Since we’d needed IVF to conceive and then I’d relied on anti-sickness medication to get me through the pregnancy with hyperemesis, it was so important to me that I could breastfeed my baby when she was born. I needed to do one part of the whole journey “naturally”.
I did all the reading and attended online workshops to make sure I was as prepared as I could be for when my baby arrived. From 37 weeks of pregnancy, I spent many an evening attempting to collect colostrum. I had a low-lying anterior placenta and was given the go-ahead by my midwife and consultant to do this.
Unfortunately, I never managed more than 3-4ml of colostrum in one go. I think that was down to the amount of pressure I was putting on myself to collect loads, which obviously stopped that oxytocin flowing.
I ended up having an emergency C-section following a failed induction.
Unfortunately, I ended up having an emergency C-section following a failed induction. This in turn led me to lose a huge amount of blood and have a prolonged recovery in hospital. Of course, this impacted the start of our breastfeeding journey as I wasn’t even well enough to hold my baby when she was born, never mind feed her.
About 8 or 9 hours after she was born, a very kind nurse came to check in on me in the high dependency unit where I was alone due to covid restrictions. She offered to help me hold my baby for the first time and even latched her onto my breast for the first time and held her there while she fed. It was amazing and I just remember bursting into tears as it was something I’d only dreamt of until that point.
My milk suddenly came in while I was sitting on the postnatal ward and my baby, Harriet, started crying.
On day 3 my milk came in
Jump to three days later and my milk suddenly came in while I was sitting on the postnatal ward and my baby, Harriet, started crying. I couldn’t believe how much milk was suddenly leaking from both of my breasts! However, due to me still being really unwell and needing extra support (plus my nipples already being cracked and bleeding) I wasn’t breastfeeding and the hospital staff had been feeding Harriet with formula.
Once we got home a few days later and my nipples had had some time to heal, I started trying to breastfeed Harriet but it proved to be a lot more difficult by that point and I couldn’t get her to latch properly. I ended up with extremely sore, cracked, and bleeding nipples again.
I contacted my local infant feeding team and they were brilliant, giving me advice over the phone and arranging for someone to visit me
My local infant feeding team were brilliant
I contacted my local infant feeding team and they were brilliant, giving me advice over the phone and arranging for someone to visit me to help with Harriet’s latch. They were really good and they arranged for me to hire a breast pump so I could encourage my supply even more since we were having to combi feed to ensure Harriet was getting what she needed (or at least that’s what I’d been lead to believe at the time!).
I was also extremely lucky to have the support of my sister-in-law, my breastfeeding inspiration. She was always at the other end of the phone to help me out, no matter what time of day or night I needed her! Without her support, we wouldn’t be where we are now – exclusively breastfeeding for the past 3 months, with a very healthy chunky little monkey!
I’m so proud of how far we’ve both come in the past 7 months, despite it feeling at times like we’d never get here.
We’re seven months in now and I’m so proud
I’m so proud of how far we’ve both come in the past 7 months, despite it feeling at times like we’d never get here. Breastfeeding comes so naturally to us both now and makes life so much easier as there’s no bottles to prepare, no formula to buy and I can’t forget my boobs!!
I know breastfeeding isn’t for everyone and there are so many factors that come into play, but I hope sharing our story helps another mama through what can be an extremely tough time! And we’re proof that it is possible to come back from exclusively formula feeding to exclusively breastfeeding. But we couldn’t have done it without the support of friends, family and local support teams.
The two pieces of advice that my sister-in-law gave me that got me through the toughest times, and that I always share with others now, are this – 1. Everything is temporary, the pain, the tiredness, the sadness. And 2. Think of any feeding or pumping as putting your order in for the following day. So even if you don’t get a lot of milk from pumping or your baby is cluster feeding, tomorrow will be better because your body will be more prepared for the demand!
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