Hi, I am Megan and I became a first-time mum in June 2020, during the first national lockdown in the UK. I may not have had a ‘normal’ maternity leave but I did gain a lot from lockdown, including the confidence to breastfeed my daughter nomatter what. I want to share my story and highlight what the perks of breastfeeding during lockdown were for me.
I had to self-isolate for most of my pregnancy
As a Biomedical Scientist working in an NHS laboratory I initially found it very difficult to accept that I had to self isolate when my colleagues were under so much pressure and the only thing I could do to help was to stay at home.
As a Biomedical Scientist working in an NHS laboratory I initially found it very difficult to accept that I had to self isolate
Once I accepted that lockdown was the new normal I embraced it. I did yoga most days and enjoyed going for walks in the sun. I kept my mind active by completing a portfolio for work and I spent a lot of time researching the 4th trimester, in particular, breastfeeding. I did my research online and spoke to my friend who breastfed both her babies long term. She was great at giving me advice and support (thanks Angela!). I’m now grateful for that time to prepare and rest.
She is here!
Our little girl who had been given the nickname Onion (don’t ask) was born in a hurry at 41+1 weeks. Very quickly after her birth she nestled up and latched on and our breastfeeding journey started.
Due to covid I had no visitors when I was in hospital which allowed me to get my boob out and have a good look at the latch without worrying about onlookers and interruptions. I also wasn’t shy about asking the midwives to check our latch. I was out of hospital the next day with breastfeeding off to a good start.
I wasn’t shy about asking the midwives to check our latch.
On day 3 the community midwife came to weigh Onion and she had only lost 4oz. She was 8lbs 8oz at birth and was now 8lbs4oz. I was really pleased about how little weight she lost. About 12 days later when the midwife came again she was 9lbs 6oz. She had gained almost a whole pound in less than 2 weeks.
It was safe to say that our breastfeeding journey was off to a good start. It was relentless though.
The perks of breastfeeding during lockdown
I think one of the reasons we got off to such a great start with breastfeeding was due to lockdown. Here are are some of the perks of breastfeeding during lockdown.
- less visitors
- less unsolicited comments
- more time to focus on feeding
- more time to rest
- few social events to attend
- less pressure for baby to accept a bottle
- fewer people to please
I think lockdown allowed us to live in our own wee bubble. We still had visits at the door and in the garden but not the same amount and not for as long as “normal times”. It was great people could see her but when it was time for a feed they usually left because I went inside.
I think lockdown allowed us to live in our own wee bubble.
I think lockdown also meant that we were shielded from comments. Onion cluster fed from 5-8ish most nights and I think if we had had visitors they would have questioned if she was getting enough. They would have been doing this out of kindness because it was exhausting but this is normal behaviour that helped to boost my supply.
As first time parents I dont know how I would have reacted. I like to think I would have ignored them but I was tired and at times I felt like shouting, ” You’re hungry again!” So maybe I would have caved but we’ll never know. We persevered and at 6 weeks Onion was 12lbs 4oz.
Cluster-feeding and over-supply
The 6 weeks cluster feeding was tough and it was around this time that I was dealing with over supply. I used to have to hand express a bit into the sink to relieve pressure and sometimes Onion would choke on my powerful let down. It was also around this time that she first projectile vomited.
She would randomly and without warning projectile vomit across the living room. It only happened once or twice a week but when it did it was terrifying. She was always fine afterwards and hungry for more boob but it was scary.
She would randomly and without warning projectile vomit across the living room. It only happened once or twice a week but when it did it was terrifying.
We spoke to our HV and doctor but we never got a definite reason. Fortunately, the last time it happened was at 14 weeks and it hasn’t happened since. Onion didnt have much spit up, reflux or colic issues so we were very lucky.
We had a tough 4 month sleep regression but fortunately I had nowhere to go so we could rest during the day. Another benefit of lockdown. We also moved house twice in 10 weeks which made the whole thing harder.
There were no social events (except for one wedding!)
A further benefit of lockdown was that all social events were cancelled. I didnt have to turn anything down or feel guilty about cancelling because I was breastfeeding. Onion has never taken a bottle so I know that this would have been very stressful if things had been different. She is now great with a cup and sippy cup.
During a time when lockdown restrictions were eased, my family and I attended the wedding of my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. I was the bridesmaid, my husband was best man and Onion was the flower girl. One of the things I am most proud of is breastfeeding at the top table. For someone who’d mainly breastfed in her own home up until this point, this was a big deal!
On the move
We haven’t had many issues but Onion was an early mover and started army crawling at 24 weeks before we started solids. Her percentile weight dropped significantly but I knew to trust her nappy output. She was still gaining weight but just at a slower rate. I have never really questioned my supply because the latch and sucking have alway been good. I have trusted nappy output over the scales.
Her percentile weight dropped significantly but I knew to trust her nappy output.
I think in normal times others may have doubted my supply but it has only been my husband and I and he has always support me. He has been a great help and has made most of the dinners since I gave birth. He feeds me and I feed Onion: teamwork.
The present and beyond
Our latest issue is distraction. I sometimes have to go somewhere dark and quiet. I think she is nosey and likes the quietness of lockdown as it is all she has every known. Now that Onion is 10 months she like to nurse in all sorts of crazy positions which has been a learning curve but we are getting there.
I am looking forward to warmer weather because feeding outside in the wind, rain and snow when it is -3°C has been an experience. You can always rely on the great Scottish weather to throw in a challenge.
There is no denying being a first-time-mum in lockdown has been tough. There hasn’t been the same support and I haven’t got to enjoy the same social aspects of a normal maternity leave but there has been positives too.
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