Wednesday, 9 February 2011
How I overcame my struggle with breastfeeding.
After the shock of giving birth I think I was expecting a slightly easier time in the weeks following. I couldn't have been more wrong. Yes I was prepared for sore bits, sleepless nights, baby brain, only ever having one hand free. However I was not prepared for the agonizing pain of severely cracked nipples & the stress of the struggle. Breastfeeding is natural, any woman can do it... can't they!? I remember during my 6 week struggle with breastfeeding thinking that I would give birth 10 times to be able to feed my baby without pain! On hindsight no I wouldn't, but the on going pain and heart ache of not being able to feed my baby successfully was bar far much harder than giving birth to her!
For the first few days of Josie's life feeding was quite easy. I put her to my boob every time she made a noise & the milk came in on her second day. My nipples were big and awkward, Josie had a tiny mouth and was quite a lazy sucker. The result was a very bad latch, severley cracked nipples and failure of the letdown reflex.
My sister was still feeding her little one and for a couple of nights I stayed with her so she could help and nurse Josie for me. I was only nursing from one nipple at the time as the other was too damaged and needed time to heal. Without time to build up my milk supply one breast wouldn't have been sufficient and I was desperate not to give formula! However I couldn't live for ever at my sisters and my baby continued to loose weight. I had to come to terms with the fact that I had to introduce a bottle to keep her fed. I was so disappointed it had gotten to that but at the same time at the same time so relieved she was getting a proper feed! I consoled myself with the thought of the sooner she gets big and strong the sooner we'll crack the breastfeeding! So that was the start of the breastfeeding, expressing (by hand as my nipples were too painful to use the pump) & bottle feeding. I was so envious of other women saying how easy it was to be able to just pull their babies into bed at night & feed them! I had to get up, go down stares and set myself up with: cushions, foot stool, breast sling, lanolin, water. Then, attach, re-attach, re-attach, stop, deep breath, re-attach. After about an hour i'd express, top her up with a bottle & back to bed to snatch a little sleep before it all started again...
I cried everyday for about a month, my poor partner thought I was having a major break down! Anyway I continued to seek help, I visited a feeding clinic twice and had numerous visits from a fantastic midwife and health visitor that were so supportive. I had information through the post from Le leshe league and other organisations. I spoke to other mums and soldered on. During the hardest moments I even though 'what if I gave up, what would that mean...', then I saw myself in the future sat on a bench by the river having to reach for a bottle, & I could't bare the thought, I'd be ashamed to be seen 'not breastfeeding', so I never gave up.
After the longest 6 weeks of my life I was left with just a mild burning sensation & it wasn't long until that had faded too. I could finally enjoy my baby! I felt so free, I could go out with out panicking that Josie would wake and need feeding. I could go out without having to pack a bottle (just in case). Finally I could feed where ever I wanted and however I wanted, truly amazing!
I'm still breastfeeding now at 10 months and have no intention of giving up soon. I can see myself feeding until Josie is about 15 - 18 months. It is such a wonderful thing, knowing that she is getting the best possible start in life.