When my son was born, after a long stint on bed rest, a csection under a general and then to see him lying in a humicrib in NICU I felt like my body had failed. I so desperately wanted to breastfeed, but I will admit I was afraid. What if my body failed again?
You see I only breastfed my term healthy baby (bar silent reflux, but that’s another post) for 2 weeks after receiving dodgy medical advice. We then had a horrible time getting her to feed from a bottle. It was a truly horrible 6 months, and the idea of feeding my baby filled me with nerves and fear.
But I was determined for it to work.
So when he was 9 hours old and I had my very first cuddle with him, I decided skin to skin would be best. I didn’t care about feeding at that point, I was just so excited to finally after many long months hold my baby.
He latched and fed of his own accord.
I’m so glad a good friend was there to capture the moment on film. It was a great start to our breastfeeding relationship.
Feeding was tiring for him, so he was topped up with my expressed milk after a feed. I cried tears of happiness when the feeding tube came out.
The first night we roomed in, we slept together skin to skin. I’d never felt so happy.
And then we came home.
To a toddler and a husband I’d left behind when I went on bed rest. Those relationships needed nurturing. The blessing was that the premmie slept all the time which gave me plenty of opportunities to spend time with my daughter who I missed so greatly.
We weren’t home long before we moved interstate. We babymooned in a Townsville resort, and at night I breastfed overlooking Magnetic Island. I didn’t cook, clean or lift a finger. Every afternoon my husband would take our daughter swimming. I really think this period of just relaxing, concentrating on breastfeeding and healing post birth was the key to our success. As was babywearing.
I had milk in abundance
I had no trouble with supply, I did make sure I ate oats and drank plenty of water. After we all got sick this winter I took Blessed Thistle as the flu gave me a giant supply drop but other then that it’s been like turning on a tap.
I’ll never forget sitting at Subway after walking about town figuring out our new surroundings feeding my babe. He decided to pop off just as I let down and milk poured everywhere. I was embarrassed, but also proud, my body worked.
I was pleasantly surprised
When my daughter decided to have a short stint back on the breast. We had just moved into our new home and she was very monkey see monkey do. She only fed again for a few short weeks, her latch wasn’t very good and I think she didn’t enjoy it as breasts aren’t portable like a sippy cup. But it helped heal our bond after almost 3 months of separation due to bed rest and hospitalisation.
I’ve been lucky
There’s been no pain, no discomfort, and no real difficulties this time around breastfeeding. I feel it dispelled a lot of myths for me, I always believed that breastfeeding is painful to start and that it’s always a lot of work.
Now I know this isn’t the case for everyone. But I think horror stories need not be told. You certainly don’t tell a marathon runner all the stories of other runners who don’t make it right as he’s standing on the starting line.
It’s not always awful, and it doesn’t always fail.
I consider us a breastfeedng success story. While it wasn’t painful or hard to establish it has been a lot of hard work, and it has been a commitment. I have done a lot of reading, asked a lot of questions and worked through issues like a blocked duct and a sleepy feeder. Our biggest issue was pressure from other sources to formula feed.
My son lost a lot of weight in NICU. The pressure was to supplement. I was told my milk wasn’t enough. I knew this was wrong. It was the schedule they had him on. He didn’t have frequent access to the breast. And as soon as we got home and onto demand feeding, he stacked on the weight.
Trust your instincts.
And learn to breastfeed lying down and in a baby carrier. Lying down feeding lets you rest and recover. Feeding in a baby carrier gives you hands free for toddler care and doing those essential tasks like cooking and throwing on a load of laundry. Or grocery shopping. Dishes, folding laundry, mopping… these can all wait.