My name is Natalie, and I was a naïve breastfeeder. I listened to the 10-minute chat in the NCT class and left it at that. It’s a natural process, it will happen just like how my body will birth a baby.
I fully believed my body knew what it was doing (of course it didn’t, I ended up nearly 14 days overdue and having to have an emergency c section as he just wouldn’t come out!). Oh, if I could go back and shake her and say read up, rehearse, practise! To collect that sweet golden colostrum in advance of having the baby. But I guess that is the beauty of hindsight.
I didn’t really have anyone to talk to about breastfeeding and so I knew nothing of what I know now.
Truthfully, I had no idea about breastfeeding
I didn’t really have anyone to talk to about breastfeeding and so I knew nothing of what I know now. Like how having a c-section can make it slower for your milk to arrive, especially when your body is also fighting sepsis. Or how incredibly painful it can be in those early days. That black bleeding nipples are a sign something might be wrong. That you should welcome any form of help with wide open arms and not turn them away thinking you’ve got it mastered.
After being discharged 3 days post birth we were back in less then 12 hrs later with a baby who had lost 13% bodyweight (how he was discharged in that state is another story).
I sobbed when we had to go back to hospital
I remember being sat on the bed naked apart from a pair of knickers, exhausted after what I now know was a starving baby who had kept me up all night. I sobbed as the midwife said before she had even seen us that baby is hungry.
I sobbed harder on being told I would have to return to hospital. But the relief. The relief as she gently helped me to latch my baby and to see him feed and for it not to be agony. The next three days in hospital were a militant regime of feeding, expressing, bottle feeding, formula feeding and sleep.
It wasn’t the journey I had imagined but it was a worthy journey.
Soon we were combi-feeding
At first, I felt sad. I hadn’t wanted any formula in our journey, but now I can see its value. It helped bring his weight up and as soon as we were home, we stopped the formula. But my confidence had been damaged and as soon as a Health Visitor started fussing about him dropping a percentile at 4 months old, I brought back formula bottles.
We then combi fed and slowly the bottles took over and by 9 months we had stopped feeding as I returned to work. But I had still breastfed for 9 months. It wasn’t the journey I had imagined but it was a worthy journey. A journey that saw me feeding confidently in public alongside giving bottles and never feeling judged.
Pregnant with baby no.2
Fast forward to 2021 and I was pregnant with baby two and boy this time I was prepared. I read books and followed Instagram accounts. I expressed colostrum towards the end of my pregnancy, knowing I was having another c section. This time, I approached the whole thing like a military operation.
That first feed in recovery was magic. My baby latched and fed, and I thought “yes, I’ve done it”. However, we then ended up with our son being admitted to NICU with trouble transitioning with his breathing. He was connected to tubes and pipes and devices and had to have colostrum syringed to him. I had forgot about my stash, and it had defrosted rendering it useless. I remember being sat in my bed trying to hand express and getting some out. They suggested I tried pumping which produced absolutely nothing, and I found this heart breaking. I then had difficulty expressing by hand and remember calling a midwife in tears.
I’ve fed anywhere and everywhere
The midwife was so reassuring
I cried that our journey would be over before it began and all the memories from the first time came back. The midwife gently showed me again how to express my colostrum. She reassured me that I would be fine and that I was doing more then some others and it would work. She was right. He came off the machines and fed like a trooper and soon I was traipsing down to NICU throughout the night summoned by the midwives and nurses to soothe his screams. He put on weight, and we were discharged happy. It’s continued ever since and 15 months later we are still going strong.
We’ve gone through dairy allergies and returning to work. I’ve pumped in the office and at my desk. I’ve fed anywhere and everywhere and again never felt any judgement. The secret? Confidence, experience, patience, being kind to yourself and being prepared. Oh, and nipple shields. Long live the nipple shields!
Would you like to share your breastfeeding
story? Sign up today to add your story! We’d love to hear from you.