Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Got Milk?

Disclaimer: What I am going to talk about it a very sensitive subject for people. This post is about my personal experiences, my thoughts and my opinions. What I do may not work for anyone else. I am in no way judging the choices you make. 

Before I had Sophia, I was thinking I would probably breastfeed. I was not adamant,  I knew it was something I wanted to do, but I also didn't want too much pressure put on me after she was born. I had told all my friends and family that asked "I plan to breastfeed but if it isn't working out for us then I am not worried if she has to be on formula."

That statement is only partly true. I really did want to breastfeed and did not want to use formula. I knew that breast milk was best for my baby (not to mention free, and I love a bargain!). However, I did not want to be at home at 2 O'clock in the morning, Sophia and I both crying and being miserable because I had put all this pressure on myself. Even though I was willing to entertain the idea of using formula I did not buy any bottles or formula 'just in case'. I thought it would be too tempting to give up that way.

After Sophia was born she latched right away. I was ecstatic  This breastfeeding thing was going to be a breeze! Right? Wrong. In the hospital it was fine, I had midwives that came at the touch of a buzzer to help Sophia latch. I had meals bought to me and nothing else to focus on except my baby. My milk came in a couple of days into my hospital stay (I think the Friday, and Sophia was born on the Wednesday) and that is when the trouble started. It turns out I am a really good cow. Like too good. My breasts we HUGE! Like woah mama they are giant knockers and if I jump I might give myself a black eye big! Not only that, they were rock hard and Sophia started having trouble latching.

I had to express a little off before every feed and because she was trying really hard to latch but was having difficulty I got cracked nipples (and that REALLY hurts!). But I carried on, the hospital where Sophia was born really pushes breastfeeding and is very reluctant to give formula, they even make you sign a piece of paper stating that they tried to help you breastfeed and you still chose to use formula!

I carried on breastfeeding though, and I was pretty determined to carry on a home as well, the hospital gave me nipple shield to use while my cracked nipple healed and that was a godsend. I am not sure I could have just fed through the pain like some brave mamas do! Also before I went home the midwife hooked me up to an electric pump (and yes, I felt like a cow) to help relieve some of the pressure. I am not sure how successful this was, after I was done I had nearly 200ml of expressed milk (which is a lot for someone whose milk has just come in) and my breasts had not softened one bit!

At home it got a little worse, I had great trouble latching Sophia and also had overly helpful mothers and mother-in-laws asking if I needed some help, all I wanted was peace and quiet to concentrate on what I had to do. People checking on me just distracted myself and Sophia and we had to start all over again. To be honest sometimes when I heard them coming I would put Sophia close to my breast and pretended like she was already latched so I would be left alone. 

Although it was hard at first, I feel like breastfeeding came pretty naturally to Sophia and it was me that had to learn about it. She was such a good baby, if she wasn't latched properly she would stop sucking and wait for me to realise and re-latch her. It probably took a week before we both had it down pat and my nipple was on its way to being healed. After that we had pretty much smooth sailing. 

We are still breastfeeding today, and Sophia is a year in just 10 short days! I am not sure how much longer my breastfeeding with last, I am not sure I am ready to give it up and 'lose' my baby. I actually really enjoy breastfeeding most of the time, and I know it has lots of nutrients that she needs and that she really enjoys it too, it is great when we are out and about, I can feed her and I don't have to worry about taking bottles and formula. 

I know feeding has become a real comfort thing for Sophia now, and although I am introducing cows milk after her birthday I am worried about how I am going to get her to give up nursing. Although I am not wanting her to give up instantly, I am starting to feel like I want my body back. I have a breast pump but I can count on one hand the amount of times I have used it. I am always there when Sophia needs a feed, or I am not far away. Nick and I have not had a proper night out since she was born (but that is partly due to not having family where we live and me being an over protective mother).

My top tips? Don't put too much pressure on yourself. Ask for help (from professionals). Allow friends and family to help out round the house so you can focus on you and baby. If they get sore, get them out in the sun, sunshine, lanolin cream and your own breast milk really helps heal any ouchies. If it really isn't working after a week go get your baby checked for a tongue tie (a piece of skin under the tongue that can prevent them from latching properly). 

So that is my breastfeeding story so far, its not over, and I am not sure when it will be. 
What was your experience? I would love to hear it, comment below!

P.S I hate posts without pictures but I was unsure I had any appropriate ones that related to the topic!

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