Breastfeeding: My story with Zachary

Breastfeeding my children was the only option I have ever considered and I assumed that it would just happen and that 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 was in absolute agony after the surgery and could hardly get up, but no one was there to help me pick my baby up to feed and I felt neglected and upset. I was crying from the pain every time I had to pick him up. I still got up every time and fed him, but it made my recovery so much harder. I had almost no colostrum and the midwives weren't very helpful. I had to hand express into a plastic cup and use a syringe to feed him. There was literally next to nothing in there! Zachary lost over 10% of his body weight in the first few days. 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 (48 hours after the birth), because I couldn't cope with the hospital environment anymore and I was getting no help when I clearly needed it and both me and Zachary were upset. I wanted to breastfeed badly, but I could see that Zac was really starving. But I was told to either BF or FF and there was no other way. I wasn't even told combination feeding was an option.

As soon as I got home that day, 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 I won't last long with BF, because I will see how settled and happy Zachary is with a bottle and I will simply give up. It was either BF or FF as the end goal and I felt like I was talking to a brick wall. I also felt like they considered me incapable of making my own decisions. I was 23!!! A full grown, married woman, yet I was being treated like a child!

Anyway... She couldn't have been more wrong! Giving up wasn't an option for me. I still can't believe how rude she was. I absolutely hated her! (my HV for Mia is lovely, thank god!). Also, she just 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 or could have actually died, 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 the 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 and to think that I would have missed out on it, if I listened to the HV... 

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. But I would have done it all differently now, having the experience I have with my 2nd child.

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 any 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.

PS. 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. 

Tell me all about your breastfeeding experiences. Were you treated badly in the hospital too? Did you get the support you needed to help you breastfeed?


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