All good things must come to an end..

Blog Series Badge

Today marks the end of February, and rather sadly, the Breastfeeding blog series. Cue sad face. However, I’m amazed and rather pleasantly surprised that not only have I been able to pull off a blog series, but one that quite a few people actually thought was pretty good. I really hope they weren’t just saying that to flatter me!

But I have to say, it has been such a great experience not only collaborating on the breastfeeding blog series with Medela, whose products I love, and who I respect as a company. But also the whole experience of developing and running a blog series has been such a great blogging and learning experience. Seriously. I have learnt SO much! Like how to work with brands. How to organise, write and schedule blog posts in advance (I’m usually a blog as it comes to me kind of girl). How to promote blog posts more effectively and how to work with other bloggers. The blog series really has been a fantastic collaboration of minds, experiences and people. So many of you have shared your breastfeeding stories and experiences. So many of you have commented and shared your thoughts and kind words. So many of you have helped make and shape the blog series. So thank you for reading and being a part of the blog series. I really hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Finally, thank you to Medela. For giving a small and new blog like mine a chance to collaborate on something we are both passionate about. It has been truly enjoyable.

All good things must come to an end, so we must end them well. That means ending with a fabulous competition (least I think so anyway). So if you haven’t already entered to win what I believe is one of the breastpumps money can buy, then head on over to my post on the Medela Swing review and competition to enter. Good luck and happy reading!

Breastfeeding; your stories

Here is Zena’s breastfeeding story. You can find her over at Zena’s Suitcase:

Zena

‘Right’, I thought.  ‘I’ve done this before, this will be a doddle.’  That was how I entered my breast feeding relationship with my second child, Princess.

I breast fed my son for six months.  It came so naturally.  There were no cracked nipples, no latching problems, nothing.  Both myself and my new born baby boy fell straight into it.

Having my son at 22 was a grounding experience, bringing with it a sense of purpose and responsibility.  He was an easy baby and nothing seemed to phase me, not the sleep deprivation, not the nappies.  I had the energy for it all back then.

Cows Pic

Fourteen years later, I thought, ‘Times cracking on.  I’m not getting any younger.  If I’m going to have more children I’d best do it now.’

Pregnancy was a lot harder than the first time round.  Now, really that should have been my first clue that perhaps things weren’t going to go as smoothly this time.

Breast feeding took weeks to establish with Princess.  We just couldn’t get the latch right.  I had a fantastic maternity support worker.  We tried every breast feeding position you could imagine.  Cushions were arranged like Lego to try and make things easier.

Princess was latching on so fast that she wasn’t in the right position to feed.  She had clearly missed her ‘nose to nipple’ classes.  Every time I fed her my toes would curl in pain.  I’d get anxious about feeding her because I knew it was going to hurt.

Princess would cry so much, it was heart breaking.  My husband was worried about both of us.  I was so tired, the bags under my eyes needed luggage trolleys.  Princess wasn’t gaining weight, she didn’t poop for about a week.  She just wasn’t getting enough milk.

It’s so emotive when breast feeding isn’t going well, whatever the reason.  For some Mum’s it can be devastating.  As well as the feeding, I was struggling with my own issues.  Before Princess was born I was grounded, I had a sense of purpose and I had plenty of responsibilities.  When Princess arrived we were all thrown into complete chaos.  I was feeding and pumping, feeding and pumping desperately trying to get my supply to increase.  I had turned into a milking machine, I was really starting to feel for those dairy cows!

Cows Pic 2

If it hadn’t been for the experience I’d had with my son I most certainly would have given up.  I knew if I could just turn that corner it would be best for everyone, not just Princess.

It took about 4 weeks to get breast feeding established, and at the time it seemed like the longest four weeks of my life.  I found my Mummy Mojo and Princess learnt her part in the breast feeding relationship, but it definitely wasn’t easy. 

Princess was breast fed exclusively for nearly six months.  I stopped breast feeding her when she was fourteen months old.  Those early weeks paled into insignificance compared to the amazing experience we went on to have.

Our third child is due in May.  She will be breast fed.  I wonder how our relationship will work out.  This time I’ll be prepared for anything.

Come and meet me on Twitter or Like on Facebook.

Images courtesy of: satit_srihin /razvan ionut /FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Breastfeeding: your stories

Here is Lucinda’s breastfeeding story. You can find her over at Teacher 2 Mummy:

Lucinda BF Pic

Like many other mums I wanted to share my experience of attempting to breastfeed. It’s not one of ease and success but I hope it helps others feel they are not the only ones who go through something similar. Because hell did it feel like it was just me!

All through my pregnancy I was set on breastfeeding. In fact I have no doubts that I was incredibly naive about the whole thing. It didn’t cross my mind it would be no easy feat. I watched the NHS DVD and spoke to a couple of colleagues and family members. I heard it was painful to begin with but improved. My mum had wanted to breastfeed me but hadn’t been able to, still I didn’t think it would be an issue for me.

I bought a breast pump and bottles in preparation for when baby was a bit older and his Dad and others could experience feeding him. Little did I know I would be reaching for them sooner rather than later!

It was in my birth plan that I wanted to try breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth. When Eliot arrived I was exhausted and I was in my own zone.

The midwife who delivered tried to get Eliot to latch on but without success. We were swiftly moved down to the post natal ward where the midwife on duty that evening was very helpful with trying to get Eliot to latch on. We had some success as he latched on for a few minutes. But after that was a struggle and the midwife suggested it would be better to hand express and collect the colostrum in a syringe. Physically I couldn’t do it. It sounds ridiculous, but it in all honesty it creeps me out. I tried but just wasn’t getting anything out. I had some help from the midwife which was bizarre and looking back made feel like an animal being milked on a production line! Still I really wanted Eliot to have the colostrum and reap the benefits.

The next day there were different midwives on duty. After trying to get Eliot to latch on myself without success I asked for help. One of the midwives said she’d come back to help.

So far it wasn’t the ‘magical’ experience I’d hoped for. In fact it had been terribly distressing. Eliot had screamed and pushed himself away from me. Surely this wasn’t meant to happen, was it? My baby surely wanted My milk that had been made for him!

It was obviously a busy day on the ward and no midwife returned to help me try and get Eliot to breastfeed. I called for help again. When a midwife was free to help she attempted to help me to get Eliot to feed but to no avail. He again whipped himself up into a frenzy, pushing himself away from me, screaming. It was awful. All I wanted to do was feed my son! But you can’t attempt to latch them on when they’re in such a state.

That afternoon there was a breastfeeding talk in the day room but it didn’t inform me of anything I didn’t already know. I went back to my bed disappointed.

Later a midwife came to me and said that Eliot’s blood sugar was probably low and that this would make it harder for him to latch on. So would I be happy to give him some formula to get his energy up? Of course! I didn’t want him to starve. So then Eliot had his first taste of formula. I was relieved he had some food but in turn, felt low I hadn’t been able to give it to him.

That evening the same midwife from the previous night was on duty with a student. Again she managed to get Eliot to latch on. On both occasions he had only been able to feed from my right breast. So I was then woken every two hours to have help hand expressing to collect colostrum to feed Eliot. Cripes! I really was on a production line.

The battle to get Eliot to latch on continued until we were discharged a few days later. He was unable to feed with my independent attempts or with help. I was told it was because my nipples were quite flat. It was my fault. I was a failure at feeding my own son.

I had some comfort when I was able to express my milk with the hospital machine. Never had I been more dedicated. I set my alarm to wake me through the night to go to the expressing room, to collect milk for Eliot. I was also topping up with formula.

Reflecting on my breastfeeding experience on the postnatal ward, I was put under incredible pressure by all the heath professionals. This is just not right. Every mother who has/had difficulty breastfeeding already feels guilty amongst numerous emotions. We certainly do not need pressure from others or being made to feel guilty. Our hormones are rocketing all over the place and any small comment or look can trigger an ocean of tears or worse!

I was also put on a list to have a chat to the ‘breastfeeding expert’ who didn’t show up the first day or any other after that! When I mentioned it to other staff I was told I’m sure she’ll get to you later’, then eventually, ‘she can’t do anything that we haven’t been able to do’. Great! Thanks, thanks a lot for your help and support! Shocking.

On our return home I continued to express with a hand pump and give formula. This dwindled and within a few weeks Eliot was exclusively on formula. I had all the best intentions to go to ‘Milk Spots’ to receive help, advice and get chatting to other mums but didn’t end up going. I suppose I thought it wouldn’t be much different from my experience in hospital.

Naturally I continued to feel guilty and a failure. I was very sensitive to ‘feeding’ conversations. When the other half phoned from work one day informing me his boss had said ‘don’t give him formula, give him goats milk’, I flew of the handle. I burst into tears, screaming down the phone that it wasn’t anybody else’s business how we fed our son. And goats milk?!

Another time we were in a café and the owner was talking to us about his new baby. He asked if we were also breastfeeding when he saw Eliot being fed with formula. He told us how his wife had persevered and that it had been hard. Wonderful! Another story to make me feel useless!

No mother should ever be made to feel guilty about ‘not’ breastfeeding. We are well informed ‘breast is best’, if we decide not to for whatever reason it is quite frankly no one else’s blooming business!

If in the future we have more children, which I hope we do, I will try breastfeeding again. Next time I intend to try nipple shields to help baby latch on to help draw my nipple out. Or use a breast pump to do this prior to feed time. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out!

Next time I know it will be difficult, next time I won’t be naive!

Breastfeeding: your stories

Here is Fee’s breastfeeding story. You can find her over at Not Just Another Mum:

I knew I wanted to breastfeed spud from early on in my pregnancy, I hadn’t done it with madam and had always somewhat regretted it. I was adamant that I would and nothing was going to stop me! Dad was massively supportive of me and to be honest I’m not sure I would have managed to feed spud without his support and encouragement. It was pretty tough going at times.

I had this bizarre notion that it was going to be easy / straight forward, after all breastfeeding is one of the most natural things in the world so just how hard could it be? How naive I was.

Spud was born at 7.29pm on a Wednesday evening after a very long labour, and within 15 minutes or so was enjoying his first feed. It was fantastic, it was easy, it was everything I’d imagined it would be. I felt an enormous sense of pride that I would still be responsible for providing spud with his nutritional needs now that he was outside his home of the last nine months. The first few days were fine he fed a lot it seemed to going well we were happy and healthy, but that soon changed when along came engorged breasts and excruciating pain.

Fast forward to my six week check up at my GPs – I’d been struggling with feeding, Spud was feeding hourly but only for short lengths of time and I was having issues with latching on. I’d been hoping that my visit to the doctors would provide me with some sort of support, maybe a bit of knowledge to help me overcome these issues. You see I didn’t know anybody who had breastfed and there was no support groups in place in my area at the time so I was completely going it alone (with Dad constantly reassuring me that I was right not to quit and would get it eventually).

Initial checks done – me and spud are fine, he’s not put on quite as much weight as they’d like but was perfectly healthy. As the end of the appointment is approaching, the Doctor asks if I have any concerns/questions so I quickly fire all my feeding worries at him in hope of some answers, only to be told “Well maybe you should just bottle feed him then!” I was beyond shocked and cried nearly the whole way home from the doctors. I felt like a failure.

Determined not to give in so easily I persevered. I was barely sleeping, feeding constantly and feeling like a pretty rubbish mum. Weeks went by and I was regularly visiting my Health Visitor to get spud weighed. He was doing really well, he’d got back on track and was on his centile line (hardly surprising as he ate so often). Then one day I went to the doctors to see the Health Visitor for Spuds weigh in, but we ended up seeing somebody else as ours was off sick, and I’m so glad she was. The new Health Visitor was chatting away to me about Spud, I was exhausted, emotional and suddenly burst into tears. I explained what was going on (as I had done to my own Health Visitor & GP) and she told me to feed him there and then. She told me I was doing it wrong and showed me how to do it. Spud then had his longest ever feed whilst I sat chatting to her (as a queue built up in the waiting room building!).  She was the only person (except Dad) who understood what I had been through. I left the doctors feeling like the world had just been lifted from my shoulders, with a baby who was about to have his longest ever sleep.

The nice new Health Visitor then continued to phone me daily for over a week to see how I was doing and gave me her mobile number to contact her directly if I ever started to struggle again.

Flash forward:
Spud is 6 months and still feeding well.
Spud is 1 and still feeding well.
Spud is 2 and still feeding before bed.

I fed Spud until he no longer wanted me to, which was not long after he turned three. I feel so proud of myself for doing so and for sticking with it even when it was so tough. I am eternally grateful to Dad and the Health Visitor for helping us through it. That and the tubes of Lansinoh that I needed so often. I’d do it all over again happily!

Medela Swing breastpump review & competition

New logo_medela_color

The lovely folks over at Medela have offered up a Medela Swing breastpump as a competition giveaway to help close what feels like a pretty successful breastfeeding blog series, thanks to all you lovely readers and fellow bloggers.

For me, the Medela Swing breastpump is the perfect competition giveaway because it is (not so coincidentally) the same Medela breastpump that I happen to own, and always recommend to other mummy friends. Therefore I am able to talk about it in great detail, and from personal experience having used it quite a bit over the last seven months.

I bought the Medela Swing after doing a fair bit of research and reading lots of reviews by others that had purchased and used the Medela. I pretty much always read buyers reviews before I buy something baby related, and I found that the reviews for the Medela Swing were pretty strong and consistent. I hadn’t originally planned to buy a breastpump as I wasn’t sure whether I would be successful breastfeeding or not, but after we got past the six to eight week mark I decided to buy one in the hope that I could express for when we were out and about. Unfortunately the little lady had other plans and rejected anything other than the breast for about four months, so its been something that I have started to use more frequently as she’s gotten older, and especially since she’s started weaning.

What I particularly love about the Medela Swing breastpump is how easy it makes expressing and how comfortable it is. I would recommend it to anyone, and often do when the topic of breastfeeding and expressing come up. This is a fantastic product, and im really excited that I am able to give one away as a competition prize!

I think user reviews are always great because you get a very honest account of a product, so I thought Id do one here for the Medela Swing. Hopefully this is useful for anyone thinking about purchasing a breastpump or would like to enter our competition which you can find details of at the end.

Medela Swing Pic 1

Technology
When I was looking for a breastpump, I wanted to find something that expressed in a way that was as similar to breastfeeding as possible. What I wasn’t expecting though, was to find a breastpump on the market as clever as the Medela Swing. Medela have rather impressively developed two-phase expression technology which mimics the way that babies breastfeed. What this means when you use the Medela Swing, is that it goes through two distinct phases of pumping. The first, a stimulation phase which mimics the way that a baby suckles in order to stimulate a let down, and the second, an expression phase where the pump begins to express once the milk begins to flow. It is ingenious design, and for me is what makes the Medela Swing such an efficient, yet comfortable and easy breastpump to use.

Design
The Medela Swing looks and feels attractive, modern and sleek, as far as breastfeeding pumps go. The design is pleasant and up to date and doesn’t look like your typical, boring breastpump. It’s relatively light and fairly compact. I wouldn’t necessarily buy a breastpump based on the design, but I do think the Medela Swing is one of the more attractive breastpumps on the market and does stand out as a nice bit of parenting kit to have in the house.

Medela Swing Pic 2

Ease of Use
What I love about the Medela Swing is how easy it is to use and how easy it makes expressing. It isn’t overly complicated and it isn’t fiddly. There are only a few components to construct each time you use it, and its very easy to remember how to do it after you’ve used it the first time. It literally takes about 10 seconds to put it together and seconds to deconstruct when you’ve finished. It’s also easy to clean and very easy to sterilise. The main control unit has four buttons – a power button, two buttons to increase or decrease the suction and one to begin the expression phase if needed. These are really all the buttons you need, although I often find that the machine is so optimally set up that I only ever really use the power button. I really don’t think Medela could have made it any easier if they tried.

Comfort
The comfort aspect was really important for me when choosing a breastpump. I’d heard from friends and I think maybe even a health visitor about how uncomfortable using a breastpump could be, and how they could basically destroy your nipples. But I decided to go ahead and get one anyway, and I’m glad I did because the other thing I love about the Medela Swing is how comfortable it makes expressing. The breast shield is a good size, and the level of suction can easily be increased or decreased for comfort. When I express it pretty much feels the same as breastfeeding, in that I cant feel anything. I don’t think you can ask any more from a breastpump can you?

Medela Swing Pic 4

Speed
I think how long it takes to express a certain quantity of milk probably depends to a degree on the individual, their let down and flow of milk, but I have personally found that with the Medela Swing I can get around 150ml out in about ten minutes in the morning. Sometimes it can take a bit longer if its later in the day and my milk supply is low, but generally I have been very impressed with how quickly I can express a decent amount of milk with the Medela Swing and I think that is all down to their clever two-phase technology.

Noise
I have to admit, the Medela Swing does make a little bit of noise, but it isn’t anything offensive. You can still have a conversation, or watch TV without it being really noticeable. A number of the reviews that I came across for other brands of breastpumps when I was trying to decide what to get mentioned noise as a bit of an issue, but the Medela Swing doesn’t seem to suffer with this issue, and I certainly haven’t found it a problem.

Competition Instructions
So if you’d like to win a fantastic Medela Swing breastpump courtesy of Medela, all you need to do is answer this very simple question:

Approximately how long does it take to start replenishing your milk supply after breastfeeding or expressing?
Hint: the answer can be found in one of the breastfeeding blog series posts.
15 minutes
– 45 minutes
– 1 hour

Please email your answers to: mypetitcanard@hotmail.com using the subject: Medela Swing Competition. Include your full name, Twitter handle (if you have one) and address along with your answer.

T&Cs
The competition will close at 12am on Friday 28th February. Only one entry can be considered per person. One winner will be selected at random from all received correct entries. The winner will be contacted via email within 7 days of the closing date of the competition. In the event that the winner cannot be contacted by email within 7 days, a substitute winner will be drawn and the original winner will forfeit the prize.  There is no cash alternative to the prize.

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.

Breastfeeding: your stories

Here is Donna’s breastfeeding story. You can find her over at Red Head Baby Led:

After LP was born at home, midwives insisted on visiting daily to make sure everything was going ok. This began on the day she was born when a midwife came over at 3pm to complete LP’s newborn checks on her legs, heart, neck etc. The midwife asked whether I’d fed LP and I said I had, at about 10:30am. The midwife insisted on seeing me feed LP there and then, so I had to wake LP up and try to get her to latch. I was nervous, as a first time Mum, of doing it wrong, and of being partially naked in front of a stranger. Along with that, LP didn’t like being woken up so was fairly upset. Luckily she had to be woken anyway to have the checks done.

LP wouldn’t latch and the midwife insisted on helping which LP didn’t like too much – basically the midwife kept pushing LP’s head against my breast every time she opened her mouth. It was with such force that LP started to get upset, and the midwife just seemed to like the fact that she had her mouth open when she cried so she could attempt to force her onto my breast. In hindsight, I know that LP wasn’t hungry, all she wanted was to sleep – not surprising considering she’d only been born 6 hours previously! In the end I managed to get LP to latch whilst the midwife was writing her notes up.

The midwife said that another midwife would visit me the following morning to see how I was getting along with breastfeeding and that I had to make sure that I fed her every 3-4 hours between now and then.

So again Hubby and I were alone with LP and whenever she woke I tried to feed her. This sometimes was longer than the 3-4 hours as I’d always been told to never wake a sleeping baby and I felt that she would wake when she was hungry anyway. Each time I tried to feed her it took a while to get her to latch on, but from memory I think I managed to feed her at 4pm, 11pm and 5am which, as a first time mum, I felt good about. I was feeding my baby! Such an amazing thing. However, each time she latched it did hurt slightly, just a soreness, but I thought this was to be expected as my nipples had to get used to it.

The midwives never told us what time they’d arrive, just that it would be in the morning. So Hubby and I made sure that we got up and dressed by 9am. The midwife, a different one, turned up shortly after. She was concerned that I had only fed baby 4 times in 24 hours and said that I needed to feed her every 2-3 hours for the next few days. She then insisted on seeing me feed LP and again she wouldn’t latch and both her and I were getting stressed and anxious at the situation and again the midwife was trying to force her head onto me. LP just didn’t want to open her mouth on demand and again, she just wasn’t hungry. But I thought that the midwives knew best – what did I know, I’d never had a baby before! The midwife then said I had to hand express some colostrum and spoon feed it to LP to make sure she was getting something. I obviously looked confused so she then started to help me express by hand – by this I mean she manhandled by breast to try to get the colostrum out. She managed to get a couple of drops but not enough to do anything with. So again, she left, saying that she would be back the following morning to see how I was doing.

After she left I told Hubby that I felt harassed and uncomfortable and that breastfeeding was proving hard enough without them coming back daily to see how I was doing with it, manhandling LP and I and making us both stressed. So I said to Hubby that I’d try to feed LP every 2 hours, which gave me an hour window to get her to latch and feed. This ‘routine’ stressed me out completely. I felt that something awful would happen if I didn’t stick to it. I hadn’t dared tell the midwife that I was experiencing soreness when I fed LP as I felt they’d constantly watch over me, manhandle LP even more, make me more uncomfortable and it would make the situation worse. So I told myself that the first thing to do was to get LP feeding regularly and latching easily. After that I could sort out the pain. LP eating was the main thing.

So for the next 24 hours, LP fed roughly every 2.5-3.5 hours. I felt like it was such an achievement! The midwife came and asked how it was going and I said all the time’s I’d fed her and she was happy with that. She asked if I wanted her to come back the following day and I said I’d be fine.

By this point, 48 hours after LP was born, my nipples were a mess. LP had taken the top layer of skin off them on day 1 and feeding every 2-3 hours had taken their toll. Feeding didn’t hurt very much, but my nipples looked a mess! It wasn’t until the next day that the pain really started.

The next day every time LP fed it felt like someone was poking red-hot needles into my chest. The worst part was when she latched on. The pain was horrendous. Once she’d started feeding the pain eased but there was still a constant soreness. I knew that my nipples were healing and each time she fed it was disrupting the healing process and the pain started.

I spent the next 24 hours slathering my nipples in Lansinoh lanolin cream and airing them whenever possible! I really felt so undignified in those few days after LP was born. Sitting on the sofa in joggers and a nursing bra, with the flaps of the bra open and cream on my nipples! Luckily I have a very supportive, understanding Hubby. There wasn’t much that anyone could have found attractive by that situation.

The next day, 4, was hell. My milk came in and my nipples would now leak whilst I was airing them and trying to get them to heal. Each time LP latched it made me want to cry with the pain and I found myself pulling away instead of welcoming LP to feed. It was awful. I decided to try expressing to give my nipples a break from the pain of LP latching on, and so that night we expressed. I’d heard that young babies can get confused if you introduce a bottle too soon, so instead we used a syringe to feed LP, but she didn’t like it at all! I managed to express about 15ml. Hardly anything, and LP just spat it back up and cried. I was so upset. nothing seemed to be working. So I carried on feeding normally and the next day I tried nipple shields instead.

Nipple shields were the weirdest things – big rubber teats that sit over your own nipples. By day 5, one of my nipples seemed fine, it still hurt but not as much as the other side, so I just used the shields on the worse side. They were a pain, had to be sterilised each use and you couldn’t feed discreetly with them. But they did ease the pain slightly. I carried on like this for a few days but then I read online that babies can get use to nipple shields and can get dependent on them, so I only used the shields for every other feed. It meant that the feed without them hurt like hell still but it made sure that LP still knew how to latch on that side without the shields.

After a few days I got rid of the nipple shields completely and went back to feeding normally. It still hurt, and I could see on my nipples where they were red, sore and scabbed over. I carried on putting the Lansinoh cream on before and after every feed and gradually I healed. It was when LP was about 3 weeks old that I realised that I was enjoying her feeding. I liked it. I started to embrace feeding and to welcome it every time she was hungry.

When breastfeeding was most difficult – the first 2 weeks – I was told so many times that if it hurts I’m doing it wrong. I knew though, that the damage had been done and LP was latching on and feeding fine, but I needed time to heal. Women don’t need to be told they’re doing it wrong, and there needs to be more exposure to the fact that breastfeeding can hurt like hell at first, but it does get easier and it does, eventually, get enjoyable.

When I was pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed, and when I’m determined to do something I tend to do it! I’m like a dog with a bone. However, there was a time, after about 4 days that if we had formula in the house I would have used it! I am so glad we didn’t buy a tin ‘just in case’ or I honestly don’t think I would be breastfeeding now.

After those first 3 weeks of pain I realised that I had come so far with breastfeeding, that this was now a journey I was going to love being on and a road I was happy to travel! From then on I breastfed wherever I was when LP needed feeding. I was always discreet and wore vest tops and cardigans so that I could pull the vest down and tuck LP inside my cardigan. I’ve fed her in cafes, restaurants, in the car, in the park, and in a bridal shop. Nowhere too outrageous! But if she needed feeding, I would happily feed her. So far I haven’t had any negative comments about breastfeeding – only really from family members – ‘You’re not going to feed her here are you?’ when sitting in Costa. Erm, yes I am!

I feed LP every 4 hours, roughly, day and night. Now that she is over 6 months we have started weaning onto solids but still feed very regularly. The only thing that changed at 6 months was that family and friends thought I would automatically stop breastfeeding. Something about ‘Breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months’ always seems to get translated into – stop feeding at 6 months. So I have had to explain on numerous occasions that LP will be breastfed until at least a year as if I stop feeding her before then I would need to move over to formula. I have nothing against formula feeding, but after everything I went through in those first weeks it would feel like it was all for nothing if LP ended up on formula anyway.

LP has never had a bottle. I’ve been away from her for less than 12 hours in total in 7 months and now if I need to be away from her she drinks milk from a sippy cup. I feel like her and I have achieved so much so far on this journey and it makes me so proud that every ounce of weight she put on in those first 6 months was from me.

I feel often, that people who don’t agree with breastfeeding, especially in public, don’t understand the lengths a woman goes to just to feed her baby. I have never felt so miserable, and such a failure as I did in those first 3 weeks. There were times when I didn’t want LP near me, and I felt terrible for that. The easy option would have been to give up, and to formula feed LP. But I wanted to do what I felt was right for me and LP. I wanted to give LP the best start I could, and to do that I felt like I hit rock bottom. With everything you go through after giving birth, the bleeding, going to the toilet, sweating, losing hair and having such low self-esteem due to your post-birth body being different to how you had ever imagined, it isn’t surprising that breastfeeding not being the idealistic, beautiful experience you’d hoped for could be the final nail in feeling pretty damn miserable!

I dread going through the same thing next time. I think about how I felt this time, and I would rather go through labour again than feel the way I did with the pain and emotion of breastfeeding. But I do know that it gets better. It doesn’t hurt forever, and there are support systems out there. I just felt too pressured and suffocated by the midwives to use the available support networks.

One thing is for sure. I will continue feeding LP until at least a year, and I will do all I can to feed our next baby. I will also continue to feed LP whenever and wherever she needs to be fed. Baby’s gotta eat, right?