Breastfeeding week 2020
Updated: Aug 5
Breastfeeding, that word alone can be very emotive for many mothers out there and I will admit I can be one of them.
I always knew I wanted to breastfeed and it was something I looked forward to experience throughout both of my pregnancies. I naively had the expectation that it would be easy with it supposedly being "the most natural thing in the world" and I had a huge shock when it didn't go to plan at all with my first born, Myla. We muddled through by expressing for a month and then moved onto formula, I always felt guilty and that I hadn't tried hard enough and should have pushed on through. We didn't have any support from professionals and I always felt I should have found my own support. To make that guilt worse there were a handful of times where I was made to feel more guilty. The most memorable being when Myla was in hospital with suspected sepsis and on the strongest IV antibiotics and the consultant asked if I was breastfeeding, I responded no. He went on to say that it was a shame as that would really benefit her right now and would be best for her. As a first time mother who was already confused, heartbroken and feeling helpless those words hit me like a tone of bricks. I had let her down again! It is also why I have a HUGE issue with the sentence 'breast is best', I understand the science, benefits and reason behind the saying but how does that make mums who can't/don't want to breastfeed feel? Who doesn't want the best for their child? Nobody needs that added guilt when we are hard enough of ourselves as it is. Anyway, I've digressed! This was supposed to be about my successful breastfeeding journey with my second daughter, Remy. Having experienced what I had with Myla I was determined that we were going to crack it this time. I had done my research, I had joined breastfeeding support groups, I had contacted lactation consultants and had been in contact with the breastfeeding team at Torbay hospital. The hospital gave me an antenatal expressing kit and when I was 35 weeks pregnant I started to express colostrum. By the time our C section date had come around I had a freezer draw full of colostrum, I took some to the hospital just incase we would encounter any issues. Remy was born and needed a little help breathing, I was gutted that I didn't get to breastfeed her before she had to go to the special care unit but the nurses got her back to me as soon as they could and had a feeding specialist come in to me at the same time so we could try to get her latched. She felt so small and I was so unsure how to hold her, isn't it crazy how you quickly forget how to hold a newborn when you have older children? Fortunately for me she latched herself on and fed for a solid 15 minutes, a HUGE success for me as Myla never hit half a minute before unlatching. I felt so proud! The amazing feeding team taught me various techniques and feeding positions over the days and I was feeling confident that I recognised her hunger cues and that we could successfully do this. At a week or so old Remy became very unsettled with colic, feeding became hard and she was clicking on the boob. I sent a video to the feeding team and they suspected a tongue tie. We were referred straight away and a week later we went to get it checked, she was diagnosed with a bad posterior tongue tie which was causing her to lose her latch, causing the clicking. We had it cut and I immediately noticed an improvement on the latch, it was much deeper than before and she seemed a bit happier feeding. Unfortunately for us it didn't solve the colic and eventually I was asked to remove dairy from my diet... this was our golden ticket! We have had blips throughout and have struggled with her tummy with dairy on and off but she is now 17 months old and we are still successfully breastfeeding.
So far I have never experienced any negativity at all when breastfeeding and have only ever received support and encouragement, I know for some this isn't the case and it can really knock confidence. I hope that by us celebrating weeks like breastfeeding week, maternal mental health week and more that this all becomes 'normal' and we all act with kindness first, always. Parenting is hard enough without having to worry about whether you are breastfeeding or formula feeding, whether you have breastfed passed what is deemed to be socially acceptable or what others may be thinking. It just doesn't matter. We have to be comfortable with our own decisions and not hold any guilt, it genuinely does not reflect on you as a parent or your parenting.
All that matters is that you and your baby are happy and healthy, that is what is most important here. I can see this now but I couldn't before when I was in the thick of that guilt, disappointment and negative self talk. I owe a huge thanks to the team who worked with us at Torbay hospital, the feeding specialists, the midwives, the nurses who spent so much time checking in on us, helping and supporting and even just keeping me company while she was cluster feeding during the night. They were all truly amazing and I genuinely believe they made all the difference to our breastfeeding journey. Not at one point have I felt alone or unsupported, the opposite to my experience with Myla.
Whether you breastfeed or formula feed, you are amazing and your baby adores you. Leigh x