Breast feeding is such an emotive subject. There is such a wealth of information out there and it can sometimes become overwhelming and confusing for mums. Since starting the business last year I have wanted to write a breast feeding blog but felt that although, as a mum of three, I have had my own breast feeding journey one individual story will add very little value to new and expectant mums and so we have gone a little futher.
Below is the first edition of the breast feeding diaries. A chance for mums to share their experience; real life stories from real mums. For some mums this was the first time that they had taken time to reflect on their journey and we are very honoured that they wanted to share this with us.
Before I had my first child, I was absolutely sold on the virtues of breastfeeding and that only “breast was (going to be) best” for my baby! After giving birth to my baby 7 weeks prematurely, he spent the first 2 weeks of his life in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where we were living overseas and so I very swiftly lost control of the way in which I had planned to feed and care for my baby; I was devastated. I was allowed to see my baby for two 1 hour sessions a day and had to try to get to grips with using the hospital pump alone on the hospital ward and set about stockpiling my milk. After a few days and my baby was off the ventilator, I was allowed to try to feed him myself. Sadly, my baby had an immature suck reflex and a tongue tie that the paediatric team were unwilling to resolve until he developed and was over 2kg and so, having tried a multitude of devices from nipple shields to feeding tubes, I was back to the exhausting regime of pumping which I continued for 3 months. Exhausted, tearful and with a painful case of mastitis my husband simply asked me why I was punishing myself and whether it would be so wrong to introduce some formula milk…. I felt like a failure and was utterly devastated but in all honestly, relieved. While I wholeheartedly champion the benefits of breastfeeding, ultimately, it has to be put into context. Mothers are put under so much pressure to breastfeed for the sake of our babies however, we must be able to support those who are struggling to make it work.
I started off with the intentions of breastfeeding but went with an open mind thinking that it might not turn out the way I hoped. My sister struggled to breastfeed with her children so I was prepared for both.
My baby latched perfectly, she was an instant feeding machine and my supply was normal so I was happy. However I had experienced 39 hours of labour then had an emergency c-section, I had a lot of abdominal pain as you can imagine and then the nipple pain kicked in. After a couple of days I started to get very anxious when baby needed a feed because I knew what was coming, the pain of the nipples and stomach together was unbearable for me. I couldn’t even hold my baby properly to breastfeed her, it was at that moment I realised that I can stop one pain I had and so I made the decision at just 5 days to stop breastfeeding as I couldn’t handle both pains. I asked my mum to get me some cabbage as I had heard it helps for drying up milk supply, my midwife came round and I cried to her, certain that I wanted to stop and she supported me but also advised my mum had bought the wrong kind of cabbage and so I had veg in my bra for no reason! FYI it needs to be a Savoy cabbage!
To this day I do not regret my decision to stop breastfeeding, it was the best decision for me and my lifestyle and my baby thrived off of formula, her immune system is amazing! I believe fed is best and the fact my anxiety went as soon as I started bottle feeding made me a happier mummy for my baby and that’s all that matters.
Chloe, Aged 25 Basingstoke
I was in an NCT group of 7 and before we gave birth we were all set on exclusively breast-feeding. As it happened, by the time the babies were 6 months, only 2 of us were feeding and after a year I was the only one left. The reasons why people stopped were completely varied – PND, lack of supply, illness in the mother, lactose intolerance in the baby… but it made me realise that breastfeeding wasn’t a case of I’ll do it or I won’t (as is presented in the media) but, quite often, a case of luck. I was one of the lucky ones – I had a pretty awful first 6 weeks (my little girl was tongue-tied which affected her feeding), she then still struggled to latch and I was constantly sore. But I persevered and before she was 2 months, everything just seemed to click. After that I loved breastfeeding – it made things so easy when we were out and about and gave me a really bond with my baby – but the struggles the other ladies were having really made me appreciate just how lucky I was. I eventually stopped when Charlotte was 14 months as I was back at work so had switched to pumping for some feeds and was finding it too hard… it was a really difficult decision to stop but I still do cherish the time I was feeding.
My journey started back in 2015 when Ella was born. I was determined to breastfeed; I went to breastfeeding classes, did reading etc but nothing prepared me for the actual reality. I had pethidine in labour which meant Ella was very sleepy when she was born & wouldn’t latch… we tried & tried (& I cried & cried) – I was devastated; I felt I had failed at the first hurdle. We saw breastfeeding counsellors, tried shields but it just wasn’t happening. In the meantime I was hand expressing colostrum onto a spoon, giving it to her & then topping her up with formula (another very emotional time). During a routine ward visit, one of the midwives suggested I try pumping – they lent me a hospital grade pump & off I went! That was the start of my exclusively pumping journey…. I realised that whilst Ella could not directly nurse, I could pump & give her breast milk in a bottle. I did some reading & realised it wasn’t going to be that simple – babies are much more efficient than a pump & so I needed to mimic a baby feeding, which basically meant pumping every 3 hours, 24/7 until my supply was established. I was met with support by some midwives, whilst others told me I would never be able to keep my supply up long term… I was determined to prove them wrong! I hired a hospital grade pump, worked out a pumping schedule & off I went! I initially wanted to make it to 3 months, however in the end I managed to exclusively pump & feed Ella breast milk for 8 months, only stopping because I was going back to work.
It was hard & I was very emotional at times; I felt guilty that I couldn’t direct nurse & often felt judged for pulling out a bottle in public to feed Ella (despite knowing that there was breast milk in it) – although part of me was immensely proud of my achievement I still harboured a heartache about not being able to directly feed.
Fast forward to today & Finn is almost 4 weeks old…. whilst he would latch he wouldn’t actually swallow anything… & so my pumping journey has begun again! I’m far more knowledgeable this time round & so am feeling much less emotional about not being able to directly nurse; I’m still giving Finn breast milk – it’s just via a different method!
I wanted to share my story as I don’t think there’s enough information or support out there around the option of pumping or that just because it’s not direct nursing it’s not classed as breastfeeding (which it is/should be)….
Kirsten (36y, Liphook)
At Cover Me Baby we believe that fed is best and that all mums should be supported, informed and empowered to feed their baby in which ever way is best for them and baby. We hope that this blog helps mums to realise that everyone’s journey is different and unique to them and what we plan is often very different to the reality.
We would like to thank each and everyone of you for sharing your story with us and we hope that it empowers all you wonderful mothers out there!
If you would like to know more about any of the subjects in this blog or if you would like to send us your story then please contact us by clicking on the button below.