#TITSANDTEARZ

#titsandtearz is a safe space I have created to share women’s breastfeeding stories. Anything from one feed to four years, expressing or exclusively feeding, donating or combine feeding, I am sharing it ALL.

I decided to start #titsandtearz after experiencing two very different feeding journeys with my girls. I didn’t realise how hard breastfeeding could be until I breastfed the second time around. I just really want to show Mama’s how all of our differences are just a normal part of feeding.

After I went through an emotional rollercoaster during my last breastfeeding journey I knew I wanted to create a space for women to chat about how different it can be. I have massive amounts of respect for any woman who tries breastfeeding, it’s so hard and emotional but also really rewarding and beautiful.

Come and join the conversation on Instagram using the hashtag #titsandtearz, you can read lot’s of incredible women’s stories below, there’s a new story every Friday!

Want to share your story?

Get in touch lovelies.


19/04/2019

Becky

@itsbecksx

My breastfeeding journey so far..

Where do I even start? I’m not very good at talking about myself but here goes. Well I am Becky, I’m 25 and my daughter is 9 months old and she is called Alyssa. She’s extra special to us as she is our rainbow baby. So, I had a strong determination to breastfeed while I was pregnant. I voiced my wishes to my fiancé and my parents (a lot!) and I’m so glad I did and that they understood. All through pregnancy I was so focused on preparing for labour, the birth and dealing with a newborn that I didn’t think I would need to research how to breastfeed! I didn’t realise how challenging it can be. For something that’s so natural, it can be such hard work!


So, let’s start from the beginning… After a long labour which ended in a c-section under general anaesthetic (!) – my little girl, Alyssa arrived into the world. At first, I struggled to latch her by myself, needing midwives or my fiancé’s help due to the stitches. I did lots of research, joined a Facebook group and found out what’s normal like cluster feeding, what to expect and how to survive on minimal sleep! I found out that Alyssa had a tongue tie at birth, but they left it due to her feeding fine. I got awful pain now and then when she was feeding and she had the tongue tie cut at 10 weeks. It took a good few weeks for the latch to get better – we had lots of breastfeeding support, trying lots of different positions and techniques. Since then it’s been smooth sailing! (Touch wood). The biggest struggle has been getting her to take a bottle of expressed breast milk!


We have had some new challenges recently – of Alyssa going to nursery and me starting a new job. Luckily, my new job is at the nursery Alyssa is going to. It’s taken a while to get used to being in full time work and to be away from her. It took a few weeks for Alyssa to settle into nursery. She sometimes will have milk from a bottle there but often refuses. I feed her before I start work, on my dinner and then after work we feed on demand. When she isn’t in nursery she will take a bottle for my mum and dad. I absolutely love our journey. I’m so lucky in the support I have had through it too. I love the connection we have. The comfort that it brings her and how much she’s thriving from me! I want to continue for as long as possible and I really hope we can keep it going through us being in work/nursery. I have learnt so much about breastfeeding and I am continuing to learn more all the time! It is definitely not easy, it’s taken perseverance, determination, knowledge and amazing support for us to get this far but it’s one achievement I am extremely proud of.

@itsbecksx
@itsbecksx

https://www.instagram.com/itsbecksx/

If you want your story shared too please get in touch. I’m hoping to get conversation going. Connecting, talking, encouraging, sharing and more on breastfeeding.


05/04/2019

Kayla

@rain_bow_mama

I have never been so proud of myself as a woman, as I am right now at this point in my life. I have now successfully breastfed my daughter for 11 months. Almost an entire year! My husband and I struggled to conceive so I beat myself up for a long time about doing things “naturally”. It took one IUI and three rounds of IVF for us to finally have our little girl. I always felt like my body was failing me. I had three miscarriages prior to getting pregnant with our rainbow and when we were approaching the time of her birth I knew now was the time for me to finally do something naturally for once! I planned for a natural birth but it ended in me having an emergency induction at 40 weeks and 7 days.  My birth was very hard and traumatic for me but as soon as they placed my daughter on my chest I was determined to make breastfeeding work for us! Raiden Willow was born on February 16th and weighed 8lbs 7oz. I thought that I was prepared for what breastfeeding would be like. I read a few books and had joined a breastfeeding page on Facebook but as I was in the hospital with my brand new baby I slowly started realizing that I wasn’t.

My birth was really hard and my recovery was even harder. I was in a lot of pain and was trying to navigate how to nurse and it seemed like right from the jump my daughter wasn’t really taking to my nipples. I had used my pump at home the previous week to my birth and was getting a few drops of colostrum so I knew I was producing SOMETHING but it just seemed like it wasn’t enough. I was also experiencing a lot of pain while getting her to latch and I was calling for the lactation consultant the hospital provided on and off while I recovered to try and help me. I was told at the hospital by the LC that nursing SHOULD be painful and it would eventually get better. I remember crying to my husband telling him if this is how it is going to be I am not sure that I can do this. I was so upset because I felt like again my body was failing me. By day two in the hospital both of my nipples had cracked open and were bleeding. My OB came in and checked to see how things were going and she recommended that I use a nipple shield. The hospital LC was then called in and she brought in the nipple shield. When she was talking to me about using a shield it was almost as if she was disappointed in me for using one. I had to sign a waiver and was told that I needed to follow up with another LC after I go home because it was very important that I don’t get accustomed to using the shield.

When we took our daughter home that night I was still struggling and in a lot of pain. It seemed like she wasn’t happy unless she was on my breast. We had a paediatrician appointment two days after we brought her home from the hospital and the nurses thought she was experiencing colic issues because of her demeanour. Her diaper output for the days we were home was barely anything and we were really concerned. At her paediatrician appointment we found out she was just hungry! I will forever feel guilty about not knowing that she was starving. Luckily that night my milk came in and it came in full force! No more screaming baby! I described it as a faucet because it was just leaking out and wouldn’t stop! Raiden had become a completely different satisfied baby once my milk came in! But I was constantly getting engorged. I remember someone telling me not to use my pump so my body could regulate my supply needs but by not pumping I wasn’t getting the milk out as fast as I needed to. At this point my right nipple had completely opened up and was one giant wound that kept bleeding every time I nursed. My poor baby had blood running down her face when she unlatched and it was breaking my heart. I was still in so much pain recovering from birth and nursing pain I was crying non stop. Thinking back to this time I really don’t know how I made it through!

I think that if I didn’t have the support of my family and husband I definitely wouldn’t have been confident enough to keep going. They have been amazing this entire journey. They have never made me feel embarrassed or ashamed to nurse in front of them or with them anywhere we have gone in public. They have all played such amazing supportive roles. It’s been really wonderful and so helpful. I didn’t have any goals when I started nursing but I knew I wanted to do everything I could to make it work. The first two weeks were the hardest part of my journey and probably of my life. I was dealing with all of those new Mama hormones and I was in so much pain and I just wanted to do everything right! One morning I woke up and I felt miserable. I was so sick and hot and when I started nursing I felt like I had the worst case of the flu. I remember taking all of my clothes off and my husband being so concerned and asking if I felt ok because I definitely didn’t look ok and just as fast as I got hot…I got freezing cold! I was shaking and had chattering teeth. I remembered reading about mastitis and this seemed like what was happening. I called into my OB and they suggested I come in right away. On the short drive to my appointment I developed fever in my left breast. At the appointment I was diagnosed with mastitis and they also gave me some medicated cream for my wound on my right nipple. I was really glad I went in! I was a hot freaking mess.

When I returned home I made an appointment with a highly recommended lactation consultant in the area. I was still experiencing issues with my daughters latch and decided I needed to get help. After my meeting with her it was suggested that I keep using the shield due to the amount of damage that had happened to my nipples in the hospital. I was told my daughter had a lip tie and that my nipples were flat to the point of almost being inverted. She helped me so much! I learned that nursing SHOULDN’T hurt and I was taught how to properly hold my daughter and how her lips should be during a correct latch. She reassured me that it was ok to use a shield and I shouldn’t feel guilty about it! That lactation consultant changed my life and honestly changed my entire outlook on nursing my daughter. Instead of trying to just survive the day I finally felt like this was something I could do! I made short goals. Ok I can make it through these next two weeks, then it turned into a month and it eventually got easier and easier on us. We are now 11 months in and my daughter decided 4 months ago that we didn’t need our shield anymore. I used it proudly for almost 8 months! When she started trying food around 6 months I remember getting so emotional. For 6 months I was her everything! Just me! I’m not sure if any other breastfeeding Mamas have felt like they wouldn’t be needed anymore when their babies tried food but I was honestly sad! She is growing up so fast but to reassure any new nursing Mama’s reading this…those babies still need you even after they try food!

On my journey I have also been able to donate to 4 other babies with my oversupply. One of them being my own niece. I helped feed her for the first two weeks of her life by pumping and helping my sister supplement while her milk came in. That has been another rewarding part of my journey. Each time I donated it melted my heart. I just recently had to reach out to another LC. I was experiencing some pain while Raiden nursed and thought it was due to her teeth. It turns out that I have compression syndrome and severe scar tissue/nerve damage on my right side from the trauma I experienced early on. We are almost at a year mark and it seems my journey will be soon coming to an end. I’m so glad I never gave up. Breastfeeding has taught me to slow down and enjoy those little moments. I fought through all of the hard times just for the moments like these (pictures). I try to not have my phone or any distractions while nursing her. We play, I sing her songs, I sniff her toes and kiss her little hands. I love how she looks up and me and smiles while shes nursing. “The days are long but the years are short” and my baby is growing up so fast I know these moments are going to be gone soon. Especially since I am experiencing these issues now. I will be forever thankful for the amazing nursing team we have become. Lots of blood sweat and tears have gone into this journey and I am so so glad that I never gave up. The bond I share with my daughter is absolutely incredible and indescribable.
-Kayla

@rain_bow_mama
@rain_bow_mama
@rain_bow_mama

https://www.instagram.com/rain_bow_mama/

If you want your story shared too please get in touch. I’m hoping to get conversation going. Connecting, talking, encouraging, sharing and more on breastfeeding.


22/03/2019

Sheridan

@cubdiaries

“Engorgement, mastitis, cracked nipples, bleeding nipples, feeding aversion, poor latch, TEETHING (oh god the teething). The list goes on. Is it any surprise that so many mothers in the UK feel they can’t continue to breastfeed after the first 5 weeks? And who does society blame? The mothers. Not the lack of support to women who have just gone through birth, a process similar to heavy surgery, who are sleep deprived, in pain and emotional from a plummet in hormones. And after all that, what do we do to the ones who succeed and over come ALL of the above? We shame them for feeding in public and tell them to cover up! It’s insane. 

I feel I should apologise, I didn’t intend this post to be negative in the slightest. I hope when you finish reading my experience that you will feel warm and fuzzy, not angry and deflated. But when I gave birth to my first, in regards to breastfeeding I felt lost, in physical pain and alone. The lactation consultant at the hospital gave me no advice on correcting latch or positioning, instead she insisted on squeezing my sore nipples only hours after giving birth and making me feel like a failure for not quite getting how to feed my baby.

Early days were tough and Philly was jaundiced and sleepy, which made feeding her so much harder, still the advice and support failed to come. But I’m a stubborn sort, so I resorted to the world I know. YouTube. Did you know that there are tutorials for everything on there? I mean EVERYTHING! I learnt positioning, how to rouse a sleepy baby and the flipple technique (a life saver, I recommend it highly), all whilst midwives and doctors argued amongst themselves about formula feeding and jaundice treatment. At one point I was stuck in a little room with a medela swing pump and was made to express under the watchful eye of a doctor and a midwife to check my supply. Needless to say, I got less than an oz (oxytocin doesn’t exactly flow when you’re performing under pressure).

But we got there. My little beaut finally latched and put on nearly 200g over night. From then she was unstoppable and fed like a dream. We blissfully soared through the 1yr milestone, ignoring every “isn’t she too old” and “so when are you weaning her” comments with defensive arrogance. I was SO immensely proud of myself and of her, a feeling I don’t often allow my very critical self. We carried on until the night before her second birthday, when I realised she wasn’t getting any milk! I was pregnant again and our journey had come to an end. She made it easy and the end of this beautiful adventure together came naturally and peacefully. I look at her every day and see how my body produced and nourished a healthy, glowing and exuberant girl, and for that I will NEVER apologise.

Now on the birth of my second daughter, I get to do it all again! And I will take the engorgement, and the sore nipples, the milk stained tops and the exhausted 3am feeds all over again, because I have living proof in my first born that it’s all worth it. I will never apologise for the pride I feel breastfeeding my children because I earnt that pride. I will never cover up to feed my babies, because they deserve to be nourished and I’m not ashamed of that. And when my girls are women and if they have babies of their own, I will be right there to give them the support to breastfeed if they so choose.

We have lost the culture of support around breastfeeding in the UK and turned it in to something shameful, and in doing so we are failing new mothers. I never judge a mother for her choice on how to nourish her child, but with 80% of women planning to breastfeed, and so little of that number making it passed the first 5 weeks, we need to turn the blame to the ones who are failing to inform and support these women, instead of shaming vulnerable mothers and making them feel like they have failed their children. So, breastfeeding ladies, keep whipping them out when ever and where ever needed and show the next generation that our bodies are strong, beautiful, and with them we create and sustain life it’s self”.

https://www.instagram.com/cubdiaries/

If you want your story shared too please get in touch. I’m hoping to get conversation going. Connecting, talking, encouraging, sharing and more on breastfeeding.


15/03/2019

Rachel

@neonbonbonuk

Ten things about breastfeeding a not-newborn.

I’m Rachel, currently feeding my 9 month old daughter. I have been lucky in that both my feeding journeys have been rather textbook, so rather than rehashing my somewhat relatively ‘dull’ journey, I’ve written about where we’re at now. Which is basically at boob-hooligan level, holding my nipples hostage at every possible opportunity.

1) I don’t understand how some parents parent babies without bf – it is my lazy answer for all parenting issues. It’s a one-sized fix all for everything.
Hungry? Boob.
Tired? Boob.
Ill? Boob.
Hurt yourself? Boob.
Spooked? Boob.
Sad because your sister looked at you funny? Boob.
I need you to sleep? Boob.
Whilst I’m obviously pro BF, I have a lot of respect for the parenting powers of those who don’t boob, for whatever reason. You have super parenting powers that I have not yet unlocked.

2) When I remember to take stock of it, it is really a wonderful experience – being able to instil that connection and calm instantly. Hands up confession time though – more often than not I’m time wasting on the Internet (see below), making the 100th do list or trying to entertain/sort her sister. Or writing blogs about feeding. I should fully take it in more often. I know this won’t last. I know, I know.

3) Late night mid-feed scrolling habits can take you down strange paths. I have a friend who, whilst feeding, hammers her Amazon prime account overnight, waking up to mountains of boxes two days later. My less-expensive vice is Flight Tracker (dreaming of child-free getaways of the past) or Lightning Maps. Whatever floats your boat that doesn’t dissolve your mat leave pay, I guess.

4) Sleep regression has meant long repeated comfort feeding sessions and therefore Soggy Nipples and they are The Worst. Akin to when you sit in the bath for too long and you get raisin fingers.

5) The hunting hand. That’s the hand that goes hunting for your earrings. Your mouth. Your other bloody nipple to tweak it like a radio dial.

6) Other 9mo baby tricks: snatching your nipple and shoving it into their gob like it’s the last Malteaser. A flick of the wrist and, Boom: Boob ninja got it in one. She also has some sort of radar system – in the darkest of nights, she can find your nipple, first time.

7) I am regularly all touched out – especially after point 4. It makes me feel simultaneously ragey and guilty AF. And means my poor old husband doesn’t get a look in, unless it’s for me to throw the baby at him whilst I retreat and recluse for my own sanity. Is this where the phrase “Getting on my tits” comes from?

8) My hamster-cheeked child has, on at least two occasions, deposited chewed up food on my nipples during feeding, long after meal times.

9) 9mo’s favourite sport: dive bombing my nipples and generally dicking about. I thought you were tired/hungry/etc kid? WTF is this? I am not soft play.

10) My current challenge: starting at the child minder in 5 weeks (sob). She’s EBF, baby-led fed, and doesn’t really give two hoots for food (a far cry from her sister who ate like it was going out of fashion). Boob > food, in her eyes. If you have any positive stories regarding boob-mad food-avoiding babies going to day care, please leave them in the comments – I’d love to hear them!

@neonbonbonuk
@neonbonbonuk

https://www.instagram.com/neonbonbonuk/

If you want your story shared too please get in touch. I’m hoping to get conversation going. Connecting, talking, encouraging, sharing and more on breastfeeding.


08/03/2019

Adele and Natasha

We welcomed our gorgeous daughter Natasha into the world in July 2018.

Natasha is our double rainbow baby after suffering 2 miscarriages in June 2015 and June 2017. From the day I found out I was pregnant for the 3rd time, something just felt different and I knew that everything was going to be ok this time.

I had a pretty stress-free pregnancy right up until our 40 week check when the little monkey had turned herself breech. Emergency scans and talk of a c section had made me think my birth plan had gone out of the window, but the next day I had an ECV and they managed to turn her. The consultant was jumping up and down with delight – the birthing pool was back on!

It took Natasha another week to arrive but we did get the birth we’d hoped for. Though I must admit it was much harder and more painful than I had ever imagined.

Natasha arrived at 17.45pm and we had skin to skin straight away. However, I had a slight tear and had to wait to be stitched up (there was only one lamp on the birth unit and it was needed by someone else!) So we waited, ate some sausage casserole and I was eventually stitched and showered. Our first feed wasn’t until around 9.30pm. I had been pretty relaxed during pregnancy about whether I wanted to breastfeed or bottlefeed, but once she arrived, I knew I wanted to exclusively breastfeed if I could.

I was so relieved when Natasha latched the first time with no issues. The midwife showed me how to feed in the cradle position and then later that evening, the side lying position. The side lying has been a life saver and I’m still nursing her to sleep in this position 7 months later.

I had the usual sore nips for the first couple of weeks but I had plenty of milk – my boobs were frequently engorged and I’d wake up soaking every morning. Natasha has a slight tongue tie but we were advised that it didn’t need snipping as she got back to her birth weight after 2 weeks and I wasn’t really in pain once feeding got going.

As I had so much milk, I was often pumping to relieve the pressure. I was proud of my milk stash in the freezer. However we only tried Natasha a few times with a bottle – she would choke every time and it was a stressful time all round! I’ve therefore only been away from her for a couple of hours at a time. I’m perfectly happy with this! I love my little girl and don’t feel I’m missing out. So once my supply settled down I stopped pumping.

Since starting breastfeeding, I have become obsessed with it. I’ve read loads of books and my Instagram feed is now full of boobin mamas. It was because of social media that I had no concerns about boobin in public, our first time was when she was 3 weeks old. Feeding in front of my father in law felt much more awkward!

Suddenly at 5 months, we started having problems – blocked milk ducts and milk blebs. This has been a recurring thing over the last couple of months and has really made me question whether I want to continue as it can be so painful, but I know how good it is for Natasha and I can’t imagine mothering without boobs – “if in doubt, whip it out” has been my mummy mantra!

I have a fantastic mum squad who I met through aquanatal classes and I don’t think I would feel so positive without them, especially my boobin bestie Liv.

I’m now starting to think about going back to work when Natasha is 11 months old. I’ve started pumping again to try and build a stash of milk for when she’s at nursery. I read she needs 1.5oz for every hour we are apart, so that’s a lot of milk! I’ve given up on bottles and hoping she’ll just drink it from a 360 cup like she does her water. She feeds every 2 hours at the moment, I’m also hoping that spaces out over the next few months.

Breastfeeding has been one of the hardest but most rewarding things I have ever done and I would say to all new mums to give it a try, find the right support and it will all be worth it.

Arrival


First feed


First public feed


Pumping


Side lying position


National Trust boobing

https://www.instagram.com/delly_webb/

If you want your story shared too please get in touch. I’m hoping to get conversation going.

Connecting, talking, encouraging, sharing and more on breastfeeding.


01/03/2019

Rosie

Hello my name is Rosie. Me and my husband, Joel, have a beautiful son, M, who is almost two now. We had a rough time at the start of our breastfeeding journey. When M was born he latched after half an hour of entering the world. The first time, I still remember it now, that sensation and him looking up into my eyes. It was just magical. He fed off both boobs absolutely fine and I thought that was it, that it was going to be easy.

I was so wrong. He just didn’t want to wake up to feed, I panicked but I was told by the nurses that newborns sleep a lot and birth is traumatic for them. So to wake him every 2/3 hours and try feeding him. I was determined, tired after a week of labour but determined. I had on and off contractions for a week, I had no energy left after the birth but looking in to his eyes I was filled with such love. I just knew I’d do anything for him. I set an alarm on my phone and woke him up every 2 hours. I tried to feed him every 2 hours. Except he couldn’t latch and he didn’t want to wake up. So I had to hand express, I didn’t want to confuse him by giving him a bottle, so I hand expressed in to his mouth.

I asked the nurses if this was okay and they said yes but that they’d send a breastfeeding expert in the morning. He was doing fine drinking my expressed milk that I was squeezing in to his mouth and all was well. I thought I can do this, if this is what it takes to give him the best. In the morning the “breastfeeding expert” came in and asked how it was going, I said he was struggling with his latch but it was ok, I was “baby bird feeding” him as I called it. She said “that won’t do” and took M from me and gave him to Joel. She literally snatched him from me. Then she said “ok I’m going to help you” she grabbed my boob and started to milk me like a cow. Scraping my sore nipple in to a plastic cup to catch the milk. Every squeeze and scrape it scratched and it was agony. I was scared, shocked and in pain. I mouthed “help me” to Joel. I didn’t know if this was normal. We asked if she could help with the latch instead. She grabbed M’s neck and shoved him on to my boob, he looked like he was suffocating, I just said thanks that’s good, to try and get rid of her. She rolled her eyes and said she’d be back.

She came back and gave us 2 bottles of formula and said, “he’s a lazy boy just give him these and then go to Tesco on the way home and get some more” I was mortified, I’d failed already. So we left the hospital and went to Tesco. I waited in the car in my blood stained trousers, sore, and tired with M whilst Joel went and got some formula. He had no idea what to pick as we where so sure I’d breastfeed. He rang me in a panic and grabbed a few different ones. We went home and I cuddled him until it was time to feed again. I tried again and he wouldn’t latch. I was so sore but still not ready to quit. We gave him one of the bottles and he guzzled it. I felt so bad that I had been starving my baby. Then he threw up. I felt even more bad because I’d made my newborn baby sick. I was even more determined to breastfeed him.

After that I vowed he’d never have formula again and he didn’t. Every feed I curled my toes and cried but I kept going, every 2 hours. Bleeding, cracked and blistered. We persevered. We both stayed awake all day and night watching him, worrying he wasn’t getting enough milk. He wouldn’t settle in his cot so we took it in turns staying awake with him sleeping on our chests. I watched pretty much every single episode of friends! After a couple of days my milk came in, and it got a bit easier. It’s not highly advertised that their stomach is the size of a marble when they’re born and you only produce that much milk. I was producing enough and he was ok. My milk “came in” and I finally understood what that meant. I woke up with giant boobs leaking everywhere. It still hurt a lot when he fed but it was easier as he could latch now. It was a shallow latch but it was working.

I joined the local breastfeeding group on Facebook and they recommended breastfeeding shields, these worked wonders. M fed and fed and it didn’t hurt! It was a bit of a faff sterilising the shields and trying to get them on. But it was working. M fed for an hour whilst the health visitor was there on day 3 and I was so proud. She said he’s feeding well so didn’t bother checking his mouth. Fast forward 9 weeks and the health visitor was back and told us to stop using shields, she said just stop. I said “yeah we don’t use them much, only half the time” I lied it was every feed, I tried once without and it hurt so much. But the shields where working and I was feeding him and that’s what I wanted more than anything.

I continued to wake him every 2 hours until 3 months when M was finally back up to his birth weight. I had stopped waking him every 2 hours and he started to wake naturally at 3 hours. So I said okay we’ll give it a go without shields. Unbelievable pain. Crying. Blisters, bleeding, engorgement, mastitis, more engorgement and more unbearable pain. I genuinely thought my nipple fell off at one point. I thought this was him re finding his latch after not using shields. So I stuck it out. Joel kept reminding me how much I wanted to feed him myself and we did it together. I kept trying without the shields and kept going through this pain for about 2 weeks. I thought this was it, this was how it was supposed to be. I went to a breastfeeding support group and they said “oh it shouldn’t hurt after that long you’re obviously doing it wrong” and that made me feel so small. Safe to say I never went back.

Later that week I was looking through photos on my phone of M when he was sleeping, as you do. I came across one where it looked like he had a tongue tie, then another and another. Oh my god, I thought, has he got a tongue tie? Is that why it hurts so much. Until a few days ago I didn’t even know what a tongue tie was. So I sent the pictures to my health visitor, Mum and she said yes looks like it. I booked a tongue tie meeting for the next day and yes, “one of the worst” she’s seen and she doesn’t know how I’ve fed for this long.
I was scared and angry. Angry that he’d been checked all over about 10 times by doctors and health visitors in the past 3 months and none of them had seen it. She said “I don’t know how you’ve continued to feed, most people would have given up by now. You’re a super hero” I stopped and thought “oh so it’s not supposed to hurt that much, most people don’t have all those problems” I felt proud I’d done that for my boy.

Then dread, I knew they where going to have to cut it. I have a needle phobia, and so I asked when it would happen so I could have my husbands support. She said right now, I cried. I couldn’t do that by myself but I knew I’d have to feed again with that agonising latch later. I said ok, we went in to another room and I had to sign the forms. She said she could do it, the nurse would hold him and I could stand outside if I couldn’t watch it. I said I’ve never left him but I don’t know if I could hold him whilst they cut him. So I stood outside crying.
They brought him out to me seconds later and he was screaming, I was crying so much, what had I done to my baby. He bled all over my white top and his white dungarees. He couldn’t feed because he was crying so much. But then he fed.

Pure bliss.

He fed and fed and fed.

No pain.

“Oh so this is what it is supposed to be like” I thought. Then he had the biggest poo explosion ever! We went home and I rang Joel. I couldn’t stop crying, it didn’t hurt!  After that he continued to feed every few hours and it was good. It hurt a bit but not anywhere near as much as it did before. I heard about this thing called the Flipple. It was to help babies get a deeper latch and that’s what we needed so I watched some YouTube videos. I tried it and it worked! M’s latch is still quite shallow but it’s good enough to not hurt! I’ve had a few more bouts of mastitis. Then his teeth came at four months. I thought “I’ve been through a lot, maybe this is it.” But it just carried on as normal, no pain nothing.

One day he bit me over and over again, I counted 22 times and I said “that’s it”. Someone said to me “never give up on a bad day” so I fed him when he was asleep and he didn’t bite. We boobed another day. Lots of leaky boobs, drenching the bed, accidentally flashing the post man more than once and we’d reached a year. I was so proud. Feeding in public got easier, feeding in front of family got easier and it all started coming naturally. I remember when he was first born I used to go in to another room to feed him because I was embarrassed I was doing it wrong and they’d tell me to give him a bottle. I didn’t want to hear it so I tried on my own with him in another room. We where more relaxed so it did work fine!

He was still feeding 20 odd times a day at 1 and I was in the swing of things. I started giving people advice and helping others that needed it. I felt good. I had a few comments, from family members. “Oh your still feeding”, “He doesn’t actually need your milk any more it’s just comfort” ( at 8 months), “There’s no benefits after 6 months you should just stop” ,
“You should stop so you can go out more with Joel” Etc but never too much negative stuff from the public surprisingly. A couple of looks but apart from that nothing. We where still going and we where happy.

I did try to pump so Joel could feed him but I have high lipase in my milk and after 45 minutes of pumping I got 25ml. I was disappointed. I tried multiple times, ate the right foods, pumped at different times of the day but still all I got was 20 ml after just under an hour.  M still fed every 2/3 hours and put weight on. He had wet and dirty nappies so I knew he was getting enough. What you pump is not what you are producing always. Every 2/3 hours he boobs, all day and all night. Every day for the past 2 years! I’ve had a lot of comments saying “that’s loads”, “that’s crazy” but that’s my boy and he needs me. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. We have this absolutely amazing bond and I don’t want it to ever end.

Sometimes when he needs feeding for the 24th time that hour and I’m trying to cook dinner it is challenging but we make it work. The first year of his life he spent in the sling boobing all day and he still loves it in there now. I never thought I’d breastfeed this long but it’s the best choice I’ve ever made. I know he benefits from it in so many ways. He’s not a big eater and I’ve kept him alive purely just me and my milk through those times. When me and Joel have been sick I’ve kept him well and prevented him from being ill. I comfort him when he falls with my milk and even put it on his cuts, especially now as a toddler he’s in to absolutely everything.  It’s the best thing I’ve ever done and me and my husband frequently say “what would we do without the boobies”.

 So if you’re thinking about feeding or are struggling, know that you are not alone. And I’m always here for you, most hours, boobing most likely!Breastfeeding is something I feel so strongly about. If I can talk about my experiences and you can relate and know you’re not alone or learn from me, I will have helped a bit. If I feed in public and another mother sees me she might feel confident to feed herself. If I talk about how amazing it is and the bond we have then someone might be inspired.

It truly is amazing and the best experience. I never want to loose this connection and I can’t see our journey ending any time soon. M is a booby monster! And I can’t recommend it enough. Not to mention it’s free! You don’t have to worry about bottles and sterilising. When you go out you don’t have to pack. It’s there all the time. On tap! Ever changing to meet your babies needs. Hotter when they’re cold and colder when they’re hot. Creamier and full of antibodies when they’re ill. It’s great for clearing up conjunctivitis and anything really. I’ve put it on his scratches and scrapes and even on my husbands bee sting last summer! It cures everything, it truly is liquid gold. And doesn’t every child deserve liquid gold!

Thank you for reading. I can’t thank my husband enough for encouraging me to carry on and myself really for not giving up. Of course you M, you’re my world and I’d do it all again for you.

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading.
Rosie, J and M. Xx

https://www.instagram.com/mamafoxandhercub/

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22/02/2019

Freya

As the proud owner of two small humans, breastfeeding is not a new topic for me and probably shouldn’t have taken me this long to write about. Two under two is no joke and moments of calm to sit and put fingertips to keys are few and far between!

Like I said; I have two little people, Ottilie who is 17 months and Margaux who is just 3 months. I breastfed both my babies and the experiences are polar opposite! I breastfed Ottilie for only three weeks. Even now, nearly a year and a half later I still feel sad about it, as her Dad is asthmatic and has allergies it was really important to me to breastfeed for at least the first six months to give her a fighting chance at a normal and easy life. But it was hard. Breastfeeding is hard. Not to mention painful – my precious previously hidden away nips were suddenly a 24/7 all you can eat buffet. They were lucky to get an hour before they were ravished again! Every latch I would grit my teeth, curl up my toes and hold my breath to get through the first few seconds before the pain subsided.

Just as quickly as it all started to feel right it all fell apart – all of a sudden Ottilie needed to feed every half an hour for at least 40 minutes at a time. This is where the dreaded low supply thoughts crept into my head and our real struggle started. Worrying about my supply totally backfired. I thought Ottilie wasn’t getting enough milk as she was on me literally all day, everyday! I had no idea what cluster feeding was and decided to give her a bottle of formula while I tried to up my *perfectly fine* supply by pumping but pumping didn’t agree with my body and I could only get an ounce out of each boob after an hour of pumping. So every day my body was missing signals to make more milk so everyday I made just a little bit less and my perceived low supply turned into an actual low supply.

I remember crying as I saw other mums on Instagram posting photos of their milk stocked freezers and there I was hopelessly pumping to get a measly amount of milk. I felt such a huge amount of guilt and disappointment; I was letting my daughter down. I felt judged every time I gave her a bottle. I won’t lie, I felt like a failure thinking about giving it all up. But what I didn’t know was the amazing sense of relief I was about to feel. Deciding to stop was one of the best decisions I made for me and Ottilie. I didn’t realise the extent of the stress and guilt I was feeling until I could let it all go.

Now I look back, three weeks is still an achievement! I now know that any amount of breast milk you give your baby is amazing, and just thank you to everybody who supported me through those tough weeks and a flip you to those who were horrid – parenting is hard, be kind, always!

Margaux has been breastfed for 3 months and our journey is still going strong. I noticed a difference in Margaux as soon as she was born, though the birth was even more speedy than the first *who knew you could top 20 minutes!* I wasn’t a frazzled first time mum freaking out that literally 20 minutes ago I was asleep in my own bed now I’m in a hospital with my baby. I was calmer and she was plonked on my chest and she wriggled her way down and found my boob and fed for over an hour. She was a much more enthusiastic feeder and it was clear straight away she had a decent latch.

Now I’m not going to pretend it was easy in the first few weeks but I made a promise to myself that no matter what happened it would be guilt free, I think the relaxed attitude played a huge part in the success. It was a brutal five days before my milk came in and I was so worried that she wasn’t getting enough and was getting dehydrated – she wanted to feed continuously and it was so stressful, especially with a toddler to look after side note: dads need more than 2 weeks paternity leave! And I was so ready to give up. Just like I did with Ottilie. But I knew if I carried on it would all be worth it. And my goodness was it worth it!

I look back at brand new mama Freya and call her a twat all the time for wanting to give up when it got tough. I felt like a whole new woman, like a Super Mum! Going out without having to worry about formula, not having to sterilise bottle is revolutionary! Not to mention looking down at the mini person so content and peaceful and the fluttering of milk drunk eyes. Ugh I just love it so much, I’m becoming probably that annoying mum who constantly goes on about breastfeeding (you should have seen me when my milk changed colour because Margaux was ill). But at the end of the day I am just so unbelievably thankful that boobing has gone well this time round.

Pushing the babies out was easy, breastfeeding has always been the hardest part of motherhood for me and I’m so incredibly proud of myself – Margaux at three months weighs 15lbs because of me, because my body is magic and nobody can ever tell me otherwise, our next milestone is six months and my ultimate goal is 12, but realistically, whenever Margaux wants to stop is where our journey will end.

https://www.instagram.com/freyapaige_/

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08/02/2019

Shannon and Liberty

My light hearted, laidback boobie story.

I always knew I was going to be a Momma one day, although I wasn’t given the easiest start after loosing 2 babes, it really does make you question if you ever will, but it shaped me. I became a Momma right from the first babe, I was determined and I got my baby eventually and I’m forever blessed for the journey.

I always knew I’d breastfeed but like anything in my laid back, hectic life I didn’t look into it. I didn’t research and I didn’t ask questions, none of my friends had breastfed, I just knew that was how I was going to feed my baby. I didn’t go to the support group to learn, I just thought how hard could it be? My midwife wasn’t the most supportive when I was asked the question “are you going to use formula or breast” when I said breast I got “are you sure ? It’s really hard, you need to keep it up and it hurts” that riled me up more like erm YES I’m going to and I CAN do anything… like the moto of my life I think. I was born without my left arm with no explanation so I grew up considered ‘disabled’ I wouldn’t let anyone tell me I couldn’t do anything! After all I knew no different and I have my mam to thank for that, she really wouldn’t do anything for me, at the time I thought or my GODD just button my cardigan I’m having a hard time here but I see why she did it, because now I’m class at everything.

My disability is something I never considered would restrict me breastfeeding. Having one arm there’s challenges I face everyday (I won’t admit to anyone) I just get on with anything I’m faced with but I wear a prosthetic arm and have done since I was 5 month old. Only for cosmetic purposes because it’s propa shit, nothing but an inconvenience that looks nothing like my other arm, that’s filthy because it doesn’t clean, like it’s 2019? Don’t get me started on the NHS prosthetics! (Fun fact there was only 1 pram available that only required 1 hand to put up! Can you believe that!) I’ve found since feeding baby L that I’ve not only faced breastfeeding in public but doing it without my arm! I’ve never left the house without my arm before so this has been a big deal to me, but I’ve found I don’t even care, how cool is that? She’s given me this Momma confidence where I just don’t care anymore.

Liberty latched straight away in hospital with no help or guidance… (none was offered) and 12 weeks in now she’s a chunky booby barnacle and loves her milk. I’ve just started expressing now so family can help out if me and the OH want to grab a bite to eat, although I’m reluctant to leave her but it’s nice I can do that. I’m still blown away by the amount I’m producing, especially being vegan and the chew I got from my midwife about my diet and that I should consider altering my vegan diet… like I’m totally smashing it thanks though Julie.

My OH has been really supportive of me breastfeeding, he likes to hold her head while she latches on and sit close to us after a day at work and that’s a lovely feeling. Although now expressing he said “oh god now my sleep is threatened you’ll want me feeding her”, which is funny because he knows he’s had a blissful 12 weeks of full sleep, his friends with babies have said you are so lucky! Luckily I’m too obsessed with her to give him the pleasure of feeding her through the night (for now) but his time will come, he can totally get up with a toddler and deal with spilt coco pops.

If I could give any advice to any Mommas considering breastfeeding is that don’t over worry about anything, don’t question if you are doing it right because you definitely are, after all we are all just winging it. I found Liberty is patient with me when things take longer, like getting her in and out the car seat or holding her for a feed when she clearly looks uncomfortable but it’s her first time at being a baby too, I just relax and laugh about it, like you’ve got this girl! Also if there’s any Mommas with disabilities reading I’d love to learn any tips and tricks! I’d beat anyone’s time at putting a nappy and baby grow on… I’m pretty quick.

Here’s to all Mommas growing and raising tiny humans, no matter what we are faced with we just get on with it. I wish you all health, happiness and leaky boobs.

Also it’s ok to cry over spilt milk because…
WHAT A WASTE.

https://www.instagram.com/shanhe__/

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03/02/2019

Chloe

My breastfeeding journey.

So, where do I start? My name is Chloe, I’m a 23 year old mother to my 6 month old daughter Ocean. Breastfeeding has been a fairly positive journey for me so far. It’s had it’s highs and lows, but overall it’s been a lot more plain sailing than I thought it would be. But there was also a lot of things I’ve found out a long the way that nobody made me aware of.

It was always my plan to breastfeed, I am a vegan and I am raising my daughter vegan so I didn’t want to give her any formula as this contains dairy.
I bought some bottles and a steriliser ‘just in case’ I couldn’t breastfeed. Little did I know that most people can breastfeed, there just isn’t the support for them to not feel like they should give up.

Anyway, when my daughter arrived, the first thing we did was skin to skin and she soon found her way to the breast and latched on incredible, I was on cloud nine just watching her feed from my body! The feeling was indescribable to say the least! The midwives were all amazing and very supportive, but when they gave me the option to stay over night or go home, it felt like they wanted me to go home. But I stayed, I was pretty nervous to go home but I also wasn’t too confident with feeding! So I was given a room and that’s where I was all night.

The next day was a long day, and I’m SO glad I stayed. Ocean had a few problems latching on to my right breast. She just wasn’t latching on and wasn’t feeding much. So, I had a midwife come round every 30 mins/1 hour to syringe a few MLS of milk from my breasts to give to Ocean. I knew I wouldn’t have any dignity left after giving birth, but I never anticipated having midwives have to express milk from my breasts, it was a very odd experience but all that mattered was my baby getting fed. I had never even known that this was even a thing, I went to antenatal classes and as much as they had talked about breastfeeding, they never made us aware that it could have it’s issues! I had breastfeeding consultants come up to see me throughout the day and finally Ocean managed to latch, only just. And that evening we got home.

The first week at home was incredibly overwhelming. I was learning to look after and feed my baby, and my baby was learning to feed from me and adjust to the new big scary world! We had so many visitors and although it was lovely to be showered in so much love for my new baby, I felt incredibly nervous as I had to feed my baby, with my great big sore breasts, sitting in the most awkward positions, trying to be somewhat dignified and not let my breasts leak and hang everywhere, whilst being so uncomfortable from being stitched up down below! So having a house full of people was not exactly what I thought it would be. I pictured myself watching people cuddle the baby whilst I made everyone cups of tea and told them about my labour and delivery. Yeah right. I was sat in the biggest pull up disposable knickers trying my hardest not to wince every time I moved. Definitely not what I had pictured. If I have another baby, I’ll do it differently. No visitors for at least 4/5 days. That would have worked so much better for me. Everyone is different but boy it’s overwhelming.

The next thing that I had to learn about was cluster feeding. Why was I told that my baby would breastfeed every 3-4 hours? My baby was feeding every 30 mins to an hour. She was (and still is) attached to me! I thought that something was wrong, was she not getting enough? Why does she always want feeding? Why after one feed does she want more?! That’s when I learnt about cluster feeding and that’s when I realised there was a hell of a lot of information nobody told me. Cluster feeding came along with issues in the first few weeks, my nipples felt ripped to shreds. No amount of cream was helping. The health visitor was so helpful and assured me this was completely normal, and to keep on going. So I kept on going. And all these little things just kept getting better, the pain started to ease and I felt happy with the way breastfeeding was going for Ocean and I.

As the weeks went on I felt more and more confident feeding Ocean. I went out a lot in public and made sure that I felt confident in feeding her around people. I knew that was something I had to start from day one. You have to feel confident to feed your baby around strangers, it’ll happen a lot!

At about 3 months, I really felt like I had a breakthrough with breastfeeding. I finally felt confident with everything, we had gotten into somewhat more of a pattern, I could read her cues and feed her before she would start to scream, and that to me is the beauty of breastfeeding, I could just whip out my boob and instantly had a happy baby! Month 3 was a very proud milestone for me. I felt like I had overcome every problem we had come across and I finally felt like a badass mum who had her sh*t together.

Then I got Raynaud’s, in my nipples. Who even knew that was a thing? Not me. And it took me WEEKS to work out what was going on. Deep throbbing pains in my breasts after every feed and my nipples would go white. I honestly felt like I could have chopped my breasts off, the pain was excruciating. I went back to my health visitor and they said it was most likely Raynaud’s – and try to keep my breasts as warm as possible, so I tried sticking some hand warmers down there and blimey it helped! Another problem solved. Apparently Raynaud’s is SO common. Even though nobody I had spoke to, even the doctor, had thought this could be the reason why. If you need to ever speak to anyone, health visitors are incredible.

So where am I now? I am now at month 6 of my breastfeeding journey. I have had mastitis, blocked milk ducts, milk blisters and Raynaud’s but I am still LOVING it. Breastfeeding is the most incredible thing in the world. I look in the mirror every morning, I look at my mum bod, my stretch mark covered tummy, my new size 14 body, the bags under my eyes, the wobbly legs and arms, and the huge boobs, and for the most part I feel unrecognisable. Who even is this woman looking back at me? But then I look at my baby, my thriving, happy, healthy daughter. Smiling at me, every day. I look back in the mirror and tell myself, I am so beautiful. I am strong and I am amazing. MY body, MY very own self has kept my daughter alive. My body feeds my daughter every day. My body gives my daughter life!!!! How on earth could I feel down about myself? When I literally give life to another human every single day and night. Now that is something special. That makes me feel like the most badass mother out there. That’s breastfeeding. Knowing that you and only you can give your baby something that no body else on the planet can. Sleeping next to her every night and she will just find her own way to the boob. It’s fascinating really. The bond we have is truly unbreakable.

I hope to breastfeed for as long as I can, whenever Ocean is ready to stop then we will stop. I hope my journey continues to be a positive one and I have every confidence that it will.

If you are planning on breastfeeding, or if you are breastfeeding and wondering why your journey isn’t going as smoothly as people told you it was going to, or why your baby is constantly feeding, please, please don’t give up. Don’t give up yet. Keep on going. It gets better. It gets easier. Trust me!

https://www.instagram.com/oceanandmama/

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27/02/2019

Leah and Talia 

January 29th 2019 marks 12 months of breastfeeding, a whole year of the booby cuddles with my gorgeous little Talia.

Ever since I was young I have always been maternal, and always knew that when I had a baby I would breastfeed. I feel so proud to know I’ve made it this far. I also have cyclothymia and anxiety disorder so my mental health helped push me to doing all the research I needed and I even found a breastfeeding peer support worker before babies due date for a one on one, I found supportive friends and read up on charities that could help me.

Talia arrived at 41 + 6 by emergency c section, after a failed induction. I had been starved for almost 24 hours by this point and lost 1.9 litres of blood in theatre.

After being taken in to recovery the midwife asked if I wanted to breastfeed but I was very weak, the midwife was very impressed though as I was able to harvest 2 full syringes of colostrum by hand expressing and so my husband was able to give our beautiful baby girl her first feed. I was adamant that I wanted to establish breastfeeding and so a little later I got to try. It felt magical right from the off!

By day 2 my milk had come in but I was exhausted. Talia had a night where she was very unsettled, I had very little sleep and my c section pain had creeped in. I tried feeding Talia on the breast but she refused several times and it broke my heart. The midwife on the ward then suggested that my husband wheel Talia in to their little side room to see if it would help settle her. Still being unsettled the midwife asked if we wanted to try a little formula. We agreed and as if by magic she immediately settled and I managed a whole 5 hours sleep before her next feed and she latched! We gave Talia a little more formula and bought some as a back up when we left hospital but my intention was to continue breastfeeding.

After a rocky and emotional few days we had the midwife visit, when she asked how we were feeding I said combined and she tutted at me! As soon as she left I sobbed my heart out. She made me feel like such a failure.

My breasts began to engorge (my right breast gained the nickname Engorgio) and so I used my breast pump to relieve this which became a regular part of our routine. I had a good supply of expressed milk for trips out until I felt comfortable feeding in public (engorgio made this awkward)
my first feed in public was at a local library when Talia was 8 weeks old and I have gained confidence ever since.

It’s crazy looking back how much I felt a failure until my amazing health visitor Matt reassured me that I wasn’t, Talia gained weight consistently, hit all her milestones and had no issues with feeding.

By the time Talia was 2 weeks old she was 100% breastfed. When Talia was 9 months old I returned to work, it wasn’t an easy step particularly with remembering to pump, it’s not just spare clothes for Talia I pack now it’s spare tops for leaky boobs too. I’m so pleased to have reached my golden boobies goal and plan to continue for as long as we both feel comfortable. Nothing beats the connection we have ❤️

https://www.instagram.com/mrscandbabyt/

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21/01/2019

Abbi and Jack

I think in many ways I have had what would be considered a charmed breastfeeding journey. My mum is a bit of a breastfeeding advocate and always talked to me about her experiences breastfeeding me and my brother and even doing a bit of wet nursing when my brother was born as there was an abandoned baby in the hospital. She breastfed both of us into toddlerhood and I have memories of her feeding my brother and photos of me being breastfed.

When I fell pregnant with Jack I always knew that I wanted to breastfeed… or at least try since I heard so often how difficult it would be and how much could go wrong (which is obviously true for many mums).

Six months into my pregnancy I developed Gestational Diabetes. I researched furiously on what would be the best way to manage the condition and came across the concept of colostrum harvesting in case the baby’s blood sugar dropped after birth. When I mentioned this to the diabetic midwife she arranged for me to meet the hospital’s lactation consultant… something I had no idea was available, you just had to ask. It turned out to be a charmed meeting. We bonded, I did well at the harvesting and built up a good stash.

Because of the gestational diabetes I was induced at 39 weeks. After a fast and furious labour with nothing but gas and air, Jack arrived and was put into my arms. He immediately latched and fed for about two hours before dozing off peacefully. The quick labour meant that the consultant was not able to manage my blood sugar and Jack did have a bit of a blood sugar dip due to this. Fortunately because I had several syringes of colostrum, this could be used to bring up his blood sugar without needing formula.

I found breastfeeding quite painful at the start. I was lucky enough to be visited by the lactation consultant who I had met before who checked Jack for a tongue tie. She found one and managed to get me on the list to have it snipped when he was 6 days old, which significantly improved the discomfort.

From that stage on, from a feeding perspective it was pretty plain sailing… kind of. Jack was a champion feeder and put on weight fast. I chose to follow my instincts and pretty much used boob to solve his every issue. My motto was when in doubt, whip it out. I am glad I found The Milk Meg at this stage as this was where I got the majority of my advice. A lot of what worked for me breastfeeding wise flew in the face of modern parenting advice – I slept with my baby, I fed on demand, there was no routine. Of course the tough part of this was that so much of the parenting fell on me. My husband was amazingly supportive but Jack only wanted me. He refused any kind of bottle feeding and wouldn’t take a dummy so I was permanently connected to him. I loved and hated it in equal measure. Before Jack was born I worked full time in a senior corporate job and suddenly I was predominantly a milk machine. I counted my lucky stars though that I did not get mastitis, blocked ducts, cracked nipples or any of the other problems some of my friends were facing.

When Jack was 8 weeks old I had to have emergency surgery. I was forced to stay in hospital overnight before the operation and got huge opposition from the hospital who considered my exclusively breastfed baby to be disruptive. I had to fight hard to keep him with me despite the exasperation of the nurse in charge. It made me realise that not everyone gets what a big deal separating a breastfeeding mother and baby at this crucial stage is. Fortunately I was paired with a very understanding anaesthetist who agreed to give me the lightest possible anaesthetic so I would be able to feed Jack almost immediately when I came around.

From then on we fed pretty peacefully until I went back to work when he was 9 months old. I had pumped daily in preparation to create a store of milk but Jack still would not take a bottle and tended to just hold out until I got home. Initially this was really stressful for me. I chose not to pump at work and would come home with mega boobs and would then be set upon by a ravenous baby as I walked through the door. He also continued to feed through the night. I was exhausted and convinced sooner or later it would become unsustainable. The opposite happened. We settled into a rhythm, he started eating more food and sleeping more and we kept going. I even managed work trips of one or two nights with no disruption.

Jack is now almost 2 and a half and I am still working full time and still responding to his demands for “babboo”, which is a word he has invented. We have progressed from shouting for boob to “mummy, I would like a babboo please”, which is nice. He still doesn’t sleep through the night and the easiest way to get him back down is with boob.

We’ve had an amazing journey and I feel that being able to nourish my baby with my body has been so beneficial but I have reached a stage where my feelings have become mixed. I love the bond and that I can comfort him and plug the gaps in his nutrition on days he only eats yogurt and beans. I do feel a bit done though, especially when he’s in full nipple twiddle mode. And I am starting to become reluctant to tell people I am still feeding because he’s at the age where some people think it is weird. I can’t imagine what the weaning process would be like and I guess I am too much of a fan of a quiet life to try… so for the foreseeable future, we’ll keep on boobing.

https://www.instagram.com/abbiosbiston/

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13/01/2019

Hannah, Archie and Orla

Where do I even begin? I have two children and two very different breastfeeding journeys. My Son is now 4 and the first 6 months were very hard, right from the first latch…

After a gruelling 2 hours of pushing, Archie was finally earth side and after a very quick cuddle it was back to an hour of pushing as my placenta was retained. At this point midwives were desperate and decided that their last ‘non invasive’ attempt would be for me to feed Archie in an attempt to get my Uterus contracting. For myself and Archie this was all a whirlwind, I had never done this before, he was ripped away from me for 3 hours with no skin to skin and was very sleepy, it was not the relaxed bonding experience I had hope for.
We finally got out of the hospital and my milk came in on day 5. Little did I know Archie had a lip and tongue tie, making his latch very shallow. He gained weight well and there was no pain so I pushed through, however he was extremely restless at the breast and often became inconsolable during feeds, this broke me. Back then I saw asking for help as a weakness, a cause for concern, a sign that I wasn’t a ‘good mother’, I remember when he was around 6 weeks old, he was cluster feeding in the evening and being his usual very frustrated self and out of pure desperation I decided that I wasn’t enough for him, I remember hysterically sobbing on the kitchen floor as I waited for the steriliser. I thought the only route to happiness was formula. My partner found me and reminded me that no matter what choice I made he would be there for me but I had to be sure and in that moment I knew I wasn’t sure, there was something about giving up that felt so wrong so we persevered.

Archie’s lip and tongue tie was diagnosed at 8 months, by that time it had become irrelevant as we had managed to overcome things together and he was thriving. During those 8 months he was also prescribed Gaviscon for silent reflux, lets just say that none of us got a lot of sleep in that year!!

Around 6/7 months I succumbed to the pressures that society puts on mothers, the notion that women should be able to be the ‘perfect mother’, ‘perfect partner’ and yet still maintain a good social life and go to work. I don’t know why I gave in but we decided to try and combi feed Archie so that Lewis and I could have some time just the two of us. Archie point blank refused bottles from me until he was 11 months, however he would have the odd bottle of formula from my Mum or Lewis if I wasn’t there. We weren’t consistent in our routine and I found myself only giving formula when it was convenient for me, usually when we were out and I was too embarrassed to feed. I look back on this with regret and tend to beat myself up over it, I’m not sure why, I guess I’m just disappointed in myself that he wasn’t exclusively breastfed. We introduced cow’s milk at 12 months and by 13 months he had self-weaned. I remember his last feed, we had just got home from a very long day of shopping and he snuggled into my chest and latched himself on, we both fell asleep, it was just perfect. At the time I didn’t know it would be his last.

Despite all of the ups and downs the bond that we built was and still is incredible, I loved breastfeeding him and I was fiercely protective of the choice we made. We suffered a lot of judgement but none of it mattered because Archie and I were happy.

Orla is 7 months old and she has given me a completely different experience, she made it easy. Orla’s birth and first latch was the natural hands off experience that I so badly craved, we were allowed to do skin to skin for hours and her first latch was her choice, she made it happen! It warms my heart to know she had been given that time. At around 4 months she suffered some tummy issues so I decided to do a dairy cut for myself, I reintroduced it back in slowly and since then she has weaned on to solids and thankfully we no longer have any issues. Breastfeeding Orla is like second nature almost, we are just so at ease and seem to know exactly what we are doing. I found that the second time around I was much more in tune with the early cues and less obsessed with the need for a routine, I feel advice has changed drastically from when Archie was born too, I felt very pressured to have a feeding routine whereas it seems now that HV and Midwives are giving much more ‘responsive parenting’ advice.

Orla is super efficient at feeding which makes feeding in public super easy, because of this I feel much more confident about it. Of course she cluster feeds in the evening and when she’s not feeling herself or she’s learning a new skill she can become fussy and not quite sure what she wants, it’s not all smelling of roses 24/7, motherhood never is, but compared to last time, it’s a breeze.

I wanted to share the contrast between my two journey’s, breastfeeding is simple and natural, it’s demanding and it can be super hard, but it’s always beautiful. For me it’s extra moments that I get to sit just soaking up my baby, moments where nothing else matters and as they look up at you with those big eyes, all you feel is love.

Never give up on a bad day!
Hannah
x

https://www.instagram.com/mylittles_andme/

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06/01/2019

Jennifer and Mabel

I’m now 5 months into breastfeeding and I have to say I have loved every moment of feeding my daughter Mabel myself. I regard myself one of the lucky ones who really hasn’t had any issues. My lovely friend who suffered terribly with breastfeeding both her babies (but soldiered through) said she thinks it’s because I have long pronounced nipples (we compared)… If that is the case I’m very happy with my big nips.

I definitely had a little anxiety about breastfeeding towards the end of my pregnancy. This was my first pregnancy and I felt an awful lot of pressure from all the medical people I’d encountered, the media and just general folk. I’m not really the type of person who gets caught up in that, I’m usually a bit of a rebel when it comes to being ‘told’ or ‘lead’ to do something, but when you have this bond with this tiny little human you just want to do everything in your power to give them the best start, so I was determined to do what I could to feed myself, for me and my baby – not to conform. I also decided that if it was painful or it was causing me upset or stress I’d stop, because regardless of how amazing the benefits are, at the end of the day, I wanted baby to have a happy mummy and not to be around negativity and upset.

I had a romantic vision of a very calm, spontaneous water birth with yoga chants and the baby being put straight on my breast to feed after birth. In reality I went to 41+6 days and the hospital persuaded me to be induced. Needless to say I then laboured to 7cm over 48 hours and ended up with an emergency C section. We crossed each point on the birthing plan off as we went.

In the end, labour was actually a positive experience for me, even though it was hard, complex and nothing went to plan. I had a wonderful team helping me and my Husband, Mum and Aunty were a huge support. I had skin on skin in recovery from the C section which was the earliest opportunity and that’s when I tried to feed Mabel for the first time.

Over and over in my head I was thinking nipple up nose, that was the main thing that stuck with me from the breastfeeding session we’d done with our Ante Natal class and when I tried to do exactly that, to my amazement she did what she was supposed to do and latched straight on. It took a few hours to get into a comfortable feeding position, but it was pretty plain sailing from there. Mabel and I were alone over night on night one and where the only ones on the ward. That’s was a pretty special night. Mabel mainly cluster fed and I stayed awake and just watched her. It was a special opportunity to really just get to know each other. Just me and her.

So now we’re 5 months on and I’m so pleased it has been so successful. It makes my life so simple and I love the cuddles. I don’t have to consider bottles when I’m leaving the house or travelling and in the night, I can just sleep while she feeds.

Out and about it’s a little more of a challenge to be discrete and you quickly become very knowledgeable about all the changing and feeding stations in town – at first I was always running to find somewhere to feed her, but as time has gone on, I can now expertly feed her without anyone barely noticing. Not that I’d care if anyone saw – I just felt like I wanted a bit of privacy until I became confident. On this point, I must say that I haven’t had any negative looks or comments – but I do live in Windsor where nearly every other person is a new mother, so that may have something to do with it! One of my main highlights was discovering that I could feed Mabel whilst carrying her in the Baby Carrier. So whilst I was wondering around Marksies. She was having her lunch and I was shopping. Winning at life right there.

I started expressing week one (against medical advice) because I do Bridal Hair and I had clients booked from when Mabel was 2 weeks old. (She was 2 weeks late.. oops) This in hindsight worked well for us, as Mabel is now well established on a bottle and means I can go to work and it just gives me general freedom. It also has meant that Mabel has a wonderful relationship with her Daddy, because they have spent plenty of alone time together. I’m starting to get a bit complacent with the expressing now, because I found it boring and time consuming but I feel pretty happy about her having occasional formula now.

From 4 months Mabel has been dropping slightly on her centile scale, which has been a bit of a blip. I have to say that I really haven’t enjoyed my experience of going to have her weighed and have felt more judged than supported. One health visitor was very quick to tell me to top up with formula and then it turned out that she’d read the chart wrong. Subsequently we have been to the GP a few times and he’s not concerned at all, he’s told me to just keep and eye, but breastfed babies often dip a little around 4-5 months as they become active and inquisitive. The lactation consultant at the baby clinic checked my latch and said there were no issues – so I’ve come to the conclusion that we’ve just got a dainty girl on our hands… clearly she’s not taking after her Mamma there!

I have started her on a few solids over the last few weeks and she’s loving that. I can’t help feel a bit sad that she isn’t solely relying on me now and this is the beginning of the end. For now though I feel proud that we’ve got to 5 months where I have pretty much exclusively breastfeed and I intend to breastfeed as long as my body allows or when Mabel decides she is done. Turns out she is the boss so probably the latter.

Our first try

In Italy when Mabel was 11 weeks

15 weeks

17 weeks

https://www.instagram.com/jennilemony/

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31.12.2018

Amy

I remember sitting in a cloud of shock in recovery after our emergency caesarean and suddenly finding the words to say “pass him here I want to feed him”. I’m very unclear on timings but it had probably been an hour since the birth and so far we’d been offered no skin to skin or anything remotely resembling the gentle c-sections I’d seen on Instagram and in the haze of a 5 day back to back labour I let it all happen to me, every detail being things I didn’t want – baby taken away, cleaned and wrapped, checked by the doctor before we got to see him and then taken away completely while I was stitched due to the forceps. I realise now that this was a sign of things to come.

He latched a bit in recovery (I think) and I sat up all night with him on my chest, presumably in a state of shock. I began to ask for help and I kept asking from this point. I realised no one else on postnatal was planning to breastfeed so feeling vaguely more human I decided to just keep asking. The midwives were great and we laughed and chatted as they hand expressed me (nothing quite so bizarre!) initially we syringe fed and eventually after many attempts and two days we got a good latch. An older midwife showed me the rugby ball pose as she explained “larger ladies such as yourself often prefer this position” Jesus! but still, thanks Barbara it was a game changer.

I came home and he crazily cluster fed for the next 16 hours or so, I’d done my homework and knew this was normal and was trying not to panic. A friend from work had trained as a breastfeeding peer support advisor so I called her at 8am and sobbed. She said everything I needed to be reminded of and we went back to boobing, eating and resting (still no sleep it had now been 4 days and I was hallucinating!) until my milk came in, thanks Jo.

The weeks and months continued and with it came more problems and more thankyous:

Thank you to the LLL volunteer who let us come to her house and get my boobs out on day 10.

Thank you to the support group where I finally saw other babies feeding like mine (writhing around, unsettled, distracted – did he hate me?!…)

Thank you to the IBCLC that took one look at us and guessed our delivery and the reason for our struggles.

Thank you to the chiropractor we saw who adjusted my sons neck injury from the birth – it was like a miracle after 4 months of stress!

Thank you to the one health visitor who looked at my baby instead of a weight chart and closed the “investigation”.

Thank you to the doctors receptionist who looked after my son as I sobbed to the GP from all the pressure.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to my husband who has supported me every step of our breastfeeding journey and continues to do so.

We dragged ourselves over many physical and mental hurdles to get to this point (16 months and counting) but crucially I want to say that this was only possible with the support of around 25 people, most of whom I’ll never see again.

Breastfeeding didn’t come easy for us and our beloved NHS simply can’t come knocking so I learned to find my voice and seek out the support alongside a kick arse group of ladies I met while pregnant who have gave the best peer support and showed me the absolute best that women can be to each other, thank you!

With the right support, homework and sheer determination we did it and still are. It’s been so hard but worth every moment.

And finally thank you boobs and my own breastfeeding Mother who normalised it for me my entire life! 🙌

https://www.instagram.com/amyteapot/

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23.12.2018

Elke

As one of five, I grew up exposed to a lot of breastfeeding. In fact when I was a child I would “breastfeed” my baby dolls because I thought that was the only way you fed a baby. So you can imagine when I found out I was pregnant, without a glimmer of uncertainty I knew I was going to breastfeed. I went in with the expectation that nursing would be as flawlessly easy as it appeared, but life seemed to humble me real quick.

My expedition with liquid gold was not easy. The truth is I faced plenty of challenges most new mothers do. At birth it was latching difficulties which eventually brought shooting pain in my breast. With each latch it felt as if someone was stabbing my nipple. I eventually was able to obtain an effective latch through lactation consultant tips and a process of trial and error. However the sheer exhaustion from spending most of my day and night breastfeeding hit me like a freight train. The sleep deprivation sent me over the edge, I was beyond exhausted and started becoming very depressed and anxious. I would talk about quitting and switching to formula, it seemed like the quick fix at the time. Outsiders insisted that formula would make my daughter sleep longer and this sounded very convincing to me. I would reason with myself like just give breastfeeding one more day. However I pushed through day after day because deep down I knew how extraordinarily beneficial it was to my daughter and I. As the days went by it started to get better, a lot better. The days began to fly by and each day I grew to love breastfeeding more and more.

My daughter is now a year old and has been nursing since day one. I am so proud that I never gave up. Inevitably you will encounter challenges, I sure did. Have I faced hurdles in my nursing journey since then? Absolutely. But I am so grateful for not opting for that quick fix at the time, and instead sought out solutions and kept trying. If there is a will there’s a way. For every other breastfeeding mother who is reading this: what you are doing is far more amazing and important than you realize. This journey will greatly impact your child for the rest of their life.

https://www.instagram.com/trulyelke/

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16.12.2018

Jemma’s Story

All I remember from the beginning of my first breastfeeding journey was my husband telling people, and still does, that he walked back into the room after having my son and we were just feeding. He said I looked like someone in their element and at one with all that breastfeeding brought. My son cuddled in and latched on great and we were just doing what nature intended. We were all proud to be able to breastfeed and it makes me proud to have such a supportive husband. I love how he tells people this tale as our first memory of our time together.

We continued our journey until our lad was 3.5 yrs. Along the way we met family and friends with different opinions on breastfeeding and this led to low self esteem, low confidence and just generally feeling pretty crap about being a first time mum. He fed pretty much all the time even when bigger and we got the usual comments of how clingy he’d be growing up and he’s only using you for comfort. You’re his dummy.

What people don’t realise behind the scenes is the constant strive to do whatever is best. Putting myself second, going without a wash or without eating as I can’t move to do anything or else he’d wake and instantly latch back on. The sacrifice us mothers make. And not forgetting the tuts and looks from others while trying to feed in public and the comments of ‘is he feeding again’. We seemed to struggle with this and the company around us. Again in turn making me anxious to go out and even be with anyone other than my husband. In turn this has led to serious anxiety issues and depression. As he grew older it was harder to be accepted out and about feeding. By 3 he then cut down to just feeds at home.

On falling pregnant with our little girl my milk had stopped and it had now become painful to feed. I also suffered from angry boob syndrome where if he’d even latch for a second it would send me quite irritable. I knew it was coming to an end but I still put myself second and told my husband I’ll quit when he’s ready. So I let him self wean, but tried to play instead of feeding. He had started nursery in school and would come home wanting to play out but he’d be torn between boobies or play. Some days he chose me but mostly he chose to play out. This became more often and soon I realised we don’t feed anymore. It became a mutual ending and a lovely calm one for both of us. I’m really pleased we kept this up and let him wean naturally and gently. I don’t think I could have done it though without my husbands support.

As we’re on our second breastfeeding journey now with our daughter I hope to go as long as she needs me and give as much as I gave my son. The comfort, cuddles and natural connection they all need. And it’s nice to hear now from those family and friends how independent our son is and his own little boss. Haha 😛 is all I say.

https://www.instagram.com/halljemma/

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09.12.2018

Anna’s Story

My story begins almost six years ago.

I was 25 and expecting my first baby. On 4th November 2012, Ava came into the world. Her labour was tough. In fact more than tough… we both nearly died. It lasted hours and hours and culminated in me contracting an infection from my prolonged broken waters, resulting in a traumatic emergency c-section. Ava was taken immediately from me and placed in SCBU. I didn’t see her for 7 hours. In that shocked and dazed first hour, in between vomiting periodically, I hand expressed, with the help of a midwife, some milk for my daughter.

This at least gave me some hope that she would have some of my milk and want my breast when we were finally put together. I was dreading that we wouldn’t bond, not to mention missing her like mad. When my partner went to take the milk to her, he was told she had already been given some formula and that maybe another baby could have my milk. This was the first of many moments where I was left feeling useless and alone when it came to feeding my baby. Despite my worries and much to my surprise, Ava took to my breast fine when we were reunited. But I was incredibly poorly and on lots of medication, and this in turn made Ava very sleepy. Too sleepy, and it resulted in me stopping feeding after the first 2 weeks owing to my meds being too strong and passing through into my breast milk. It took six months of antibiotics to fight off the infection in my womb from her birth.

Eighteen months later, my little boy Dylan arrived. This time via a planned c section. I was so ready to have a fresh and positive feeding experience with him and naturally a little scared at whether I would manage to feed him. Dylan fed a lot and often it was only on one side. I wasn’t used to any of this as my breastfeeding journey before was cut short so early on. I now know it WASN’T a sign I couldn’t feed him ‘properly’ or that ‘my supply wasn’t good enough’, it was actually a normal round of cluster feeding and him taking a preference to one boob – something we could have worked on with support if needed. But this new territory, coupled with my partner suffering post natal depression after the birth, and my mum encouraging me to give up and ‘make things easier and take some control back’ by using formula, led me to once again prematurely stop breastfeeding, this time at around 4 weeks. It’s particularly hard looking back on that experience because I was so vulnerable and I just needed the right support.

October 2017, and my little Renée was born, again via a planned c section.  If I’m honest I wasn’t expecting to breastfeed for long … because I was used to it not working out or me giving up. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. Breastfeeding Renée has been an absolute dream.

Each month I think to myself this will be the end but we keep going. Ren is now one and is showing no sign of wanting to stop. Sure I have my days where I feel like my little limpet sees me only as a walking boob but I honesty love feeding her and couldn’t imagine it any other way. The bond we share is like no other I’ve ever experienced before and it just gets more scrummy every day! I can’t express just how proud I am of my body for making the liquid gold and keeping my baby alive, comforted and loved! And that I believed in myself. Because I bloody well did it!

Women are truly magic, as are boobs, and I’ve never been more proud to say I’m female. Breastfeeding is so much more than feeding my baby. Its opened me up to learning how to love myself.  My breastfeeding journey hasn’t been easy. Its been emotional in its up and downs, and at times left me physically exhausted. And it’s absolutely NOT as simple as ‘just sticking a baby on your nip’, but all I can say is, for however long you choose to breastfeed your baby, you are a superstar! It took me a while to realise this myself, but now when I remember a feed with any of my babies, I can’t help but smile and love my body that little bit more. My feeding journey with Renée has shown me what self love is and do you know what … me and my little old bod make a pretty good team!

https://www.instagram.com/miss_trout/

https://www.facebook.com/MissTrout/

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02.12.2018

Sarah-Kate and her boys

I think it is actually my greatest achievement. I am extremely proud, that for 5.5 months (14.5 if you count when they were on the inside!) of both of my boys lives they were made entirely by me. Ok and a sperm (obviously not down playing that little guy!). But aside from that, my body and my breast milk. That even blows my mind when I think about it!

Breastfeeding is an incredible thing to be able to do, but it is seriously hard. You think it should naturally, magically happen but it doesn’t, not always. My first had quite a prolonged and traumatic birth, and combined with my nerves of holding this precious thing it didn’t just magically happen. The best advice I got was whilst you are still in hospital every time you feed get a midwife to check how you’re doing. They are there to help you, and each gave me a different way to feed (classic/lying down/rugby ball hold!), tip or trick, some of which worked, many didn’t but it gave me options and reassurance. We got there in the end.

My second had a suck so powerful that there was no question you knew he was feeding! So much so he basically ripped the end of my nipple off.  Breastfeeding is a wonderful, magical thing!

But it is not just the actual breastfeeding, which is tough to get the hang of, it’s all the emotions that go with it. There’s the whole rollercoaster of hormonal emotions you get with breastfeeding, and although you are doing an amazing thing it can feel quite lonely, no matter how much your partner helps. When your baby is hungry, it’s you it wants and needs, which can mean sitting in a darkened room for 2 hours, followed by another 2 hours a few hours later, and another, and another. And you’re tired. A tiredness you will have never, ever experienced in your life.  Then if you’re out and about it’s you that has to stop what you’re doing and feed, whilst others carry on.

I’ve fed everywhere. In bed, on the floor, on the beach, in a field at a festival, on the floor by the large fish tank with a turtle swimming by at the London Aquarium, jammed into the window seat next to a business man on the London to Manchester Virgin train with a teething baby who wanted to feed but it was also hurting his teeth so he kept pulling off wailing every 2 minutes flashing my nipple to the business man beside me. That was probably my least favourite.

I fed both of my sons for a year and one day. It felt a bit mean to stop on their birthday so I did an extra day. A year was what I planned and wanted to do based on what my mum did for me and also the information I had read. I also wanted to do the same for my second as I did for my first.

The other piece of advice I would give to those that are breastfeeding is around 4-6 months it really feels like you are a milking machine and it will never end. You are yearning for a little bit of freedom, and then you start weaning and suddenly the amount of feeds you do does drop. So if you can and you want to, power through!

However a parent feeds their baby is amazing, I was lucky and got to choose breastfeeding. I am also probably too disorganised to remember formula when out and about (my boobs were luckily always with me!) and I could not bear to part with my precious mat leave pennies on formula. At times it feels like a never ending year, then you look back and it’s gone in a moment. All that’s left is a slight quizzical glance when you get changed in front of them and they see your breasts “they look familiar…”

Breastfeeding is a wonderful, magical, painful, stressful, relaxing, intimate, exposing thing. Would I do it all over again if we do go for number 3? I will try my hardest to. Why? Because it’s my greatest achievement. Making my boys.

https://www.instagram.com/letscallthisamumback/

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25.11.2018

Erin and Isaiah

Within five minutes of popping out of me, and being placed on my chest, Isaiah immediately latched perfectly. I remember thinking to myself, “Why did everyone tell me this was going to hurt more than labor? What is all the fuss about?”. The lactation consultant in the hospital kept coming in to check on us and was simply bewildered that I needed little to no help. She called me a “natural”, which made me beam from cheek to cheek. The only pain I experienced was the awful pins and needles feeling of my letdown. So, our first few weeks seemed heavenly (aside from the serious sleep deprivation). I was bonding with my beautiful baby boy, and by his one month appointment he had doubled his birth weight. I was so proud of myself and my body for nourishing this new human so well; and I was even more proud of my son for nursing so strongly right off the bat. Fast forward to five weeks later, and everything that had been so easy and seemingly perfect went sideways very quickly. My son started coughing, and gasping for air every time my let down would start. He would throw himself off my boob so violently and scream bloody murder. He had very severe reflux symptoms; gagging on spit up, constantly clearing his throat, coughing most of the day, and a congested nose. Luckily, our pediatrician is very breastfeeding friendly and has an IBCLC in his office, so I made an appointment with her in the hopes that shewould be able to lend a helping hand.

While we waited for the day of our appointment, my fiancé and I decided that our best bet would be for me to pump and bottle feed the breast milk I was producing. In doing this, I learned that pumping not only made me severely depressed, but it hurt no matter what I did (every size flange, lubricating my nipples, trying different pumps, the list goes on..). But, my son took a bottle just fine, and would suck down 2-3oz no problem each time we pace fed him. No gagging, no choking, perfectly content and happy. And it broke my heart because I thought since pumping was (and still is) so painful for me, that our breastfeeding journey was going to be over for sure. Stressing about everything only made things worse, and every time I pumped, the ounces became less and less. The negative words in my head played over and over, “This is it, your journey is over.” Through some research, I learned about hand expressing thanks to some amazing ladies online and my mind was at ease knowing I could still express my milk and give him a bottle. Once we got in to see our lactation consultant, she immediately knew what the issue was. “Was Isaiah ever checked for any ties?” was her first question. I told her that he was not, and I had never even heard of what she was talking about. She examined his mouth quickly and confirmed that my son had both an anterior and posterior tongue tie. Basically, the flesh of the underside of his tongue was so tight that it was completely restricting its movement and when my let down would start, his mouth would fill with milk so quickly he would be overwhelmed. Since he could not properly swallow, he would choke and swallow a lot of air. Finally, I had an answer as to why my poor baby was screaming at me every time we nursed, and why he had such bad reflux.

Since we weren’t having any real issues (pain, weight gain, etc.) other than his fussing at the breast, and his reflux, she left it up to us to decide whether or not we would release his tongue. She advised us, “If you want to get it done, I suggest you get it done now. If you wait any longer than three months, they will use anesthesia to perform the procedure rather than just going in and clipping it quickly.” My fiancé and I made the difficult decision that it would be best to get it done and out of the way so our boy could be on the path to healing as soon as possible. The LC referred us to a local ENT and we got in to see him that same day. So, that afternoon we drove, white knuckled, to the ENT. I cried while we were in the waiting room, knowing they were about to make my little boy bleed and cry and there wasn’t a whole lot I could do about it. My fiancé just held my hand, silently comforting me as we waited to be seen.

We were probably in that office no longer than twenty minutes. It was the fastest procedure I had ever seen. The doctor came in, took one look at Isaiah’s mouth, and said “okay, go sit in that chair, I’m going to clip his tongue and hand him to you to nurse right away.” He took my baby out of my fiancé’s hands, and placed him on the table. He made some funny faces and sounds while Isaiah cooed and smiled at him. The doctor had his nurse hold open Isaiah’s mouth, and hold his tongue up and “CLIP!”. I will never forget the sound his tiny scissors made or the huge wail Isaiah let out. I started bawling. The nurse picked Isaiah up and handed him right to me. He had huge tears rolling down his cheeks, and my own tears were dripping right into his sad, hurting face. His mouth was pretty bloody, and it broke my heart into a million little pieces. His eyes were wide and staring into mine. All I could think was that he absolutely hated me and would never forgive me for putting him through this. I whipped out my boob, he latched, and immediately I could tell the difference in his suckling. For the first time in weeks my son wasn’t screaming at me when my letdown started and the look on his face was that of absolute relief. Now my tears were those of happiness. It wasn’t all for nothing.

It’s now been over a month since we released his tie, and I can’t begin to explain how different everything is. Isaiah and I have both basically been relearning everything there is to this whole breastfeeding thing. He has been so great while figuring out how to use his tongue again. The biggest thing that has been helping in his recovery, is bringing him to see a chiropractor every week. Due to the restriction in his mouth for so long, all of the joints and muscles in his jaw and neck have been so tight. The chiropractor has helped loosen everything up so he can use everything in his mouth properly. We also do some mouth exercises at home, and he spends a good 60-90 minutes a day doing tummy time to help stretch out his neck muscles as well. There are still times where he gets a little tired using these “new” muscles in his mouth and he gets very frustrated while nursing, so we just end up giving him a bottle since it’s much easier for him.

Next week we are going to be hitting 3 months of exclusively breastfeeding, and I’ve never been more proud of myself or another human before. Isaiah is just about 14 pounds, and watching him grow more each day knowing my body is providing all of his essential nutrients is just the most amazing and magical thing I’ve ever experienced. We’re taking this breastfeeding thing one day at a time, and since we’ve made it 3 months, my next goal will be 6 months (and once we make it there, it’ll be a year). But I’m not going to get too ahead of myself, because who knows what the future holds. I never thought in my wildest dreams I would’ve even made it this far (especially through his tongue tie) but we have, and we’ve fought hard to get here. I’m not giving up any time soon, and I don’t think my brave little booby man is either!

https://www.instagram.com/mom_tr00per/

(Erin and Isaiah are now at 6 months!!!)

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18.11.2018

Emma and Polly

I’m Emma Liversidge-Smith and here is my journey of boob feeding my beautiful little girl Polly.

When I was pregnant I was very determined that I wanted to breastfeed. My mum had been a huge support and great advisor as she had fed 2 prem babies (my sister and I) and my husband was absolutely behind me doing it! I was realistic however and I wasn’t putting pressure on myself or my unborn baby as I know it can be a difficult task, it is so much more than putting a nipple in a babies mouth! It’s a skill that both mum and baby need to learn together!

My birth with Polly wasn’t the home birth I wanted and I was super worried after being induced and having to have an emergency c-section that it would have totally scuppered my breastfeeding plans. However I made it very clear to my midwife at delivery that I needed skin to skin with my baby as I wanted to feed them asap!

This was absolutely followed and as Polly arrived screaming into this world I held her to my skin and noticed she was rooting! It took me over an hour to get the first latch and I know now that she wasn’t on the breast property but I did feel the initial toe curling tugs that told me she knew what to do!

Polly lost too much of her birth weight in the week after her birth. In hindsight this is because of 2 things. One was because we were learning to latch effectively and secondly, no one had told me that once a newborn had been on the breast they may be crying 10 mins later to go right back on there again! We got advised to top her up with formula which I didn’t want to do. Therefore I started hand and pump expressing to get as much out as I could and in-between feeds my husband got a chance to cup feed her with my milk! It was so surreal as she lapped it like a little kitten from the upturned lid of a bottle but I was so proud that I was still giving my milk! No matter how it was getting to her or how exhausted I was, she was still getting my milk!

After a few days it was clear her weight was increasing and the cup feeding could stop. From that point I fed Polly exclusively! She was a frequent feeder and would have me up hourly but I didn’t mind. I had a huge gush of love everytime she fed and I loved that it was just our special bond. She would latch for all the usual reasons, cuddle, comfort, feeding, a drink or just because and I really didn’t mind at all. I got brave and I proudly fed in public with verbal support from my family and friends which helped us hugely! I also posted some feeds on social media to give myself confidence to keep going. I had no negative comments from the general public and I wasn’t the most discreet feeder! I got a few comments from strangers saying well done which was lovely!! I fed in pubs, whilst at the supermarket, at home, stood up, laid down, cradle hold, rugby ball hold; I tried it all! I pumped at home, at work and even in Centre Parcs with my beautiful friend!! I felt empowered and happy 🙂

Polly started on solids at 6 months alongside feeding from me and I was amazed how my supply would adjust accordingly. Up to 9 months we fed with nothing more than the odd sore nipple. Until she cut her first tooth! When she did this her latch became uncomfortable and she was being lazy with it. Partly because her mouth was hurting but also because she was becoming uninterested in boob and wanted to be doing other things! We both ended up with thrush (oral and nipple) which was excruciatingly painful and I had extremely sore and cracked nipples which would bleed every time she fed. We stopped feeding and I expressed (so thankful she took a bottle!) for a week. After this she went back to breast for another couple of months but I noticed she wasn’t as interested in breastfeeding at all and I would notice she would go all day without latching once. By 11 months Poll was barely feeding from me and so we started her on milk from a bottle.

I was so, so, sad that our journey had ended but pleased that she had done it on her terms. At 1 year old Polly has now stopped feeding. I will remember our journey so, so, fondly and always be grateful for that time we had together! I am also grateful for feeling like I had a superpower for a year! My advice to a newly feeding mama would be to do what is best for you, persevere if you want to and that no matter what, you know what is best for your baby! I’m a huge breastfeeding advocate and will hopefully breastfeed any other children I have until they are ready to stop! Aren’t breasts just AMAZING! 💖

https://www.instagram.com/eliversidge73/

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11.11.2018

Asta

Growing up in Lithuania, I don’t remember ever seeing women breastfeed. Ever. I was the youngest one in the family, and my friends’ younger siblings seemed to emerge into this world already attached to their milk bottles.
Whenever I asked my father to draw me paper dolls, embarrassingly to my younger self, he always drew them with hips and breasts! Imagine that! He would explain that big hips were needed for babies to be born and breasts to feed them with milk. It never quite convinced me – I mean, how do you show dolls with breasts and hips to your friends?!

As much as I preferred boyish figure paper dolls, I remember finding breasts so fascinating. Lucky for me, I was a very early reader and my parents had a vast selection of encyclopaedia – there were some real information gems under the sections ‘breasts’, ‘puberty’ and ‘sex’. I’d draw breasts or play with my mother’s knitting wool balls and stuff them underneath my shirt to imitate having a pair, although I found the mechanics of breastfeeding my dolls somewhat confusing.

And then there was this one episode of my parents’ friend sort of hesitantly inviting me over to see how she ‘milks the cow’. She had recently had a baby and was using a hand pump to relieve her breasts. Again, I didn’t actually witness breastfeeding, just an adult being slightly awkward, embarrassed and confusing.

In preparation to our daughter’s homebirth, I devoured insane amounts of information on pregnancy and birth. During our one and only visit to the local medical centre (we did our whole pregnancy care with a group of midwives), I was told by a general practitioner that I needed to spend the rest of my pregnancy vigorously scrubbing my nipples with alcohol to “prepare” them for breastfeeding. I left his office enraged – just about biting my tongue not to tell him where he needed to scrub himself! Seriously?! My body that was busy nourishing a baby for nearly 10 months would get all shocked and confused about nurturing it when the baby arrived? What kind of advice was this? More research followed – this time on breastfeeding. (There are some incredible interviews and documentaries touching on these topics on FMTV.com, including The Milky Way documentary about breastfeeding. Also, The Milk Meg is an absolute treasure chest of information and support to all the mamas wanting to breastfeed.)

And then fast forward to the night this photo was taken on the mattresses in our living room. The first latch – she crawled her way up my belly and she just knew what to do, just like my body. The start of the breastfeeding dance between us. Sure, with some stumbles – but which dance isn’t? – an odd engorged breast, blocked duct or a sore nipple. It all got resolved smoothly with home remedies and lots of rest (metaphysically, issues with breasts indicate that we are nourishing others more than we are looking after ourselves). So here we are, 2 yrs and 8 months later, still dancing it, and for us there’s nothing awkward, embarrassing or confusing about it.

(A shared post from Asta’s blog May 2018)

https://www.instagram.com/wildish_wonder/

www.wildishwonder.com

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04.11.2018

Chloe and Alaina

Breastfeeding.

It seems to be something I always talk about (very proudly, that is!), maybe it’s because it’s something I’m always doing.

My breastfeeding story isn’t a wild one. As of now, I’m 9 months exclusively breastfeeding my beautiful, thriving, chubby, baby girl. When I look at her little rolls, proudness overflows my body knowing I gave her those rolls.

When I found out I was pregnant, just like every mam, I knew I wanted to provide my child with the very best. I was set on breastfeeding from the word go. My only down fall was that I was clueless. I didn’t know anyone who breastfed. Past or present. I realised nobody ever spoke to me about breastfeeding. Not at home, not in school. I actually never saw a woman breastfeed in person before. There wasn’t someone I could go to so that I could prepare myself. I researched breastfeeding until I was sick of researching it! I watched video after video of latching and people’s bad experiences so that I was prepared for the worst.

When I went to my young mums ante natal class, I was the only one planning to breastfeed.

All the people my age (19-20+) that I knew with kids, not one of them breastfed. This made me more determined than ever.

When Alaina was born, she latched just fine. During the duration of my hospital stay, I had to keep calling midwives to help me latch. This was a massive deal for me, because I suffer really badly with social anxiety. Especially pushing a red button that made a noise so someone would come running to my aid. I remember my breasts being so unbearably itchy, let’s not forget the hickeys and cracks too!

When I came home, Alaina wouldn’t latch and I panicked. I told my mum “it’s fine, I’ll just pump!”. A nurse named Bernie, who came to visit, probably saved my breastfeeding journey that day. She showed me the football hold and we’ve been doing it ever since.

I think breastfeeding is much more than just the ‘bond’. My boobs are magic! Crying baby? Boobs. Tired baby? Boobs. Baby has a scratch? Boobs full of breastmilk to fix all the problems!

I love being the advocate I am for breastfeeding. I want young mams who know me to look at me and say “if she can do it, I can do it.” I want them to know it’s not weird or unnatural or wrong. I love laughing when I have to whip out my pump on my night out. It’s not normal for them, but it’s normal for me.

My breastfeeding journey has been nothing short of beaming with pride. I don’t think I’ve been more proud in my entire life and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

https://www.instagram.com/mydarlingalaina/

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28.10.2018

Katherine and Iris

My breastfeeding story:

My daughter Iris was born 1/20/2018. We met with two lactation consultants in the hospital shortly after her birth and they helped us latch on and show signs of hunger. I had been planning to breastfeed so that’s all we did at home for the first week. She’d been losing weight as it is normal for newborns but when it came to her one week appointment she had lost about 8.5% of her birth weight and they usually say 10% is cause for concern. I was devastated. I felt like a failure and like I unintentionally starved my daughter. I felt like shit. Plain and simple. On top of the huge hormonal surge after birth I was dealing with these enormous guilt pangs that left me crying almost daily. I saw two lactation consultants within one week. Both made a drastic difference in my relationship breastfeeding my little Iris. The first one said I’d need to pump as Iris had a weak latch and would often fall asleep at the breast. The second one, who was more motherly and nurturing, saw me both pump and breastfeed in front of her, helped me with positioning, said my supply was so abundant I could donate and really gave me the confidence I needed. So after a month of both pumping every 2-3 hours (sometimes more frequently) and establishing breastfeeding, I was able to just breastfeed. Iris’s latch got stronger, she still snoozed at the breast but I massaged her awake every time I felt her drift, and now we’re going 9 months strong. Now my problem is distraction! She’s such an active nurser that I have to nurse in our darkened bedroom and even then she is kicking and playing with her feet.

I was so heartbroken and down on myself in the beginning. I was at a breaking point and ready to use formula if it meant she could just gain the weight back. I’m so glad I didn’t need to. I’m so glad I met with that second lactation consultant who gave me the confidence and strength that I so desperately needed in a deeply confusing and guilt-ridden time. Breastfeeding is probably one of the steepest learning curves for any mother… it’s amazing to see what our bodies are capable of—but for many it doesn’t come “naturally” at all. It is learned. And takes loads of practice. And unfortunately breastfeeding classes offered by the hospital cover just the tip of the iceberg. Just hang in there and be persistent. My stubbornness and strong will to breastfeed led us up to this point.

Katherine 💜

https://www.instagram.com/mamadeiris/

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21.10.2018

Rachel, Elijah and Oscar

My breastfeeding journey started 19 weeks ago. William and I welcomed Elijah and Oscar into the world after a long labour and 40 mins pushing – not too bad hey! I had a pretty smooth ride with pregnancy (as far as twin pregnancies go) and my birth went exactly how I envisioned (bar the 16 medical professions in the room, staring at me in stirrups)… I half expected our breastfeeding journey to be the same.

Oh how I was wrong.

From the start, I knew I wanted to breastfeed but didn’t realise that some people’s opinions and comments may not be so encouraging.
The two comments which upset me the most were from people whom I thought would be cheering me on. The first from my health visitor who told me to ‘be realistic because you probably won’t be able to breastfeed twins’. I was upset and really de-motivated. Was I being too optimistic? The second from someone close to me who said ‘formula is just easier and people can help, don’t get caught up in this breastfeeding malarky, it’s not necessary’. I was taken a back and didn’t know what to say back. These two comments still impact my determination to this day.

After giving birth, before we even named the boys, I asked if I could feed them. The midwife said yes and my Mom quickly helped latch Oscar. He looked up at me and I watched him feed for over an hour. WOW. I was so in love and so overwhelmed with him and his instinct, I could not take my eyes of his perfect body. Then it was Elijah’s turn and he did the same and again I was in awe of him. I was SO happy – I thought this was it, I’d cracked breastfeeding first time.

Wrong again.

The next 5 days were a blur – we were in transitional care and both boys were being treated for a suspected infection. They lost weight, too much weight. This meant that we had to supplement with formula. I was beyond devastated and felt like a total failure. Everyone was right. I wasn’t enough. I couldn’t feed my babies. I cried so hard on so many occasions through sheer disappointment with myself. I blamed me.

I started hand expressing the day after I gave birth, every 1.5 hours on the dot in order to give EBM top ups, but formula was still necessary as my milk hadn’t come in. On top of this stress I was filling in A4 sheets of paper 24/7:- wees, poos, start/finish time of feeds and sleeps, top up amounts and at what times. I didn’t want to see anyone. I became utterly obsessed with writing every tiny detail down and this stayed with me until the boys were 8 weeks.

We went home on day 5, still giving top ups, still hand expressing every 1.5 hours and still totally disappointed with myself.

The next two weeks were hellish. The boys weren’t in sync which meant I was up every hour of the day and night. I couldn’t tandem feed and sometimes even struggled to get one latched. I had no twin Mom friends so struggled with advice specifically for twins. When I wasn’t feeding I was pumping as I didn’t want to turn back to formula. My boobs were so painful, my nipples cracked, I looked disgusting. All I wanted to do was to curl up in bed and for everything and everyone to disappear and just leave me alone. But I couldn’t, I had Elijah and Oscar and they NEEDED me.

I practiced and practiced through the sore boobs and painful nipples to perfect tandem feeding – my Mom at hand to keep latching them on when they fell off – thank God because I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her. Will was so supportive of my decision to breastfeed and kept on encouraging me through the emotional rollercoaster I was on.

Finally we found our flow, all 3 of us learning together and two weeks later I was able to get them latched myself! My milk had come in and they had started to put on weight. I was lifted and I was so utterly proud of all 3 of us. I was able to get the boys in sync more which meant more sleep for me!

Fab-u-lous.

Fast forward another 6 weeks and I LOVE breastfeeding. It is literally the answer for everything, crying baby – have some boob. Hungry baby – boobie time. Jabs? Boob boob boob. Tired but won’t sleep? Boobie works. It is amazing. The boys love it, I love it and the bond I feel I have with them is just simply incredible. There is something so magical about feeding your baby. Them looking right into your eyes with their cute little face squished against your breast.

Currently we are co sleeping, the boys sleep on me most nights. I haven’t found a way to lift two babies off me without waking one or both of them up.

I will never forget the hard and testing times when I wanted to give up. But I am SO thankful I didn’t. I am so thankful for those comments which upset me, because they made me do it. They made me persevere with what I new was right. And I did it! We have exclusively breastfed (or had breastmilk in a bottle) since being home. I’ve breastfed at my local pub, on a park bench, and in Morrison’s – the confidence I have gained from feeding my boys is incredible and I am so thankful to them for learning with me. I am so thankful for the advice and precious friends I have made online and in real life – without ALL of the things above happening at the right time, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

I will breastfeed until Elijah and Oscar decide they don’t want boob anymore and I will be forever thankful to them for the journey they have taken me on.

https://www.instagram.com/elijahoscarandus/

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14.10.2018

Sammara and Kora

My breastfeeding journey is something I hold so dear to my heart. Kora and I have fought for 7 months to get to this point, and there were times I wasn’t sure we’d make it. I had such a rough start. They really don’t tell you all the struggles and hardships you could face when wanting to breastfeed. I apparently have flat nipples which really effected Kora’s latch in the beginning and who even knew that was a thing? Because I sure did not. I just thought the baby suckled and milk came out, the end. Boy was I wrong.

Due to my nip issue, we had such a hard time with the latch and while in the hospital the nurse – instead of trying to help me with that and reassure me we would make it through – she just tried to jam formula in my head and down my child’s throat. Trying to guilt trip me, that I would starve my child if I didn’t give her a little formula. But that’s not what I wanted for me or Kora. I am so glad that my stubbornness came in handy for once because I was set on being successful, because kora was destined to be a boobie babe she came out the womb rooting and trying to latch. So I kept trying, that moment she finally latched was so relieving. They don’t tell you how much pain is involved in the first few weeks with raw, bleeding nipples and the backaches from trying to be in the perfect position. We used a nipple shield the first few months and man am I thankful for that because it really helped our latch but what a pain to use it. So I was determined to not have to need it anymore, so we kept practicing and here we are at 7 months, no shield and nursing in positions that this boob monster comes up with – haha!

I’m so blessed that we’ve made it to the point we have and that we’ve had the support through family and social media because I know not everyone gets that, and its heartbreaking. Nursing is so special and truly creates a bond I didn’t even know was imaginable. I am so proud of myself and every other milky mama because we have to bust our butt to be able to breastfeed between the cracked nips, cluster feeding, the forever worry if we’re making enough milk and then add on the stigma and negativity that people put out into the universe towards us for simply doing what is natural and BEAUTIFUL.

Not only has breastfeeding given me an unbreakable bond with my daughter; it has ignited a fire and passion in me that I didn’t even know existed, to help people who weren’t as blessed as I was with a great support system and to just fight the good fight that is normalizing breastfeeding!

https://www.instagram.com/earthmama_wild/

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07.10.2018

Hollie and Joseph

My breastfeeding “journey” is no more spectacular or different to any other mothers stories; all our stories, after all, are totally unique and personal and as some will quite rightly confess, a little bit shit.

Breastfeeding is hard and at times, lonely, confusing and totally bewildering, but I do feel truly grateful that I was able to do it whereas others can’t.

With world breastfeeding week just having been and gone, it got me thinking about my own experiences and wanting to share my hazy, blurred year of latching, lanolin and… lusting for a large glass of gin.

Like most enthusiastic and clueless first-time pregnant women, I believed breastfeeding to be so totally natural, that there would be no issue for me and my little darling; my bundle of joy (who would have no reason to cry if I met his needs promptly… Ha, “colic” anyone?) would latch instantaneously after birth and I would spend days with, visiting coffee shops, eating cake peacefully, while passers-by smiled and of course, it wouldn’t hurt.

For me, this couldn’t be further from the truth; Joseph didn’t latch and I had to spend three long days in hospital while a midwife hand-pumped colostrum into a syringe to feed to him and I sat feeling like a disheartened daisy cow and a deflated balloon. Why did nobody tell me how hard it would be and when would it end?

Once home, it continued to be tough, as the milk coming in was painful and my once tiny boobies stretched with the heavy load. My nipples resembled a hand left in a bathtub for three months due to the constant feeding and this caused them to crack and bleed and no amount of cream seemed to sooth the pain.

But as soon as the pain came, it went. Pretty suddenly it really did become natural and the early days passed almost without a second thought.
I was happy I had managed to continue and Joseph was gaining weight, content and enjoying breastfeeding too.

I was so lucky that I got the help I needed in hospital to establish breastfeeding and I feel so blessed that I was able to do so, thanks to the amazing support and perseverance of the NHS midwives in Bristol however, sadly, many women don’t get this same support or feel there isn’t enough help out there to start or indeed continue.

I’ve spoken to women in the past who have said that they didn’t know the pain would pass so they stopped, or that they struggled and felt alone, so they stopped or that they felt embarrassed when feeding in public, so they stopped.

It’s 2018 and of course we have wonderful alternatives for those who don’t want to breastfeed and that of course, is fine – breastfeeding isn’t for everyone and fed is always best. However, I find it sad that some women’s decisions to not breastfeed is based purely on a lack of knowledge, help and from feeling judged or alienated for doing so.

As mothers, were damed if we do and damed if we don’t. I know women who have felt judged for not breastfeeding and feel they have to bottle feed in secret… This is totally unacceptable  – if we’re judged for bottle feeding and judged for breastfeeding, what’s left?

The judgement needs to stop.

With breastfeeding, my own personal issue from experience lies in that, in a time where nudity and sex is so open and prevalent, breastfeeding is still considered strange or taboo – we find shows like “Love Island”, whereby people have sex on camera and spend the entire time scantily clad fine, but the back of a sweet newborns head on a woman’s chest is seen as vulgar. Instagram is littered with half naked “models” promoting the porn industry, yet a friend of mine who posted a photo of herself breastfeeding on Facebook was reported and removed.

I am not bragging about breastfeeding or claiming breastfeeding needs more attention than bottle feeding, I just feel we need highlight the issues that are still faced by all mothers and the hypocrisy of society in general.

Whatever your story; own it, share it and support others.

https://www.instagram.com/muminglasgow/

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Michaela’s Story 

For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to have children, I’ve always known that I wanted to be a Mum one day and as soon as I was pregnant I knew I wanted to try to breastfeeding.

While I was pregnant my husband and I discussed how we would feed our baby and agreed that I would breastfeed exclusively. As my due date got closer I knew I definitely wanted to give breastfeeding my very best shot and told my husband I didn’t want us to have any formula at home for ‘just in case’. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself to breastfeed and was very open to using formula if we needed to but I didn’t want it to be too easily accessible.

Our little boy was born on a Sunday morning in March, he almost immediately latched on and stayed there for quite some time, it was amazing but later that day I couldn’t get him to latch so I hand expressed and he was fed colostrum from a syringe. We stayed in hospital for one night and over night he latched and fed from me but the latch was too shallow. The following day the midwives spent time with me for every feed to check that his latch was correct. I am so glad that we did that because it meant we left the hospital a lot more confident in what we were doing.

In those early weeks there were worries of whether the latch was right, was he feeding enough, was I doing it right but every time the health visitors came out to check him and he was gaining more weight, it gave me more confidence. My husband was also amazing at supporting me and reassuring me that we were doing well.

My initial aim was to breastfeed for 6 months and I remember in some of the early weeks saying to my husband that maybe I had set the target too high and the first mini target should be 3 months. Our little boy was quite a sicky baby and when I was struggling to get him off the boob before he was sick in my bra or when my nipples were sore from feeding 6 months seemed like such a long time. Rupert is 6 months old now and that original 6 month target that seemed like such a long time now doesn’t seem very long at all; I don’t think that either of us will be ready to stop breastfeeding completely at 6 months.

I feel very lucky that our breastfeeding journey so far has been a smooth one but even so there are always worries when breastfeeding of not knowing how much your baby is eating, are they feeding often enough or for long enough but as time passes and confidence grows I think you learn to trust yourself and your baby. Rupert now feeds roughly every 3 hours but I have also learnt that although he is largely in a routine now sometimes he may want to feed closer together or a bit further apart and that’s just fine, he knows what he needs and is growing well. Breastfeeding can be challenging, from cluster feeds to changing routines and questioning if you are ‘doing it right ‘, however, it is also incredibly rewarding. I feel very proud that I have been able to provide everything nutritionally for my little boy and one of my absolute favourite times of the day is the bedtime feed when my little boy nurses to sleep; when he finishes his last feed of the day, fast asleep in my arms and looks so completely content I look down at his little face and can’t believe quite how lucky I am. Those are the moments I will forever treasure the most from our breastfeeding journey no matter how long it continues for.

https://www.instagram.com/michaelaffc/

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Amy and Edith

My breastfeeding journey

When I was pregnant, I was completely unsure as to whether I would want to breastfeed. I’d heard all of the information for it, but I was still on the fence. My husband was, of course, keen for me to give it a go but, ultimately, left the decision up to me.

Within minutes of me being in recovery, after my c-section, I was asked by the midwife whether I would like to try to latch Edith on, for the first time. I was so nervous. I had no idea what to do, how it would feel, or if I would be comfortable doing it, but I gave it a go. Edith was an absolute pro. She latched on straight away, with the midwife helping me to find a position that we could work with. I was so proud of myself, and from that moment on, I knew that I wanted to try my hardest to breastfeed.

After being on the ward, another midwife would see that I was struggling with positions, so offered to help me with the ‘rugby hold’. This was so much more comfortable on my healing tummy, and Edith’s latch was much deeper. So, for the next few weeks we kept using this technique, until my stomach was fully healed.

My breastfeeding journey was not as smooth as it may appear though. The first two weeks were agony for me. Looking back now, Edith’s latch was not as great as I thought it was. This resulted in me having cracked and bleeding nipples – ouch!

I was so determined not to give up though. With so much pain, I would frequently cry to my husband because I just did not want to feel the pain. I never denied Edith my breast, but I would dread each feed.

There were times that I’d be so upset, that my husband would bring me my pump so that we could try and get my milk into Edith that way. Pumping isn’t for me, and a bottle wasn’t for Edith. She hated it, and it made her so much more upset, that I just powered through the pain.

I ended up watching so many latch technique videos online, which became my saviour in this journey. Edith and I managed to correct her poor latch, to a more deeper and nursing effective one. I was so thrilled when the pain began to subside after two weeks, and since then we have exclusively breastfed ever since.

Feeding in public for the first time was something else though. I was so nervous. You see so many horror stories in tabloids that it really worried me that someone would say something. However, I’ve never had a negative experience. I’m sure I’ve had strange looks cast my way, but I’ve never noticed them. In the moment when I’m feeding Edith, I’m entirely focused on her and her needs. It’s just become a normal way of life for us!

Edith and I have definitely found our groove, and breastfeeding has added to the level of self-love that I felt for my body. I loved being pregnant and knowing that my body was growing my baby, but I have an even bigger love for my body knowing that it is still continuing to nourish Edith through my breastmilk.

Initially, my goal was 6 months, but I just love these moments with my baby that I’ve extended my goal to one year!

https://www.instagram.com/becomingmumsy/

You can read Amy’s blog here …

https://www.becomingmumsy.com/search/label/About%20me

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Chaneen’s Story

PRE BABY

My breastfeeding journey started a week or two before I actually gave birth.

I remember sitting in my new flat, thinking that I was a right old weirdo. I questioned how many other women in the world right now are squeezing yellow stuff out of their nipples right now. And if any, how many of those women are squealing with such delight at each droplet?

After one amazing NHS run breastfeeding class at Chel West in London, I’d read about breastfeeding, a lot. I felt like a pro, and I was convinced that all of the horror stories were mythical and would never, could never, happen to me.

I came to the understanding that colostrum comes first and then the milk comes in. So I started preparing my body, expressing tiny bits of colostrum and rolling it around in a cup. I’d heard stimulation allegedly brings on labour and I wanted the baby out. Like now.

I ended up being two days over due and coming to terms with the fact that I will never ever stop being pregnant. I was exhausted. I’m pointing this out because the stimulation weeks earlier did not help me bring on labour, not one bit. So I’d given up hoping.

Writing this, I don’t really remember the first feed so vividly. The gas and air really got to my head, everything was a massive blur. But there’s a picture of me, albeit a blurry one, feeding baby girl and I look… so… lost? Confused? Concerned?

I clearly didn’t know what I was doing. This feeling lasted well beyond the 2 week mark. I didn’t want to leave the house, ever, ever again. I had cracked and bleeding nipples that made any expressed milk pink. I winced every time baby girl would latch on. I would cry while she drank her milk because although the latch looked fine, it wasn’t fine, it couldn’t have been with all of the pain.

I didn’t want any woman who had breastfed before any where near me. Surely they were going to look at my awkward, tired, shaking arms and judge me. They were going to look at the baby on my breast and think quietly to them selves that I was not cut out to mother this child because I’m not even able to feed her right. They were going to smile as they tell me in ‘well meaning’ euphemisms, that I was doing it all wrong. That I was a shambles.

And then the midwife showed up. I smiled a smile at her throughout our conversation. This was at least until she brought up breastfeeding; I mean, I continued to smile but it was no longer genuine. I told her of the physical pain, but not for one second did I admit to the emotional pain. I told her of this pain because I thought it was normal. She told me it was not normal. There should be no pain.

She grabbed my baby’s head, like really grabbed it and then grabbed my boob and created magic. The level of pain had reduced with this feed. She talked me though the latch and we tried a few different positions. And, although I was beyond embarrassed I was so grateful for this support. It’s bringing tears to my eyes at how this midwife saved me.

“The pain would still be present until your nipples heal.” She said. “But with the right latch it will go away. Make sure to take baby off and relatch if you feel any pain.”

“Okay.” I said, feeling bad for all of the future times I’d have to disturb baby girl.

And with that she was up and saying her goodbyes. I was saying, in my mind, ‘what? No, no, no. Please, please don’t go. I need you to stay here with me for a little while. You’re the only one who knows what to do. Like, just 18 years or so… Just. Please. Don’t. Go.’

But she had to go and I had to face the rest of my journey like the strong mama I am.

Subsequent visits showed baby Jasmine growing rapidly. Apparently she skipped the weight drop at around week 1 or 2  which had all of the health visitors popping champagne and praying that all of their future families experienced this too. (One actually said this, I’m not just being cocky – haha: minus the champagne though).

I’ve always had an amazing milk flow even now as we approach one year of breastfeeding. Really, I’d put it down to two things, early and consistent expression and sort of just really believing that I have enough, that I am enough. But if I begin to talk about this now, you’ll never hear the end of me. Lol! So I’ll leave my story time here.

May your babies grow and your milk flow.

Chaneen Saliee, 25, London

https://www.instagram.com/chicanddiscreet/

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Kez and Lacie 

My journey to meeting my little girl was not the easiest, right from the off! Her dad decided it wouldn’t work us being together so I had very mixed emotions whether to go ahead with the pregnancy, but after a scare at 10 weeks my emotional response made my mind up and I knew I wanted to keep the little human that was growing inside me.

Apart from the morning sickness and feeing very run down, everything was going to plan until 26 weeks when I was told that I had gestational diabetes. I was quickly transferred to a diabetic midwife and told to change my diet. This didn’t work and within the week I was on medication to control my sugar levels. The hardest part of this was testing my bloods 4 times a day and the whole lack of not knowing anyone going through the same. I won’t lie it was very scary. On every extra scan my little girl was coming out above average on the scale and I was told to expect a big baby.

I learnt that the most important and dangerous time would be hours after she was born and I was advised to express my first milk 6 weeks before she was born. So after some reading and research I booked my appointment to pick up my home freezing kit and I bought a hand breast pump. This is where I started to panic! I knew right from the start breastfeeding wasn’t for me but at the same time this little human needed me to step up and give her some vital nutrients. I remember sitting there on the end of my bed pumping away thinking there is nothing there, crying thinking I’d failed Lacie. Thankfully after the 3rd week of trying my milk started to come in and I was away!

I managed to express 6 x 0.5 syringes! I was all set and on induction day I took along my frozen milk in my little cool box and passed it to the midwife. She took it with a smile and I felt relieved to have done my part. The problem started on her return when she questioned whether I would be breastfeeding then? Because I’d expressed. When I told her no she gave me this look of oh what’s the point then. I felt like I had to explain myself and for the first time I felt judged.

Thankfully that midwife clocked off and by the time I went down to the delivery suite I was met by a lovely, smiley midwife, who then got onto the subject after reading my notes. She was so lovely and positive. She congratulated me on the amount of milk I’d expressed and said I’d done way beyond what was required. My beautiful Lacie Jane Smith was born at 8.28pm on the 29th July, weighing 9lb 4oz and I felt on top of the world. After gazing into her eyes I fell in love. Unfortunately soon after when her bloods where tested she was showing signs of low blood sugars. The midwife quickly sent for my milk and within 20 minutes of her taking it her bloods were tested again and she was back up to normal.

I never knew how vital this was to her until it came to discharging, the doctor told me what a marvellous job I had done expressing and that Lacie most certainly would have ended up very poorly without it. I have lots of respect for women who make a choice on feeding, to what suits them and their baby. There is no right or wrong and even though I didn’t breastfeed I know my little girl had the best start in life by having that tiny amount of my first milk. Lacie is now two and is growing into a loving, caring, sassy little diva who is the light of my life…

https://www.instagram.com/lacies_mumma_/

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Sara and Arlo

MY BREASTFEEDING JOURNEY (SO FAR)

I remember thinking to myself fuck, this is natural, why am I finding it so bloody hard, I mean I was destined to breastfeed right? My mum was a breastfeeding counsellor, why didn’t she prepare me? Was she too scared that I’d run bursting belly and swollen ankles down the formula isle of boots at the thought of bleeding nipples and hours stuck on the sofa with only daytime TV and cake to keep me sane, ok the latter might have encouraged me a little, I mean who doesn’t love a bit of say yes to the dress at 10 in the morning!

So the early days were hard, I was a young single mum suddenly in charge of a little life with the solo responsibility of feeding him. The days were long and I was sore, but after a few weeks the cracks began to heal (and no this isn’t some emotional metaphor, I’m talking about my nipples) and I thought we had made it, and you know what for a good while I was right, but then at about 4 months old Arlo came down with bronchiolitis. While he was ill I thought breastfeeding was a real victory, he was keeping hydrated and nourished through this rough patch and it was all down to me, but then just as he was getting better and the feeding was slowing down to its normal pace my supply went crazy, my let down was vicious and my poor boy was sputtering at the breast. What had once been a big comfort was now a battle, as soon as the let down hit he didn’t want the feed anymore, he would cry from hunger but get so worked up at the breast that he wouldn’t feed. Now I wouldn’t go as far as saying it was a nursing strike but for a week I questioned everything I was doing, why after all these months of success were we struggling so much? This is when the breastfeeding support group I had been attending since I had a newborn came into full swing, the advice of both the leaders and attendees in the group was a life saver. They guided me though this tough patch with both love and support giving invaluable advice, tips and tricks to keep our feeding journey going. After a few weeks of hand expressing and what felt like buckets of milk into the bathroom sink pre feed to get my let down out of the way my supply started to settle and breastfeeding became a joy again!

After that I went through a few boughts of mastitis and for a little while cabbage leaves became my best friends but I was lucky that Arlo always managed to clear the blockages and I never had to go onto antibiotics. Now at the age of two Arlo is still feeding like a trooper and although we have slowly cut out day feeds they creep back in when he is poorly, the liquid gold really is a healer and I don’t think I would have got past a recent tummy bug with a shred of sanity in sight if I hadn’t still been feeding him! Feeding a toddler can be tough and it comes with a whole new set of challenges but most of them come down to society’s perception of when you should stop breastfeeding, but despite the odd comments here and there I’ve been pretty lucky with my support network, all my family is so pro breastfeeding and would never undermine me! My boy still gets so much out of breastfeeding and I can’t see our journey coming to an end anytime soon!

https://www.instagram.com/adventure_in_mamahood/

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Ricky

“You’re still on the couch? You’ll have to get that sorted mate” actual words of someone when I told them I was currently sleeping on the couch 7 months in. He can be forgiven for the shock reaction, maybe less so for the 1940s approach to communication between partners.

You see what he failed to understand is that it isn’t me making the sacrifice. Yeah I sleep on the couch (it’s a nice couch) but this ensures that I get a decent block of sleep. My amazing wife is putting herself through a physical and emotional grinder to ensure that our beautiful daughter gets the food, love and comfort that she needs in such a pivotal point of her young life. I work for a children’s charity and know too well the effects of attachment issues, the lottery of postnatal depression and mental health issues that some people face. Not only am I thankful that we aren’t affected by any of these issues, but I’m grateful that Sarah is the strong, resilient and determined person that she is. She needed to be, especially this time around. The first 3 weeks of Marcy’s life were really stressful for us both but mostly on Sarah as she was given conflicting information by inconsistent health practitioners. We could see that Marcy was healthy but her weight was dropping and this worried midwife’s and health visitors who do an amazing job, but when something is wrong they forget that a baby comes with a mam that also needs support and encouragement and doesn’t need grilling for the fourth time about M’s feeding habits.

The third weight loss brought with it the sternest test to Sarah’s resolve. On the morning I was on my way to play a show in Leeds (about 2 hours from home), on my way out of the door the health visitor arrived and I decided to stay even though I was late. I was convinced at this point that Marcy would have gained weight because I had seen her on the boob constantly for more than 4 days. Unfortunately she had dropped weight and this was enough for the health visitor to get on the phone to the hospital and have a conversation right in front of us both. The decision was to take M to hospital and have her drink from a sippy cup. Sarah was determined to push on and had my full support as I had living proof in Loralai of what an amazing start it is for them in life.  Luckily Sarah’s mam and step dad had arrived and convinced me to leave and said that they would look after my girls, reluctantly I did.

The show was rubbish for many reasons but it didn’t help that all I wanted to do was breakdown and cry because I felt so helpless in the whole situation. I also felt a tremendous guilt that I had left my family at a time when they needed me most. I had also taken a call from Sarah who sounded more upset than she had ever been in the time we have been together.

I’m no longer surprised by Sarah’s strength and resolve, I am merely in awe of it daily. When the chips are down she is who I want in my corner and fighting for me and the girls. She is the anchor of this family and always will be. The best thing is that I can already see her strength in Loralai.

Obviously in the breastfeeding community, that Sarah speaks so highly of, the benefits of breastfeeding are clear for most to see. Though I do want to get my point of view of how I feel and what I observe of my partner breastfeeding.

The first thing that I see is Sarah constantly putting herself last when it comes to prioritising everyday things and the list is pretty long:

Bathing
Eating
Getting dressed
Exercising
Shopping
Sleeping

The shocking factor is that the bulk of these things are human necessities which is ironic given the reason for neglecting them so much is to give life to another human being.

It is difficult watching the person you love have days where they struggle, especially at times when you want to help but can’t. I do try little things like: letting her sleep a little longer than planned (but this can get me in trouble), cooking and ironing which are my main jobs and cleaning, although this sometimes causes more stress to Sarah as she will clean the places I’ve cleaned.

I have learned one thing this time around, which is that if Sarah says “Leave that, I’ll do it later” I should just do it because later doesn’t exist when breastfeeding and I think it’s the only thing that I have worked out before Sarah.

In my opinion, it takes a warrior to get through breastfeeding and I have witnessed the battles first hand. I doff my cap to every breastfeeding mama out there and I am so grateful of the instamam community that has done more than they know to keep our family going in the right direction, destination Boob town.

Ricky

https://www.instagram.com/rickymurrice/

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Cat and Willow

From the second I found out I was unexpectedly expecting I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I knew it was the best for my baby and just assumed that because of my background, as a children’s nurse, it would happen for me! Sweet lord I was wrong! I was so unprepared for what was to come.

Our first feed was not long after birth and it felt so weird… But a good weird! My heart just burst with love. Willow took to the boob perfectly each time but it was me that was the ‘problem’. Although I was getting colostrum it took 4 days for my milk to come in. I felt like such failure. Our first night home I did an emergency drive to the local 24hr supermarket to get formula as she just wouldn’t stop crying, no matter what I did. I was exhausted after not sleeping for 39 hours, which heightened all of my negative emotions and buying formula was the final straw. I just cried the whole drive home and whilst feeding her.

The first week or two was the hardest. I was stuck on the sofa with my boob constantly out and the pain at times was unbearable. I dreaded every feed and even remember crying to my partner saying I didn’t want to do it anymore, I was sick of being in pain. I had hip and back pain throughout pregnancy, a second degree tear from the birth and now my nipples felt like they were on fire. But I persevered and day by day it got less painful but not easier.

I had a love hate relationship with breastfeeding. I was desperate for ‘me’ time, desperate for a long hot bath that didn’t result in a baby joining me within 5 minutes because she wanted feeding… Again. I felt vile in myself. I was so ashamed of how I looked and smelt. You see all these beautiful post birth pictures… And here was me looking like Mr Blobby after a night out.
All I kept thinking was ‘formula fed baby’s aren’t this demanding’, but every time I thought about giving her formula I felt like even more of a failure. Why was I finding something so natural, so hard?! Now I am by no means saying that mums who don’t breastfeed are failures. This was something I desperately wanted to do and I just didn’t want to give up. I am a big believer that fed is best but if you have the ability to breastfeed that you should at least give it your best attempt, there is just so many benefits to Mum and baby.

We are 6 months into our feeding journey and I am now completely in love with it! I secretly hate going out to places with her, where I know people are going to want to hold her because I miss the closeness. Breastfeeding isn’t just for her, it’s for me too. If I’m feeling crappy or stressed out I feed her. It’s an amazing way to practice mindfulness, and just help me focus on what’s important. Don’t get me wrong there are days when I crave alone time, but I just tell myself that her need for constant contact is only a temporary thing. When you think about it, what’s a week or a month or a year in the grand scheme of things?! Soon she’ll be a teenager calling me lame for wanting a hug!

When I started out I said I wanted to breastfeed until she was 6 months. I have absolutely no idea where I got this time frame from and why I set it. There is a lot of pressure today for women to stop breastfeeding and I experience this with family. Comments like “Your milk isn’t enough”, “ You won’t be able to feed her when she has teeth”, “She’ll be on proper food soon” and my least favourite “When are you stopping”. I’ll stop boobing when she no longer wants it! I honestly am so sad thinking about this day and losing the special time we get together. And truth be told I honestly don’t know how to parent without boobs being involved! Hungry? BOOB. Crying? BOOB. Pain? BOOB. Sleepy? BOOB.

I’m so lucky to have the support of my partner, but also the amazing fountain of knowledge from other Mums I’ve met through social media.
We are just taking each day as it comes and rolling with the ups and the downs.

After all nothing worth having comes easy.

https://www.instagram.com/cat_thompson_/

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Louise’s Story

I had never really thought about breastfeeding before I was pregnant, but as soon I knew I was, I decided I was going to at least try it.

I had heard of and read various breastfeeding stories but they were overwhelmingly negative; baby couldn’t latch, painful feeding, low supply, and so on. I sought out people’s experiences of combination feeding – perhaps this would be the best of both worlds.

I only came to the UK at 30 weeks pregnant but the breastfeeding rhetoric was in full force from the moment my care began. You get asked about your feeding intentions, you get pamphlets, there are posters, it’s on forms in your notes, you get free samples, etc. I hadn’t even given birth, yet there was this huge pressure already. I actually found it off-putting. I agree we should educate on the benefits of breastfeeding so Mums can make an informed choice, but exactly that – a choice.

I encountered no issues with pain or discomforts, and my baby knew exactly what to do. There was no need for combination feeding at this point.

My daughter was around 2 weeks old when the midwife suggested we introduce formula top-ups because she wasn’t gaining ‘enough’ weight and it was suggested this was why she was so unsettled – the feeding had been constant yet still not satisfying her. It was draining and exhausting, for us both.

We actually met with a paediatrician – unrelated – who was puzzled as to why I had been told to introduce formula – she had been gaining weight and it was still relatively early days. In hindsight, when I was told I should introduce formula, I should have instead been offered guidance on boosting my milk supply if this was the issue. But looking back I don’t really recall the formula helping, and I am not sure there was anything we could have done differently, I think it was just my baby’s nature – being.a.baby!!!!!

We continued combination feeding. Shortly before my daughters 1st birthday we introduced small amounts of cows milk (with cereal and small drinks) and she transitioned over from formula with ease, however there was no sign of breastfeeding slowing down.

It was around this time the health visitors’ attitude on breastfeeding had done a complete 180 – it was now ‘why are you (still) breastfeeding?’

We have had one unsuccessful attempt at giving up – I managed to cut down feeding when she woke in the night – but after a couple of days she ended up with tonsillitis and breast is all she wanted. We are now back to feeding on-off all day and night, like she’s a newborn again.

So here we are, a few days after her 2nd birthday, still breastfeeding. I could’ve never imagined we would manage this long – I couldn’t be prouder of us both. It is demanding and exhausting, even now, but the rewards outweigh this.

I know some people don’t feel any need to stop breastfeeding, but I do. How and when exactly we will give up, I’m not sure, and I know part of me will miss it when we stop, but we are now coming to the end of this journey.

Throughout this entire experience we have never had problems with latch, with teat confusion, or block ducts, mastitis, etc. Perhaps my supply was an issue, but it doesn’t change we have still managed 2 👏YEARS 👏 OF 👏 BREASTFEEDING 🙌

Now you may think reading this that some of the things I’ve wrote sound like I am not pro-breastfeeding. Let me be clear: I am pro-whatever-the-heck-YOU-want-to-do. My personal experience with breastfeeding is positive, but I found that the support was inadequate; forceful initially, then non-existent when actually wanted and needed. I think women are given unrealistic expectations of breastfeeding, and that so many more women would give it a go if they knew what to expect – that normal doesn’t necessarily mean easy, but equally that it isn’t all doom and gloom.

Our attitude towards feeding our babies needs a reform. Parents need support whatever they decide, there should be no judgement either way.

https://www.instagram.com/my.motherhood/

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MacKenzie and Ashlan

Hi I’m MacKenzie! I am 21 years old and a first time Mama to a beautiful little girl Ashlan and I also have a step son, Michael. This Mother’s Day is not only my first Mother’s Day but Ashlan is 4 months old too which also means we’ve reached 4 months exclusively breastfeeding! Ashlan and I produce so much we end up donating all the extra milk I produce, minus a thousand ounces saved in storage. We have donated over 2500 ounces so far and continue to share our gift to other babies in need!

How do I do it? I couldn’t tell you! Mother nature I guess! I take vitamin D, prenatals, birth control and anti depressants. I also drink lots of water and I try to eat healthy!

My best advice to anyone – never give up! We got thrush twice and it was a painful first two months. I wanted to give up so many times but stuck through it for Ashlans sake!

Before having Ashlan I used to think breastfeeding should be private and it was weird to do in public. But if you ask me now I would tell you ‘mind your own tits’ and I would feed my baby whenever she’s hungry.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

https://www.instagram.com/mamamackenziej/

Since writing this MacKenzie and Ashlan have reached 6 months of exclusively breastfeeding, yey to your silver boob’s Mama.

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Emma and Michael

I have known that I wanted to breastfeed since my health visitor placement when I was at uni studying nursing, it made so much sense to me. All the health benefits and the bond you form with your baby as a result of it, the fact it’s free! Why on earth would you do anything but? I used to ask myself, but the reality is that health visitors are trying to promote it so much that they often fail to tell you that it’s not as simple as whipping out your boob every 2/3 hours and everyone is fine and dandy, or that not every mother can.

I’m quite a strong minded person and when I decide I’m going to do something, if it doesn’t go to plan it’s usually myself I take it out on! Along with my breastfeeding I was dead set on having a pain relief free hypnobirth, so attended classes which were fantastic. Unfortunately at 36 weeks I was sent for a growth scan and was told that the reality of me safely delivering my current 10lb 2oz baby naturally was highly unlikely and I would need a section at 39 weeks, bye bye hypnobirth hello beating myself up! This made me even more determined to breastfeed and nothing else.

Despite this my section was wonderful but this is where my breastfeeding issues began. When Michael was born I still did immediate skin to skin and tried to encourage him to latch immediately, he did for 10 minutes and then fell asleep. He just didn’t seem interested in feeding and no one really told me I should be constantly encouraging him, I was just happy cuddling him! I feel like he didn’t feed at all really that first day but I was a bit dazed! The following day he fed a little more but still just kept falling asleep, but again no one said anything so I thought this was fine.

I was adamant on getting home after 24 hours post section, and I did (nurses are not good patients). That night was horrendous, Michael swapped from boob to boob until 4am and I was desperately trying to not fall asleep with him in my arms and in the end despite my fears over nipple confusion I gave him a dummy!

The following day he went back to feeding constantly and the midwife came to weigh him, he had dropped weight which she said was normal. Two days went by, feeding from 7am to 1am, a midwife came out again and as she lay Michael on the scales she sucked the air through her teeth followed by ‘That’s not good he’s lost again’. The way she said it got my back up and stressed me out. I was feeding him constantly, what was I doing wrong? She asked me about his feeding and when I said he fed all day but slept from 1am till 7am I was told that it was too long and to wake him for a feed. She then looked at the notes, and this is the point that shaped the rest of my breastfeeding experience. ‘Oh you lost nearly 1.5 litres of blood during your section, you probably have supply issues’ I wish she had never told me, you need to be happy and relaxed to produce milk, I haven’t stopped stressing about my supply since that day.

Two more days and more weight loss, my 10lb 8oz baby was now 9lb 4oz. I felt terrible and I couldn’t stop crying, feeling guilty like I was starving my baby and everything I knew said breast was best so why wasn’t he gaining weight? The midwife contacted infant feeding at the hospital for me to go and see them, she told me to express after every feed and top him up.

Welcome a whole new challenge of getting him to take a bottle, I had bought a Medela pump and bottles because when I was pregnant I was living in this dream land that I could express a few bottles once baby was bigger and send him off for an overnight stay at his grandparents, haha how wrong was I! Would he take a bottle, fat chance! Off to the hospital we went to see infant feeding. I was asked had I had any breast surgery (I wish) and told that it didn’t look like my milk had came in properly yet so I was to take fenugreek for my supply and I was to continue expressing and topping up (now that I had found he’d take a Tommee Tippee bottle) but that all round Michael actually looked happy and healthy, he was not dehydrated and had plenty of wet and dirty nappy’s.

I did as I was told and Michael started to gain weight but only very slowly, after a week infant feeding phoned and said that I could reduce down to topping up after every other feed. I thought thank god because I was exhausted and struggling to express because he was never off the boob! He was now also a baby full of wind and constantly being sick thanks to the bottles. Fast forward to a few weeks down the line, another weigh in and the health visitor wasn’t happy with the weight gain. Michael still wasn’t back at his birth weight and she felt he looked a bit jaundice. Another trip to hospital, bloods taken and another discussion with infant feeding where I broke down. I was exhausted both mentally and physically. Michael never napped, he would fall asleep for 5 minutes and would wake up with wind. Every time I topped him up he was sick 5 minutes later and it always looked like the full bottle, plus he was now only sleeping from 1am till 4am and that was it.

Their suggestions – Stop waking him at night (contradiction in advice), don’t let him cry, as soon as he starts crying feed him and to go back to topping up after every feed. And if I couldn’t express enough, I would have to use formula. I hated them for that after all the work I had put in, and I blamed them for planting the seed in my head that I had supply issues, because I believed that if they had never suggested that to me I wouldn’t have stressed out about it so much and it was the stress that had effected it!

So I went home and did as they said and Michael gained weight but it was still a slow process. He was still a sicky baby and barely sleeping, thank god for co-sleeping. The health visitor continued to come out every 2/3 weeks to weigh him and after a bad week when she came out she said enough was enough and got us a doctors appointment. After reviewing Michael they decided to start him on gaviscon and what a difference it made! His weight gain wasn’t anything spectacular but it was better than what it had been. I had half as much washing because he wasn’t constantly sick on everything and he was sleeping a little better.

I still couldn’t stop worrying about my supply though and wondering if it was because he wasn’t getting enough milk that he wouldn’t settle and if that’s why he was constantly on the boob. Instead of being this beautiful thing that I had imagined I saw it as a chore because of the stress and worry I associated with it. Until in fact the day I came across this blog. I read everyone else’s stories and realised that there was lots of other Mum’s going through exactly the same. After that I said to myself there will come a day when he no longer wants to breastfeed and you will miss it, just relax and enjoy it! Since then my milk supply has been amazing, I still express because he gets lazy on the boob and falls asleep but he now sleeps through the night and takes naps! Amazing what a bit of support from other Muma’s can do.

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Stevie and Arabella

 

I knew as soon as I found out I was pregnant that I would breastfeed, in fact I didn’t even consider any other option. Breastfeeding to me was the most natural and normal way to feed a baby.

Arabella came into the world 4 weeks early, a tiny little orange baby who was very sleepy! I didn’t get the birth I wanted and I didn’t get the skin to skin, she was whisked away by doctors and a short trip to NICU before she came back to me on the ward. We tried to get her to latch but she wouldn’t so I was given a syringe and a cup and told to hand express, I didn’t realise it would be so painful. Nobody showed me how to do it properly. Arabella had to have photo therapy so I was getting her out every 2 hours to try and feed but she just wouldn’t latch. So I continued hand expressing, how I thought I should be, I ended up with pressure sores on my boob’s from doing it incorrectly, painstakingly doing it for half an hour at a time for just 5ml, it was soul destroying. I had midwives quickly try and show me how to get her to latch, I also had some wonderful support workers spend more time with me but it just wasn’t working. Arabella was too sleepy and wouldn’t open her mouth wide enough.

By day 2 my milk was in and hand expressing just wasn’t working so against advice I started pumping with an electric pump, oh the sweet relief. Pumping every 2 hours, I felt like a milk maid I was producing so much milk I didn’t know what to do with it. As it turned out I created such an over supply I was constantly engorged and uncomfortable.

Arabella’s jaundice wasn’t clearing quick enough and she still wasn’t latching and trying to get her to take a feed out of a syringe was pain stakingly long. Eventually somebody came and showed me how to cup feed, but Arabella still wasn’t interested. It was then one of the nursery nurses suggested top ups to clear the jaundice. Nope! My milk was more than good enough and I was adamant she would not have formula. So I preserved with syringe feeding until the same nursery nurse suggested a bottle. She convinced me Arabella wouldn’t get bottle preference and would easily go onto the breast … reluctantly I agreed. Arabella’s first feed out of a bottle broke my heart, she gulped it up – a whole 40mls. I honestly thought I had starved her! So from then she had my expressed milk in a bottle.

We got discharged from hospital when Arabella was 4 days old, still slightly jaundice, still not latching and still feeding from a bottle. Numerous midwife visits occurred, some support trying to get her to latch but still it wasn’t working and her jaundice was getting worse. One community midwife came to see us, she asked about feeding, saw the bottle then proceeded to tell me I was wrong for bottle feeding – I was distraught. I thought I was doing the right thing but she told me she would have bottle preference and I wouldn’t get her to latch now. Heartbroken all over again. And to top it off she got readmitted for more photo therapy. She just wasn’t feeding enough and clearing it. Back in hospital for the second time we continued in the same vain as before, pumping every 2 hours, feeding every 2-3 trying to force 40-60ml of ebm down her – as per the ‘feeding schedule’. It wasn’t until the last day in hospital that somebody mentioned tongue tie. An infant feeding specialist came to check for us but she said she couldn’t tell for sure but referred us anyway. I asked about nipple shields and she gave me the green light to try them, so in the comfort of my own home at 2 weeks old I tried her on the breast with a nipple shield and she fed, gulped it down, saying there for over an hour. The elation, the joy I felt was indescribable. There she was, on my breast where she belonged. Goodbye bottles! It took 5 weeks to get an appointment for the tongue tie specialist, turned out Arabella had a severe posterior tongue tie. It was cut and I thought that would be the end of our troubles. It wasn’t. She still wouldn’t latch, no matter what I tried. Whenever I did she was hysterical.

From then we had no end of troubles, thrush recurring blocked ducts, mastitis, she was becoming increasingly frustrated at the breast. Seemingly in pain. From 8 weeks I gave up dairy, which  I saw a massive improvement. (She was diagnosed cmps at 8 months) the thrush finally cleared after treatment but the blocked ducts was something I had to live with, they just weren’t budging.

I eventually got to a breastfeeding support group to try and help with the latch, I was told to ditch the nipple shields cold turkey. I tried but Arabella just wasn’t having it, the latch was so painful, I cried every feed. 2 days I tried until it broke me and I couldn’t take anymore. So back on the shields, but I kept getting told her latch looked ok so to keep trying.

Eventually at 10 weeks we ditched the shields completely. It wasn’t the most comfortable latch, very shallow and sometimes painful but I persevered. After seeking more advice it turned out Arabella has a very high palate meaning she couldn’t get a deep latch, her tongue tie also reattached making it even more difficult. I decided against getting her tongue tie cut again and just carried on with what I knew, her latch in the end worked out for us. It became less and less painful. Around 4 months is when I started to enjoy breastfeeding. 4 long months of all that pain and tears and countless times saying I couldn’t do it. But the stubbornness in me paid off, we are over a year into our journey and it’s the most wonderful thing I have ever done and accomplished. Arabella is a total boob monster and even though I have people already asking me when I’m going to stop and voicing their opinions I plan on letting Arabella decide when she’s ready to stop. Because we both fought damn hard for this so we’re both going to enjoy it for as long as possible 😊

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Gemma and Kassy’s stories

When I got pregnant in May 2015, we went to our booking in appointment with the midwife and I was shocked to hear her talking about breastfeeding. I hadn’t really given much thought to how I was going to feed something that was currently the size of an olive. As the pregnancy progressed I decided if I could breastfeed I wanted too. Dorothea arrived at 37 weeks and we were pretty unprepared, she latched on after birth and I remember the midwife saying ‘she knows exactly what she’s doing!’ Dotty was a sleepy baby so I had to hand express colostrum for her first 24 hours but after that she had it sussed. We went home and I was confident I had feeding mastered so when we went for her 5 day check and she’d lost 14% I was absolutely gutted. My milk didn’t come in till late night on day 4 and they think this was why. The midwifes advised formula top ups after every feed and we had daily weigh ins. I went straight out and bought ready made formula and an electric pump so that by day 8 her top ups were all expressed milk. Dotty’s weight still wasn’t going up and she was always crying so we were back at the docs to see why. Whenever we tried to put her down she used to cough and cry so for her first 3 weeks we took it in turns to sit up with her while she slept upright.

One night Alex was changing Dotty’s bum when she coughed but started choking and her lips went blue, we called 999 and they advised to sit her up and she screamed and screamed while an ambulance was on it’s way. At the hospital we were seen by a paediatrician who diagnosed Dotty with silent reflux which explained her slow weight gain, hatred of lying flat and choking. We were prescribed Ranitidine and for us it was a wonder drug within 48 hours we had a different baby! From that point Dotty thrived and her weight picked up so we could drop the top ups and I fed her exclusively from then on. Originally I said I’d feed for 3 months, I then decided 6 months and when that came I thought why stop now and decided to go for 12 months. I went back to work full time when Dotty was 9 months old and she settled happily with no milk in the day just feeding from me morning and night which was great. At 12 months we decided to introduce cows milk and over 2 months we weaned her onto that completely. I cried every night for 2 weeks even though I was ready to stop, it just felt like she wasn’t a baby anymore!

When Dotty was only a new born my sister Kassy fell pregnant and she knew from the beginning she was going to breastfeed her baby! When Ifeoluwa was born he didn’t much fancy feeding till he threw up all the gunk he’d swallowed during labour. Once he’d got that sorted he was a dream to feed. Christmas 2016 Kassy was feeding a 6 week old Ife and I had 11 month old Dotty so we took a picture on Christmas Eve to remember the moment. Kassy went back to work when Ife was 5 months so she pumped milk at work each day for him to have, she had a special bag to keep it all in at work. Ife then also transitioned to just feeding morning and lots at night with no milk in the day.

Just after I finished feeding Dotty I fell pregnant with baby no 2 and knew this time I was definitely breastfeeding the baby. When Thaddeus was born he latched on and I knew he had the worlds worst latch but I was too tired to care and just let him get on with it. When we moved up the postnatal ward I told them he had a bad latch but because I’d fed his sister for so long I was left to get on with it myself so I watched YouTube videos to try and make his latch deeper. By day 5 I was in agony and feeding through tears and sheer determination. As soon as the midwife arrived I burst into tears and begged for help. She weighed Thady and he’d lost 3% so was clearly getting enough milk even with a shallow latch! My milk was in this time before I’d even left the hospital on day 2. The midwife asked me what I’d tried and couldn’t think of anything else to suggest but could see how sore I was so arranged an appointment with the breastfeeding support worker to come in a few days. The midwife said if I was sore I could express and bottle feed to help me heal but because his latch was so shallow I was worried he’d get bottle preference so I preserved. When the support lady arrived, she watched me feed and instantly realised I had a fast let down so Thady was making his latch shallow to slow my milk down. I had to latch him on then lean back to slow it down and then he would stay on properly and within a few days the soreness healed and my milk settled in so it wasn’t so fast for him.

On Christmas 2017 it was my turn to feed a 6 week old and Kassy a 13 month old so we took another picture. Kassy also made the decision to wean Ife over a few months but it turned out he has a dairy allergy so is on soya milk now. Thady is nearly 8 months old now and I have no intentions of stopping feeding him anytime soon! I love that time we have together when everyone else is in bed and it’s just us. Feeding your second baby is so different to the first there is no catching up on box sets eating biscuits this time, I’m more likely to be feeding on the floor playing dolls or making lunches. Kassy and I are the sort of Mum’s who will feed anywhere and everywhere and touch wood we’ve had almost all positive experiences doing it. I am proud of us feeding 2 babies for a year each and it will be 3 soon enough!

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https://www.instagram.com/kassydurcan/

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Coleen and Jorge

When I started to write this blog I started off by wanting to explain why I wanted to breastfeed and our early struggles. But then I stopped and decided to write about the end of our journey because that’s something people don’t really write about and no one really prepares you for!!

Mine and Jorge’s journey was just under 18 months long. It was very important for me that our journey ended organically and not just stopped before our time. It had taken a few months for our journey to come to an end but it was all lead by Jorge and what he wanted. It started around Christmas when Jorge would sign ‘MILK’ but instead of him whacking out my boob’s he would walk over to the fridge and point. So I went with the flow and gave him milk which he loved, he started asking for more cereals for breakfast and supper so he could drink the milk from the bowl as well (I don’t know where he got that from as I hate cereals and milk). This continued for a while but he would still boob through the night and sometimes during the day just depending on how he felt, he was happy so we carried on that way.

In Feb we moved Jorge from his nursery into his brand new big boy bedroom and he loved it! Over night it seemed like he was that little bit bigger, a little more independent. He would ask for milk and go to the fridge at bedtime, get into his big boy bed and drink his warm milk with me sat next to him reading a story. I was needed that bit less than I was before. Over a matter of days when he woke up in the night Jorge would settle back to sleep quite quickly and wouldn’t ask for boobie milk which took me by surprise.

Within a week or so daytime and night time feeds had stopped completely. I started to feel lost, like a part of me was missing, I wasn’t needed as much. I had this strange feeling inside that I can’t explain, I would cry if I saw someone post a breastfeeding picture, cry at night when he would fall asleep all on his own. Even though I wanted our journey to end like it did it was still emotionally very hard and you can’t mentally prepare yourself for the end. When you have nourished your child everyday of their life and then they don’t need you to do that for them anymore, it was a very hard time personally and no one understands how you feel.

Obviously not breastfeeding does have those perks, you can wear normal bras, non breastfeeding friendly clothes. Not having to worry about your boob’s exploding if you go out without your little one. It does get easier, you remember you are needed and it’s the next chapter in your child’s life. So buy yourself those beautiful lingerie sets you used to own before kids, treat yourself to some ‘normal clothes’. And most of all take all the breastfeeding pics, share and tell your story.

https://www.instagram.com/jorgeandthekitchenwitch/

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Maria’s story

My breastfeeding journey with these two young ladies (18 months and 3 years old) couldn’t be any more opposite ends than what I have experienced. My first daughter was born after a 36 hour labour that led to an emergency C-Section. Drugged up and feeling overwhelmed we started our breastfeeding journey and from the beginning encountered nothing but difficulties. She would not latch, neither would she stay on my breast, all she did do was cry, a lot, in any breastfeeding position or being held close to my breasts. It broke my heart, I went to multiple breastfeeding cafés, sought help from all my colleagues, from lactation consultants, but none of it worked. Feeding times had become a tense little tango we danced unsuccessfully. She cried if just being put to my breasts, I tense up, she screams, we both cry.. After a few months of trying anything you can try in this situation I made the active decision that I will now pump exclusively, I needed to regain control and feel like I am providing something for her. The feelings after this birth and now the failure of breastfeeding had taken a lot of my confidence about this whole mothering. And when I pumped I felt in control, I actively saw what I produced and most importantly, I saw her drink and be happy and content.

As a Mama you would do anything to provide for your child. And I did, I started pumping. I pumped day and night, every two hours for 12 long months. With alarms set all the time I pumped everywhere, in airports, toilets, cars you name it. She took to the bottle like it was the most natural thing and although I was disappointed that we did not breastfeed like ‘normal’ I am proud that I did what I did for her. This journey showed me an unknown strength and dedication I didn’t know before and it brought me to my knees many, many times. But it was almost like therapy every pumping session felt like I was actively doing something for her. I felt proud, I felt exhausted, I wanted to keep going and I wanted to stop. It was a complex relationship yet I let it continue for 12 long months and even when I had decided to finish pumping it took me weeks to see this decision through. But now I am beyond proud of how far I had made it.

20 months later I welcomed my second daughter into this world, a swift 2 hour labour and this little pink screaming baby landed straight on my breast, wiggles herself in position in search for the milk, latched on and has not left my breasts since. And I cried oh how I cried, I was mentally prepared to pump again but desperately hoping to experience breastfeeding in all it’s beauty. I was and still am astonished on how easy and natural breastfeeding can be had I not known the hardest route to take before.

My youngest daughter can literally feed hanging over my shoulder if she needs to and we have not encountered any difficulties so far. I am happy and sad that my fist daughter never got the hang of it. And I am proud of how straight forward breastfeeding can be. I can empathise with all these women out there that imagine breastfeeding their child but encounter difficulties they did not see before and I can now relate to all the Mama’s that have a beautiful journey. I feel like pregnancy gets all the attention with books, apps, classes, and of course rightly so this is the most exciting time in your life, BUT once you have given birth there are a lot of things you will have to learn and breastfeeding as natural as it can be takes patience and practice and many Mama’s get lost in realising what it actually involves to keep a mini human alive with their own body.

The only thing I have learned raising these two unique young ladies is that there is always an alternative route out there that works for you and your family. Don’t be discouraged by stories, or family and friends telling you what you should and shouldn’t do, but find your own happy that works for you. Pumping milk and breastfeeding do bring various challenges on a daily basis, stay calm, be consistent and take every day as it comes. You can do this Mama’s you are stronger than you could have ever imagined!

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https://www.littlepeach.org/

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Naimah and Maria João

It has been over nine months of breastfeeding my little fig and I couldn’t be prouder. In this post I have divided my breastfeeding journey into topics and explaining my experience since before little MJ was even born.

Breastfeeding classes? I always knew I wanted to breastfeed my baby. I remember during my antenatal classes how there was an entire class dedicated to breastfeeding and I thought how bizarre. Do we really need a class on how to breastfeed? It had never crossed my mind that this is something we would need help with. In that class we were asked to place the baby in the position we thought was best to breastfeed them in. And guess what? We all got it wrong. The first thought that came into mind was: oh my gosh I’m not going to know how to feed my baby, how can I be such a bad mother already when my baby is still inside me? All these terrible thoughts kept running through my mind. I kept thinking how I wouldn’t know what to do and how I wouldn’t be able to fulfil my dream of breastfeeding my child.

Labour Day: When a midwife came in to help me breastfeed as soon as MJ was born, I had tears in my eyes because she wasn’t latching on. I was thankful enough that it was just a momentary thing and she did then seem to latch on quite well. But those thoughts I had at the time of the antenatal class seemed to have popped up in my head again and I instantly thought I wasn’t going to be able to breastfeed her. When she did latch on, I remember looking at João with my eyes wide open like oh my gosh this is such a strange feeling, but god it’s such a good strange. We then went to our room where I called the midwife twice during the night so that she could make sure I was breastfeeding correctly. I was so adamant on doing it properly and confidently that I only left the hospital on the Saturday when MJ was born on Thursday night. I wanted all the extra guidance and advice I could get to make sure I wouldn’t be under feeding my baby. During my time in hospital, I had to feed her on two different occasions through syringes as she wasn’t latching on well again. I took about 10 syringes back home with me in case she would stop latching again and then I’d panic as to how I’d be able to feed her.

Cracked: My first week breastfeeding was tough. My nipples were cracked and my left nipple was not only cracked but also bleeding which led to creating scabs. It was painful. My Mum tried to make me feel better and would joke around and say that it was revenge, because I had done the same to her. Straight after I had been born, I was checked if I had teeth because I made my Mum bleed from her nipples straight away. The feeling on my left breast was so painful that I had to express from it for a few days instead of feeding because I couldn’t handle her latching on. I then bought nipple shields and I cannot thank the person who created these enough. Oh my gosh it was a god send to be able to still breastfeed my daughter and have the painful aspect of it nearly entirety gone. I remember commenting with a friend of mine that I would hope to breastfeed her until she is at least one year old and that I would always use a nipple shield and no one could stop me from doing so. The health visitor had said that I would need to use them for about a week and then go without them again. I ended up using them for two weeks only and slowly got her back on the nipple without causing me so much pain.

Mastitis: As I mentioned in a previous blog post it really is quite a horrible thing to go through. What you read on google is true. My breasts were extremely engorged which led me to feel very cold and shiverish. I had to ask João to cover me with blankets even though it was about 26 degrees because I was just so cold. It also led to getting a fever and having all of this at the same time was just too stressful to deal with. I didn’t have a breast pump yet and begged João to run out and buy one. It was something I had on my to buy list but didn’t want to get until I knew I would be able to breastfeed. He rushed out to get one and as soon as he was back I sterilised it and pumped out as much milk as possible. I had also taken a paracetamol to help with the fever and placed warm cloths over my breasts because they were so sore. I didn’t think I would ever get it as I was breastfeeding on a regular basis, but it can still happen ladies.

Logbook: Because MJ was a very small baby (born at 2.6kg) I really wanted to make sure she was gaining weight well and that she wouldn’t ever be underfed. I bought a baby log book, where I logged every time she would feed for four months. Yes it does sound crazy, but it gave me my own piece of mind. I could see days where she would’ve fed more or less and know when I would then need to feed her more to compensate for a day where she fed less. The truth is she is a small baby but jumped a percentile in her weight within two months and has been gaining weight well ever since. I stopped logging at four months as I was confident she was doing well.

Social pressure: There is such a social pressure to breastfeed, but it’s not something I have necessarily felt affected by in terms of the demand of having to breastfeed. What I feel the most affected by and I have seen other mother’s talk about it too is the way mother’s who do breastfeed are made to feel ‘bad’ for doing so. It’s a strange feeling to describe. I am made to feel bad because I can whip out my breast whenever I need to, to feed or comfort my baby. I’m made to feel bad if I need to feed my baby in public whether it be on the tube, bus, a coffee shop or even a restaurant. I have never been ashamed of publicly breastfeeding nor have I ever felt intimated by a look anybody gives me whilst doing so. My baby is hungry so I feed her. I have never let it stop me, ever, but it doesn’t mean deep down I don’t feel ‘bad’ about it. If I was bottle feeding, I wouldn’t be receiving those looks from anybody. How can doing something that is part of mother nature, be natural to the human body affect people that I don’t even know. I never have my breast fully exposed unless in a comfortable environment that permits it (when in baby classes). And I still wonder, why am I made to feel bad for doing something that I love to do and that is natural to the human body?

Breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful experiences during motherhood and I ache for those mothers that are unable to do so. I have never questioned a mother that does not breastfeed as I believe it to be a sensitive topic and a personal choice for each mother. We never know what a mother has been through, therefore, unless she wishes to open up to you then that’s ok but we should never ever judge.

But I shouldn’t be made to feel bad for something that I can and wish to provide my daughter with. It has been nine months of breastfeeding and she still wants and needs my milk and my comfort like never before. Yes, it is tiring but since when has becoming a mother ever not tiring, whether you breast or bottle feed. I hope I can continue to breastfeed her until she is a year old and all I want to say is FED IS BEST.

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Being on the other side of Labour

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Louiza and Felix

My breastfeeding reflection’s

Breastfeeding on TV, and in magazines often has a look of sorcery about it, don’t get me wrong I wanted so much to be that image they portrayed. It seemed like there was this effortless magic combined with some sort of magnetic force attaching nipple to baby’s mouth with seemingly no drama attached to it. Just a happy (glowing) Mum and baby. I felt massively that this beautiful feat of feeding one’s own baby wasn’t attainable to normal Mum’s like me, the reason I thought this way was due to having a difficult time attempting to breastfeed my oldest children. My first got a whole 4 days of breastfeeding, before a midnight dash to Asda for formula and bottles after screaming every time I stopped feeding him. My second baby was fed expressed breast milk until 16 weeks when the health visitor said ‘You’ve done your best now let’s try formula’. It didn’t feel like my best, in fact it felt rubbish but I took her advice and stopped.

I felt sad that I didn’t have a good experience of breastfeeding, I wanted so badly to be one of those Mum’s who I admired, that seemed to do it all whilst looking chic with this season’s lipstick carefully applied. All while their little one suckled away contented whilst Mum is able to read a magazine, humming the tune to I’m every woman.

I knew I wanted a third child and I knew I would attempt to breastfeed like I had done before, more out of duty than anything else. I became pregnant in the end of 2012 and quickly started buying all the baby things again, my older kids were 4 and 3 now and the whole family was excited to welcome our new baby. We had bought the pram, decorated the nursery and we were almost settled on his name. I even had an app that told me each day something new about his development or how many days I had left, and I remember these days being so carefree and exciting.

Often tragedy can seem like it comes out of nowhere, it makes everything around slow down, and it feels like someone took the wind out of you. That’s certainly how I remember it, that day I was told at 23 weeks pregnant that my baby would probably die inside me within a couple of days. I was sitting in a consultants room at the hospital after having a scan. My baby had a whole host of problems at the scan picked up, no waters, he wasn’t moving, his bowel was echogenic, he had stopped growing and the placenta was having intermitting blood flow, effectively cutting off his lifeline. I was admitted to hospital that day, everything was bleak, I asked a friend to try and find an outfit that would fit a 1lb baby as the most important thing seemed to me that my baby needed to be buried in his own clothes, not hospital clothes. The consultant said I had developed pre-eclampsia and that’s why the baby’s placenta was failing. A specialist nurse explained to our other children that they would always have a brother but it was likely that he would go straight to heaven, it seemed very, very, important to name this little poorly baby who lay still in my tummy. We decided to name him Felix as it means fortunate, we needed his name to give us hope. Felix didn’t die in the next few days like they had predicted, he didn’t get better but he didn’t get any worse, so I was kept in hospital, scanned daily and soon two months had passed. On the day Felix was born I decided it was my time to be poorly and I went into eclampsia. I had a seizure and my kidneys began to fail, Felix arrived after an emergency C-Section. I heard his gerbil squeak noise and realised he was breathing on his own! Felix was taken straight to intensive care in an incubator, the nurse told me to turn my head and I could see him as he was taken out the door. At this point though I was hallucinating, this super teeny but fully formed baby was wide awake and staring at me, he was 1lb 6oz and breathing without a ventilator and then as quick as it all happened he was home, and I didn’t even get to touch him.

It was only 4 hours after Felix was born before I met my yellow annoying friend Medela. Medela is a breast pump, and not only that she is an electric variety breast pump. I found myself crying more tears than Medela could squeeze out of me. I was sent fuzzy pictures of Felix that the nurses had taken, he was now on oxygen but he looked so unlike a newborn I was used to seeing, he had no eyelashes or eyebrows, his skin looked see through and he was covered in wires. The nurse told me to look at his picture while I expressed as it would help with my milk, I remember thinking is she having a laugh. I didn’t recognise this kid on the picture Christ I could barely see this kid … I felt zero connection and after an hour of expressing each boob I got less than 2mls of colostrum. I felt like such a rubbish Mum, I couldn’t keep him safe and growing in my tummy and now I couldn’t even make his milk. After 24 hours in HDU I was well enough to visit Felix in intensive care, I was wheeled in the room with all the beeping noises, crying parents and really busy staff and I had to ask someone which baby was mine. I couldn’t even get the sentence out before crying. I sat down next to Felix, and he looked so poorly fast asleep. I opened the window on the incubator and this wave of warm air hit my face and in that moment right there, this smell filled up my nostrils and down to my heart and that was the moment he smelt like my baby, that motherly instinct kicked in big style and in that second Felix touched my finger and held on. I think he knew I was his Mum in that moment too.

I became a slave to yellow Medela, every 2 hours expressing even through the night, all this after major surgery. To think of it now, I honestly believe we women go into beast mode when we need to, it’s primal and protecting our babies is our forte. Felix didn’t start receiving my milk until he was around 4 days old he was fed TPN up until then, I remember going into special care holding the milk bottles feeling so proud that this was going directly to my baby. Even before he was able to have it by his NG tube I was allowed to put some of the milk on a cotton bud and wet his lips with it during his cares. He would really respond to it and would lick his lips. He was only given very small amounts via his NG tube to begin with so I began to build up quite a stock pile in the freezer. At 4 weeks old Felix started attempting to breastfeed, this would be during his cuddle time once a day and only if he was well enough. The first time he was only 2lb 2oz and my nipple was bigger than most of his face, because Felix was getting most of his milk via his NG tube we were able to really take our time with learning the art of breastfeeding, and it really is that. It’s learning what works for you and your baby, and taking your time with it. I was so much more relaxed as I knew Felix was going to be in hospital for a while yet and there was no rush. I had the amazing support of the breastfeeding nurse on the unit called Helen. She sat with me whilst I tried to feed Felix, she was so relaxed too like she had all the time in the world. Couple of issues we had was the ridiculously small baby, and ridiculously big boobies, it was a good job Felix had his own oxygen supply via his cannula as no joke my boob’s would of crushed him. Helen introduced me to the rugby ball position which became a favourite for months to come, she showed me how to use a nipple shield to help Felix with his latch. A month into Felix’s stay on the ward my milk started to tail off a bit and again Helen to the rescue who got my GP to prescribe these tablets to make my milk come in like a hurricane. The special care Mum’s all seemed to be in sync with each other for yellow Medela time, there are two rooms on the ward to use to express. I would often see this perfect Mum who looked like she modelled in Milan not expressed milk, we were on the same timings for the milk shed and we became amazing friends, Charlotte definitely helped get me through such a traumatic time, and we have a bond that will last a lifetime.

Felix was never in a hurry to gain weight, he took his own time and luckily it was always just enough to continue with breastfeeding exclusively, and top up feeds of expressed milk that was fortified. After 2 months in hospital Felix came home a couple of days before his due date, he endured multiple procedures, blood transfusions, high flow oxygen and one operation. At discharge he weighed 3lb 8oz, he was on oxygen 24 hours a day and exclusively breastfed, high five to me!

Yellow Medela came home too grrrr but we have a love/hate relationship, to continue to make sure breastfeeding worked for us I joined a weekly breastfeeding group where I talked to other Mum’s about concerns or worries. I also continued going to a buddy group at the hospital for parents of babies from special care, that environment changes you and it’s so important to have others to talk to in the same boat, who you can moan to about the stupid questions random people ask when they see a baby on oxygen. (One woman asked me in Morrisons if he was going to make it, I told her no it’s his last day love that’s why I’m in Morrisons showing him the bargains).

When I first used a nipple shield for feeding Felix I thought it was a temporary solution, but turns out Felix couldn’t do without it. The joy of having to go back into Starbucks and ask if they have found my see through plastic nipple shield will stay with me forever. I also continued with the tablets for my milk until Felix was 1. Felix also had a dummy from about 1 week until he was 1 year old, and it never interfered with our feeding, I guess the reason I am saying this is because I found there are so many rules, myths you hear when you’re breastfeeding and I wanted to say that nothing like that is set in stone, the most important thing amongst all the rules is finding what works for you. I initially hated feeding Felix in public, all the tubing with the oxygen, then the nipple shield, plus I had the other two kids with me, I knew it would probably end in tears (mine) so I stayed local most of the early months, by the 5 month point my confidence had grown loads and I want to point out that my confidence had grown loads and I would attempt to feed in most places. Breastfeeding is so many things for me, it’s nourishment, contentment, comfort, empowering and healing. Yes my milk helped to heal Felix and make him strong but it also healed me. After all we went through to get Felix here, feeling I had let him down and almost cost him his life, my milk that fed Felix healed the pain of feeling like a failure. For so long I couldn’t touch, or hold, or carry or kiss or take my baby home, I had to ask strangers (nurses) if I could hold him but this act of feeding him was something only I could do for him and I still get so emotional and proud to say I did that.

I would of happily carried on feeding Felix until he was 6, I imagined myself in Closer magazine standing there proud as punch, sadly for me Felix himself decided to stop at 13 months. I was gutted, I made the milk I had stored in the freezer into custards and yogurts for him but he simply said no.

Breastfeeding is hard, emotional, time consuming when expressing but oh my goodness I can honestly say it’s been one of the best honours of my life, Felix is almost 5 and he is such a character. He is still small, still has chronic lung disease but he is smart in mainstream school and most of all the luckiest most fortunate little boy of them all.

https://www.instagram.com/louizagrace/

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Rebecca, Jacob and Naomi

I had planned to write this account of our breastfeeding journey with a cup of chamomile tea in my hand, sitting at our computer desk whilst the two babes sleep soundly. Haha of course that wouldn’t happen the night I actually plan to do something other than scroll Instagram or catch up on rubbish TV. Instead our oldest Jacob is asleep (one out of two isn’t bad) but Naomi has a cold and hasn’t allowed me to put her down all day. She has superglued herself to my boob and has me held hostage on the sofa, any attempt to move results in crying. So here I sit, thank goodness I can send this in email format via my phone!

I couldn’t wait to breastfeed, it was something that I was adamant that I would do when we had our first baby Jacob. Unfortunately as natural as breastfeeding is I really struggled to get to grips with it. The pain was terrible and my lack of confidence in my ability to breastfeed and keep this tiny little human safe and happy was all too much to cope with. So after a few days of tears (mine and his) we switched to formula.

Second time around when I fell pregnant with Naomi I was even more determined to breastfeed. I did as much as I could before she arrived, joining an awesome local breastfeeding support group full of lovely ladies and scouring the internet for any additional information that I could find.

Once again the early days were blooming rough, I don’t care what anyone says there is nothing worse than the thought of having to unlatch your baby that has unfortunately latched badly to your already sore and cracked nipples – it is the worst pain ever! There were lots of tears, mostly just from me! I can’t believe how something so natural can be so hard, I honestly had no clue what I was doing. All I could do was take it one feed at a time (it used to take two of us, myself and my husband Kevin to get Naomi latched on in the first few days).

Thankfully I received fantastic support from family and friends as well as our midwives and the lovely ladies at the breastfeeding group. A special mention has to go to my husband Kevin who was awesome at fine tuning my positioning of Naomi and helping her latch in those early days (must have been a midwife in a past life lol).

The most important thing that I’ve learnt on our breastfeeding journey is that I wasted to long feeling sad that I hadn’t managed to breastfeed our little boy for longer than 2 or 3 days. I was convinced I’d missed out on connecting with him and I felt that I needed to explain myself every time I whipped out a bottle and not a boob! But I can honestly say that whilst in my humble opinion human milk is AWESOME I definitely did not miss out on any love and connection with our little boy, I honestly get the same rush of love looking down at their sweet little faces whether it was Jacob snuggled up to me having a bottle or Naomi cuddled up to me having a breastfeed.

We are six months in now and I hope to continue breastfeeding as long as we are both happy.

https://www.instagram.com/parsonsbex/

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Nat and Delilah

For most women, a proper breastfeeding relationship is extremely difficult to establish. There are a lot of different factors to getting it right and it can be extremely overwhelming for a new Mama.

For me, establishing a breastfeeding relationship was nearly impossible and one of the things I have worked the hardest for in my life.

I have a mild case of mammary hypoplasia which caused me to make little to no milk for the first week of my baby’s life. If you don’t know what it is, mammary hypoplasia, also known as insufficient glandular tissue is a very uncommon condition that can cause low or no milk production. Women with mammary hypoplasia simply did not develop proper mammary tissue during adolescence which can make pumping very difficult as well.

All I knew was that I was going to breastfeed. I was determined and I did everything in my power to bring my milk in as quickly as possible so that I could breastfeed my baby.

I latched her on every hour, sometimes sooner if she gave me hunger cues. If she wasn’t latched I was pumping and in between all I did was cry. My nipples were sore, cracked and bleeding, my c section incision hurt like crazy and I was so upset because my lactation consultant told me I had this condition and I may need to supplement with formula because my body may never make enough milk to sustain her.

Pumping alone was such a painful experience for me. Because of my condition I have very little tissue around my nipple, causing a painful suction with the pump. I bought the smallest size flange on the market and still all the skin around my nipple was being pulled into the pump and every second was excruciating. But I kept going.

I have officially been breastfeeding my baby (with no supplementation aside from 3 days in the very beginning) for nearly 12 months now.

So yes, it’s difficult. It was the most difficult thing I have ever done, but I am stronger for it. Every painful second was worth it because the bond I have with her is so beautiful and I know she is benefitting from nature’s perfect first food.

https://www.instagram.com/natthenaturalmom/

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Ruby and Maia

Breastfeeding, for me, has always been non-negotiable. I always knew I would breastfeed, from the minute I found out I was pregnant. I pictured me and my girl, this incredible bond, able to go to classes, see friends, do actual things and I could just pop her on the boob whenever she was hungry. I imagined looking into her eyes, seeing her sucking up all the goodness and growing before me, through me. It was such an important part of what I imagined my motherhood to be.

When pregnant, I smirked when I read about breastfeeding ‘troubles’, what are they? Surely, I thought, breastfeeding was the most natural thing in the world. Babies must take to it like a duck to water. And Mum’s, well how hard can it be to pop a baby on your boob every now and then? How wrong was I.

My birth wasn’t the beautiful water birth I had planned for myself. Although I coped well with contractions initially, they forced me on my back for monitoring when I had reduced movement, and then meconium in the waters, and being on my back made everything so much more painful. I begged to be able to move around. After 18 hours of labour, two failed epidurals, an episiotomy and forceps, I had my baby at 1am. My beautiful girl. I was so groggy, and so was she. We were discharged later that evening, my stitches weren’t even checked, and apparently we were feeding fine…

Day two, I noticed Maia was getting more sleepy. She literally wasn’t waking to feed and she kept slipping off my nipple. I kept trying. Day three was even harder, that evening I called the breastfeeding helpline and sobbed down the phone to the volunteer that my baby wasn’t feeding. Apparently I was just hormonal from my milk coming in and needed to do more skin to skin.

Day four, I sobbed down the phone to my hospital and begged for a midwife to come and see us. Maia was screaming all the time but just wouldn’t feed. I knew she was hungry but I couldn’t get her to latch. I had tried all the positions over night, I had tried literally everything. I pumped twice to keep my supply while I waited.

The nursery nurse came, she attempted to latch Maia as if I hadn’t tried, and agreed it was impossible. She weighed Maia and she had lost 15% of her birth weight, and told me she thought she had tongue tie but that it was a four week wait to get it snipped. I was immediately told to put Maia on a three-hourly feeding routine. She MUST take 70mls every three hours, otherwise she won’t gain weight. My Mum asked how often I would need to pump to gain supply, ‘uh, every few hours or so I think, just go with it’. She replied. And this is where my pumping journey began.

Remember how I said about picturing my beautiful baby breastfeeding? And how important it was to me? Never did I think I would breastfeed by bottle. I never even knew exclusive pumping existed until I was three months down the line. I’m a single Mum, so if my Mum hadn’t been there in those first weeks, the outcome would have been so, so different.

Mum woke me every two hours to pump in those first weeks. We fed Maia every three hours. I have always been blessed with such a good supply, but the first few days it came very close to having to give her formula. I was literally pouring milk from the pump to the bottle for her to have immediately.

On day eight, we got a private midwife to come and snip Maia’s tongue tie. I didn’t even know nipple confusion was possible. Maia latched again but she way preferred bottles and would still scream when I tried to feed her. Sometimes we would have whole feeds from the breast, mainly overnight, but mostly I had to top her up with a bottle. By ten weeks, she decided that boob’s just weren’t for her at all and she lost the ability to latch. And for my own sanity I had to just accept it. I didn’t want to continue to fight my baby to latch any more, it was painful for me and would often end in tears for both of us.

We have now been exclusively pumping for over 22 weeks. And it works so well for us. I have managed to donate to five other babies, as well as store enough in the freezer to definitely get her up to 6 months. And I’m aiming to get her to at least a year on fresh milk. But I can’t help but look back now and feel so disappointed in the lack of support we got for pumping. Not one midwife, health visitor or other professional told us how to exclusively pump. How important it was to maintain supply and how to get baby onto breast. In the early weeks when I asked for help I would just get a midwife shoving her on my breast, making her scream, and then leave my house telling me to ‘keep trying’. Where was the support in that?

Even last week, I was battling with two cracked nipples, I asked my health visitor for advice and she told me to ‘stop pumping for a few days’. How can she be so untrained? She didn’t even ask me anything to get background. I supply enough for twins, if I stopped pumping I would get engorged, clogged ducts and most likely mastitis. Not to mention if you stop pumping for a few days you signal weaning and lose supply.

My biggest wish now is to educate those around exclusive pumping. For them to know that if direct feeding doesn’t work for them, a pump is another way they can give their babies their liquid gold. I may not have the picture perfect breastfeeding scenario I always dreamed about, but the pump has enabled me to breastfeed my daughter exclusively for the past five months and will continue to until I decide to stop. And for that, I will always be grateful.

Me and Maia at 5 months.

Me and Maia at 12 days at one of the rare times she breastfed.

Me 7 days postpartum, still pumping the colostrum/milk mix with my bug tummy.

https://www.instagram.com/yungmutha/

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Cynthia’s story

I’m a mother of a 8 month old princess. Going into motherhood was the best experience ever! Indescribable! I knew I wanted my baby to be breastfed, but never in a million years did I know just how amazing it would feel to breastfeed her.

After that feeling, I instantly knew I wanted to do anything possible to strictly breastfeed her. But! Because my baby was jaundice she had to be put under the UV light, which meant, if I wanted her to get better faster then that means keeping her under the light longer so she would have to drink from a bottle (my breast milk).

Since it was temporary, I was sad about it but okay with it. Then the doctor told me she had breast milk jaundice. Which meant my milk was causing her bilirubin levels to increase. I instantly thought, that’s it I won’t be able to breastfeed her and it brought tears down my face. My mother didn’t breastfeed my sister or me because back in the day breast milk jaundice meant no more breast milk, so supplement with formula. However, now new research contradicts that and it actually says, ‘keep breastfeeding, but alternate with formula until the jaundice gets to a point where the baby fights it as they get older and then your baby can be completely breastfed’. So, that’s exactly what I did. I breastfed one feeding and then her next feeding gave her formula and so forth. Until, finally I was able to completely breastfeed her.

And since I was pumping the times she was being fed formula, I simply stored that milk in the freezer since I knew I was going back to school. So while I was away she would drink the stored milk and I continued breast pumping. My 8 month old is still breastfed and started her purée’s, which I blend with my breast milk and I’m still pumping while in school and in my internship.

https://www.instagram.com/mommaandamasters/

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Nic and Ollie

I always knew I wanted to breastfeed but I assumed it would only be for 6 months because that’s the norm right? I even bought a steriliser and bottles and assumed I would express so I wouldn’t be governed by breast feeds and because that’s the norm, right?

‘The norm’ urghhhhh

I had decided early on that I would like to use hypno to help birth and because I had used it for phobias that I had, I had every confidence that I would have a fab birthing experience, and I did. I never expected that I would end up having an emergency section. My baby was just too damn chilled and wasn’t ready to make an appearance. I was fine, the baby was fine yet I was pressured into having the section because I had (stupidly) agreed to be induced.

The section was great, even though it wasn’t straight forward but this isn’t about the birth … My husband was handed our son and when I was finally in recovery he was finally placed on my chest, he wiggled over to my left boob and started feeding.

When I was transferred to the ward I struggled. I couldn’t move and he suffered with a bit of reflux but I couldn’t reach him properly in the cot and everyone was so busy they didn’t rush to change his sheets. I hated these first few hours. He also then struggled to latch, he just wasn’t interested in my boob’s and I couldn’t hold him comfortably. It wasn’t until the next day when I was able to be mobile and we were moved to a cooler part of the ward that we were much more settled and comfortable.

He fed well and I fed him how I found comfortable – holding him like a rugby ball with a cushion down the side of me for him to be raised up so I didn’t have to lift him. We were pretty much left alone then which I later found out was because the staff had assumed he wasn’t my first and they found me to be relaxed and confident. I was glad to be left alone but what if I was struggling in silence?

After 3 days we were allowed home. Things were great and even better when my milk came in. When we had the first visit from the midwife I was told I wasn’t holding him correctly while he was feeding. I was put into an uncomfortable feeding position that I was told was best for him and because I wanted to do what was best for him I continued.

My biggest mistake and regret.

He wouldn’t latch properly and it hurt! I had to do what was best for him though and the midwife told me I had been feeding my son wrong. I preserved through the pain, through the cracked and sore nipples. I would be in tears from the pain and our calm, chilled out baby became stressed and unhappy. On our next visit from a different midwife I explained everything and she said straight away to go back to how it worked before. She said they are told to show new Mum’s the ‘proper way’ but if it’s not broken why try and fix it? Only I couldn’t go back. I’d forgotten how and I was so tense I couldn’t relax enough. Eventually it just all clicked into place and we went back to feeding ‘incorrectly’, but the damage had been done. My nipples were bleeding, they had scabs on them, if I expressed there was blood in the milk and then we both developed thrush. Cheers midwife!

Once the thrush had cleared, once my nipples had healed we finally got on with the feeding and it was great. I was expressing loads and freezing it, we got some new nipple friendly bottles in for the very odd occasion someone else would feed him, I would feed him anywhere he needed to be fed and we were both happy. Of course that didn’t last. He had a little feeding spurt and desperately wanted more milk but my boob’s just couldn’t keep up with his demand. We tried some expressed but he refused it. He was screaming, I was crying, my husband was concerned and desperate to help us. ‘Go and get some formula’ I screamed. I felt awful but also so sad that my milk wasn’t enough. He didn’t have much but it was enough for him to settle and sleep. Then the next day I got some frozen expressed milk out to defrost so we wouldn’t have a repeat but it smelled off! I was gutted to have to throw it away. Luckily I was able to express a little so I was ready but just a few hours later that milk also smelt off! What was going on?!

I got straight onto Google and found out that I was producing too much lipase which makes my milk develop a soapy smell and taste when it’s been cooled. I didn’t know what to do so I just made sure I kept feeding him as often as possible. Thankfully we never had a repeat of that night but what was I going to do about my soapy milk? I found out that I would have to scald the milk to try and prevent the change. Unfortunately by the time I had found this information out I wasn’t able to express as much in one go, my boob’s had settled and it ended up being more hassle than it was worth. All my frozen milk was wasted and I hadn’t heard of milk banks at that time, so it was all poured away. Heartbroken.

We settled into a routine, when I say routine what I mean is that I’d feed him whenever he needed it – I’d feed him while showering (not easy!), while cooking, doing the hoovering, cleaning, washing. Basically if I could do something with one arm and him in the other, I’d do it.

I didn’t have anyone around me that was breastfeeding or that had breastfed recently. I had a very supportive but also very small group of people around me – my husband, our next door neighbours (who bottle fed her daughter), my best friend (who bottle fed all her children) and my grandparents who were in their 80’s. My then 84 year old grandad even took a selfie with us while I was feeding! Haha!

Unfortunately I had more unsupportive people around me who were more than eager to share their experiences and tell me what I would or wouldn’t be doing. I had a sister in law that tried to cover me up while feeding on more than one occasion, even in my own home! Other relatives would say that when his teeth cut then I won’t be feeding him and I definitely wouldn’t be feeding him when he turns 1 year! Because I did feed him when he had teeth and because I did continue to feed him after he turned 1 year, I was accused of doing things to ‘get a reaction’ or because I was being stubborn and didn’t like being told what to do. ‘Hippy Mum’ was used often to describe me by another sister in law. I was also asked ‘so when are you going to stop doing that?!’ THAT? You mean feed my son? Oh well I’m hoping to get a spot on This Morning so at least until he’s at college. None of that was why though. I done what I wanted and what I felt was right and because things have moved on and the ‘norm’ isn’t written in stone!

Because I didn’t have anyone around me that had breastfed recently, when we hit our next hurdle I had nobody that had any experience of going through the same. He had always been an active baby – holding his head up before we’d even left the hospital, starting to crawl at 4.5 months, first steps at 6.5 months and running at 9 months, so he didn’t gain the weight, in fact he lost weight and went down to the 9% line. The health visitors answer was formula. To give him 100ml each day for a short time. I didn’t know what to do but I felt pressured so that’s what we done. I didn’t give it all, or even all in one go and his breast feeds came first. He gained slowly but as the formula didn’t seem to be making enough of a difference and because he was so active we just continued with the breast feeds. He was also fine! He was thriving and happy and active! Once he hit 5.5 month we started to offer him food, just at dinner time and it would be whatever we were having. By 6 months he was eating more, feeding LOTS still and crawling but he was gaining slightly. We were happy and because he was crawling I didn’t have to offer my boob’s anymore, he would just crawl to get them which was particularly funny when he had started walking and could climb to get me!

We continued to feed after his first birthday, I think it was about 5 times on average each day. I remember being asked at his yearly check, when he was 11 months, ‘when did you stop breastfeeding?’ I didn’t understand the question at first, I was shocked that the assumption had been made that I had stopped, especially by a health visitor. ‘We haven’t stopped’ was my answer, ‘he still feeds loads’. She was pleased but also surprised because not many Mum’s she sees are still feeding at this age. When he hit 22 months he caught a cold and struggled to feed. I thought that was the end but once he could breathe and feed at the same time he was back on them but then suddenly he dropped his feeds and at 23 and a half months, just 4 weeks before he turned 2 years old, he stopped for good.

I’m glad I fed him for so long, I’m proud of myself and I’m glad it was his choice to stop and not mine. He knows he was breast fed, he knows that Mummy’s and animal Mummy’s feed their babies booby milk but he also knows that some can’t or decide not too. I want him to grow up without the taboo of breastfeeding. He even now at (nearly) 3 years old will ask me to feed his baby dolls and he will also feed them and his teddies. If we are lucky enough to have another child I hope to feed again but next time, if I need help, I hope there is the support for me that I needed but didn’t get with my son.

https://www.instagram.com/nicstirlingjones/

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Vicki’s story

My breastfeeding story is in two parts – what I thought I knew, and what I know now.

First of all I need to confess something, I’m a first time Mom, and only for 12 weeks at that so I am far from experienced.

I read a lot when I was pregnant and both scared myself stupid, and thought I was well informed about what to expect. In a way I was, but in a lot of ways I think it led me to think when it came to breastfeeding it was going to be easy.

Newsflash – it’s not! (for me at least)

From a baby that wouldn’t latch in hospital, to being re admitted with jaundice and told to feed, feed, feed when she had no interest at all, to our current issue.

Cracked nipples.

“Oh I’m sure that’s not too bad, a bit like chapped lips” my foolish pregnant self had thought. Yet another point that I was wrong about.

I’ll be honest, to start, I thought it was a bit discomfort, the let down pain in the side of my boob just lasting a little longer than usual. Then it got worse, and worse to the point I was in tears trying to feed on one side and knew it wasn’t a blocked duct I could just feed away. I also knew it couldn’t have been a bad latch, there was no way I could feed that long with a bad latch, right?

So I had to see the health visitor to get my little girl weighed and thought I’d ask a professional what it might be.

“If it hurts, just switch to formula”

Was what I was told, and furiously I booked in with the doctor, surely I’d get a better answer there.

“Nerve pain whilst feeding – I think. It’s not mastitis, I’ll treat you for thrush just in case”

The doctor wasn’t a tremendous amount of help either. By this stage I could only feed from my left side and that was getting rapidly worse.

However, following powerful informed women on Instagram has it’s uses. I reached out to https://www.instagram.com/littlepeachlondon/ to see if she had any ideas. Heat packs, Lanolin ointment and Medela nipple guards to the rescue!

I can’t tell you how good it felt to have someone who supported me when I was so close to giving up and really didn’t want to. Am I healed? No it’s two weeks on and I’m sore both sides but it’s getting better and my little one is getting heavier and heavier.

So, what I thought I knew: The medical professionals will be there to help you breastfeed.

What I know now: Your fellow Mama’s will always try and help you breastfeed, you’ve just got to ask those amazing women.

https://www.instagram.com/feuercrux/

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Melissa and John

When my son was born, I struggled. I was surprised the doctor barely spoke to me after birth and did not tell me about ‘cluster feeding’. Or the insomnia that happens after birth. I was scared and lonely. I let the nurses take my son the first night because I thought he wasn’t eating enough.

No education brought me here.

Shortly after birth, we realised he had jaundice. I had no clue how to handle it or what caused it. Turns out high elevation and being induced caused it to happen. My son was sleepy for the first two weeks of his life, pushing out bilirubin. Jaundice wasn’t too much of a struggle, it was the doctors.

In my small town, paediatricians do not know about the benefits of breastfeeding. I was told to ”supplement at night to help push it out”. I was angry and told them NOPE. See, supplementing would mean my supply would drop and ultimately end our journey.

I never stopped and we got through it. This misinformation has ignited a passion in me to spread information about breastfeeding. I have influenced women in my town to continue breastfeeding and they now do it in public!!

We are 11 months strong and still pushing boundaries in my small town.

https://www.instagram.com/myname.ismama/

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The Surprised Mum

I breastfed my first son until he was 20 months old. The first five weeks felt like hell – it felt like he wanted feeding 24/7, my nipples cracked and bled, he sucked so hard he gave me bruises on them, and it was the only way to stop him crying (very loudly). My Mum used to be a midwife and is a massive breastfeeding fan so she was a huge help, and I was determined to stick with it but my goodness it was hard.

Gradually it got easier and he continued to energetically breastfeed (always to sleep at night, just how they tell you not to!) until I had to stop because I was pregnant again and didn’t like the idea of feeding two children at once. I would have carried on to the age of two otherwise – I went back to work after eight months and expressed milk at lunch time until he was a year old.

I am now breastfeeding my new born baby, who is by all accounts much more chilled out. My nipples didn’t hurt at all this time and because I knew what I was doing with latch etc and was more relaxed in general having breastfed in my sleep for almost two years I definitely took to it much more easily, and so did baby! We are nine weeks in yesterday and he is putting on weight impressively. I look forward to another two years of breastfeeding here, there and everywhere, and in the mean time I will be as open about it – doing it, talking about it, and normalising it because if you can and you choose to do it, it can be the most wonderful way to bond with, feed and nurture your baby!

https://www.instagram.com/thesurprisedmum/

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Lorien and Lea

My daughter Lea was an identical twin born 6 weeks early via an emergency c section, her sister was unfortunately still born and my daughter Lea spent the first few weeks of her life in an incubator, on a ventilator (her lungs weren’t fully developed due to her being premature) and being fed intravenously with a sugar solution. The staff at the special care baby unit were incredible, they taught me how to express using mechanical pumps and stored my breast milk (even the colostrum) so as soon as Lea was strong enough to start feeding I would be ready for her.

I had to express every few hours to keep the supply up, so even though I didn’t have an actual baby to feed yet I still had to act like I had one. The nurse even told me to keep a muslin down my bra and to keep swapping them every few hours with the muslin in her incubator. This would mean we’d have each others scents, which would help my milk flow and help us to bond with each other even though I wasn’t able to hold or feed her properly.

When Lea was eventually able to start feeding she had a tube through her nose and down into her stomach and was fed 1 millilitre an hour! Gradually building it up. I then went on to feed Lea until she was 13 months.

I genuinely believe if I can breastfeed anyone can! Don’t believe the stories that if you have a c section or don’t have skin to skin straight away then you wont be able to. Nonsense! I couldn’t even hold my daughter for weeks and it was the most painful experience and dealing with the grief of my other daughter that had died, but the connection between Lea and I was strong enough to allow me to breastfeed.

https://www.instagram.com/loriennash/

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Jordan and Emily

When I found out I was pregnant I was determined to give breastfeeding a go. Emily decided she didn’t want to wait and made her appearance 5 weeks early, within minutes of being born she was on the boob and I was overwhelmed. That quickly changed, with her being a little early she was really tired and couldn’t feed for longer than 5-10 minutes. That coupled with the fact that my milk hadn’t come in yet I was unsure on how we would carry on. She ended up on cup feeds but again was too tired to take the feed so within a day ended up being tube fed with formula top ups. I was quite upset as I really wanted to breastfeed. So I started expressing every 2 hours for 15 minutes to encourage my milk to come in, as well as tube feeding Emily while holding her to the breast to encourage her to try and latch on and associate a full tummy with Mummies boobies!!

Day 3 – Still in hospital Emily decided to pull her feeding tube out, I was still expressing and feeding her formula top ups as well as any of the milk I managed to express. Once she had pulled her tube out we tried cup feeds again and she was taking them much better as well as latching on for a 20 minute feed! I was over the moon. This carried on until day 5 when my milk finally came in and we were able to go home from hospital. They gave me lots of mini bottles to give her formula top ups as well as breastfeeding but I powered through and didn’t use a single drop once we got home. From then on breastfeeding was going really well although it was very painful for the first 7 weeks as Emily had a shallow latch. With help from midwives and the health visitor and plenty of encouragement from my family and other half I carried on. At about 8 weeks the pain started to go away and we were in full swing of our amazing breastfeeding journey which I was LOVING. She was putting on weight fantastically and as tiring as it was we were both enjoying it. I adored breastfeeding, the feeling of feeding your baby, the closeness, the bond it was just amazing and the overwhelming feeling of love I’d feel when she latched on was just immense.

Going strong at 4 months, Emily started cluster feeding again and going through a huge leap, I was exhausted and then started to feel really poorly, it turned out I had mastitis! It was horrendous, the pain was indescribable and I was really struggling to feed through the pain. I went to see the doc and was given antibiotics and was told to rest as much as I could … With a 4 month old you can imagine that was a difficult task. After about a week the pain started to subside and we were back in full force boobing constantly.

About a month later we went on holiday and I got mastitis again! Had to see a foreign doctor who wasn’t sure what I was talking about and told me to stop feeding and switch to formula, I knew that this wasn’t the case and shopping feeding would make it worse so I got the tablets I needed and carried on feeding through it. Again after a week the pain went away and we carried on our journey.

Fast forward to 11 months – Teething struck and Emily refused to feed completely. I was devastated and carried on trying and offering it to her for 5 days. After to speaking to my Mum I decided that if by day 6 she sill wasn’t interested I’d stop offering it to her. Day 6 came and she still didn’t want it so I stopped offering and reluctantly switched her to formula. 11 months of boobie magic for my little girl. 11 months of breastfeeding! I’m very proud of myself and Emily, I absolutely loved our breastfeeding journey and one day I’ll be lucky enough to bring another little human into the world and start another amazing journey. ❤

https://www.instagram.com/jek1712/

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Lauren and Jaxson

I had no birth plan, I hadn’t discussed breastfeeding with my midwife yet but had decided to try and not put any pressure on myself if it didn’t go well. Jaxson decided to make an appearance at 27 weeks. It was horrific and scary and I didn’t even see my boy before he was whisked away. 2 hours later I finally saw him as they were packing him up to take him to a NICU unit miles away. I was left in maternity with no baby, listening to others crying. The following morning all I wanted to do was leave and see my boy but the breastfeeding team arrived to show me how to hand express. I honestly was in shock I could think of nothing but my tiny 2lb 4oz baby struggling to survive.

Hours later I finally saw him hooked up to machines to help him breathe and was told he had an open heart valve and a brain bleed. Whilst trying to process this information another breastfeeding team person dragged me off to a room full of women pumping milk and hooked me up to this machine telling me I needed to get milk for my son … but there was no milk … my body wasn’t ready to give birth. I dry pumped round the clock finally getting 5ml here and there whilst sat watching other Mum’s literally pouring milk. It was painful and tiring. I tried pumping next to his incubator but that made me feel worse. Then finally after days of pain I got 30ml out of both boob’s!

That day I was told my sons brain bleed had rapidly worsened and he may have cerabal palsy or never walk. My milk dried up again through stress and I was told they wanted to use a donor. I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach by a horse. I couldn’t hold my baby or take him home or be a Mum in any normal way and now another woman was going to provide milk because I couldn’t! I hit rock bottom and started pumping every hour determined to get him enough … I had blisters and black nipples and was mentally and physically exhausted but they never gave him donor milk. By 6 weeks Jaxson had been moved to our local SCBU. The consultant came and said that Jaxson needed formula as breast milk alone wasn’t enough. I thought they meant mine and the doctor kindly said that wasn’t the case but he needed more than breast milk and would I be happy to stop expressing … I felt a rush of relief … Then guilt. Unfortunately Jaxson was tube fed until he was 3 months old and stayed on high protein formula until 10 months but he is happy and healthy and walking and that’s all that matters.

Lauren xxx

https://www.instagram.com/mummytojaxson/

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Cleo and Hendrix

First time around I had a negative view of breastfeeding due to the overwhelming pressure from health visitors, midwives and other health professionals all spouting ”Breast is best” with no regard to my thoughts and feelings on the matter. Each time I encountered a health professional they would go on and on, it was all rather aggressive if I’m honest. They didn’t make me feel empowered to make my own decision, they didn’t give me any information about bottle feeding just that it was bad and that breastfeeding would make me lose the baby weight and keep my boobs perky. It all felt rather superficial and fake, the force at which some of these people would go on about breastfeeding really put me off.

I was unable to breastfeed my daughter due to her refusing it and not latching. I feel if I had the support and information I received with my son (16 years later) that I may have felt differently about breastfeeding. With my son I really wanted to breastfeed as I wanted to experience this incredible bond I kept being told about. I wanted him to get the best start in life, it was cheaper than formula and the ease of breastfeeding really appealed, no cleaning or preparing bottles everyday. I read up on breastfeeding and I went to a local group which was just brilliant.

I was lucky with my boy as he was very hungry from the get go and latched straight away (he was born sucking his thumb) and hasn’t stopped. In the beginning I wanted to give up breastfeeding because the pain was so great that I would feed him in floods of tears. It felt like hot pokers were being driven through my nipples and shards of glass were being sucked out. After a month or so it got easier, I just felt ill informed as nobody told me about the pain. In the beginning I would feed the baby on one boob then express the other one as my boob’s would get so engorged the skin of my breast felt lime it was tearing under the pressure.

Despite the painful start I am loving breastfeeding, knowing that my body is the sole reason my little one is thriving and so healthy makes me incredibly proud. I love the yum yum noises he makes sometimes and the faces he pulls. There’s a smile reserved just for me which makes me feel like I’m doing the best for him and that he understands I’m his Mumma. Night feeds are so easy I can just bring him onto bed with me and he’ll latch on himself throughout the night. Feeding in public hasn’t been an issue for me, I haven’t had any negative experiences.

The Bubba loves breastfeeding so much he sometimes chooses it over eating actual food. I think this is more to do with the quickness of the food than anything else. He is now 8 months old and is not showing any signs of slowing down, I’m not sure how long I will breastfeed for. I’m currently aiming to go to a year with the mind set of continuing until 2 years old but ultimately I’m thinking of letting himself wean.

The most important thing is that the baby is fed in a way that suits you. Not everyone can or wants to breastfeed but that is their choice. On Instagram I post pictures of me breastfeeding to hopefully empower others to feel as though they can do the same or find a way to feed in public that is best for them.

https://www.instagram.com/mummaandthebears/

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Rebecca and Ravi

Even before we started IVF I was adamant we were going to breastfeed. I read countless blogs, articles and books about breastfeeding and I was confident this was the way I wanted to feed my future baby. So confident I didn’t buy a single bottle or any formula. We had a rather traumatic birth story which is one for another day but because of being in ITU and recovery wards I didn’t get to meet my Roo (my 2 year old) until 14 hours later and when we did meet I was too drugged up and exhausted to even consider putting him to the breast, so 24 hours went by and Roo was being fed with formula by my husband or midwives.

At the 24 hour mark I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself, there was something I could do and that was express/pump milk for Ravi. I was very lucky I had such a great supply and was pumping 100’s of ml’s even in colostrum from the get go. He was well fed and gaining weight but then I wanted to try and feed him directly, I had the milk after all but he just couldn’t or wouldn’t latch.

After the emergency section and major surgery I had ended up in a crazy cycle of trying to feed him for 20 minutes then topping him up with formula and then having to express ready for his next feed. I was running on pure adrenaline, I had no fuel reserves as I wasn’t able to eat and after a couple of days I was sure he had a tongue tie and I was right. It was snipped after 4 days and immediately he latched and started feeding! Hurrah! After 6 days in hospital I was allowed home and because I was still exhausted and healing I would express a few feeds for Daddy to feed him so I could sleep a little more in the beginning. Turned out no one had told me you need to keep pumping until all the milk was gone in order to get a mixture of fore and hind milk so every HV visit consisted of being told he was losing weight or not gaining at all, again and again, over and over. They kept telling me to top up with formula but I showed them just how much I could pump in 5-10 minutes. We just couldn’t figure it out. It took me 2 weeks to realise I had been starving our son! I was horrified, mortified, devastated … You name it! But from then on in we managed to switch off the pump, ditch the formula and carry on exclusively breastfeeding. He gained weight quickly and soon became a chubby, happy little boy. A far cry from the skinny, upset little pickle in the earlier weeks.

Since then we have had a relatively easy journey with breastfeeding, I haven’t ever suffered with mastitis or thrush and feel extremely lucky that it’s not caused us issues, all expect aversion. At 12 weeks postpartum it was discovered I had a sizeable remnant of retained placenta and needed an emergency ERPC to evacuate the products before I suffered a severe haemorrhage. From that moment my periods returned like clockwork. I was back to dealing with endometriosis and period pains after just 3 months ”grace” and I was gutted to say the least but that wasn’t the end of it. I quickly realised that on the lead up to and during my period every month I would suffer toe-curling, hair-pulling, spine-tingling, chalkboard-scratching aversion. It would make me want to scream, cry, hit myself and I dreaded every feed. I some how managed to keep going until Roo was 25 months old (1 month ago) and decided the lovely, snuggly and soothing feeds benefitted us both enough that I would keep working through the aversion and hope for just one month it would leave us alone. It never did but my stubbornness prevailed and I breastfed for 13 months longer than I had planned.

Breastfeeding helped us create our bond, particularly after not being able to meet him immediately after delivery, it also helped me through the awful PTDS symptoms and the delusions, paranoia and psychosis I was suffering from shortly after delivery. Unfortunately I am unable to have another child to breastfeed but I have some beautiful memories that I have captured through pictures and videos – I also managed to express a few mls in order to have a gold breast milk ring made for my birthday later in the year.

If you are deciding whether or not to breastfeed my advice would be to try, you will only ever regret not trying. If you are currently breastfeeding, keep going Mutha! You got this! If you have finished your breastfeeding journey now like I have, here’s a little fist pump of solidarity! 😂🤛

Well done Mutha, you should be proud, even if you fed for one day or one feed … You did it, you tried it and that’s admirable! If you are interested in how I parent my 2 year old with bipolar, endometriosis and how I made it through PTSD and psychosis I am over at https://www.instagram.com/one_strong_mutha/ thanks for reading.

Love Rebecca X

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Marceline’s first few weeks breastfeeding, super hard and emotional.

I asked my Mam to take this photo I’m in recovery just after my C-Section, I’m still high from all the drugs and I’d just been sick. I really wanted to document as much as I could, I had such a traumatic time with Loralai and I don’t have many pictures so I wanted this time to be different.

This is me and Marceline having our first try at breastfeeding, I was so excited to be doing it all again. I had a very easy time feeding Loralai which I plan to share in another post. I really thought during my pregnancy that breastfeeding Marceline would just be simple, hard work of course, I just thought I would have the same experience I’d had with Loralai.

How wrong was I?

Sore nipples, holyyyyy shit sore nipples are THE WORST. Every feed I would either wince in agony, cry, swear, dread, just OUCH and I mean fucking ouch. I was using Lansinoh because I’d read how great it was but it actually made mine worse! We ended up calling a breastfeeding support line at the hospital one night it was really late but I remember the lady was called Cheryl. She was the nicest person ever and made me feel great and at ease, her advice was to hand express my milk and rub it into my nipples, which I did. I spent two days topless using my milk to soothe and hey both nipples cleared up.

One hurdle over.

Nope, the sore nipples came back but this time it was only one but still OUCH. Another topless couple of days with painful feeds, I also had my milk coming in and I was leaking loads.

Aside to the pain I thought feeding was going well Marceline was on me ALL the time, day and night. I was happily feeding, taking pictures and trying to settle into my new role of a Mam of two.

As expected my midwife came out to see me after I came home. I thought I would be discharged but Marceline had lost weight, she booked herself back in to see us. I wasn’t worried at this point but I did feel a little sad, Loralai actually never lost any weight so I thought to myself I need to stop comparing. Joanna, my midwife, came back to see us and Marceline had lost weight again, we chatted all things feeding, the latch, how often, how long … I even asked her to watch Marceline latch and feed just to make sure I was doing things right. All was good and then another midwife came to see us two days later, Marceline had lost weight again. I asked her to watch me, I now had so much self doubt, Marceline was checked for tongue tie, jaundice, her latch and everything was fine. By the Saturday I had everything crossed for some weight gain, a different midwife came out and she was taking my stiches out as well as weighing Marceline.

Another weight loss.

I took this picture in my Step Dads car on route to the hospital, they wanted to check us both over. At this point Ricky was on route to play a gig and I was torn in between leaving him alone and ringing him every two minutes. At the hospital Marceline was stripped down, checked over, no jaundice, no tongue tie, a good latch, plenty feeds and wet nappies. My sore nipple was still there slightly so all that was left to check was my milk. I was put on a double expression machine for fifteen minutes and out came my milk.

I just wanted answers, nobody could give me any.

I was sent home with bottles and told to feed Marceline from both boobs every time and to give her a bottle after – with my milk. I was already giving her both boobs but now I had to express after every feed so I could give her a top up.

My days and nights went like this …

Left boob – 30/40 mins

Right boob – 30/40 mins

10 minute break

Express left boob – 15 mins

Express right boob – 15 mins

Basically feed, top up feed, express. I was SO knackered, emotionally and physically and sick with worry too. I didn’t want to give her a bottle as I’d wanted to exclusively breastfeed. I was trying to include Loralai in all this newness too and I was cancelling visitors, including family.

It was nails.

Slowly she began to gain weight, it was so slow though or at least it felt that way. Ricky had gone back to work too, I felt bad giving her bottles but I wanted her to gain weight. I questioned my abilities and I thought about formula.

ALL THE FEELS.

It was shit.

The skin on skin was beautiful though.

I had to do it until she passed her birth weight which took about a month, I won’t ever forget the day I went to get her weighed and she’d passed that 7lb 9oz on the scales. I packed away my expression gear and just got my boobs out when she needed them. It was the freedom I wanted with feeds and just the relief of her gaining weight was a dream.

I had great support from my family and friends, I also had the lovely Maria (Little Peach) supporting me with loads of advice and information alongside the lovely Instagram Mama community who were cheering me on too. This is one part of our journey, we are three months in now and going strong. I have HUGE respect for all the Mama’s out there expressing, battling sore nipples, trying breastfeeding, giving it up or going strong because honestly it’s bloody hard. I’m actually breastfeeding while I write this because it’s constant but I love it and wouldn’t change it for the world!

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#titsandtearz – a space to connect, talk, encourage, share real experiences and more on breastfeeding.