Breastfeeding – a journey

Although I have managed to breastfeed both my girls into toddlerhood, my two breastfeeding journeys have been so very different. From having to express and give Jessica my milk via a feeding tube when she was a newborn to being able to exclusively breastfeed Sophie from the moment she was born – two contrasting journeys but both with their own challenges.

Breastfeeding - a journeyWith Jessica, there were the very early days of expressing whilst she recovered from heart surgery on PICU and then the joy of finally being able to latch her to the breast and feed her. A few days later, we hit a blip when she wasn’t gaining weight and it seemed my milk supply was starting to dry up, leading to the introduction of high-calorie formula top-ups. I learnt that I needed to look after myself and gradually my milk supply improved and Jessica began to gain weight on a mixture of mummy milk and Infatrini.

Breastfeeding: a journey - Little Hearts, Big Love

Sophie on the other hand, was fully breastfed from the day she was born although it was a shock to the system when I struggled to get her to latch correctly and suffered from cracked nipples. I thought it would be easy second time around having previously breastfed but it wasn’t. After ten days though (and lots of support from my wonderful midwives), suddenly it all seemed to click into place.

Breastfeeding: a journey - Little Hearts, Big Love

Once I’d got through those early hiccups with both my babies, breastfeeding was blissful. Those lovely snuggles with my tiny (or in Sophie’s case, not quite so tiny!) babies whilst feeding, those gorgeous milky drunk smiles as they fell off the breast, sleepy and satisfied. Magical moments.

Then they got bigger, and suddenly there were new challenges. In Jessica’s case, two bouts of chylothorax following heart surgery meant that she was unable to have breastmilk for a few weeks and we were back to exclusive pumping, storing it or donating the excess. Re-establishing breastfeeding after several weeks was tough – although we got there in the end thanks to nipple shields. I missed being able to latch her directly to the breast and trying to get the hang of being able to use the nipple shields whilst out and about took a while but at least we were still breastfeeding.

Both my babies had a tendency to bite when the teeth first started making an appearance – Jessica thankfully only did it a few times and I think the nipple shields eased it slightly (although having one’s nipple compressed inside a shield is not pleasant!) but Sophie took quite a lot longer before she seemed to get the message that being a little vampire is not ideal!

Breastfeeding: a journey - Little Hearts, Big Love

Now we are at the stage where Sophie is getting increasingly active and tries to perform gymnastics whilst on the breast, or look around whilst still feeding, because of course Mummy’s nipples are made of elastic, aren’t they? We still do get those lovely sleepy snuggly feeds (mostly at night) but breastfeeding an older baby is a very different experience. I don’t remember Jessica being quite so wriggly but I am sure she must have been!

 

Joining in with Zena’s Suitcase for Breastfeeding Diaries:
Zena's Suitcase

21 thoughts on “Breastfeeding – a journey

  1. It is really important to warn future mums that although breastfeeding is great for our little ones, it is not easy. Being French, it wasn’t in my culture to breastfeeding and before I breastfeeding myself, I had only ever seen 1 person nursing their baby: my sister-in-law. Had she not been at the end of the phone when it got tough, I would have given up. I glad I didn’t. I love breastfeeding my fourth little one (although I have to admit a combination of teeth, going back to work and biting got me stopping at around 8-9 months for my first three). X

    1. It isn’t always an easy ride and I think having good support even if it’s just at the end of the phone really helps. I was quite stubborn about wanting to breastfeed which has helped keep me going through some of the tougher moments although I suspect if Sophie had been more amenable to taking a bottle, the biting might have seen me give up. I’m glad I didn’t though as on the whole, feeding her is lovely. Well done for managing to breastfeed all four – it must be much harder when it isn’t so much a part of your culture. Most of the women in my family only breastfed briefly if at all but one of my sisters breastfed one of hers until he was 4 so she is a good source of advice when it comes to dealing with teething and problems like that.

      1. I am glad I persevered, too, but I have to say I am in awe with your resilience. You are a great example for other mums!

  2. Sounds like you have done an amazing job of keeping going with breastfeeding through various hurdles. I remember being told with my first son that ‘if it hurts, you’re doing it wrong’ which honestly I’m not sure is true (and for a first time mum all I really heard was the ‘you’re doing it wrong’ bit which is not a great message!) Of course with a good latch it doesn’t hurt but all it take is one teeny nibble or a slightly incorrect latch and suddenly you’re sore! I think breastfeeding is totally worth it though. I found it empowering and healing after a traumatic birth first time round. Well done and it’s interesting to hear your story. xx

    1. I don’t think it takes very much to end up quite sore with breastfeeding – and then keeping going through that can be quite tough. Even now, we get times when it isn’t always comfortable, for instance when Sophie decides to bite, but I know now that the difficult times do usually pass within a few days and that helps me to keep going. I had really good support which made a huge difference. So glad that breastfeeding was empowering and healing for you even with the struggles of feeling like you were doing it wrong at first x

  3. Beautiful photos! Well done for persevering, it’s tougher than you expect it to be. I’m not a fan of the biting or gymnastics either 🙁

  4. Such a lovely post, it’s great to read honest real stories about breastfeeding, and I love the pictures, I have no pictures of Boo feeding when she was a tiny baby, and I really really regret that. It’s something that I have just recently realised when looking back through her baby photos. They really are beautiful photos you have there =)
    I am just getting to the gymnastics stage, or standing next to me and feeding whilst ‘dancing’ or bouncing up and down, that’s fun….
    Yes, and sadly reached the vampire stage, those little teeth are sharp!!

    1. Ouch – yes those little teeth are very sharp, hopefully Boo’s vampire stage will be very short-lived. It is so easy not to get those photos from early on – I don’t have very many as I’m usually the one behind the camera but I’m glad I managed to get a couple at least. Glad you liked the post and the photos, thanks for commenting 🙂

  5. We used nipple shields for a while too – it saved us to be honest at a time when I was really struggling to get a latch at all without them, but I felt soooo self-conscious when we were in public! Those struggles feel so long ago now – so important to record them I reckon… I totally identify with the feeding gymnastics now too – takes a bit of getting used to 🙂 Congratulations on overcoming all the different challenges you faced – sounds like you’ve had quite a journey! x

    1. Thank you – it has been quite a journey at times but I’m glad we got through it and I’ve learned a lot from all those different experiences. Those nipple shields are tricky to use in public aren’t they?!

  6. Isn’t it funny how different our kids can be? My breastfeeding experiences were like night and day with my two kids. I had to use a nipple shield with my oldest too and it was not my favorite. I only used it a few times with my son in an effort to relieve pain from horribly cracked nipples-also, not my favorite.

    1. It is surprising how different it can be – I definitely expected a much smoother ride second time round than we’ve actually had but I’m glad things have mostly settled down now. Nipple shields can be great for getting through and keeping going but I did find them a bit of a faff at times.

  7. I love how you have over come so much to make your breastfeeding journeys succeed. It’s not without its challenges at every stage, but everything breastfeeding our babies presents us can be over come by making some small adjustment. Thanks for sharing with #BFingDiaries and your continued support Louise Zx

  8. So nice to find your blog! We had a tough time breast feeding too and ended up with shields for 7 months begore we eased off, I miss it every now and then even now. I really hope next time is easier but I’m determined to get off the shields if I need them again. It definitely hurts even if they are latched correctly, a lovely midwife suggested it might be white nipple which even I had never heard before.

    1. Thanks Becca – sorry to hear you had a tough time with feeding. I struggled with expressing at first with Jessica and resisted asking for help because I felt like I should know what I was doing but even with being a midwife, I found that there was still so much to learn about breastfeeding. I’ve had milk blisters a couple of times which I’d never heard of before experiencing them myself. I didn’t think I’d heard of white nipple before but having looked it up, I do remember coming across it once before. Hope that next time round things are easier for you xx

  9. A lovely story! I know what you mean about the teeth, O was one or two bites, but A seems to bite all the time when he has sore teeth. I just take him off and put him back on again and he gets the message! Great bf photos you have too! 🙂 x

    1. Thanks Jenny – thankfully the bites have pretty much stopped now – glad A gets the message quickly x

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