As it’s national breastfeeding week, I thought I’d share my story and bare all ( pics below). I’m starting this post at 3am whilst sat breastfeeding as it’s the only time I have to myself to think and take the time to do this.
Before I had Rudie I wasn’t sure that I’d breastfeed at all, partly because after speaking to people that had breastfed their first children and then once transferred to the bottle, they’d decided that was easier and opted for the bottle second time round. Also I didn’t want my baby to be clingy to me because I intended to go back to work soon and basically I just didn’t think it would be for me. However once I’d had Rudie and him being premature and cared for in hospital, I felt that the only way I could actually look after him was to give him my milk and I was told it would be the best for him. So the day after I gave birth to Rudie we were allowed skin to skin and I was then shown how to manually express the colostrum drop by drop into a 1ml tube. I had to do this every 3 hours, most importantly in the night to encourage my milk to come in. They were feeding him my colustrum alongside formula until this happened. The second day I went in with 7 mls I’d expressed during the night feeling so pleased with myself. Now I realise 7 mls is literally nothing.
On day 3 my milk came in, I woke up the bed was covered in milk and omg my boobs were hugeeeeeee and so painful! I thought they were big when I was pregnant but that was nothing. I hired the hospital pump and was shown how to use it. I began expressing every 3 hours at the hospital and also when I came home and then would store the milk in the fridge or freezer and take it in for Rudie the following day. After a day or so I had enough supply that he was no longer being topped up with formula.
Rudie was born healthy but small at 32 weeks and his plan of action was to just grow and go home. This meant we had to establish breastfeeding and the sooner the better. Everyday I was there for his feeds which were every 3 hours. It was a slow start because he was so tiny, his mouth was tiny and he would get tired after two or three sucks at a time. I was using one hand to support his head and the other to squeeze my nipple and boob smaller to fit into his mouth ( bad technique, which I wasn’t told at the hospital). Each day we breastfed for a little longer and after about a week we were able to stop topping up with my expressed milk through his feeding tube. It was only at night time when I wasn’t there that Rudie was fed through the tube. Before we were discharged from hospital we had to stay over for 48 hours with Rudie to ensure I could breastfeed through the night, it was then that we decided to introduce a bottle for his evening feed so that Charlie could be involved and also to give me a little break. We decided to do this at the hospital just incase Rudie wouldn’t take a bottle and so we could do it under the nurses observation and they could show us the right techniques and amount we should give. Rudie loved the bottle straight away to our relief and them had been no nipple/ teat confusion. Aslong as he is fed he is happy! And he is a hungry hungry boy!
After we came home, I was breastfeeding each feed except the 10.30pm feed. My nipples became so sore and because of this I kept on pulling Rudie off and then he’d cry and get frustrated, I really started dreading the feeds. Someone had suggested nipple sheilds so I bought the medela ones and from the moment I put them on breastfeeding has been pain free and I don’t need to use my other hand to squeeze my nipple into his mouth (which means I can use my phone yay). I’m still using the nipple sheilds now for each feed and have been told that it’s fine to use them long term but if I ever forget them or decide I don’t want to use them anymore it may be tricky to get Rudie to latch on.
About two weeks ago I also introduced a bottle of formula each day, as recommended by my health visitor to help Rudie gain more weight. This is something i’d been toying with the idea of anyway but I just wasn’t sure I was ready because I was scared my milk would dry up or it was too soon but as they’d suggested it, it took the mum guilt away from the situation. He liked it straight away, as usual Mr Hungry. He now has one bottle of formula each day , two on the two occasions I’ve left Rudie with my sister.
I will probably move completely to formula over the next 4/6 weeks. My initial plan was to reach my due date which was a week ago today. My next target is 12 weeks… but who knows I could go longer. It’s not about the emotional bonding for me, i love him more than anything and we’d never not have a bond. I just want him to get the goodness but even if I just end up giving him one or two feeds a day that’s still something. Rudie takes a good hour to feed even after I’ve introduced the dummy, before it could take up to two hours. It’s so much quicker to even express and give him a bottle which is something else I may try more regularly.
Breastfeeding is much harder than I thought it would be, it’s time consuming, it can be very painful and tedious. But on the flip side I have loved moments, mostly the 3am feed when it’s quiet and just us two and I don’t feel as though I’m rushing him. I’m happy that I’ve managed to do it this long and I praise every woman that manages to breastfeed but I also can totally understand why people make the choice not too or give up in the early days because it’s not easy and can make you feel isolated a little because it’s restricting. You have to do what’s best for you mummas, every decision as a new mum seems like the biggest deal ever but breastfed or not your doing a great job and don’t be hard on yourselves!
If you’re reading this and you’re pregnant and planning on breastfeeding or already breastfeeding and struggling. These are a few products that have really helped me on my journey.
Medela nipple shields.
Bravado nursing bras. They’re so soft and comfortable, really are the best on the market. I have 4 different styles and they’re all amazing.
Lansinoh breastmilk collector- this is amazing. Whilst nursing on one breast I put this on the the other and it just collects the milk that would naturally leak from it, so no wastage.
Medela swing flex breast pump. This pump is really good and effective and it’s small if you’re on the go.