My breastfeeding story

Hi Cherubs!

I know this post is long overdue but I feel like I'm finally in a good place with feeding to talk about my experience, the good, the bad and the very bad! I have a feeling this may be a long post so grab a cuppa!

I always knew I wanted to breastfeed, and from the beginning of my pregnancy the benefits of breastfeeding were aggressively being thrown my way by healthcare professionals and even friends and family. And I get it, it's the most natural source of nutrients for my baby, great for bonding blah blah blah. But what they forget to mention is its actually not that easy and I was probably a little naive myself in thinking all I have to do is pop my baby on the boob and voila, breastfeeding! Even at my breastfeeding class they made it seem like a walk in the park... As you can probably guess it was not a walk in the park for me, and for every single breastfeeding momma I know it was a struggle from time to time.

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Lets start at the beginning, after my long 27 hour labour which resulted in an unplanned c-section, I was tired, I couldn't keep my eyes open in fact but the nurse handed over my baby and encouraged me to start breastfeeding. I was petrified of falling asleep and it was also hard to get in a comfortable position to feed (c-sections kinda hurt, a lot!) But I tried. It wasn't exactly comfortable but she seemed to latch on ok and was happy feeding. When she wasn't feeding I was encouraged to hand express colostrum and feed it to her with a syringe. Harder than it looked and super fiddly but we did it! 
The more I breastfed the more fussy Mina started to get, it was hard to get a good latch because she was quite frustrated on the boob, and every nurse I saw gave me different advice, some good advice and some bad advice. I remember one nurse who told me to let my baby get angry at the boob, she then pinched the side of my nipple and shoved it in Mina's mouth!! 
Before you are released from my hospital the nurses need to see 3 good latches which they did, so 2 days after my c-section we made our way home where the real work began. 

I would feed her on one side for around 40 mins and then switch for her next feed. She definitely had a favorite side and it became a lot of work to get her to feed from my right side(least favorite). The first week of breastfeeding was honestly the hardest week of my life and I just couldn't see myself being able to do it longterm at the time. Mina got to a point where it felt like she wanted to feed all the time, and it became a two person job to get her latched on as she was extremely frustrated and would move her head from side to side and put her hands in front of her face and cry. So my husband would have to hold her hands away from her face, massage her palms (to calm her down and also it stimulates the sucking reflex) and I would try my best to latch her on. I would get restless legs from time to time when feeding her and the only way to relieve this was to pace the room whilst feeding. Anyone else experience this?
I remember one occasion when Id fed Mina for 40 minutes and 10 mins later she was acting hungry again, my husband tried to settle her but in the end he gave her to me to try and feed again, I was so exhausted that I just sobbed whilst trying to get her to latch again and then proceeded to sob some more when she was feeding. I did a lot of crying! 

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We had an appointment at the newborn clinic when she was 1 week old to check her weight and check on feeding. At this visit we found out Mina had lost weight, quite a lot of weight. Its normal for babies to lose weight in the beginning but Mina had lost more than they would like to see. I then had to feed Mina from one side for 15 minutes and then they weighed her to check how much milk she was getting, It turns out that she was only taking in 0.5oz of milk from each side, half of what she needed. The nurse also told me I was feeding her for too long on one side, as babies tend to start burning more calories than consuming when they are feeding for so long. My new feeding strategy was to feed for 15 mins on each side and then top up with pumped breastmilk. 
Sounds really easy doesn't it? My milk had only just come in at 6 days postpartum, I was engorged! Honestly it looked like I had just had breast surgery they were so big which didn't help with latching. So I tried pumping, in the beginning it was taking around 40 mins to get 2oz of milk, but we gave her the pumped milk after feeding and she had no issues switching from breast to bottle. But I was playing catch up with pumping and feeding so I didn't always have pumped milk to hand when she needed it, so in the end we gave her formula as well. It was a tough decision to make to supplement with formula when you're constantly bombarded with breast is best, my husband and I both felt extremely guilty about it but having a content and happy baby in the end was worth introducing it. 

When Mina was 2 weeks old we went back to the newborn clinic and she was just about back up to birth weight. It was such a relief knowing all the hard work was paying off and she wasn't hungry. Introducing the bottle definitely had some downsides though. We got to a point when she would only go on the boob after she had 1oz from the bottle first, she was getting lazy. I gave in and by 3 weeks postpartum I was exclusively pumping every 2/3 hours.

I had to grit my teeth every time I started pumping.. its not painful, but its not comfortable either, its just an intense sensation. Again when I first started pumping I thought there is no way I'm going to last the week. But here I am today at 7.5 months postpartum still pumping. 
Being a pumping mom is hard work. When Mina was hungry I would warm a bottle of pumped milk, feed her, burp her and try and settle her. Then I would have to pump for 20/30 mins, store that milk, wash all the pumping parts and bottles, sterilize them and do it all again in an hour or so.  In the beginning I made more milk then I needed so I did store a lot in my freezer which is great because it means I always have back ups.  When Mina started sleeping through the night at 7 weeks old I also stopped pumping in the night too. At first it was difficult to do because I would wake up with painful engorged breasts and sometimes blocked milk ducts. On a few occasions I would get up to pump because it was too painful to sleep. My body eventually got used to it and I  could get a full nights sleep and pump just before she woke up. 
As Mina got older pumping every 2/3 hours just wasn't an option as she was awake more and needed more attention so I gradually increased the time between pumps to every 3/4 hours. On a few occasions my milk supply has dropped but I've found it easy enough to increase it by eating more and doing a few longer pumps. I've also taken brewers yeast which helped when my supply dropped too.

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I'm currently pumping every 5 hours which works out at 4 pumps per day and each session I aim to do 30 minutes. Its a full-time job. My very first pump of the day I get around 8oz and then every session after that I get between 5/7oz. I make enough for her 4 feeds a day with a little to spare, I'm also using one old milk a day just to use it up in time and also make space in my freezer which is totally full of milk. I'm not really freezing any milk at the moment unless I have 4 bottles of milk in the fridge then ill store some.

I can't believe i've been doing this whole pumping thing for nearly 8 months now, I will carry on till she's 1 in November and then thats it I'm gonna give my boobs a rest at least until baby number 2! Will I do the same thing for baby number 2? Well I always say no but I know that I would because I would feel tremendous guilt if I didn't at least try. I'm hoping second time around breastfeeding will be different and my baby will be able to get what she needs herself. But who knows every baby is different. But fingers crossed!

Here are some tips for pumping mommas |

If my baby is awake I like to sit her next to me in a bouncer with endless distractions around me including books, toys, access to music and tv if all else fails.

I also always make sure I have a bottle ready incase she decides she's hungry whilst I'm tied up to the machine.

For me I make sure I have some water, a decaf coffee or tea and a snack! Also my phone because I like to time my pump sessions.

If I am struggling with engorgement I will heat up my lansinoh gel bead pads and pop them in my bra so help ease blocked ducts.

Breastfeeding products I love |

Breast pump - Medela travel in style

Nursing bra - Bravado

Hands- free bra - Bravado

Quick clean wipes - Medela

Muslins - Marks & Spencers

Nursing cookies - Milkful

Nipple cream - Lansinoh

Heat pads - Lansinoh

I hope you fellow mommas have found this useful, feel free to get in touch!

Love Sarah


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