If ever there was a topic to divide the nation… that’s not what this post is about. I’m not here to tell you whether you should or shouldn’t breast feed your baby. It’s none of my business but I wanted to share my experience of it as a first time mum as I am sure (and hoping) that there are other women out there who have felt the same way.
All through my pregnancy I saw images on social media of women in their ‘mama bird’ t-shirts feeding their beautiful babies and making it look so easy, so serene and such a wonderful bonding time. Let me tell you how it was for me…
Hard, so incredibly hard. In fact it has been the hardest thing about being a new mum. It has been painful, stressful and emotionally draining.
Through my own errors in latching in the hospital I caused myself injury which got worse and worse until I could barely stand to feed the baby. Once we were home I continued to make the same mistakes and the situation got worse, I would sit and cry every time I heard Amelia stir or cry because I knew she was hungry, I knew I was going to have to feed her and I just couldn’t bare it.
I begged my husband to go and buy formula, I just couldn’t stand the pain to feed her anymore. He asked me to stick it out, to give myself time for my milk supply to come in properly. He was incredible, he sat up all night researching how to improve supply, how to encourage milk to come in and different breast pumps we could try. We also attended a local birth centre where a maternity support work spent over an hour with us, one on one, showing me how to sit, how to hold Amelia, how to position her head for a correct latch. She even showed me how to hand express milk into a small bottle if I needed a break.
We bought breast pumps, 4 actually. We had purchased 2 whilst pregnant and I had tried them out on day 4 but had no success with them. It had taken almost 3 hours of pumping to express only 3oz of milk. Enough only for one feed, this made me feel even worse and I genuinely thought my body wasn’t going to allow me to breast feed, that I was never going to have enough milk but I just had to wait. We bought 2 more pumps and as my supply grew it got easier and easier to express.
Amelia took really well to the bottles, she didn’t seem to mind switching between bottles and boobs and I was starting to feel like I had more control. I knew that if I was sore I had milk in the fridge, I knew that my supply was increasing and my boobs were healing so I was able to breast feed her more often.
After a week of utter misery, tears and borderline depression over feeding I was finally starting to turn a corner. The bond I was missing with Amelia starting to form, I was able to enjoy cuddles with her and to know that I would be able to feed her when needed.
We’re now three weeks in, my milk has turned up and then some, I’m still pumping and using expressed milk when we go out (how do people even breast feed in public?) and sometimes we give her a bottle at night to give my boobs a rest to prevent them from becoming too sore and so far it seems to be working. Amelia is gaining weight, she’s happy, content, and we’re finally both able to enjoy the experience of breast feeding.
So that’s been my experience, I don’t mean to put anyone off breast feeding but I also felt that I needed to be honest about my experiences so that other mums know it’s all normal and it is hard. If you don’t take to it straight away, that’s okay, there is help out there you just have to ask for it. My best advice would be to make sure you ask for all the help you need before you leave hospital and come home. I didn’t realise I was doing it wrong and therefore I made my situation worse. The midwives are there for you, to support and educate you, all you need to do is ask and insist on it. Don’t let them discharge you if you’re not feeling confident.
Check back soon for a full review on all 4 of the breast pumps we purchased, my views of using them and which I would recommend.