I often think about how different my experiences with breastfeeding have been. When my first daughter was born, we had a tough start and worked hard to establish breastfeeding but circumstances out of my control meant our journey was cut short. When it came time to have my second daughter, I was more determined than ever to breastfeed.
My daughter struggled to latch on after birth
I had my first daughter Piper in 2018. No one could have prepared me for just how difficult breastfeeding would be. I had issues straight away and I almost gave up.
Our difficult start with breastfeeding wasn’t helped by the fact we had a 5 day stay in hospital as Piper’s back was cut with the scalpel during the birth. She also wasn’t gaining weight due to her latch. I had so many midwives come in and try to help with the latch but I think because she was born slightly premature and very small, she found it so difficult to latch.
Our difficult start with breastfeeding wasn’t helped by the fact we had a 5 day stay in hospital as Piper’s back was cut with the scalpel during birth. She also wasn’t gaining weight due to her latch.
I spent so many nights in hospital crying feeling like a complete failure. For something so natural, it most definitely did not come naturally!! Practice makes perfect and we eventually got there and when I was tucked away in the safety of my home it was magical!
I was really put off breastfeeding in public
Feeding in public was different. The comments, the stares, the laughing, the whispering, the disapproving looks as if I was unnecessarily exposing myself in front of complete strangers.
One of my first experiences of breastfeeding in public was when my partner and I went out for breakfast one morning. There was a man sitting across from us and I kept catching him looking at me feeding her. My partner got up to go to the toilet and left me at the table feeding Piper. Again, I caught this man looking at me feeding. I made the decision to get up and go to the car to finish off her feed after he looked at me and winked. I remember feeling a bit violated and very embarrassed.
From then on, if I knew we were going out, I would express milk to bottle feed her.
Antibiotics and breastfeeding
A few weeks passed and I began to feel some pain in my c-section scar. After a trip to the GP, I was told that I had an infection and needed antibiotics. This resulted in Piper and I getting thrush. The thrush got worse and turned into a staph infection that required much stronger antibiotics after narrowly avoiding a hospital admission.
These antibiotics meant I couldn’t breastfeed for a week but thought if I pumped and dumped I could resume. This didn’t happen as the antibiotics dried my supply up and that was the end of my and Piper’s breastfeeding journey after seven short weeks. I felt so cheated. Why didn’t I cherish it more? I should have enjoyed it more.
My second daughter struggled to latch on too
On the 28th of July 2021, my second daughter Winnie was born. I was absolutely determined to breastfeed this time. Again, Winnie and I had a bumpy start to it. She was so lazy and didn’t latch because she didn’t want to work for it. She was so hit and miss – would she latch at all or wouldn’t she? Then, Winnie just would not feed from my right breast. I had to feed from my left and pump from my right.
My mum came over from America to be with me and help me settle into my new role as a mum of 2. If it wasn’t for mum being my boobie cheerleader, I would have surrendered and thrown the towel in. With my mum’s support and my stubbornness and determination, we got there and we’re now exclusively breastfeeding.
If it wasn’t for mum being my boobie cheerleader, I would have surrendered and thrown the towel in.
I now feel empowered to breastfeed in public
I felt differently about feeding in public this time. I felt empowered. There was absolutely no way after all of the struggles I’d overcome that I’d allow someone to make me feel ashamed for feeding my baby in public. We’ve now been breastfeeding for nine wonderful weeks!I
Breastfeeding is daunting enough without some people’s ignorance. I feel like breastfeeding in public for the first time is a major mummy milestone. It’s something to be celebrated and encouraged, not shamed. I still get remarks, funny looks and the odd laugh. I can’t change some people’s attitudes towards breastfeeding. Opinions are like nipples, everyone’s born with them… I just so happen to nourish my baby with mine.
This story includes a personal experience of using antibiotics when breastfeeding. To read guidance about taking antibiotics when breastfeeding, please read this from The Breastfeeding Network.