•Breast feeding • This is a topic I haven’t really written about before and only really have one friend who I openly talk to about it anymore. I have had three very different journeys with breastfeeding. I am going to write about each of my experiences in 3 separate posts. I will publish one each week for the next three weeks. I recommend reading them all as they are really different stories and show the realities of breastfeeding and the changes in myself in both knowledge and confidence over the past 7 years.
OLIVER’S STORY I was 23 when I became pregnant, we had been trying for 13 months after me having had a 5cm ovarian cyst which had ruptured. We had been told that they never knew what damage had been done, but there was quite a lot of scarring and I may find it difficult to conceive. I had an appointment with fertility specialist booked for the Friday, but the Monday before I found out I was pregnant. After trying for this baby for so long, I went out and bought all the things the baby magazines said, everything except bottles. I knew that I wanted to breast feed, so obviously there was no need for bottles, I had my boobies and what great boobies they were back then (not so much now, hahaha).
Oliver was born by emergency c section. I mean the kind where your partner is sat outside the operating theatre wearing scrubs, whilst the red emergency light flashes and numerous amount of very important looking members of staff go rushing in to the room where your future wife-to-be and first child are. O was given various drugs and eventually put to sleep as I didn’t know at the time but Oliver’s had stopped breathing and his heart stopped. We were so highly medicated when he was first born that he was unable latch, he didn’t cry for 2 days and took just as long to stretch his legs out. I remember being in the hospital and having to set an alarm on my phone for every 3 hours so I could wake him, to feed him. Because he was unable to latch and I had to express onto my breast and collect 2oz in a syringe and feed it to him (I still have that syringe!) It was hard work, I was exhausted, Sean had been sent home and Oliver was in the cot next to me. I had limited movement due to just having had a c section. Every time I had to feed Oliver I had to call a nurse to lift out of and put him back into the crib.
After a few days and the medication had worn off he was suckling like a pro. Breastfeeding poses lots of challenges that you may not always be prepared for, such as how will you feel when you are getting peered at when feeding your baby in a cafe (with a blanket covering both baby and boob I might add). This really affected me and I do remember my first few times always trying to find somewhere really discreet to feed, however it was when I found myself sat on a public toilet in a well known shopping centre, actually contemplating feeding my baby on the toilet, that I knew I had to grow a pair! It was after this incident that I decided I would feed my baby when and wherever he needed it. I ended up feeding on buses, trains, in restaurants, pubs and even in the middle of said huge shopping centre. It took me a while to realise that the world didn’t revolve around me and my boobs and most people didn’t even notice!
One thing I did find hard and was not prepared for was he decided he would suckle for literally over an hour and drain both boobies! It’s tiring and I always had to make sure I had access to a snack and a drink when I was feeding as sometimes it was quite draining.
He quickly got more efficient with feeding and the time per feed dropped drastically. Then when Oliver was 6 weeks he suddenly changed, he stopped feeding properly and hel wasn’t pooing properly, he was prescribed laxatives, little jelly type bullets you have to pop up their teeny tiny bottoms. These didn’t really work and it got to the stage he wasn’t emptying his bowels for 10-14 days at a time, my poor boy was in agony. After initially being told he had colic (yeah right), he was at the stage when he would scream every night from 10pm till 5am, constantly….it was pure torture, he would not feed during this time not even for comfort, this went on for 6 weeks before my GP admitted this was not normal and not colic as previously insisted and referred me to the hospital.
After a few tests and about a week it came back that Oliver was lactose intolerant (apparently they can just develop this).
So long story short, he was prescribed some medication, and I avoided dairy, we did this for about 2-3 months and then suddenly he was not lactose intolerant any more, very strange! It was around this time I was admitted to hospital another ruptured cyst and because of the medication I was on I was unable to breast feed. I pumped like a mad woman using the hospitals industrial machine, but within a week I was unable to soley feed him myself. I had made it 6 months months feeding my gorgeous boy by myself, yet I was devastated, I think it was because I did not choose to give up. I cried and cried and cried some more, my saving grace was I was able to give him his feed before bed.
After a month my milk had completely dried up. All my health professionals said that 6 months was the recommended amount of time to breastfeed for and no one encouraged me to try and go longer. I know that what I have said makes it sound like breast feeding was a chore, but it really wasn’t and even if it was, it was so worth it. I LOVED Breastfeeding, the way it made me feel, so empowered and yet needed. I would get a rush of love every time I felt my milk let down, I loved the fact it was mine and Oliver’s special time, where we could snuggle and chill out together and I could do it anywhere. My favourite thing to do was lay in bed naked from the tummy up and have him naked too and share skin to skin time with him…bliss.
Because of Oliver’s problems with opening his bowels before his diagnosis, we were told to wean him, so there was something solid to ‘push’ the poop out. So by 6 months he was having 3 square meals a day and some more. He had a big appetite, we had to put him onto formula as he wasn’t old enough to go onto cows milk and our first big shock came then we had to go and buy the things that come with bottle feeding, bottles, teats, steriliser and formula… wow it was expensive. We got it all and luckily we had no problems with him transitioning from breast to bottle. He continued to have formula and be weaned and he continued to flourish and develop.
During the 6/7 months that I breastfed Oliver I never really had any support, by 6 months I was already being told by both health professionals and friends and family that I had fed Oliver for long enough. I had never even heard of the World Health Organisation and no idea what actual guidelines were. During my 6 months I was advised to
- Wean on solids early
- To give a dummy
- To give water
- To wake a sleeping child
- To supplement with formula
I will admit as a new Mum it was hard knowing what to do. I tried to follow my natural instincts as much as I could and although as I came across as confident it was hard to stick to what I wanted to do. During my breastfeeding journey with Oliver there were no
- Lactation specialists
- Breastfeeding support groups
- No on line support groups
- Interactions with friend who were breastfeeding
This meant it could sometimes be a lonely journey. I was lucky as there was no issues with sleep, tongue tie or nipple confusion and I believe this gave me a solid basis for my other two breastfeeding journeys.
Look at my boy now
Thanks for reading