Today on our blog as part of our Breastfeeding Stories series, mum Lisa shares her experience
Firstly, to introduce myself I am Lisa Morris, the PR manager at Medela UK, a role I have loved for over 7 years now!
Having worked with a breastfeeding brand for a number of years my knowledge about breastmilk and its benefits has grown by the day, and with that my passion to breastfeed. I knew even before being pregnant that I wanted to breastfeed so when I did fall pregnant I got my nursing bras at the ready (Bravado of course)! I should note my husband was a little concerned how I would feel if something just didn’t work for me and to be honest, so was I!
So D day came, 13th July and my little boy Toby arrived! I cannot tell you how gutted I was when Toby did not search out his feeding station like I had read about – in fact he showed little to zero interest. I was guilt ridden – was this because I had accepted morphine (after hours of deliberation) but that is a whole other story that you can read here. Needless to say I felt awful as he was very sleepy and just not bothered by food.
The first 24 hours: Toby was born at 2.43pm and by midnight he had still not breastfed – I had read so much about Colostrum and was honestly terrified that Toby was not latching on to get some! A midwife came to my rescue, she showed me how to hand express so I could see the drops of gold were ready and waiting – this did please me – well, once I had got over the fact she squeezed my boob a lot! Silly really as I had just incurred hours and hours with my legs akimbo for everyone to see – but having my nipple man handled was still off putting! If only I knew then what was to come once Toby got some action, I wouldn’t have bat an eyelid!
With Toby still uninterested at 3am hubby and me were sat with YouTube open trying to watch a master class on latching on! We needed Toby to realise what I was offering was tasty. We put drops of colostrum on his lips to entice the monkey! My determination to make it work was relentless. So I tried and tried and tried some more!
I can’t remember when he eventually latched on, at some point in the early hours of the 14th July, but boy what a feeling that was… amazing, loving, exciting, special and… OUCH! I refuse to lie, as I wished others had been honest with me… it does hurt! Why does no one tell you about this? I felt cross actually that my midwife kept telling me it shouldn’t hurt – but it did. She said with the right latch I should be fine, but I wasn’t and to my upset she said I actually had a good latch. However, the pain is on the whole short lived and the benefits, not to mention convenience and bonding, far outweigh this a million times over and more!
My PureLan was never far away and I ensured I kept applying it before and after every feed. Let’s face it this is a brand new job for your nipples and boy do they know it! But honestly your skin toughens up and within a matter of weeks I had no issues or discomfort.
I was given one sound bit of advice (that will form the basis of a new campaign this year) Count to 10! This was genius – when Toby used to latch on I would take a breath and count to 10 – slightly reminiscent of the focused breathing during labour in fact!!! This tip got me through the nail biting few moments of each and every feed in that first week and allowed me to focus and actually relax.
Within 10 days Toby and me were on track! Toby did lose weight as expected and as every first time mother would probably admit – I panicked… is he getting enough milk, do I have supply, is the latch ok…But the weight did go on and all looked well. I truly feel during these early weeks you just need to remain focused on your feeding, positive and accept you are going to bunker down and feed your new bundle of joy as often as they need – hmmm, for me that was every hour on the hour – especially at night (I got through a lot of box sets!).
Hubby moved to the spare room and I had Toby close by me in a bedside crib (this one) so he was always right beside me ready for a feed – thanks to Amazon Prime and my NCT WhatsApp chat – not to mention the snuggles with Toby, and we got through the early weeks of pulling all-nighters!! Of course I was tired, but looking back on this now I feel so lucky – Toby and me had so much treasured time together snuggled up in the wee hours – I certainly would not swap this experience for anything, and definitely not 40 winks!
My goodness my boy was a snacker – I found myself leaving the house thinking I would have at least a couple of hours… ha, no such luck. For the first 3 months I fed Toby everywhere and anywhere! Mothercare car park, outside Sainsbury’s on a bench, at the beach, on the dog walk… a lot of feeding was done in the back of the car when my little treasure decided the need for a feed! How blooming convenient though having his milk supply on tap!
However much I loved breastfeeding and knew I was doing the very best for Toby I was self-conscious when feeding in public – I tried every cover going, and in fact this made it worse, I found tucking a large muslin under (I loved these ones) my bra strap and using it to shield me worked wonders. I also became obsessed with corners – the corner table in the café, a bench against a wall. As long as I could turn into the wall and have privacy to get the boy latched on I was fine.
I had to feed Toby in the rugby position for the early weeks, he simply would not latch on any other way. At first I got myself in a tis about this. The classic breastfeeding photos you see always show a baby in its mother’s arms feeding in comfort… not Toby – his legs dangled behind me while I basically did weight lifting for my wrists! This was our default for about 3 months, but as Toby grew this became harder… so after a few days of persevering (much to Toby’s upset) he figured it out!
A big tip I would give any new mum -track your boobs! I never had a clue what boob I last fed off and found myself having a good grope before each feed to figure out which boob was next…! If only Medela had an app for this… oh wait they do now!
I returned to work after 3 months (my husband is a fabulous stay at home dad), but I was determined this would not to affect my feeding. At this stage my pumps became my best friend (yes pumps plural as I used the Symphony and Swing Maxi) and I am proud to say thanks to my pump, daily visits in the office from the boy I fed breastmilk exclusively for 6 months!
Goodness it would seem I could talk for hours about this but I will stop there, but I’ll be back to share with you my experience of pumping, breastfeeding and working, my husband’s genius excel spread sheet to keep track of milk in the freezer and teeth – yes Toby’s teeth which arrived very unexpected at 5 months!
Thanks for reading.
Lisa and Toby xxx