Articles tagged with: Breastfeeding

{The Ordinary Moments 14} #14 The End Of A Journey...

on Sunday, 06 April 2014.


I became a Mummy thirty-nine (ish) months ago.  And for almost twenty-four of those months I have shared a very special journey with my two little girls.  That journey is breastfeeding.  

I had no idea whether I wanted to breastfeed before Mads came along, but after doing NCT classes I decided that I may as well give it a go.  Those first few days were horrendous and I had bottles of formula sitting there waiting for me to use, but after a short stay in hospital and a scare from Mads, I became determined to breastfeed my newborn baby.  I think I was exhausted, scared and some how thought in my head that breastfeeding would help protect her from germs and illness.  (You can read about all that here)  Luckily after a couple of weeks it got easier and I ended up feeding Mads for 11 months before stopping.

This time around with LL it hurt like hell again for the first week, but I had the benefit of hindsight on my side and I knew it would get easier.  So I perservered and I have really enjoyed my breastfeeding journey with her.  It got to 12 months and I told everyone, including myself, that I was going to stop, but here we are at nearly 14 months and I am still feeding her a morning and evening feed.  

The thing is, I deep down don't know if I am ready to stop, I am still clinging on to the fact that she is most likely our last baby and that I will never share this bond again.  It isn't hurting us continuing, she only feeds for about five minutes and then it's over.  But I have to stop at some point, and so this weekend is the time. I am in Bath for a hen do and I have decided that I will feed her before I leave and then as she is with Mr E for a couple of days it will be a perfect time to stop.  I will come back after two nights away and then we will just have to try and distract her from the idea when I am home.  

It has been the most wonderful journey with my babies.  Those early days, when it was just us against the world in the middle of the night snuggled close together.  The way they both used to play with my hair, and gently stroke my skin.  Those snatched moments of eye contact and the way they used to stare up at me with such love in their eyes.  The times they would fall asleep on me and I would sit for ages just marvelling at how I managed to have a part in creating these amazing little people.  It's a bittersweet memory of those newborn days, a constant reminder about just how quickly the time goes and how each and every moment is so fleeting.

I recently wrote an article for The Motherhood about breastfeeding and how I really don't have an opinion on how other people choose to feed their babies.  If I hadn't been able to breastfeed or hadn't wanted to then I know I would be sat here writing the same thing about weaning my babies off a bottle.  It's more just the fact that it is the end of an era, and it's about letting go of that last little bit of babyhood.  Of milk being the thing they need to grow and thrive the most.  

That said, breastfeeding has been a huge part of my life as a Mummy and I asked Mr E to take a photo of my little LL and I sharing what potentially was our second to last feed together.  It's a grainy iPhone image but it is hugely sentimental for me.  

It's been a very ordinary moment for the last 13 and a half months.  But it's been an extraordinary story I will never ever forget.  

My little ladies are growing up so damn quickly.  And it is oh so bittersweet.





Breastfeeding The Second Time Around...

on Tuesday, 25 June 2013.

This week it is National Breastfeeding Week and it is a subject very close to my heart so I am going to slightly detour from my normal type of post and instead write about my breast feeding journey. 

I never intended to breastfeed.  I decided I wanted to give it a go when I was pregnant with Mads, but I wasn't too concerned if I didn't crack it or not and was quite happy to switch to formula if I needed too having been bottle fed myself.

Mads was born by elective c-section and I first fed her in recovery.  She had a few sucks and that was it.  I wasn't shown particularly what to do, but I figured she was sucking and that was what she was meant to do.  Then the next day it started to hurt each time she latched on, I was tired, sore from the operation and I didn't have a clue what I was doing, so I expressed some colostrum and the midwives helped me feed it to her in a little cup.

We were discharged from hospital and this was where it started to go wrong.  Every time she latched on I would get to the point where I was literally screaming in pain- it was toe curling, excruciating pain and that is not even an exaggeration.  I made Mr E go and get formula from the shop and it was on standby as I didn't think I could possibly continue to feed her.

Then when Mads was just over a week, we went to wake her from her nap and she wouldn't wake up.  She was floppy and unresponsive so we panicked and rushed her to A and E as we were only a few minutes drive from the hospital.  It wasn't that she wasn't breathing, just that she wouldn't wake up and it was the scariest moment of my life so far.  We stayed in for a few days, and they did lots of tests, but they never found out what was wrong with her, which in a way was harder to deal with than if they found an infection as I was so scared it would happen again.

It was then that I decided I would persevere with the feeding.  Looking back I think I was a little delirious from what had happened, the tiredness and the fact I was a new Mum, but psycholgically I had persuaded myself that I had to do it.  It didn't really get any easier in the beginning.  I got such a severe mastitis infection that I had to be re-admitted to hospital and for some reason from that point on Mads totally refused to feed from my left side.

For six months I pumped constantly on the left hand side, and fed Mads from the right.  It was a pain, I got mastitis another four times because I never fully drained the breast enough, and it was tiring having to keep expressing after every feed.

Eventually at six months for some reason, unknown to me, she suddenly decided to take the left hand side.  It was then my breastfeeding experience became a lot nicer and I loved feeding her.  We continued until she was eleven months old and I loved the bond and the closeness I had with her.  I was sad when our feeding journey came to an end.

Therefore to say I was nervous when it came to feeding LL is an understatement.  I wanted to have a nice experience from the start this time round, and because I had breastfed Mads I felt I should do it for her too.

Again I had another c-section and didn't get to feed LL until I was in recovery.  Weirdly I was so nervous and felt like I had completely forgotten what to do so I duly shoved her on me when she was about an hour old.  She took a few sucks but hardly showed any interest at all and the midwives told me to leave it at that.

This time around in the hospital I hardly got any breastfeeding help.  It was almost like they thought if you were a second time Mum you knew what you were doing, and that couldn't have been further from the truth- I needed help and unfortunately I didn't get it, bar from one really kind care assistant.

I was discharged from hospital and again that familiar pain began.  It was yet again excruciating when LL latched on and I sobbed each time she began to suck.

Yet this time I had the benefit of hindsight on my side and I knew that if I just persevered the pain would be gone in a couple of weeks.  I also felt more confident as a mother so I got help early, from a fantastic breast feeding supporter who was also a midwife.  She came to my house on her day off and sat with me for well over an hour, watching me feed and explaining to me what I was doing wrong.  I cannot thank her enough for helping me, she really was so passionate and dedicated to her job.

It took LL a little longer to take to feeding than Mads, and it took a little longer for the pain to ease off, in fact she made my nipples bleed.  But slowly the toe curling pain got better as we both learnt how to feed efficiently.

And now?  The second time around?


Well now I love feeding my four month old LL.  She isn't a particularly hungry baby and she rarely cries for milk, but I love those moments when we snuggle together on the sofa and have a feed.  I am even enjoying the night feeds and I am making the most of these baby days as I know how fleeting they are.  Mads is a good girl and knows LL needs milk so she sits and snuggles next to me while I do it.

I have no idea how long I will continue for, but I know I would like to do it at least as long as I fed Mads for.  Breastfeeding isn't for everyone, and I do not think there is anything wrong with bottle feeding in the slightest.  We are made to feel guilty enough sometimes for our choices as mother's and I can't stand it when people say that bottle feeding means you don't bond with your baby or other suitably ridiculous statements.  In fact I think it is great to help partner's bond with the new baby- as we also fed Mads expressed breast milk it helped Mr E bond with her a little earlier than he did with LL in my opinion.

However for people that want to breast feed, I think if I could offer one bit of advice it would be this...  

I have yet to find one person who says it doesn't hurt in the beginning.  It may be 'natural' but it is also a skill, one that requires time, patience and a lot of learning, from both yourself and your baby in order to get it right.  Apparently most women who stop give up in the first few weeks and while I am no expert, I can imagine this is one of the reasons why.  It does take time to fully establish it.

I am so pleased and proud I have managed to feed my babies.  It isn't for everyone, but it certainly has bought me some really happy moments in my journey as a mother, and some beautiful memories which I will treasure.  


Next Time Around?

on Thursday, 18 October 2012.

I am ages away from having a second little person in our lives but I have already started thinking about some of the major things that are worrying me.  The first being the way I actually have Bug- VBAC or C-Section?  The second thing that is making me think quite a bit is how much I want to be able to breastfeed this little one- just like I did her big sister.

Breastfeeding didn't come naturally to me the first time around, in fact from from it, but I was determined to do it.  I have said before on other posts that I am certainly not a breast feeding activist- in fact far from it, I don't have a huge opinion on how other people feed their babies, thats up to them, but I personally wanted to have a go at breastfeeding Mads.  However I was also under the opinion that if it didn't work then I would rather have a happy baby and be a happy Mummy and formula feed instead.

Of course yes it hurt to start with.  It hurt like hell, and at the time I wondered whether we would both be happier bottle feeding, I would literally sob with pain every time I tried to feed her.  However we then had a slight setback (aka the worst day of my life so far) when she was a week old and we went to get her from her nap, and she was just pale and floppy and wouldn't wake up.  Cue a mad dash to A and E, and a very scary few hours, followed by a stay in hospital for both of us, and I think I just got it into my head that in order to protect her from infection I needed to breastfeed.  I wrote all about that here.

Breastfeeding wasn't easy for me.  I was hospitalised with mastitis, had the infection another four times and Mads refused my left side so I had to literally be a hermit and leave my friends and baby groups to go home and express off one side every few hours.  Otherwise I would have had very lopsided boobies.

Eventually it all settled down around six months and I loved feeding Mads.  For me it was easy, natural, it helped me lose my baby weight while eating copious amounts of chocolate cake, and it cost nothing.  I loved the closeness it brought us.  When I did eventually finish which was around 10 or 11 months, I remember crying like a baby because my little girl was 'growing up too quick'.  I had many happy times feeding her and I am glad that I got through all the struggles to do it.

Which brings me to baby number two.  I have a massive fear that I won't be able to breastfeed this time around.  And weirdly enough I care even more so this time.  Last time if we hadn't had the setback and I had switched to formula, I wouldn't have known any different- we would have both been happy.  This time I know that I managed to feed Mads for eleven months- I want to be able to do the same for her little sister.

I know they say it is easier the second time around as you know what you are doing a little more- but I am still worried.  The usual what if she doesn't latch on correctly?  Or what if my milk supply isn't strong enough?  As it didn't come easy to us last time, I have a fear that it won't work this time around.  

And I really want it too.  I want that wonderful breastfeeding experience I had with Mads when she was around six months old- but I want it earlier this time, I want to enjoy and love feeding my newborn.  I know it is early to think about it but I just really want a positive experience.  Yes I am prepared to slather on the Lansinoh cream and for it to hurt to start with, but I just want to have those magical moments earlier this time.

I don't have an opinion on how others feed their babies, whatever makes a happy Mummy and a happy baby.  But this Mummy won't be happy if she doesn't manage it this time around.

 And I hate feeling that way.



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