In all honesty breast feeding has never been my strong suit. For some mums it’s the thing that comes easy. I believe everyone’s journey still involves some learning and some discomfort but on the whole within those first few weeks come mums can be confidently feeding, their babies are gaining weight and their whole time isn’t spent thinking about the next feed or the next weigh in.
My story was different, I wanted to breastfeed I sought out information about how to support that choice and what problems can occur and when my first baby was born we had a go.
Be stubborn with support
My first experience of feeding was clouded with an initial separation from my baby while recovering from labour and being kicked out of hospital before he was even latching. Second time round I knew I wasn’t going anywhere unless I felt more confident feeding or at least knew where help was going to come from. I could of left hospital but I was still having to hand express and didn’t feel like I knew what was going to happen next, so we stayed an extra night and an amazing Maternity Support Worker stayed with me both nights helping me and helping my little one to feed. We didn’t leave hospital with the perfect latch and everything sorted but I felt confident that I knew what to do next. If you have a chance when you are pregnant look up where you nearest breastfeeding support is so that you are prepared and ready should you need it once you are home.
Take it day by day
On my worst days when I would dread feeds or find expressing a little soul destroying, I would say, just one more day. I made my best feeding decisions actually on my best days not my worst. The combination of babies changing so quickly and your hormones being so up and down can mean that some days you can handle it better than others. Wait till you have a good day and good couple of hours and then make a call. Even second time round I don’t think I had that moment of, ‘oh I’m actually breastfeeding you’ until about 10 weeks in so it can take time for it to all come together.
Find your own rhythm
My little girl stayed the same weight for about 6 weeks and even though everyone cheered me on feeding her myself I kept being seen for extra weigh ins and being referred to doctors and consultants. It came to a point when I knew that if I gave her one bottle of formula a day it might be enough amongst my feeds to just tip her into gaining weight and give me that comfort and break to know that she was having a big meal of meaty formula at least once a day.
From about 7 months I gradually started swapping breastfeeds for formula feeds. Again this was my own choice in how long I felt comfortable breastfeeding for and my work commitments as well. Now she’s 10 months having three meals and day and 3 formula bottles and for us that works really well. Find your rhythm, if you feel a slave to feeding all the time then express and give a bottle or give some formula. If you know you are heading back to work soon practice a new rhythm so you can work out what works for you and baby.
This is just my story, every family is different, every mum is different, every child is different.
If you would like to seek support for your feeding journey this is a great resource – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/breastfeeding-help-support/