When I found out I was pregnant, I decided on a whim that I wanted to breastfeed my child. I didn’t want the hassle of dealing with sterilising bottles, making up formula or even buying formula. I actually thought of all the things I could spend that formula money on instead, and spent a lot of time looking at adorable little outfits for my baby.
What I should have spent the time doing was researching. Despite knowing that I wanted to breastfeed my child, I did next to no research as I naively assumed it would come naturally. I watched lots of video clips that supported this belief of babies being born, placed on their mothers chest and latching immediately.
My son’s birth didn’t go as planned
I was not successful in hand expressing and my attempts at pumping were also a failure as I got exactly 0ml for my efforts.
Sadly, my birth experience did not allow for this to happen. When my son was born last summer, we had a very quick cuddle before he was whisked off to NICU and I was being stitched up from a bad tear. For the next few days, I tried to get him to latch as often as I could whilst sitting in SCBU. I had countless visits from the Infant Feeding Team at Birmingham Womens, but nothing was clicking. I was not successful in hand expressing and my attempts at pumping were also a failure as I got exactly 0ml for my efforts. Looking back, my stress levels in the days immediately after giving birth were very high so it’s not surprising that I was struggling to express milk.
After a few days of my son taking in no milk and surviving on fluids in Special Care, I agreed through tears that he could have some formula via an NG in the hopes it would stimulate his appetite. When I was called back to his ward at 3am just a few hours later, he latched! It was only brief but this was the start of our journey. Later that day we were placed on a ward together and we spent lots of time cuddling and practicing our new skill: breastfeeding! With my stress levels reducing, it started to feel a lot easier.
Nipple pain set in once we were home
It got to the point where I couldn’t bear to have him latch on and I purchased some nipple shields to help me deal with the pain.
When we got home, we spent lots of time cuddling, feeding, and watching Netflix. Feeding seemed to be going great until I realised it was getting more and more painful for me. His latch didn’t seem to have changed but he did have a lot of white residue in his mouth. I hoped the issue would resolve itself for a while, however it didn’t. It got to the point where I couldn’t bear to have him latch on and I purchased some nipple shields to help me deal with the pain. We were both treated for thrush after I finally contacted the doctor. Since then I have been a lot quicker to ask for help with nipple pain.
I have found a local group to be incredibly supportive: Milk Mates in Cotteridge, Birmingham. I don’t think there is a single issue I could bring to that group and be given no advice for. I would always recommend speaking to an Infant Feeding Support group before speaking to a Health Visitor or Doctor, based on my own experiences.
I’ve become passionate about breastfeeding in public
As someone who is usually pretty shy, breastfeeding in public seemed very scary at first.
For me, the most exciting part of the journey so far has been breastfeeding in public and supporting other women in their journeys as a cheerleader. As someone who is usually pretty shy, breastfeeding in public seemed very scary at first. When my son was only a few weeks old, I was still uncomfortable with the idea of just whipping a boob out to feed him outside my own home. I didn’t want to go out and be forced into a situation where I had to feed him anywhere else so I stayed home a lot.
My first feed was actually in the baby changing / disabled toilet where I was trying to hurry him along (like you can hurry a feeding newborn!) After that, I vowed to not do that again as decided the next public feed would be somewhere I could sit down, have a drink and relax instead of standing up in a very cramped loo.
From cafes to castles, I’ve breastfed all over!
I just sit down and feed him regardless of where we are be it a nice teashop, a busy roadside at the bus stop, a park roundabout, a castle or climbing Snowdon!
I found it very helpful and inspiring to read people’s stories on Facebook. So many people were sharing positive feeding stories and photos. I wanted to be able to do this too so the next time I was out shopping, this time with my husband, we stopped and I fed my son whilst ordering ourselves a pot of tea. That time, my husband was probably more embarrassed than me. I believe I told him that he had no reason to feel embarrassed as I was the one whipping my boob out, not him. Now, it’s pretty common for us to stop what we are doing when our 12 month old is hungry. I just sit down and feed him regardless of where we are be it a nice teashop, a busy roadside at the bus stop, a park roundabout, a castle or climbing Snowdon!
I actually find great joy in taking photos to record all the stranger places I have breastfed. I share these photos online in the hopes of inspiring other mothers, so they don’t experience the awkward feeding in a disabled loo situation like I did.
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