I made together was that I would like to try to breastfeed our little bundle.  It was important to me that he supported breastfeeding as I would undoubtedly need his help,  and I wanted him to feel involved. I was anxious about feeding. How would I know if my baby was getting enough milk, would it hurt,  and how would I feel about breastfeeding in public? Actually, the thought of breastfeeding in public worried me the most. At 32 weeks I went to a breastfeeding antenatal class. It was a friendly group and the support from the midwives and mums was fantastic. I left feeling reassured, informed and determined that I really wanted to succeed for my baby and myself.

My breasts grew quite significantly, much to my husband’s delight. I went to get measured a few times for the not-so-flattering maternity bras. I was paranoid about underwired bras as I read that they could block your milk ducts. Later on in pregnancy and post natal, breast- pads were definitely my friends.

After a difficult labour we finally met our beautiful 9lb baby boy. We had skin to skin contact, which I would love to say I remember clearly, but it was all hazy. When all had settled down and the room seemed more peaceful, the midwives asked if I wanted to feed my baby. I was exhausted, but wanted to try, so the midwives gently helped until he managed to latch on. It was all a bit clumsy,  but after several attempts we got there! It was the most wonderful, strange feeling. My baby only had a little feed and nodded off.. something I discovered he loved to do!

The following days were very tiring and emotional. I was recovering from a long labour and getting used to this hungry little person that needed me and my breasts regularly, especially throughout the night. I  had to use the nurse-call button to ask the midwives for assistance  at 2am,  as my baby just wasn’t settling. As soon as he fed, he almost immediately wanted more.  I thought I must have been doing something wrong. I knew that breastfed babies weren’t full for long, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how often he wanted to feed.  It turned out that he wasn’t latching on properly and I then had engorged breasts and bruised nipples. Ouch!  Consequently he wasn’t getting enough milk and therefore was too tired to feed well.

Once home we had breastfeeding support numbers and of course were visited by the midwives. Unfortunately my baby boy lost more weight than he should have.  I felt that I had failed my baby, I was devastated! We had some ready- made formula, just in case things didn’t work out.  We used this to top up as well as breastfeeding and a combination of frozen expressed and “freshly squeezed” milk.  It also meant that my husband could be involved. My baby was weighed again 24 hours later and had gained weight. He didn’t look back! It really helped to write down the  times of his feeds and note which side,  as it was easy to forget.

One of our first experiences of breastfeeding in public was at Tatton Park.  We were on a walk when feeding time came. We parked the pram under a big tree, I covered myself with a cloth and fed my baby in the shade in a gentle breeze.  It felt very earth-motherly. The wind actually blew the cloth off, but I didn’t mind too much. I decided that I was going to be confident feeding when out and about, after all, I was only providing for my baby and I would still use my tops or muslins to cover us.

There have been really tough times with blocked ducts (I can recommend to keep feeding and warm showers), sore nipples ( I can recommend Lansinoh cream) and broken breast pumps, (one of which was due to sleepy mummy putting the electronic bit in the sink!) bitten nipples, and times at stupid o’clock when I didn’t know whether I could carry on.  But we did. We took it in stages, setting ourselves small goals like first wanting to get through the first days, then to 3 months, then to 6 months and then we carried on as it worked for us.

There is so much more I could write about our journey.  We are still feeding, albeit starting to wean off.  If my baby is a bit unwell or is teething and really wants comfort from me he will sneak in extra feeds.  Breastfeeding might not be everyone’s choice of how to feed, but for me it has been a wonderful, special way for us to bond. It still makes me smile when he’s snuggled into me and his little hand holds onto my thumb, just like he did as a newborn.