“How will you be feeding baby?” the midwives asked. There was no option for me. “We will breast feed” i replied naively. I had seen women breastfeed before. It looked easy! The benefits were there…so why was it so hard for us?
With my first child, we were re-admitted back to hospital when he was 6 days old as he had lost 17% of his birth weight and vomited up mecronium. That’s when I was told I had a low breast milk supply.
After working with an IBCLC, we developed a plan to breastfeed, top up with formula (or Expressed Breast Milk – EBM) and then pump, every 3 hours. We continued this until he refused to latch at 4.5 months, and i continued pumping 3 hourly day and night. It took more than 24hrs to build up enough EBM for one feed, but we stuck to it. When he was 6 months old i was diagnosed with Hypothyroidisim and a few other medical conditions requiring medication unsuitable for breastfeeding, so i stopped pumping, and that was the end of our journey.
When i was pregnant with my second child, i wanted to give breastfeeding another shot. I wanted to do everything i could to make it work this time. Late into my pregnancy i saw the same amazing IBCLC. We discussed a plan which included expressing colostrum until birth to use for topups.
When he was born via elective c-section, we fed as soon as we could in recovery. He latched like a pro and fed beautifully. With my new found knowledge, i fed him with every lip smack, grizzle, when he woke, when he cried, even every time he sighed. He spent most of the time feeding in those first few days.
However, once again it was just not enough. His lips were dry, as were his nappys, he was unsettled unless he feeding and he was starting to get sleepy – All things i remembered my first child had done. The scales confirmed it. He had lost more weight than he should have, despite all of our best efforts. We started on our new revised plan before being discharged – feed, top up, pump, on demand or no longer than 3 hours….we continued for 5 weeks but it still made no difference. My supply was still low and he was still having probably 70-80% formula.
I also had my 4yo to worry about, so spending most of my day chained to a pump was not an option the time. I slowly reduced down to pumping after our first, and last feeds of the day which i am awake for. I breastfed before every bottle, and soon, i noticed that bubba liked to be fed to sleep.
Once starting solids, I breastfed before every meal, before every bottle, and fed to sleep, as well as for comfort if he wanted. As he’s become more established on solids, he has dropped most of his bottles, and we are now exclusively breastfeeding during the day, with only 1, sometimes 2 bottles overnight.
Its been a long road, we’ve had the usual problems of cracked, bleeding, blistered nipples and several bouts of breast refusal, but with persistence we have now reached my ultimate goal of 1 year of breastfeeding!
In times of doubt, i just keep telling myself “Any breast milk is better than none” and we keep soldiering on.
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