Whilst I was pregnant I did so much planning and preparation for birth. I completed a Hypnobirthing workshop, read books and followed lots of IG accounts. In comparison, I did virtually no research on breastfeeding. I knew I wanted to do it but was so consumed with the idea of giving birth, I just assumed breastfeeding would follow easily…
I just assumed breastfeeding would come naturally
I never thought much about breastfeeding when I was pregnant. I knew I wanted to breastfeed and was excited for the journey ahead, but I hadn’t prepared myself for what was to come. Looking back, I wish I had looked at educating myself more, or asking friends to talk about their experiences. I just assumed it would come naturally and would be easy. Baby would latch and voila – a pleasant bonding time with mum and baby. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite go as planned.
During pregnancy I prepared myself for birth. I read the books, I followed all the IG accounts and my partner and I completed the Hypnobirthing Australia workshop with our consultant, Angie, from The Haus of Health. I knew what to expect for labour, and I was ready for anything that would be thrown at me. I believe the insight I had gained through education helped me enter my labour in a calm and positive manner, empowering me to deliver my daughter in a peaceful environment with no pressure from medical personnel.
I believe the insight I had gained through education helped me enter my labour in a calm and positive manner, empowering me to deliver my daughter in a peaceful environment with no pressure from medical personnel.
My labour was surprisingly quick
At 7:30pm on a Wednesday night (40+6 days), my water broke. I was laying in bed relaxing while my partner was cooking dinner when I felt two pops in my belly. I knew straight away what it was. I called the hospital and, as a precaution, we were asked to head down to the hospital. My contractions started in the car about 10 minutes later. I assumed we would be sent home to labour from home as long as possible. I was ready for a long labour.
After some initial monitoring, we were taken to the birth suite at around 9:30pm as my contractions were very close together. We dimmed the lights, had a diffuser on and mediation music playing. I breathed through every surge, naked and on my hands and knees. It felt primal. I was so in the zone I didn’t even think about pain relief, I was so focused on my breathing and listening to my body, I knew I could keep going. Soon enough, I felt the urge to breathe my daughter out. With every surge, I slowly pushed her out and by 2:44am Thursday morning, she was in my arms. I placed her on my chest for skin to skin, she found her way to my nipple and latched. It was perfect.
I started to haemorrhage
I was holding my newborn whilst she fed for the first time, it was still dark in our birth suite and the only other people in the room were my partner and the two midwives who had watched me deliver my baby. Unfortunately, I started to haemorrhage and I needed to birth the placenta immediately. Blood was running off of the bed and pooling on the floor. All of a sudden the lights were switched on and the room was filled with 13 medical professionals. Each arm had a cannula put in and I was administered fluids and a cocktail of medications. A catheter was inserted.
An OB-GYN started to press down hard on my uterus to help it retract so the bleeding would stop. It hurt more than delivering my baby. There were talks of getting me ready for theatre. But after 2 litres of blood loss, the bleeding finally stopped. I held my daughter the entire time, and focused on her. I wasn’t going to let this take away from our beautiful birth experience.
The cracks in my nipples made me want to quit
On day 2, my daughter started cluster feeding to bring my milk in and by day 4 my breasts had doubled in size. By day 7, I was ready to call it quits. I had deep cracks in my nipples, they were bleeding ever so slightly and I would cry in agony every time my daughter latched.
I couldn’t see how the cracks in my nipples would possibly heal, especially when she wanted to feed for hours on end from 5pm – 11pm every night for weeks. I reached out to my mum and friends for advice, everyone telling me it’s normal – “You just need to wait for your nipples to harden up”. No, it’s not normal. Pain whilst breastfeeding is common, but it’s not normal.
I couldn’t see how the cracks in my nipples would possibly heal, especially when she wanted to feed for hours on end from 5pm – 11pm every night for weeks.
For the first time ever, it didn’t hurt
My partner found a private IBCLC who could come over the next day. She was our breastfeeding lifesaver. Our IBCLC asked me to show her how I am currently holding my daughter to nurse and I cried before I even brought her to my nipple, knowing the pain I was about to feel. She stepped in, helped me position my baby and for the first time ever, it didn’t hurt. I couldn’t believe it. My partner took photos so that for every feed after, we could refer back to the photos and he could help me adjust to ensure the perfect latch every time. And we did just that. Even at 3am in the morning, my partner would get up and help me get our daughter latched properly.
It took a good 8 weeks for the cracks in my nipples to eventually heal. I would alternate between all the remedies; Silverette Silver Nursing Cups, Weleda Nipple Care Cream, warm Epson Salt washes in my Haakaa and giving my nipples fresh air.
Six month on and we’re still going
And now here we are, 6 months later, breastfeeding with ease. I am so thankful I pushed through the initial hardships I experienced in our nursing journey and sought help and support. If I could offer any advice to mumma’s wanting to breastfeed it would be:
1) make sure you have support at home,
2) educate yourself to understand what is and isn’t normal,
3) have a good IBCLC ready to go. Book them in for Day 7(ish) post birth. Even if you’re not having trouble,
4) have some Silverette Silver Nursing Cups and Weleda Nipple Care Cream on hand, and lastly
5) fill your bedside table with all the snacks.
I am so thankful I pushed through the initial hardships I experienced in our nursing journey and sought help and support.
It is more than just ‘milk’
I love breastfeeding my little one. I could just stare down at her for hours and watch her feed. The way she looks up at me and gives me a big cheeky smile, mouth so full of milk that it leaks out the side and I feel it dribble all over me – usually when I’m in fresh clothes. Or when she falls asleep, and nuzzles in using my boob as her pillow. Sometimes mid-snooze she’ll even get herself a little snack, whilst still fast asleep in my arms.
And then there are occasions my letdown is so strong, she pulls herself away only to be squirted in the face with a stream of breastmilk that I just can’t stop. It is our bonding time, just her and I. It is more than just ‘milk’. It’s nourishment, comfort, endless snuggles and more. I will always treasure our breastfeeding journey.