Even before I actually became pregnant, I always knew I wanted to breastfeed. When I was pregnant with my son I researched as much as I could about breastfeeding. I knew our journey wouldn’t be the easiest as nipple damage from a piercing means I can only feed on one side. However, I wasn’t prepared for a difficult birth or issues that resulted from tongue tie, and I almost gave up on breastfeeding early on.
I really wanted a natural home water birth
Throughout my pregnancy, I researched as much as I could about breastfeeding as it was something I knew I really wanted to do and prepare for.
My partner and I planned a natural home water birth as we knew how beneficial that would be for the start of my breastfeeding journey. That was thrown out of the window at 41 + 5 weeks with a routine overdue scan and blood test discovered I was positive for pre-eclampsia. The consultant insisted I came in to be induced. However, after discussions back and forth between them, my midwife, and myself, it was decided I would be allowed to try in the hospital’s birth centre.
Despite such a difficult birth, I insisted he be placed on my chest as quickly as possible for skin to skin contact.Jessica
I really wanted my natural birth and I was happy I had a final chance at it. I would have my waters broken and have two hours to see if I would labour naturally. Unfortunately, I didn’t. I was transferred to the labour ward. After labouring for 13 hours I was taken for an emergency caesarean due to the risk of haemorrhaging and lack of progress – which we later discovered was due to the cord being wrapped twice around my son’s neck. Despite such a difficult birth, I insisted he be placed on my chest as quickly as possible for skin to skin contact. To my delight, he latched on and had his first feed in theatre.
Nipple damage from a piercing means I can only feed on one side
My breastfeeding journey was also made more difficult by only having one functioning nipple due to a piercing as a teenager that lead to an abscess. It was far too damaged and my son was unable to latch. My breasts being on the larger side also made finding comfortable positions difficult.
However, with fantastic support from my midwife, we made it work. Now with a trusty pillow or arm of a couch or chair, I use the rugby hold to feed on the one side. I use a “shell” on the other side which collects a small amount, so my damaged breast is still contributing.
My breastfeeding journey was made more difficult by only having one functioning nipple due to a piercing as a teenager that lead to an abscess.Jessica
Tongue tie added more complications
After a week of breastfeeding, I noticed my nipple was blistered and in a ‘lipstick’ shape after feeding. I told my midwife how painful it was so she examined him and noticed he had a slight tongue tie. I had an appointment to get it corrected within days.
Whilst my son’s tongue tie was classed as “borderline” the improvement to feeding came immediately. The difference was night and day!
Even though it was difficult to see my baby have to have the tongue tie procedure, I would encourage anyone who’s experiencing any pain or misshapen nipples after feeding to have their baby checked for a tongue tie.
Having a support network kept me going
Just because something is natural, doesn’t mean it’s easy. Every day for the first few weeks I said “that’s it, that was my last feed”. With the strain on one side of my body from holding a 9.5 lb baby all day and night, add in cluster feeding and recovering from the birth, I felt it was too hard. If it wasn’t for my midwife suggesting I express my milk so my partner could feed our baby to give me a break then I definitely would have stopped. Now, every night I can get into bed and my partner will feed his bottle. There’s also the option if I needed a lie in or to nip out for a walk, my son would still be fed.
Just because something is natural, doesn’t mean it’s easy.Jessica
Despite all the challenges of breastfeeding, seeing my little boy growing every day, hitting milestones, and developing makes it all worth it. Seeing his little hand resting on my breast and clinging on is a wonderful feeling. For any mama who is struggling, I’d say definitely set yourself up with a support network. The help of supportive friends, midwives, and accounts online like @milkmakingmama has been great for me. Knowing I can always ask questions and get reassurance makes it easier. Give yourself a break if you can and know you’re doing the absolute best for your baby.”
You can follow Jessica on Instagram @wutheringwitchy