Today, mum Kayleigh has kindly shared her experience of nursing baby…
“I knew from the moment I found out I was pregnant that I wanted to breastfeed. In fact, I knew from the moment we started trying. Throughout my pregnancy, I was completely confident and naive about breastfeeding. My thoughts were ‘if I can help women at work to breastfeed their babies then I can do it myself.’ As a neonatal staff nurse, breastfeeding is a huge part of my job. I only wish someone had told me that helping someone to breastfeed and breastfeeding a baby yourself is a completely different ball game.
I remember the first time I ever fed Kian, I was all hooked up to drips in the delivery bed, with assistance from an amazing student midwife. It felt so special and I remember holding back the tears as I watched him suckling away. It felt as though I'd waited forever for this precious moment.
However, it's safe to say the next few days of feeding were completely different. It was so hard to get him to latch on properly and I felt my nipples were being torn apart. With fantastic support from a lovely midwife on the maternity ward on night 2, I learnt a new way of latching using the rugby ball hold and I then left the hospital the following day feeling like I was more than ready to get on with our breastfeeding journey. But I couldn't have been more wrong. The morning of day 3 I was in tears, couldn't latch him and the pain was horrendous! I persevered throughout the day but by night time my baby was screaming an awful scream for hours and I could not console him. He wouldn't latch and nothing would settle him. His temperature was creeping up with all the crying and as we had both been on antibiotics in the hospital, I panicked that something was wrong. After two phone calls to midwives, I went into the birth centre for some support.
I was basically told that my milk supply wasn't in and I was starving my baby. They questioned whether he had jaundice and a tongue tie and I barely held back the tears from feeling so rubbish and useless as a mum. The midwife then confirmed that he had neither of the two, fed him a bottle of formula which literally broke my heart and gave us a plan for home. In tears, I went home with bottles of formula and a plan to follow every feed with a top up.
I was devastated, the next 2 days I spent putting Kian to the breast and then giving a formula top up! And in between feeds I was expressing using the Medela Swing Electric Breast Pump. The time I spent expressing, I wish I'd splashed the cash on a double pump.
On day 5 I felt fantastic as my milk finally arrived! I stopped giving top ups and happily fed Kian myself with support from community midwives. I felt like we had finally made it! I felt as though I was constantly feeding as he wanted to be on me all the time but I honestly didn't care because as long as I was breastfeeding, nothing else mattered!
Then week 3 arrived… and so did mastitis. I never knew it could make you feel so ill. I've never experienced fevers like it! I was banished to bed with painkillers and antibiotics and Kian was bottle fed by daddy. It broke my heart but I just didn't feel well enough. Once I felt better, we began breastfeeding again, until thrush hit both me and my baby! Kian was back to bottle feeding whilst I recovered, expressing for each feed he had. I honestly felt that we would never manage to exclusively breastfeed and there were more tears than I imagined possible! But once the thrush cleared, I had a visit from a member of the FAB team and sought help from members of the UK Breastfeeding Support Facebook page and after a few days at home just me and baby, feeding, feeding, feeding, with hours of skin to skin…we were back on track!
Kian is now 19 weeks old in 2 days and I am both thrilled and proud to say that he is exclusively breastfed! Public feeding nerves are now a thing of the past and I absolutely love breastfeeding. We feed everywhere we go and even enjoy bath time feeding. I can honestly say that all the issues in the beginning were more than worth it and are now completely forgotten! I adore the closeness of feeding and knowing that I can comfort my baby so easily, in a way that nobody else can.
We've had issues with slow weight gain and the health visitors recommended introducing formula dependent on what my GP advised. You can imagine after all the issues that this was the last thing I wanted! Thankfully, I have an incredibly supportive GP who is not concerned with Kian's weight as he is alert and developing perfectly. Meaning we continue to exclusively breastfeed and visit the GP regularly for weigh-ins.
In terms of offering advice to other breastfeeding mums, I'd say don't get hung up on feeding intervals. This has been the best advice I've been given so far. Don't compare you and your baby to others. Some babies may feed 4 hourly, others may feed 2 hourly. When you feel hungry or thirsty do you eat/drink or make yourself wait a few more hours to follow a plan? Trust your body and respond to your baby's cues!
My initial plan was to feed until 6 months when it was time to wean and I thought I would just express for him to have bottles when needed. However, after the battle we've had and how fantastic it feels to have overcome them, I now feel that I am going to struggle stopping! My plan now is to feed until Kian turns 1 and then express for morning and night bottles until he turns 2. People say I will change my mind and will want to stop once he gets his teeth but I'm pretty determined…so watch this space.”
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