Even before I was pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed, for a selfish reason though – I had heard that it’ll help get the baby weight off and that’s all I knew really. The second we had found out I was pregnant though that all changed, I wanted to breastfeed after reading more about it, to give our child the best start in life we possibly could.
Let me just start by saying that breastfeeding isn’t for everyone and it’s a personal choice. For me, with our first child, it was extremely difficult. I gave birth to Oliver at the age of 28 and started to breastfeed straight away. Unfortunately I felt there was no support in the hospital at all, all they did was ask if he had fed, which he had and then I was discharged. I’d never breastfed before and just assumed it was that easy, it wasn’t! What followed was 5 days of zero sleep and a very unhappy baby. My husband, Mike, was extremely supportive but there is only so much he can do so was suffering his own battle of feeling completely useless.
Oliver wasn’t latching on properly, I didn’t know what was wrong and I still now can’t put my finger on what I was exactly doing incorrectly – I think I was being impatient coupled with me assuming he didn’t like my breast milk. I did mention it to the midwife but when she would come round that would be the one time a feed would go well. By day five I was highly frustrated and felt like a complete failure to find out that, as Oliver had now lost nearly 1lb (bearing in mind his birth weight was only 6lb 9oz) I was being sent to the hospital.
Hospital was a humongous shock.
The doctors confirmed there was nothing wrong and it was just the latching on that was a problem and the plan was to feed every 2 hours which included me having to express and give a cup feed after the breastfeed. Oliver put on 1 ounce over a 24 hour period so it was agreed that feeding was now established and just to keep it up. I had to do this for 3 months but I never gave up, yes I thought about it but as I said earlier we wanted our baby to have the best start in life and with all the benefits – for example, a great way to bond, protects baby against infections and diseases, you always have a meal with you and at the right temperature, no faffing in the night trying to sort out a bottle, protects me from breast and ovarian cancer and its free! – I just was not prepared to give up.
The only downsides I find are there are not many places around that offer the facilities to breastfeed your baby. Some people are comfortable with breastfeeding in public but I do feel the public at large still don’t really like to see it no matter how discreet you are, I usually end up in a baby changing room/toilet cubicle which is why I sometimes express in advance if I can and give a bottle feed. Secondly breastfed babies do go less time between feeds than formula fed as the breast milk is that good for them that they digest it very easily so even at the best of times they still feed between every 2-4 hours in the night until they started on solids.
I haven’t been put off though and if anything it has made me more determined. I currently have a gorgeous 7 week old, Max, and I made sure I was definitely established breastfeeding before leaving hospital this time. To the point where even though I had him in the afternoon and they tried to discharge me that evening, I asked to stay the night, this is my right and I am happy I did it.
Wow, this time is so much different. Experience has helped me, as well as me being a lot calmer this time around. I’m not going to say it’s been completely plain sailing, nearly every day I have a problem of Max jumping off and on the breast due to fast milk flow but I just stay calm and sometimes give us both a break for a couple of minutes and start again. Expressing some to put in the freezer for a rainy day before a feed also helps.
Max is putting on lots of weight, around 1lb per fortnight and the feeling of accomplishment is immense. Nothing beats the feeling of knowing that I am the reason that this perfect little baby is flourishing and that I am doing everything possible to give him the best start in life.