Monday, 12 May 2014

Mummy Monday - Breastfeeding Update

GrazingPages Breastfeeding Update Struggles

I wanted to share my story about breastfeeding as I feel that it's too easy to give up when things get tough. Why is it too easy? Because we're told that it's the most natural thing to do in the world and that babies instinctivly know what to do, but it's not quite as simple as that. Breastfeeding is hard in the beginning. For a first time Mum or even a second and third it can be overwhelming. You need support, especially in the middle of those long nights that feel like they're never going to end, and sometimes you just don't get it. I found that just reading that someone was going through the same thing as me was enough to get me through another day. If you've no interest in this then stop reading here, because this could get long and boring for you. 

From the day that I found out that I was pregnant and even before that I always wanted to breastfeed. I was terrified that I might not be able to do it for some reason or another but I knew that I was determined. I refused to buy anything relating to bottle feeding. I even refused to buy a dummy/pacifier through fear of nipple confusion. I think it was this determination that has got us to where we are today.

In the beginning breastfeeding was the hardest thing I've ever done. We had a rough labour so unbeknown to myself, Myles was still drugged up for days following his birth due to the pain relief I had so he was undoubtably sleepy. Never having a baby before I didn't realised that his sleeping hours weren't normal and I had no idea that the drugs I had during labour would have such an impact on him. Now before you judge me for taking advantage of the pain relief you should know that I ended up having Myles by forceps in theatre minutes before my last resort of a cesarian delivery so the pain relif was out of my control.

After returing home from the hospital we spent the next week being visited by numerous health visitors who weighed Myles on a regular basis. Unfortunately Myles lost 10% of his birth weight in the first few days and after one week had not put back on a sufficient amount of weight so we were sent back to the hospital. I knew deep down that Myles was perfectly health but it still broke my heart to be told that I wasn't feeding my son correctly. 

Once we arrived at the hospital they performed a few test on Myles to check his jaundice levels, his hydration and to make sure that there wasn't any other concerns. All these came back fine but to be on the safe side I was encouraged to express 40ml and to give it to him after every 20 minutes feed on the breast. This was to be done every 3 hours for 5 days and I was reassured that because breastfeeding had already been established Myles shouldn't have a problem with nipple confusion.

After an exhausting 4 days of expressing and breastfeeding I found myself in tears. I didn't have time to express due to Myles constantly being on the breast. It turns out that this was perfectly normal and that all he was doing was cluster feeding and that from that point there was no longer a need to express, but it was still worrying after all the emphasis they had put upon expressing in the hospital. At this point I had a new midwife who was fantastic. She reasured me that no matter how often Myles was feeding, or how empty my boobs felt I would always have milk. She also reasured me that breastfed babies tend to put on weight at a much slower rate in the beginning, but then there's no stopping them after the 6 week mark. She definitely knew what she was talking about as after only 3 months Myles had doubled his birth weight.

The hardest thing about expressing and bottle feeding Myles my breast milk was just how unnatural it felt. I guess for someone who chooses to bottle feed from day one this wont be easy to understand but after Myles had spent the first week of his life exclusively breastfeeding he hd no idea what to do with a bottle. It would take upto an hour to feed him just 40ml and he would cough, splutter and choke the whole time. It was much more stressful than breastfeeding had ever been. It broke my heart to watch.  Now I feel that exclusively breastfeeding is the greatest gift in the world.

We've had our ups and downs and even to this day he can still cause a little nipple pain if he has a lazy latch in the middle of the night, but I think we're both doing well. I can't actually imagine ever giving up breastfeeding now. Don't get me wrong we will definitely have stopped way before he's a toddler but it's such an amazing experience and to know that he's thriving because of me and the amazing things my body can do is the most rewarding feeling.

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