Breastfeeding // The Early Days
“One Tuesday afternoon, the warm sun came out and POP! out of his Mama came a tiny and very hungry Baby. He started to look for some food.”
As soon as HRH entered the world, he lifted his teeny head and looked for my breast… and not much has changed since that day two weeks ago.
Establishing breastfeeding hasn’t been easy (is it ever?):
- We’ve had an inexperienced and miseducated Paediatric Registrar questioning my supply during an emergency hospital visit on day two/three. HRH had a rash and a temperature, and had been awake most of the night very fractious. He had marginally low blood sugar levels, so we were forced to give him formula because (as they wrote in my notes) my “supply was inadequate”… In actual fact, my milk hadn’t come in yet. I was producing plenty of colostrum, but not one of the health professionals listened to me; they thought they knew better. We almost discharged ourselves, as we were so angry with their lack of knowledge in regards to newborn babies and milk production.
- I’ve suffered from severe bleeding nipples again…
- …But this has been rectified by an amazingly observant and on-the-ball Student Midwife who noticed that HRH had tongue-tie. We were back in hospital that afternoon and, following an examination by a Senior Midwife, he was diagnosed with 80% tongue-tie and a frenotomy was performed there and then! Since then his latch has been fantastic, and I feel like we’ve made it through the proverbial breastfeeding wall.
It’s been quite the breastfeeding rollercoaster thus far.
I have times when I love it; the knowledge that I’m providing my offspring with all the food and nutrients he needs – and that I’m the one making that milk – fills me with immense pride. When he de-latches, utterly milk drunk with milk dribbling down his chin I feel a swell of joy, love and subliminal contentment.
I’m enjoying the bond we’re forming as Mother and Son, and I feel like I’m in-tune with him. He doesn’t have to cry in the night to ask for a feed as he did initially – he shuffles his head into my chin and nuzzles me until I wake up, as if he knows that I’m not so great with loud, immediate wake-up calls and that the gentler approach is far better!
But that total dependence also has a downside, and I do have moments (usually at about 2am after being woken up after only an hour or so of sleep) where I want to say to Nick “That’s it! No more! I’m stopping breastfeeding! Let’s give him a bottle so we can share feeds because I’m too tired to be awake and feeding for another two hours!”
There have been some tears – mostly when at my most sleep deprived during an epic cluster feeding day – where I’ve sobbed that I don’t know whether it’s worth continuing, whether it’s really and truly worth being constantly suckled and drained. Bottle feeding hasn’t harmed Busby; she’s an intelligent and healthy little girl, so why continue?
And then there’s my relationship with Busby, which has already been hugely affected by breastfeeding. She’s used to me being there for her 24/7, and although I knew that would change, I feel like I can’t really be there for her at all whilst HRH is munching away. I’m hoping this will get easier with time, but if Nick hadn’t been here for the past two weeks, I’m not sure how I would have coped with a demanding Baby and a demanding Toddler! She’s not one for sitting still and watching television… and there’s a reason he’s lovingly nicknamed “Breast Limpet” at the moment!
This being said, I am more determined to succeed this time round; I only managed to feed Busby exclusively for 10 days, so to have reached two weeks with HRH feels like a real achievement. I’m not ready to pack it all in yet!
I’ve felt so much more prepared with HRH:
- A completely natural, relaxed birth and increased skin-to-skin has helped immensely. I couldn’t have asked for a better birth; it was totally relaxed, I felt in control and I listened to my body. HRH was straight on my chest and stayed there for an hour – he had latched on within 15 minutes of arriving! Neither of us had any drugs in our systems to confuse or stun us, and I’ve felt so much more comfortable with skin-to-skin this time round.
- I’ve been better equipped mentally to deal with breastfeeding. I knew that it wouldn’t be easy to establish – that it would take work, determination and persistence. I also knew that latching on would hurt initially, but that it passes in time.
- I’ve been better equipped with breastfeeding paraphernalia. I’ve felt so fortunate to be working with Medela this time round, as they’ve supplied me with a fantastic breastfeeding kit! Their Purelan™100 nipple cream has been an absolute dream, and I’ve found it’s healed and soothed my sore nipples much quicker than other nipple creams.I’ve been using the Medela electronic Swing breast pump almost daily to increase my supply, and siphon off any milk prior to HRH latching on if I’ve felt engorged. I’d definitely recommend an electronic breastpump to any Mamas wishing to breastfeed. I also prepared myself by buying nipple shields this time round; a friend once told me that if a Midwife hadn’t covertly handed her nipple shields in the early days of breastfeeding with her son then she wouldn’t have continued due to pain – and she breastfed for over six months, so I knew I had to have a pair. They were a godsend a number of times before HRH’s frenotomy!
- I’ve had infinitely better support. The East Yorkshire Community Midwifery Team have been absolutely amazing with breastfeeding support. It has been consistent (I’ve seen the same Midwife each time) and encouraging, without feeling pushy. Nick has also been terrific – as he completely understands how heartbroken I was when breastfeeding didn’t work out with Busby – and he has been so supportive, keeps a great supply of cake and food coming my way… and makes the best chai tea latte!
Ps. The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed something on HRH’s shoulder in the first image… that would be a piece of my breastfeeding fodder – breastfeeding makes you super ravenous!!! Nothing but images of real life on this blog! Oops!