Welcome to the very first instalment of The Newborn Feeding Series! I was so thrilled with the response I got to my previous post requesting your stories for this series, I’m so excited to read everyone’s posts and create a weekly judgement-free space on this blog where the realities of newborn feeding can be shared.
First up is Rachael and her experience of feeding her son, Tommy.
Before I had children of my own, I never really had much of an opinion on breastfeeding vs bottle feeding. I always thought, “oh yeah I’ll try breastfeeding, but if it doesn’t work out then I’ve give them a bottle”, no big deal. I had watched my older sister breastfeed her two eldest children and was almost slightly horrified about how openly she would just whip out a boob, pop baby on, anytime any place… “Oh I wouldn’t do that” I said………..
Then I fell pregnant, and my maternal instincts kicked in, I was DETERMINED to breastfeed. I had no idea why, I just NEEDED to do it. The moment that little man was placed on my chest (after an excruciating 2 day labour) the first words out of my mouth were “shall I breastfeed now?”.
On he popped, minutes after birth, the perfect latch. “That’s amazing”, the midwifes said to each other, “it takes some mothers days to get to this point”. In my sleep deprived, post labour daze, I didn’t really take in what they were saying, or what was happening, but I have never taken that moment for granted as I know so many women have struggled to get that first latch.
The next few days were the hardest, my little man fed constantly, his second night home he went from boob to boob from 7pm until 4am, screaming every time I took him off. I was exhausted, I had swollen nipples covered in blisters, and I cried all night long. Why isn’t he satisfied? Why aren’t I producing enough milk for him? This wouldn’t be the first of my breastfeeding meltdowns.
The next morning, after about 2 hours of sleep, I woke up with with breasts the size of melons. Rock hard and over engorged, my milk had come in!! My “why aren’t I producing enough milk for him?” meltdown, suddenly felt like a lifetime away. I could feed every baby on the street if I wanted to (cue breastfeeding meltdown no 2, too much milk, ahhhhh!!)
After 2-3 days this went down, but Tommy still continued to feed every hour, day and night, without fail. My attempts at trying to get him to go longer between feeds were to no avail. He fed little and often and that’s how he was happy. I gave up trying to fight it (oh, hello breastfeeding meltdown no 3!)
I also tried expressing milk and giving it to him in a bottle so me and my husband could share he load, but he wasn’t having any of that either. (Meltdown no 4, you say?) No he wanted it fresh from the boob, and wouldn’t take it any other way. Again, after a few weeks I gave up trying and ended up donating my expressed milk to a local milk bank instead. We didn’t try the bottle again until he was 9 months old when I went back to work, and he took it then with no issues.
My other breastfeeding meltdowns included:
– Why does he keep sucking for comfort and then projectile vomiting everywhere because he has over fed?
– Why won’t he sleep? Will formula help him sleep better?
– Why does he only want to feed off my right boob? What’s wrong with the left one?
– Teeth, oh god teeth! Why does he keep biting my boob and thinking it’s funny?
– Etc. Etc.
I breastfed right up until a few weeks shy of my sons 1st birthday. I stopped when I felt like I, and he, was ready to stop. I had a freezer full of expressed milk still, so we gave him half and half breastmilk and cows milk from a bottle until it was all gone. But with stopping breastfeeding came a whole new world of pain, discomfort and blocked ducts. I had blocked ducts before, but Tommy always managed to feed them out quite quickly, but without a baby to pull them though, they were really hard to shift.
I think all in all with my breastfeeding journey, I was really lucky I had such a good support network around me. My husband was so supportive, and I had my mum and sister at the end of the phone constantly for advice and “keep going” motivation. Without this I would’ve really struggled and probably given up much earlier on.
Motherhood is all a learning curve, and breastfeeding has definitely been the biggest one for me. Even with the struggles and the ‘meltdowns’ I’ve had, I loved every single second of it. I’m so glad I stuck with it, I just hope I am lucky enough to do the same for any future children I may have.
I can totally relate to Rachael’s story, so much self-doubt and ‘meltdowns’ can plague any parenting decisions and experiences! I’m glad it was overall a positive experience for them both though. You can find Rachael on Instagram at @rachaelkellett, and her small business (which sells the loveliest MAMA print bags and tees, seriously, go check them out!) at www.rachaelkellett.bigcartel.com .
I hope you enjoyed the first in this series and will come back for more! If there’s anyone out there who are, or have been, in a similar situation and need any advice please contact Rachael or myself, we’d be happy to give support wherever it might be needed.
Also, if you have a story to share, please contact me at email@example.com.
See you next week!