Breastfeeding my children was the only option I have ever considered and I assumed that it will just happen and I won't have any problems. Well... I was wrong... I have been meaning two write about my breastfeeding journey with Zachary for absolute ages, but I have been putting it off for years. Yes... YEARS! I waited so long, that I now have another baby and a totally different, yet similar breastfeeding story to talk about, but... better late than never!
Zachary was born 2 weeks late. I was supposed to be induced, but I went into labour naturally on the day of my induction. After a very long, extremely painful and exhausting labour, hours of pushing and tears, he got stuck and I had to get an emergency c-section. It was scary. Thankfully, we were both fine and I got skin to skin immediately after he was born, which is meant to be a fantastic start to breastfeeding. The first few nights were a nightmare. I had almost no colostrum and the midwives weren't very helpful. Zachary lost over 10% of his body weight. He was 9lb 10oz at birth, so they weren't too concerned, but it was alarming.
I was told that my milk will come in soon and that he will be fine. To be honest, I was seriously worried, because he started to look quite unhealthy. I demanded to go home on day 3 and as soon as I got home, I gave Zachary 3oz of formula. He was STARVING! The health visitor came to see us the next day to check how we're doing and everything was ok, except Zachary's weight. He was on the breast 24/7 with a poor latch with only 1 formula top-up since he was born and he was still losing weight. Not great... I decided that I will do combination feeding and as someone who didn't even consider formula, I knew I won't give up breastfeeding easily.
Health visitor was sceptical and said that it won't last, because I will see how settled and happy Zachary is with a bottle and I will simply give up. NOPE!!! She couldn't have been more wrong! I will always do the best I can for my children, so giving up wasn't an option. I still can't believe how rude she was. I absolutely hated her! (my HV for Mia is lovely, thank god!). Also, she kept telling me to decide what I want to do - breast or bottle. Like there was no in between. Grrrr!
Guess how long my milk took to actually come in? A full WEEK! Yes. 7 days. Zachary would have ended up severely dehydrated if I didn't give him formula top-ups. As they say... a mum knows best and I knew what I was doing.
Sooo, after doing lots of research, my plan was to breastfeed, express after each feed and any bottle feeds would be with the expressed milk and if I didn't have any - formula. Zachary's latch was poor for a couple of weeks, my nipples were so sore that I cried every time he tried to latch on (about 100 times a day, or more). At some point, they started to bleed. One was so bad, that I had lots and lots of blood coming out when I was expressing and milk had to be dumped. Yep... That's how bad it was. Thankfully, I still didn't give up and eventually, Zachary figured out how to latch on properly. My nipples healed (one is scarred till this day!!!) and I absolutely loved every minute of breastfeeding ever since! It was sooo, sooo lovely! The best way to bond I can imagine.
I would breastfeed since early hours in the morning, in bed, take a morning nap with Zac and then breastfeed again. Each feed after that was followed by a top-up and me expressing to stimulate milk production. Basically, I was expressing about 6 times a day with a hand held pump. It was all worth it though and I am glad I did it.
As the months went on, I was getting slightly fed up with pumping, but I still exclusively breastfed at night, every morning and continued to offer each breast at each feed. It worked really well for me and I lasted full 6 months, until I didn't really have much milk left.
I was very disappointed that I couldn't breastfeed exclusively and slightly annoyed that my milk dried up after 6 months, but... I am also extremely proud of myself for lasting the 6 months, because I went through absolute hell for weeks, with tears, blood and no sleep, before Zachary figured out how to latch on properly.
Another thing I have to mention is the reason why I don't have enough milk. Well... I have oddly shaped breasts. When I was slim, I had almost no breasts (one bigger than the other) and they were a bit tubular and pointed outwards. This kind of situation usually goes along with having little glandular tissue, responsible for milk production. I knew there was something wrong, but the midwives and health visitors didn't listen. This time round, I am in the same situation with the amount of milk I can produce, but it's a totally different story that I will talk about in another post, as I am starting a full breastfeeding series as a Medela Mum. There will be a Q&A with a lactation consultant, an electric breastpump giveaway and more.
Tell me all about your breastfeeding experiences.