Lil Pudding is 10 days old and we’ve been busy parenting hard during that time. Night feeds, nappy changes, and fumbling with those annoying snaps on babygrows in the dark, and of course, establishing breastfeeding.
DISCLAIMER: Before I go any further, let me just preface this post by saying that I truly believe that ‘fed is best’ – this post is about my personal breastfeeding experience with my two kidlets and is in no way shape or form an attempt to shame or judge any other mummy out there who does not or did not breastfeed their baby. I was formula fed as a baby (I was anti-social and rejected my mum’s boob at 5 weeks old) but my sister was breastfed – we are both what I would consider ‘normal’ humans. So, if you are formula feeding your baby, keep calm and carry on and continue to be the fabulous mummy that you are! If you are breastfeeding or combo feeding, then hopefully this post will be resonate with you or may even help you in some way…if not only to hear of another mum’s struggles and triumphs.
And now I shall continue.
I breastfed our Lil Dumpling, now almost 20 months old, until he cut his first two teeth at 8 months and started biting me. I always said that would be the end of our breastfeeding journey as soon as that happened because, as much as I loved the bonding experience and pride that came with being able to nourish my baby even though he was no longer snug in my tummy, I wasn’t in the market for getting bitten on my boobs. Plus, he was huge, greedy and weaning really well, so he almost naturally weaned himself off my boobs and never rooted or showed any interest in them after I decided to start weaning him.
I had built up a good freezer stash of milk by expressing over these months and so I was able to wean him using breast milk in the bottle until we put him on Aptamil exclusively when he was almost year old.
Our breasfteeding journey started off a bit rough – I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and neither did he. So he was left frustrated in the first few days and I was left with very sore nipples. I had to hand express the colostrum milk and fed it to him by syringe until my milk came in on the 4th day and then we tried to latch again – it was still a bit painful at first but we got the hang of it after a week or so when my boobs became indestructible and numb to any feeling whatsoever – this may sound terrible to most women but as a breastfeeding mum I was happy with my asbestos nips!
We eventually went on to have a wonderful feeding journey. It was one of the aspects of motherhood I enjoyed the most in those months – the bonding, the warm cuddles, being able to feed your baby using your own body and also, it’s free! Formula is expensive AF! But, I know that I was lucky to have experienced this and didn’t take it for granted at all.
Breastfeeding makes me HUNGRY!
Fast forward to the present day, or last week to be exact, when our Lil Pudding decided to join the party! I knew beforehand that I wanted to try to breastfeed our daughter, despite knowing how much of a struggle it was at first with Lil Dumpling, mainly for the same reasons that made me enjoy and treasure the experience I had with him.
But alas, our journey thus far hasn’t been without struggle, again.
I used these Feeding Syringes to feed Lil Pudding colostrum
Lil Pudding is now 10 days old (21 February 2018) and the first 8 days of trying to establish feeding has been, to put it lightly, a bit of a nightmare.
As soon as she was born, the midwife handed her to me and I lay her on my bare chest for skin to skin. She rooted immediately to feed and I was overwhelmed with excitement. I knew how to latch her correctly, from previous experience with Dumpling, and so we tried, and succeeded! She fed from both breasts and then we cuddled some more until she was weighed, snuggled Daddy and then she napped for 3 hours.
Back on the post-natal ward, after she woke up from napping, we cuddled and she rooted again. Brilliant, I thought! She’s gonna get this breastfeeding business down in no time. But, this time she couldn’t latch properly. She didn’t want to open her mouth wide enough, so instead of a full mouth of breast, painless for mum, she only took nipple and then proceeded to destroy both of my nipples with her tiny newborn gums. Dramatic, you say? I’m not a dramatic person. She literally wrecked my boobs in less than half an hour. But I didn’t fret, as it wasn’t too painful at that point. And so we tried again the next feed – she did the same thing.
By Sunday evening (she was born just after 1am that morning) my boobs felt like they had been attacked by Wolverine and I was almost in tears at the thought of trying to latch my beautiful but ravenous baby again.
Queue the feeding syringe – I called the midwife and asked for some syringes and told her I will hand express colostrum until my boobs recovered as I did not went this baby on me before then! Midwife felt sorry for me but understood!
I did this until Day 3, when my milk came in. We were home by then but my boobs were still sore, so I lathered on the nipple cream (Earth Mama Angel Baby is the brand I used) and got out my pump. This was also painful initially but not as painful as trying to latch Lil Pudding.
I managed to feed her this way – breastmilk via bottle until Day 8 (in between we tried latching every so often so she didn’t forget entirely, but it was uncomfortable!), when I tried latching her and, save for the very first few suckles, it didn’t hurt! The pumping had built up my milk supply so that my let down was faster and Pudding didn’t have to suckle so strong to get the milk. In fact, for the first time a couple of days ago, I was able to exclusively breastfeed our lil girl, only using a bottle once. Today, we’ve not used the bottle at all and I’ve not pumped yet as she’s been stuffing herself out on my milk all day!
Today is the first day I’ve actually been able to enjoy breastfeeding rather than dread it. I feel less anxious and more bonded with our girl.
Almond Milk Oats is my go to breakie when breastfeeding as oats increase milk supply
I tell this story of my breastfeeding journey so far, mainly because I’ve spoken to quite a few mums who have told me that had they knew of all ththe different ways to help get through those sometimes difficult and painful early days, they wouldn’t have given up on nursing their babies and they may have stuck at it. Some even say they regret not being able to have that experience with their baby and felt bad as a result. The latter is such a shame, because as I said earlier, no mum should feel bad about the way they feed their baby as long as baby is well and thriving AND as long as mum is well and thriving. If you’re miserable then baby will pick up on it and that’s no good for either of you.
Overcoming The Struggle
I’ve only had two children and before them, I knew jackshit about Babies, breastfeeding, formula, changing nappy etc…so I’m hardly an authority on this subject. But, these are some methods I used which helped me get to the happy, successful stage of breastfeeding my babies which I hope may be of some help to any mums out there, who want to exclusively breastfeed but like me, struggled at first and might be thinking of giving up:
♥️ Stop trying to latch as soon as your boobs get sore and try hand expressing instead until the soreness goes down – soreness is probably the #1 reason women give up breastfeeding but once you get past that initial tender stage, the nipples harden up and you’ll be able to nurse without discomfort once you and baby have gotten the hang of latching correctly
♥️ Speak to your midwife or lactation consultant and let them watch you latch baby – they will tell you whether the latch is correct and they can also check baby for toungue tie, which is a very common cause for a poor latch. They will reassure you that if there’s no tongue tie, it could be that baby just needs practice and if they are decent, they will tell you to bottle feed for the time being and keep trying the latch for as long as you want to keep trying. Only a shit midwife will make you feel shit so if this happens, speak to a different midwife or consultant.
♥️ Invest in a good breast pump! I use the Philips Avent pump but there are better ones on the market like the Medela which is a bit pricey but if you intend to pump and build up a supply then it’s worth the investment.
♥️ Invest in a good nipple cream! As well as the brand I mentioned earlier which I just use daily for maintenance, I also used Lasinoh which is what my midwife recommended to me to help repair the skin faster.
♥️ Breastmilk has superb healing properties – if you get sore, use your hand to express some milk and then rub it on the affected area. There are so many antibodies in Breastmilk that it acts like an antiseptic and can help heal sore or cracked nipples. I did this a lot both times and it really helped!
♥️ Know that it DOES GET BETTER! If it had not been for my mum and midwife reassuring me that the initial struggle is quite normal but that it does get better and not to give up if I really want to breastfeed, then I’d have given up within the first 3 days with Lil Dumpling and probably wouldn’t have even tried with Lil Pudding. Talk to other mums you know, who have had success with nursing and ask them about what worked for them. But know that, if you do decide to persevere, it will get better and eventually, hopefully, you’ll enjoy this wonderful day experience with your baby.
♥️ Know that, if you decide to stop breastfeeding, you are not a bad person and your wellbeing matters just as much as your baby.
As I type this, my Lil Pudding is here nursing very contently and I feel no discomfort at all. It was all worth the initial struggle to be able to have this experience with her and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
Of course, there will be some mums who never struggled with feeding at all – you are blessed! I wish I didn’t struggle but alas, I did but I also managed to overcome it.
I hope that gives some comfort to any mums reading this and struggling with feeding. Whichever way you choose to feed your little one, be kind to yourself and know that you’re doing an amazing job! ♥️