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.
With 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.
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.
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!
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: