Our breast feeding story can not really be told without sharing our story of how we became parents. It took us nearly four years of waiting, heartbreak and stress to finally meet out first son Xavier in November 2014. Before his arrival we had had 2 devastating miscarriages and had been on the terrible roller-coaster of infertility and IVF. Motherhood was what I had always dreamed of. So it was so important to me that we do all that we can to give our baby the best start, which for me meant breast feeding. I was concerned due to all of my hormonal issues that contributed to my infertility, that I would possibly have difficulty with milk supply! How wrong was I. I actually had oversupply which was a huge relief. However breastfeeding still did not come easy. Xavier could not latch well and very quickly caused grazes, blisters and very painful nipples. Each feed slowly became something I dreaded due to the pain. It was very hard to get good support. Xavier ended up having a tongue tie snipped early on, he saw an osteo, IBCLC and I still ended up with pain (including vasospasm) until he was nearly 4 months old. But I gave myself weekly, sometimes daily goals and we finally got there. Breast feeding was enjoyable! Xavier self weaned by age 11 months, as by that stage I was pregnant again!
We could not believe our luck. After all of the years trying to conceive Xavier, while still breast feeding, we had the nice surprise of becoming pregnant again when xav was 9 months old. Charlie was born in May 2016, and after another wonderful birth he quickly breastfed afterwards. This time round I knew I wanted to be on top of any latching issues. So after his second feed which left me grazed and sore I asked for a referral to see the ward LC. She felt there was no oral ties and just helped with position. But things did not improve at home. The pain was not as intense as it was with Xavier, but it was still there and I could tell he was not latching well and only feeding off the nipple. We took him to see an osteo, GP and even had a paediatric surgeon look at his mouth during a visit we had for another issue. But everywhere I turned no one could give me help or answers and were often dismissive.
At nearly 3 months old I finally paid to go see a private IBCLC. She could see the issue straight away and confirmed he actually was tongue and lip tied. I was hesitant for treatment as I felt getting Xavier’s tongue snipped did not improve his feeding. After some support from a friend who is a speech therapist we made the decision to get them lasered. There was a two month wait until he had his treatment at 5 months old. The following 4 weeks were a nightmare. Regular stretches of the wound, cranky and upset baby and an increase in pain for me during feeding. I was worried we had made a terrible decision. Thankfully things settled down and we got our happy baby back, but sadly it did not resolve our latch issues.
The following 6 months have been really up and down. We have more good weeks now then bad, but it was only a few weeks ago one bad feed left me with a grazed nipple again and painful feeding. He also only feeds off my right side now so there is no way to rest it. I’ve been back to a breast feeding drop in centre but at 9 months old they felt things were unlikely to change for us as he had formed behavioural habits with feeding. I am also glad we got his ties treated though as we have had no issues with him taking solids and in the last couple of months he has finally learned to take a bottle with EBM which gives me a little more freedom. In a few weeks time I celebrate Charlies 1st birthday and 12 months of breast feeding. While it is still not perfect for us, he has always been my big, happy and thriving boy which is why I so badly wanted to keep breastfeeding, despite the challenges. It is so hard to get support and accurate information about breast feeding. Especially when it is not going well. So I am so thankful to have come across the Australian Breast Feeding Project. I was thrilled to be part of the Seaford 2 shoot and will treasure these images forever.