It’s so funny to me that I was breastfeeding a different child this time last year!
I breastfed my first son Bodhi until he was 28 months old and I was 4 months pregnant. I didn’t want to stop. My milk just seemed to disappear. Bodhi had to check a few times but he seemed to adjust fine. I missed it and I still do but it hasn’t affected our bond.
I combi fed my firstborn from two weeks old
My goal and dream has always been to successfully and exclusively breastfeed my babies. Bodhi was born with Down Syndrome and combi feeding him from 2 weeks old left me with lots of regrets. We had a bumpy road as he lost alot of weight being a sleepy baby and also having slight jaundice.
Bodhi was born with Down Syndrome and combi feeding him from 2 weeks old left me with lots of regrets.
It wasn’t that I had no support with breastfeeding it was more that I had the wrong support, in the form of my own mother with her own regrettable breastfeeding journey. This greatly impacted my feelings towards breastfeeding and the lack of confidence in my abilities. There is a lack of breastfeeding support in society today. Yes you can access it from professionals but its peer support we thrive from as humans. Knowing this, I prepared myself for my new breastfeeding journey, to be my own support and cheerleader. I desperately wanted to have breastfeeding success with my second baby
The perfect start with baby no. 2
Baby boy Bloom successfully latched and fed within 40 minutes of birth and I was ecstatic!
The perfect start! He wasn’t taken from me for his checks for over 3 hours and I think this definitely helped our journey. He was a little sleepy the next day so I had to strip him off to wake him for feeds a few times but he was feeding well once he was latched.
The midwife suspected jaundice
On day 3 we woke up at home to a visit from the midwife who suspected Bloom had jaundice. He definitely had a glow about him but the test result was below the treatment line. He had also lost about 9% in weight so the midwife said she would be back the next day. Again the test result was below the treatment line but the weight hadn’t much improved.
The midwife suggested I breastfeed Bloom and then hand express for 10 minutes on each breast and feed him that also. I had colostrum I had harvested so I gave him that too. I was really emotional about this, dreading my feeding anxiety coming back (which I had with Bodhi). I was scared I was going to give up again. I just wanted to feed my baby with no complications.
The midwife suggested I breastfeed Bloom and then hand express for 10 minutes on each breast and feed him that also.
By day 6 I started to get nipple pain
On day 6 I was ecstatic to find Bloom was above his birth weight! My milk was in and his jaundice glow was disappearing. By this time I had started to have some pain in my nipples, a few cracks and some bleeding so the midwife helped me get a better latch. It was uncomfortable when Bloom latched but the feed was fine. This continued to get better over the next week.
I had started to have some pain in my nipples, a few cracks and some bleeding so the midwife helped me get a better latch.
On Day 12 the Health Visitor came to see us. She was really impressed with Bloom’s weight and I was over the moon! My nipples were back to normal and feeding was going great!
I had a swollen breast and began to feel unwell
Day 13 I had woken up with a bit of a swollen breast but thought it would drain when I fed which it did a little. I took Bodhi to nursery that afternoon and almost immediately started to feel unwell. I thought i must be exhausted from sleep deprivation and it was really warm outside. Me and Bloom spent the afternoon in bed. My breast still felt swollen and I put 2 and 2 together. Mastitis!
I spoke to some mums on instagram and got some tips to manage it like massage etc. By the evening I was shivering! I felt absolutely freezing but was burning up! I was due to see the midwife the following morning, so planned to tell her about it.
Day14 was meant to be our final midwife appointment. As soon as I was called in I said I don’t feel well and burst in to tears. By this point my breast was really swollen and red so she asked to see. She then checked my temperature and blood pressure and sent me straight to triage at the hospital. I was scared.
In hospital they treated me for sepsis
Once at triage, the same observations were taken, and I was admitted. They decided to treat me for sepsis and put us in a little room on labour ward so they could keep an eye on me. There was no signal in there and I just kept crying at leaving Bodhi again. I had Bloom with me though and although feeding was really sore now, we kept going.
Throughout the night my temperature kept spiking and I felt so poorly. I was being given antibiotics through a badly inserted cannula. There was no phone signal or wifi to speak to anyone. It was horrendous.
I felt like such a failure being back in hospital
Finally in the morning the doctor said I was more stable and I was transferred onto the postnatal ward. In the bed opposite to where I had been two weeks prior, after giving birth. I don’t know why it felt like such a failure to be back there but it did.
Every six hours I had to have antibiotics. My hand was in agony from the cannula, my breast and feeding was agony. I was crying constantly from physical and emotional pain. I still had no phone signal and could only speak to my dad for 2 minutes at a time via the bed phone. I felt so lonely and lost. Thankfully my dad brought Bodhi to see me everyday. As soon as they left I was distraught again. It wasn’t even a thing of just formula feeding at this point. I had to drain my breast to get better and had to be treated with antibiotics.
The pain of feeding was indescribable
Every single time it came to feeding on the infected breast I would have to brace myself, breathe so deeply to not scare Bloom and just let him latch. I cannot describe the pain. The whole feed hurt. I would be so tense, scared to move. After a while I could barely use my hand with the cannula in. It was red and hot just like my breast.
Eventually a nurse removed it and a doctor put new one in on my other arm. It’s so difficult to hold your baby to breastfeed with these cannulas. They then decided to put me on a more appropriate antibiotic for mastitis once they were sure that’s what I had. This had to be done by IV and oh my god it burnt going in.
I don’t even know what day was what when I think back. 4 days just felt like a lifetime.
Finally, I was allowed to leave hospital
I tried a pump once hoping that would clear the blocked duct but the suction seemed to make the milk come in worse! So I just stuck to breastfeeding and slowly it got a little easier. As my temperature had been stable for a day they let me go home with antibiotics in tablet form. I was so proud to be leaving still breastfeeding despite this massive hurdle!
The next day the midwife came to weigh Bloom and he had put on a whole 1lb during the ordeal! Since then breastfeeding has been going well!
I dreaded getting mastitis again
Bloom started sleeping through the night so I was getting really full and uncomfortable. I was terrified of getting mastitis again but after a few days my breasts regulated themselves. I also had a little oversupply at one point but I realised I was perhaps eating too many oat breakfast bars, oops.
Something I didn’t plan for, was the excessive raging hormones and the hot flashes! Also, I am always hungry and have to make sure I eat enough so I’m not wasting away.
Something I didn’t plan for, was the excessive raging hormones and the hot flashes!
Six months on and we’re still breastfeeding
We have now made it to 6 months exclusively breastfeeding!
I am so proud of myself. I have put actual blood, sweat and tears into exclusively breastfeeding my baby! It is the most exhausting yet beautiful experience!
I will forever be passionate about supporting mums who want to breastfeed in any capacity. It is the most amazing gift to give 🙂