Breastfeeding: your stories

Here is Fiona’s breastfeeding story. You can find her over at the Swan Project:

My husband and I were both keen for me to breastfeed our children due to the health benefits for the children, but also for the cost saving too!  But I’m not sure I was prepared for not only the physical but the immense emotional drain breastfeeding your first born can bring.  You’ve given birth to a little miracle, and you’re trying to do what you’ve been told is best for them and when they latch on it’s amazing! Woo! I’m feeding! But then the questions start; Is she latched on correctly, am I doing it for too long / not long enough, too often / not often enough, how much has she had?  The endless questions! Breastfeeding takes so much control away from you because you have no idea about how much their having, and you have to go on gut instinct on a subject that you’ve no instinct about.

With my daughter it didn’t start well. I was so worried about her getting into bad habits and falling asleep on the breast that I possibly didn’t do it long enough, but it was also hard because she was very jaundice and so even when I went to a breastfeeding clinic I got no help because she was so lethargic and she wouldn’t take any milk.  We ended up in special care because her jaundice was so severe. Whether the feeding contributed to this or the jaundice started first we’ll never know, but ending up in that ward was the best thing that happened to us.  I got expert advice from brilliant nurses about breastfeeding who gave me some confidence when I was ready to give up.  I started expressing so that my daughter was still getting breast milk and we did mix feeding where I would feed from the breast first and then top up with a bottle of expressed milk.  It was difficult in those days, feeding then bottle feeding then expressing straight away to ensure that my milk was “topped up” ready for the next feed. However it also helped my milk flow which then arrived in great volume! It took a few weeks before I built up my instinct and was confident enough to stop topping her up with a bottle but it helped us so much emotionally and physically.  I then fed her for the next 5 ½ months until she wasn’t interested anymore!  All those early days of relentless feeds, fretting about her getting enough, bleeding nipples etc were forgotten by that time and it was easy and instinctive for both of us.  To anyone starting out, you will get there but it takes time for both of you.  With this confidence breastfeeding my son was so much easier.  He was a big baby when he was born (8lb 13oz) and had a healthy appetite! We got straight onto a three hour feeding plan which worked well for us.  Some nights he would suckle a long time, but I didn’t worry about bad habits forming in those early days but I did top him up twice from a bottle just so that we could both get some sleep and I would advice anyone who has a long suckling baby to try this!  My son only took 10ml but we both got some sleep and 99% of his feeds for the next few weeks were breast milk only.  He was breastfed until six months, but because he was such a big boy I did five breast feeds a day and he would have two formula feeds!  I couldn’t keep up with his appetite!

Good luck to those starting on a breastfeeding journey, seek help where you can and use the support networks that you have locally.  One thing I would do again is not leave hospital until I was confident with feeding and use the midwives more rather than just grin and bare it.

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