Starting breastfeeding, my journey will always stay in my mind. I knew I wanted to breastfeed and when my eldest was born it was one of the first things we tried, after we had some cuddles.
I breastfed for 10 months and am pleased and proud I managed to. However, it isn’t possible for everyone and honestly I don’t care or judge but there is often some divide between the breastfeeding and formula feeding camps. It’s such an emotive topic and although I know the breastfeeding message will never change, not everyone will manage it.
I started breastfeeding almost immediately after my eldest was born. I was sat up on the bed and the midwife just slapped her on me. I didn’t have a clue but I was informed she had taken in some colostrum goodness. Brilliant, I thought! It worked!
We all went to sleep until morning as it was about 3am by the time we had all settled down. I didn’t have a clue when the gremlin next wanted feeding. She never cried until we got home! The midwives at the midwifery-led unit in Solihull were great. They told me I could stay as long as I needed until I cracked it. I was told to try it lying down but it was so hard. I just couldn’t get the gremlin to latch on. I thought I’d done it a few times but it hurt and I just wanted to go home, so I assured the lovely ladies I was fine.
I wasn’t fine when the milk came in. It is more dilute than colostrum and not as nutrient dense so the night after, the gremlin fed ALL night, as she seemed to get used to it. The pain in my chest and down my arms was awful; I was so engorged. If I wouldn’t get done for posting pornographic pictures on blogger, I would post a picture of my boobs at the time; they were out of this world. Who needs a boob job? I knew I had to feed my gremlin to get my body to produce the right amount of milk for her. I remember sobbing in the shower as my hubby tried to manually express just a little to relieve the pain. We couldn’t do too much as my clever body would think the gremlin had drank it and make more!
The next challenge was I had to go to my bro-in-law’s wedding 5 days after giving birth which was one of the hardest things I have ever done. The gremlin fed throughout the ceremony and speeches (bloody typical) and I was still fighting for her to latch on. I felt tired and nauseous but we managed it! The amount of compliments I got for coming out so soon, dressing up and feeding her were a very big confidence boost though.
To an extent I was fine. The gremlin did seem to be feeding but only from my left side properly. She just really struggled to latch onto the right side. The midwife came around for a few days and tried to help me with positioning. I was told to the rugby ball hold but I struggled and got a cracked right nipple and a melon for a left boob. The body is too smart for it’s own good with a fab feedback mechanism; the more she fed on the left; the bigger it got!
It probably took a good 2-3 weeks for me to settle down and for me to know I was doing it right. My girl cluster fed like a loon from around 4-10pm some nights but she went down, slept until 2am, fed again and woke in the morning. I could manage on that. I wasn’t sure I was enjoying it at first but this changed as time passed. I can still remember that desperation when I knew I needed to feed and my girl was asleep. That warm tingling with the let down reflex and warm milk dribbling all over my PJs and never being able to wear a dress. Despite the fun and games, I always look back fondly now.
I didn’t have the foggiest idea how long the breastfeeding was going to last but I was pleased we were on the right track!
I’m happy to report that since I wrote this post, I have gone on to breastfeed my second and third babies. I’m so proud I managed it and am just in the process of stopping with the third. I will always remember starting breastfeeding though, such a hard and amazing thing!