Sorry for the radio silence guys… things have been up in the air here in the Kidd-Beckett household and if I’m honest my main focus has been my family and myself, so unfortunately blogs and ‘work’ has taken a real backseat… but I hope you understand. I also can’t promise WHEN the next instalment will be given how close this baby must be to arriving, but it most definitely WILL be returning!
I’ve got you another lovely story this week from Sophie at Mama Baba Bump, and I hope you enjoy it. I’d also be honoured if you’d like to share your experience with us – I’m low on stories to share and it would be fab to bank a few up for during our first trimester when my focus will remain primarily on the most important thing to me – our family… if you’d like to get in touch just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Before I got pregnant, I had some concept of the fact it could be hard to breastfeed, but I wasn’t really sure why it was hard and the breastfeeding class I had as part of my NCT course made it seem quite simple… just get the right latch and you’ll be fine!
When Eliza was born she had a little rasp on her chest (which can be an indicator of sepsis) so we ended up being in hospital for 3 days while it was assessed and treated. At the time I was desperate to get home but in hindsight, I really believe that the 24/7 support I received during those first 3 days got our breastfeeding journey off to the best start possible. I asked millions of questions and constantly buzzed to ask them to check the latch and help me reposition her. It also meant I was in hospital during some pretty full on cluster feeding which I think I would have found very worrying if I’d been at home, but they were able to reassure me it was normal and encourage me to keep going as it meant my milk would come in soon.
From the outside, it probably looked like I found breastfeeding a breeze. All of the guidance and support in those first few days meant Eliza learnt to latch pretty quickly, I had plenty of milk and she piled on weight, sticking to the 91st percentile throughout the first year.
The reality is that I had an oversupply of milk and a very fast let down. To mums who struggle with their supply, this must sound amazing, but it comes with its own issues! When she was feeding she had to gulp the milk down to keep up with the flow and it meant she got really uncomfortable trapped wind. She got so much off the first breast, I would try her on the second and she would get very upset. It also meant that when she wanted to suckle for comfort, she would still get a lot of milk which led to her being a very sicky baby as her body dealt with the excess milk.
I was desperate to see if there was anything I could to do manage the supply and make the feeds less stressful for everyone! I read up on the internet, called helplines and went to a breastfeeding support meeting but no one seemed to think it was a big issue and a lot of the advice I received was contradictory which made me even more frustrated. In the end I paid for a breastfeeding consultant to come to the house and it was the best thing I could have done. She was incredibly supportive and finally made me feel like I wasn’t making a fuss about nothing. She taught me to feed lying on my side and back to decrease the flow speed, suggested co-sleeping (and gave me very clear guidelines about doing it safely which is an absolute must) and made me feel a lot more comfortable trusting my instincts to just feed her from one breast at each feed.
Emotionally I found breastfeeding much tougher than I could have possibly imagined. At first, I found it quite overwhelming. Being the sole source of nutrition for Eliza, being on call 24/7 and dealing with the oversupply issue felt like such a big responsibility that I couldn’t really share with my husband, as supportive as he was. After about 4 weeks it all started to settle down, I had mastered the positions that helped her get milk a bit more slowly, we had a bit of a rhythm in the day and we co-slept at night which meant I was starting to get a bit more sleep.
When Eliza was about 4 months old she went through the sleep regression and I found breastfeeding became quite emotional again. Clearly linked to sleep deprivation in hindsight, but I felt a bit resentful and guilty that I wasn’t enjoying it like I had before! I felt like I had been breastfeeding for such a long time, I just wanted a bit of space to myself (I feel a bit guilty even admitting that, although it’s clearly completely understandable!) but I fed on demand so didn’t feel I could leave her (we tried a bottle, but she wasn’t keen!). It lasted a couple of weeks and then we came out the other side into my favourite few months of breastfeeding! From around 5 months it just all seemed much more manageable, we started introducing food at 6 months and not being the sole provider of food made a huge difference. I could leave her with my mum for an hour knowing I
wasn’t potentially starving her (again, clearly not the case but that is how I had felt at around 4 months!).
When she reached 6 months I had a lot of people ask me if I was going to stop breastfeeding and move to formula. For me, as I’ve said, I’d just got to a really lovely period of breastfeeding, so I was quite happy to carry on and to be honest, by this point it was a lot easier than starting out with bottles from scratch!
Eliza took to solid food really well and at about 10 months we night weaned her which made a pretty epic difference to her sleep but was only possible because she was eating so well in the day that I didn’t worry she’d go hungry at night. After that I slowly stopped the daytime feeds until by 11 months she was just having a feed when she woke up and before bed. She wasn’t nearly as interested as she had been before and it quite naturally tailed off. I did her last morning feed on her first birthday which was a lovely natural end to our breastfeeding journey. I feel incredibly grateful that the issues I had initially we’re relatively minor and I watched friends struggle with much more complex issues and saw the emotional impact that can have.
If I were to have another baby (which I am planning to hopefully) I would make sure I knew where to get support before the baby was born and then if I needed it, ask for help quicker. I’d also try and trust my own instinct rather worry about comparing myself to how other people are breastfeeding or how I think I ‘should’ be breastfeeding.
Thanks for sharing Sophie,
Much love, Steph x