Tag Archives: breastfeeding week

Breastfeeding Celebration Week.

First Time Mum Hopes

Right from when I fell pregnant with my first daughter, breastfeeding was definitely something I wanted to try, even if I couldn’t do it for long, I knew I needed to have a go. Early induction, due to Pre-Eclampsia, a very slow labour ending in an emergency caesarean section, nothing was going according to the plan in which I wanted.

She was whisked into NICU and I was introduced to a breast pump. Unfortunately days after birth was when my breastfeeding journey with her went downhill. I was made to have bed rest for 24 hours, where I couldn’t see my baby, it was difficult being inexperienced figuring out how to pump. There was the odd nice midwife who took their time to try and help. But I ended up getting mixed messages from the Antenatal Ward and NICU, it was terribly confusing. At six days old she was allowed to come to the ward with me. Being tube fed for the days she was in NICU, it was also difficult for her, head moving from side to side, we were both getting frustrated.

Short Progress

 

A stern midwife, old school I guess came and thought she was helping, yet actually, she triggered the final switch for me to end. She picked up my daughter, held her by the back of the head, grabbed my breast, and roughly pushed us together, no chance of her (who was 4lb 8oz born but had, of course, dropped weight too), ever being able to latch, looking back now, it was impossible.

Going home on day eight feeling deflated and drained, my body had been through a lot, by day nine our breastfeeding journey stopped. It is something I will always deeply regret, particularly as I look back from where I am now to back then.

Next Baby

Just under three years later, I had my son. Once again I really wanted to try breastfeeding again. This time I was left to my own mind. It was an elective caesarean that time, he was able to stay with me, rather than be taken to NICU, which of course was a huge relief. I was numb and unable to move, I couldn’t quite reach my bell by my bed, so it gave me the opportunity to have a go at latching him by myself. Thankfully he took to it, a complete natural, he fed beautifully and a lot. I was soon advised by family members and health visitors to top him up with formula because he seemed to be feeding “too much”. But we continued, even when I returned to work, he’d have a feed at breakfast, then at bedtime and overnight.

The relationship between his Dad and I broke down, I continued to feed a little while longer but made the decision with a new relationship forming, that around two years old was enough for both of us. (My son and I). I felt so pleased to have gotten that far with him, he mostly weaned himself; he’d go days where he wouldn’t want a feed. But it was the perfect end to how I’d wanted.

Premature Breastfeeding

With a new relationship, we started to add to our family, fell pregnant with my next daughter. After a difficult pregnancy, she was born via emergency caesarean section at just 26+6 weeks, the point of delivery I had no idea as to whether she’d survive let alone breastfeeding her, at the point of birth I didn’t think it would happen.

But it did, but not direct.

As soon as I was back in recovery, I had an amazing midwife (definitely a lot more hands-on than the earlier one), who came to my room, armed with syringes, and a knitted boob. My arms were full of needles and BP equipment, I could barely move, numb, but also in pain and very anxious, she was determined to get the best start for our girl, who I didn’t even know how she was doing.

She patiently showed me how to hand express, used the knitted boob, helped show me the position for my hands to be in, she even showed my husband – that was amusing. After some movement, I had expressed 1.5ml. I wasn’t overly impressed, I guess I was expecting it to just flow out. But the Midwife was thrilled; even 1.5 ml would at that stage be far too much for our tiny little girl. (1.5lb of tiny). It was a start. It was the start of my pumping journey for our micro premature baby.

 

Expressing

Although my eldest was born early, and there were pumps involved, this level of prematurity was really a whole new level of difficulty.

I’d still have to pump around the clock as if I had a baby with me, it was hard when all I had was a picture or a Muslim square for her scent, but in reality, it really is not the same.

I’d walk into the unit, with my little bottles of expressed milk, placed in the freezer, it was my routine, it was a special walk knowing that I was feeding her.

There were times where they would give her formula, it certainly wasn’t ideal, would have rather donor milk, but of course, it wasn’t available. I just wanted her to have the best start for someone so early. I’d have domperidone to help bring in my supply, to keep up with her demands.

I was able to express by her cot, where I would shoot my husband in the backside with the milk which had missed the bottle. Him being surprised that my milk was warm, is one of my favourite memories.

Unfortunately, our pumping journey came to an abrupt end, when she passed away at five weeks old.

My freshly pumped milk and breast pump, I threw in the bin, swapping my domperidone for tablets to make the milk which had come in on the day she died, to stop.

I’m afraid I wasn’t the person to donate my unused milk; it was the last thing on my mind. I found it incredibly hard to have milk, and absolutely no baby.

 

Determination

Our baby after our daughter arrived 13 months later. Not only was I determined for her not to enter NICU, but to never have a drop of formula. I’d developed a fear of it, it wasn’t the cause of death, of course, it wasn’t but my brain had somehow associated it with our lost daughter, it was something I just didn’t want for our new baby.

Again she took to the breast instantly, she dropped weight, and there were talks of formula and NICU trips, things that were definitely off the list of things we wanted.

With sheer determination, and a supportive husband, we were able to stay home, avoid NICU and we avoided formula, for six months she was exclusively breastfed, carrying on her feeding until a little over three. (Although has had a sneaky overnight boob with her sister, and I  expressed some when she was really ill, at four years old).

We tandem fed for a while, once her little sister was born, and we fed through my very difficult pregnancy with her, suffering from severe Hyperemesis, it was the only thing I could cope with.

 

The final baby

My fifth and final pregnancy, as I mentioned above was very challenging, many, many hospital trips, vomiting so many times a day. Our youngest was born via my fifth caesarean section. She took to feeding sooner than any of them before her, wanted a breast before I had finished being stitched back together.

She has pretty much stayed on the breast ever since!

She has just turned two, with no signs of stopping anytime soon. She has had to deal with allergies, which meant I have had to go product free. Starting with gluten, wheat, celery, milk free. She has come out of the gluten, wheat and celery intolerances, but we’re still working on the dairy.

So, for me, this was another new challenge, but removing these from my diet, was so worth it, as I have been able to continue to feed her through tummy pains and reflux.

I will be sad once the feeding has ended, as she is my final baby. But I really am proud of what we have achieved together.

 

Support

This brings me to my Best Breast Friend – my husband.

He has been my rock through all the difficult times of feeding.

From getting up at 4 am for pumping sessions, making me a cup of tea, putting the pump together, even when at times I would fall back to sleep!

Providing me with a mountain of flapjack or oaty products, letting me take baby moons with the youngest two.

Researching the various dairy free options for dieting or treats…

 

Breastfeeding Love

Breastfeeding was something that I had always wanted to try, for me personally it is one of the most natural things you can do for your baby. What I didn’t expect was just how difficult it would be, or that you need to have good support from the people around you. My journey has gotten longer with each child, I am very proud of what we have achieved.

It wasn’t the easiest of roads, but I feel so lucky to have breastfed for the amount of time we have.

I’d like to share some of my favourite things that helped me through breastfeeding my babies.

Anti-Visiting

Every single person is desperate for a glimpse of your new baby, while most are considerate and respectful of new routines and feeding regimes; there are also those who think nothing more than to just sit and cuddle your new baby. This is of course lovely but often they are reluctant to hand the baby back, and try themselves to settle them. Babies aren’t keen on being passed from pillar to post, they’re happy being close to milk and mum. There is plenty of time for cuddles in the weeks after baby has arrived, the first few days and even weeks are so important for bonding. It is a time to help with healing, to readjust to the new surge of hormones. It all takes a great deal of time to settle in. Visitors can wait a little longer.

 

Bringing in the milk

It is a misconception that producing milk is a quick process to happen, many become impatient for it to arrive. Some assume that having a caesarean section can also stop milk production, yes it can be a little slower but it does come. It can take five days for your full milk production to come through. Our bodies are absolutely incredible; when everything works as it should (it is rare to not produce anything at all), our bodies send messages to the supply it connects to our babies. If our babies have a cold, they somehow get the message across to produce the milk needed to help get rid of said cold. The way our bodies communicate with our new babies, is somewhat magical.

 

Baby Moon

There are many ways to help increase or encourage milk production, some are easier than others. One of my personal favourites was to take a baby moon. There was a couple of days when baby number 4 wasn’t gaining enough weight (but she was gaining), there was talks of topping her up with formula, even mention of taking her to special care; there was no way I wanted to do either. I’d done some research whilst carrying her and wanted to be sure of all avenues before I went down other routes; I knew from previous personal experience that topping up with formula can have an effect on milk production.

I was lucky enough to have a very supportive husband who helped me to take a baby moon; which was to place myself on a bed or sofa, stay there and just feed. He brought snacks and plenty of fluids but simply built up my supply to cater for my baby; by the next weigh-in her jaundice had reduced significantly, and she gained weight. It is also a fantastic way to build bonding and a relationship with your baby. It isn’t always possible to have a baby moon, but it is lovely if you can.

Support

It is drummed into you so much about having the right support to help you through what can be some incredibly challenging months or even years if you find yourself going into “extended” breastfeeding. You need to have that support system in place, people to hold you up, to keep you going when it gets really hard. To listen and encourage you, believe it or not there can be some incredibly dark days, when you’re sleep deprived and hormones are in overdrive. It can be so overwhelming at times; you can find yourself questioning what you have done. This is when you need your people around you.

 

Edible Art

Not all these items are a magical helping hand, but for many and for me personally here are a few things which helped my milk production.

  • Oats – Porridge, Flap Jack. Flap Jack is a great snack to pop into your hospital bag.
  • Fenugreek – This one was the most successful for me; you can find it in things like Tikka. I’d have a Tikka in the evening by the next feed, my breasts would be more than ready to feed baby. Nappies are a little questionable though! (Save them for Dad!!)

Different things work (or don’t work) for everyone. The foods which didn’t work for my babies were.

  • Bananas
  • Caramel – which includes things like coke, and Dr Pepper
  • Leafy Veg
  • Coffee

This brings me to…

 

Dairy-Free

My last baby, even before leaving the hospital developed baby acne. She wasn’t ever comfortable and was upset a lot of the time, it was heart-breaking to watch, we all felt helpless. The GP told me that “babies cry”. This wasn’t helpful. So, I asked a friend who helps breastfeeding mums, and she suggested going dairy free, it would take about six weeks for the dairy to leave our system. So I did, I took the steps to make my baby feel better, we had no idea if it would work. Within days the acne had almost gone, I patiently counted the days to weeks while her crying became less and less. She wasn’t 100% comfortable all of the time, but by the 6th week she was a completely different child.

Although I am now able to have dairy in my diet – she was two when I was able to do that successfully, she still struggles with direct dairy. But I am glad I went down the dairy free route.

Vegan ice cream is amazing, and we always have dairy and gluten free homemade cakes – far nicer!

Premature/Special Care Babies

Check with your hospital about donor milk; our hospital at the time didn’t have one, and I wasn’t aware that such a thing existed. It is definitely worth enquiring at least while you build your supply up through pumping. Have a photo of your baby nearby; this doesn’t always work if I am honest, because having a baby away from you is incredibly stressful.

Have a couple of muslins, they’re light and can be placed onto of cot sheets, so you can place your milky scent with your baby, and your baby’s scent can be on the square for helping to express.

There are some medicines that can help too, speak to your health care professional about these.

Keep your fluids and snacks up and relax when you can.

Other Bits

Lactation Consultants, peer supporters online support is a great way of getting information and advice to help carry on with your breastfeeding journey.

Buy a sling, if you have no idea find your nearest sling library who can help advise and fit you with a sling to help you both feel comfortable. There are some wonderful slings out there; I wish I had used them with my older two children.