Breastfeeding… a realistic account

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Morning my lovelies,

So, breastfeeding. Everyone’s favourite controversial subject! Every one of us mummies that has made the decision to breastfeed has their own experiences, and it certainly isn’t always what we expected. So I wanted to share our experience and story, which I hope provides some reassurance to those of you who might be struggling or frustrated with it all.

I went to NCT classes before Josh was born and one session was entirely dedicated to breastfeeding. Great I thought. Breastfeeding was something really important to me; it was something I knew I wanted to do but was concious of the difficulties that can occur and I was very paranoid I wouldn’t be able to do it. The class was very helpful but, honestly, it painted a very pretty picture. It made it all sound quite easy… we were shown some videos about the placement of baby and how they should latch and it was all made to sound incredibly natural, like the baby would pop out and crawl up to your breast and you’d be away.

Now, whether they showed us all this to promote the positives of breastfeeding in attempt to diminish any worries we had about it I don’t know. I do know all us girls left thinking “OK, this shouldn’t be too difficult”.

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Of course the challenges didn’t start until our babies arrived. Thank God for one of my best friends drumming into me the importance of getting the baby checked for tongue tie as soon as he was born, because this was not something that wasn’t really brought up in the NCT classes which is ridiculous because it is so common. Fortunately I asked for Josh to be checked for it the day after he was born and sure enough he had tongue tie. Confusingly I was told at first it was very mild, but a week when later when it was snipped, the doctor told me it was quite severe. I was so lucky I only had a week of enduring it before having it dealt with, because a lot of women have a far longer wait and the honest truth is, it is absolute agony! We had a good first two days of breastfeeding before the pain started, but by day three, I’m not going to sugar coat it, it was f***ing agony. My nipples were cracked, and bloody and I took to either wearing  one of my husbands shirts, or rocking the topless look, because I didn’t want anything touching my skin. Thank God for Lanolin cream – if you are a mummy to be buy it! It doesn’t matter how much it costs, you will thank me for it later! I remember Josh latching on and sometimes I’d be yelping in pain, but I was absolutely determined to stick at it. I knew I only had a week to get through before it would be dealt with which I think helped and I was additionally spurred on by the fact that Josh barely lost any of his birth weight. Knowing I was getting the weight on him and the milk in him got me through and sure enough once his tongue tie was fixed things improved.

But as with all babies, they like to change the goal posts at any given moment and we have had other struggles. At about 4 weeks Josh decided he wasn’t going to take off my right boob and refused it and would only take off my left boob (a title for my book maybe ha ha!). I was really struggling around this time with sleep deprivation and feeling a bit low and was in despair the morning he started this. Predicatably he picked up on my upset mood and decided to cry all morning, as did I. In my desperation to sooth my ridiculously full right boob I did my first express. I was then saved by my mother in law who came over, calmed me down, tucked me in bed (like I was the baby bless her), so I caught up on sleep and she looked after Josh. When I woke up she told me she’d seen the bottle of expressed milk and given it to Josh who, thank the Lord, happily accepted it! It hadn’t even occured to me that this could be the answer to some of my problems; the sleep deprivation and Josh being less keen on one side so I was beyond happy to discover he took the bottle with no problems. From then on, I’d express every morning and was very lucky as I could easily express a good 100ml each day. Then in the evening I’d go to bed at 8pm and Sam would stay up and give Josh the bottle at 11pm/midnight. It was officially a god send because I’d then get to sleep from 8pm through to about 2/3am when Josh would be due his next feed. I honestly don’t know how I’d have got through those first few weeks without this routine.

Now that Josh is 3 months we have changed things a bit. I now breastfeed again for a dream feed at 10/11pm and then do a night feed around 4pm and it is fine. My body has adjusted to this sleep pattern and, thankfully, Josh has stopped fussing and will take off the right boob again. Occasionally I express so Sam can give Josh a feed before bed at 6pm just to keep Josh familiar with the bottle (which I need him to be for when someone else baby sits him whilst I escape to the hairdressers, tesco, or any opportunity for a girls night out) plus it’s nice for Sam to still get to feed him occasionally.

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So as you can see we’ve had quite a journey! As has pretty much every other mummy I know. All us girls from our NCT group have endured some sort of difficulties or frustrations along the way, some more distressing than others. But we’ve also all stuck it out and persevered with breastfeeding. Some of us use bottles, or also use formula, but the main thing is we are all happy and have healthy growing babies. We’ve all had to find our own path that suits us. And I think it’s safe to say we’ve all felt a little bit disappointed that our class painted such a pretty picture of breastfeeding because for some of us, the difficulties we’ve endured where an unexpected shock. I think us mummies need to be aware that as amazing as breastfeeding is, especially when established and you’re settled down, it is also bloody hard. It comes with challenges as well as peoples strong opinions (FYI – do what is right for you and your baby. Don’t take any crap from people pressuring you or forcing unnecessary opinions on you!!! This is SO important. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty if you choose to bottle feed; it is no one else’s business other than you and your babies), and the daunting prospect of mastering feeding in public, if this is something you choose to do.  I’ve had a couple of occasions of staring, which is annoying as I feed very subtly and dress so that there is nothing on display as well as draping a scarf over me and Josh. Being the feisty little madam I am, I manage to ignore any disapproving looks or I just throw a good glare back if I feel at all intimidated by someone’s opinions! As I say, I’m a feisty gal so I’m not about to put up with peoples unspoken judgements!

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It seems anyone and everyone has an opinion on breastfeeding these days and that can cause us Mummies, yep you guessed it, guilt. As if we don’t put enough pressure on ourselves. All I will say is be prepared, it can come with challenges but if it is what you want and you stick at it, it is so worth it Above all, do what is right for you and your baby. One of my favourite times is when I’m feeding Josh before he goes to sleep and as he feeds he looks up at me with those gorgeous big eyes; it’s just me and him and we’ve managed to do the journey together!

Thank for reading – I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences

Fi xx

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This Mum's Life

 


47 thoughts on “Breastfeeding… a realistic account

  1. Breastfeeding is definitely a journey and not as easy as people think. I think the biggest lie is that it doesn’t hurt – it does, at least in the beginning! I thought I was doing something wrong because my nipples were all cracked and bleeding, but that was just them getting used to being used in a different way. They healed a few weeks later, but it was excruciating at first. #coolmumclub

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  2. This post needs to be circulated in Bounty packs. Why oh why do all of the health care professionals lead us to believe that it is a pain free and easy peasy experience, when in fact the early weeks can be incredibly difficult and painful. Is it worth it though once you get through the “grit your teeth” stage? Absolutely! I am so pleased that you found a way to make it work for you.

    Dawn x
    #coolmumclub

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  3. Two of my friends had babies in january and it brought it all back when I asked how they were getting on, a week or two in, and all both of them talked about was the breastfeeding. Nothing really prepares you for how relentless it is, and I think every month, day, or even feed you manage deserves a medal! Sounds like you have it nailed now, good for you hun. xxx
    Thanks for sharing with #coolmumclub – this reminds me I should do a breastfeeding post before the memories are erased forever!

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  4. Before having a baby I’d heard breastfeeding was ‘hard’ but I couldn’t really imagine how, we never talked about the specifics of breastfeeding challenges in our ante-natal classes either. We had a rough start because baby was prem and simply refused to latch for the first 8 weeks, I was pumping, sterilising and bottle feeding around the clock and it was exhausting and stressful. He did get the hang of it and we kept it up for a year but there were plenty of times I wanted to chuck it in. I’m glad to hear you’ve gotten past your initial challenges and are now finding it really worthwhile to have stuck at it 🙂

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  5. Having just written about breastfeeding myself, it was great to hear about someone’s actual experience. Congratulations for getting through the initial pain – I know how excruciating cracked nipples are! X
    #TheList

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  6. This post is fantastic and needs to be read by more health professionals! Even on the postnatal ward, the HCAs seemed to be of the opinion that breastfeeding was easy, and they couldn’t seem to understand why I wasn’t getting it straight away and why I was asking for help. They didn’t help, just kept treating me like I was failing at doing something super easy, and the result? I ended up formula feeding.

    I’m at peace with that outcome now as SB is perfect anyway, but I know for my next baby I’ll be going in totally prepared, and anyone who dares to suggest that breastfeeding is super easy will be getting the short shrift! Really fantastic post lovely, and what a brilliant achievement x

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  7. I didn’t breastfeed but I totally agree about the importance of checking for tongue tie. We had problems with Marianna for a few weeks because she was being tube fed, but then wouldn’t take to sucking. Thankfully in her case it was more laziness that was the problem – she was too used to her belly just filling up without effort! x #KCACOLS

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  8. Ah, the NCT breastfeeding class! To be honest I found mine quite useful. I was a bit sceptical about the whole “crawling to the breast” thing. I get that it’s a real phenomenon but I just knew it wouldn’t happen for me, in the same way that I just knew that with all the hypnobirthing and yoga classes in the world I would not give birth on a lotus leaf in the middle of a pool with no pain relief except a bit of deep breathing. HOWEVER, we are here, and 19 months later, Piglet is still a voracious breastfeeder showing no signs of slowing down. I credit lanolin with everything! #KCACOLS

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  9. I could have written this post myself! My husband is a restaurant managers so I went to sleep early and he’d m feed our son an expressed bottle when he came in so I could get a decent chunk of sleep, anything else was a bonus. I too found the NCT breastfeeding class to make it out to be this easy, natural thing when it’s not and it takes time for the baby and you to learn how to do it. We have a support group called Little Angels in our area that specifically help with breastfeeding – they are amazing and can be called out whenever you need.
    Well done on writing a truely honest post. I hope it gives others support because I certainly wish I’d read it before I became a mum. #kcacols

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    1. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment hun – I’d love to get it out there to people to read so they have an idea of what to come! It’s not all bad at all, but it is tough to start with. I’m so glad you enjoyed it xx

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  10. I remember attending that very class, and coming away thinking it looks so easy, and also being a bit disturbed by how much of your nipple goes into the baby’s mouth! In reality it is so hard, I had a c-section so could barely lift or hold our little one, but a My Brest Friend pillow saved me, along with a helpful midwife. I’m glad that the tongue tie got sorted for you quickly. Claire x #KCACOLS

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  11. Breastfeeding is super hard. My mummy BF’d me until I was 6 months old. At the beginning I was tied to her constantly. The wonder weeks and growth spurts meant some days she didn’t leave the house and just walked around with her boobs out!! Lol. It was well worth all the pain and struggle though. She misses it like crazy, the closeness and the fulfilling love when I used to feed. Great post! #KCACOLS

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  12. I always love reading a success story and I am so happy that you worked through the difficulties. Breastfeeding definitely gets easier. I have 4 children and fed all of them. Through, Mastitis and blockages and cracked nipples and what not. We just suffer through, don’t we? looking back I would do it all over again and I wish I knew then what I know now. With my last baby who weaned himself off at 9 months it was a walk in the park. But breastfeeding is hard work. its a very tiring and physically straining thing. enjoy is nonetheless.

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  13. It is really hard and 5 of my 6 just wouldnt even entertain it but my last little girl we managed a couple of weeks before the pain and lack of sleep was making me a not nice mummy so something had to give and i wont feel guilty for something i know was right for us 🙂 Whatever choices you make you do whats right for you and your family 🙂

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  14. I’m so glad I breastfed both my girls, but it definitely wasn’t easy and neither experience was the same. My first little girl wouldn’t take a bottle so we continued on the boob until she was nine-months old. My second lost a lot of weight after birth so we had to do a feeding plan. It was all a bit emotional and I totally gave up on expressing because of the pain it caused me. We combination fed until seven months and she’s now on formula all the time. The good thing about breastfeeding second time around was that I was much more confident about what was right and wrong. Experience is everything, no NCT video is going to give you that 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing on #KCACOLS and I hope you can join in again next week x

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  15. Another brilliantly honest post!! It was great to hear your account of breastfeeding, and maybe you should send this to your NCT teacher? I too was really disappointed with the NCT breastfeeding class, but not until after I’d had my baby. I was totally naive about breastfeeding-none of my friends had babies, and the only person I’d ever discussed it with was my mum, who’d had no problems, a massive supply of milk, and loved breastfeeding so much she did extended feeding with both me and my brother. So like a div, I expected it to be as easy as that! Cue ridiculous amounts of guilt, shame and tears when with baby number 1, my milk didn’t come in (for long and complicated reasons.) The feeling of failure never left, and I was determined to rectify my ‘failures’ with baby number 2. I was successful this time, but I just didn’t like it. I hated doing it in public (it mortified me,) so I stopped going out, which in turn made me really anxious and fairly mental. I persevered for 3 months, because I felt I couldn’t deny my baby what I was easily producing. But in the end, I gave up. I then had the guilt of feeling like a failure for not enjoying it! But the anxiety it caused me caused me endless panic attacks, and my mental health nose dived. I didn’t win in either situation!!
    I’m glad you’ve got a routine and solutions that work for you, and well done Josh for taking a bottle!!
    Thanks for sharing with #bigpinklink

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    1. I’m gutted that you felt any guilt – we go through so much of that and it’s not our fault! It sounds like you had a really tough time honey I am so sorry! I am sure you are a super strong chick for it all now though . Never feel like a failure hun you’re awesome x

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  16. There’s just not enough real information about breastfeeding out there! They sugarcoat it to make Mum’s do it when if I’d been told the reality of how it can be, I think I’d have been more likely to carry on. I breastfed for 3 months and regretted stopping, but I had a lack of support and no idea what to expect so figured I sucked at it. Hoping for better with baby #2. Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays. Kaye xo

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    1. It is so sad to read that you thought that of yourself hun – we do need so much more support on this subject. They drum into us that we should do us but they support just isn’t there! You will be fabulous with #2 I bet xx

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  17. I came away from our NCT breastfeeding class with a similar impression – that my baby would know exactly what to do and that if I just held him in the right position, he’d just get on with it! It was a big learning curve for both of us, and we really struggled at first. I had great help from our local Baby Cafe, which I’d really recommend to anyone who’s struggling. I’m really glad to hear it’s all going well for you now though (and well done for adding in a bottle occasionally too – we struggled with that as well, even though we started trying fairly early on) #bigpinklink

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  18. My NCT classes were similar – that it’s all natural and will come together really easy. It didn’t 😦 I ended up giving up and feeling really bad about it. Having read numerous blogs, I’ve been relieved to know I’m not the only one

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  19. What a great post. My breastfeeding days are long gone, but I do remember friends who took NCT classes having a similar experience, with thinking it was going to be a doddle and then the reality being completely different, and therefore they felt like failures. I was lucky not to have any problems with feeding, and in our town we had a wonderful NHS-led breastfeeding support service who held drop-in sessions each week, so that really helped. What you experienced with the change of routine I can really relate too. Just when you thought you were in a nice routine of feeding patterns, baby goes and changes it all and you start all over getting the balance right, and your boobs catching up with the new routine! Well done on sticking at it. 🙂 Kathy x #KCACOLS

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  20. Yes, I found the same – they make it sound very simple. I breastfed both of mine for over a year, but not without difficulties. I’m sure they want to encourage people by making it seem easy, but I actually suspect that it has the opposite effect. I think it means that a lot of people when they start and it is hard assume that there is something wrong with them & it is meant to be simple & so give up thinking they can’t do it (not that I think there is anything wrong with giving it up at all, but it is a shame for those people who really wanted to do it & are upset about not being able to, if it was more an issue that false expectations made them believe something was wrong when it wasn’t easy). I also think they need to do more to stop people from panicking that their babies are starving. They’re not. A lot of newborns take quite a while to get the hang of the latch, but their nutritional needs in the first few days are very low. They are not going to starve because you struggle with the latch. Both of mine struggled. It was really bad with eldest and I really panicked about her. I think what made it settle easier with second was that I was calmer and did not start worrying anything was immediately going to happen to her. I actually believe that the professionals often make this panic worse because they are usually putting quite a lot of pressure on you to show baby can latch properly in first few hours. I think that’s more about them being confident that they can discharge you, but it makes it seem like it is a disaster and baby is in danger if not having good feeds immediately. I really don’t think that’s the case. They only drink a tiny amount anyway to start and they mostly want to sleep. I think less pressure and a more relaxed approach generally makes latching easier for mothers and babies. And both of mine also had phases of entirely refusing one breast – don’t know what that’s about! #KCACOLS

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  21. Well said – women should be better prepared for the highs and lows of breastfeeding. Sugar coating what can be a difficult journey for many only helps set mums up to feel guilty and upset if it doen’t go quite to plan. You are absolutely right, how a woman chooses to feed her baby is her business and nothing to do with anyone else, it has to be right for mum and baby. Good on you for keeping going through the difficult times! #Brillblogposts

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