I had always wanted to breastfeed, it’s hard to explain but I had a really strong feeling about breastfeeding. My mum breastfed me, my sister and my brother, but being the youngest I hadn’t had any experience with babies full stop. When my brother’s little girl was born, his wife decided to express and bottle feed. It was nice being able to feed my niece but it was so much work for my sister in law; she had to take time out to express, clean and sterilise the bottles, store the milk and warm it when needed! I knew I didn’t want to have to go through all that when I had my children and it just seemed so unnecessary to me. When I was pregnant with my little girl though, the thought that something might stop me from being able to breastfeed worried me so much.
My baby was born in theatre by forceps 37.5 hours after the contractions started and after an hour and half of pushing (she was back to back)! Because we were in theatre and I had been given an emergency spinal I couldn’t have skin to skin contact with her straight away. I was begging the staff to put her on my chest as although I was holding her next to me I couldn’t move due to the anaesthetic. I was so desperate to have that contact and she looked as though she wanted to feed. Eventually after asking many times they helped put her on my chest and latch on. It was the best feeling in the world! I was in such an awkward position on the bed, unable to move from the waist down and had a very poorly fitted cannula in my arm but I wasn’t going to let it stop me. I had an extraordinary amount of colostrum, it was going all over the baby’s face! The midwives joked that we could have filled a bottle with it. But she was feeding well and I was so happy.
My happiness fell apart when a few hours later, on the ward, my baby was sleeping and the hospital staff came in and said it was very important to wake her and feed straight away as she had been sleeping too long without a feed! I was so angry that they hadn’t told us this before and now we were panicking. She was too sleepy to feed and I struggled to get her latched on. I had the most horrible nurse trying to help me and was getting very upset. It had been visiting time too so my partner took his mum out and my dad went into the corridor. I wanted my mum to stay but the nurse told her she had to leave as visiting hours were over. I was then left on an empty ward with this awful nurse. She told me I needed to express some milk by hand and tried to tell me how to, but then proceeded to hand express me herself before I had a chance to try!! It was awful, so awkward and her nails were digging into my boob. My partner had just got home and called my mobile to check I was okay, she told me to take the call while she carried on! She was trying to express my milk into a syringe and flicked it to remove an air bubble at one point flicking milk in my face! To which she said ‘ah you will get much worse on your face now you’re a mum’! Eventually she realised that I had quite a lot of milk and it would be a lot easier to express into a cup rather than a syringe. After she had expressed a decent amount she fed it to my baby from the cup.
The way she handled my baby and talked about how I would soon be breastfeeding with baby in one hand and doing the housework with the other, made me really uncomfortable, my baby had only just been born, she was not a thing for some nurse to show off with! However, I was just happy that nobody had suggested my baby be given a bottle and after the cup of expressed milk she latched on brilliantly.
The nurses gave me a sheet to record all her feeds on and although my nipples were a little sore it was going well and I was discharged from the hospital. Once at home I would literally just get my boob out to feed, as establishing feeding and good latch was the most important thing to me. I did start to worry about how I would ever be able to feed in public, as trying to use a blanket to cover up was so difficult. Obviously I needn’t have worried as the more I fed the easier it became. However, I never have felt comfortable using a blanket to cover my baby when feeding and instead wear layers and pull one layer up, one layer down so nothing is on show. Having a muslin to hand is always useful too, not only for leakages but if the baby does suddenly pull away you can quickly cover up.
Now my baby is 10 months, still breastfeeding and I have breastfed her all over the place, including on a packed train. That’s one of the best things about breastfeeding; you can do it anywhere, anytime, with minimal fuss. On that train for example, it was very full and my baby was unsettled, there wasn’t enough room for me to get things out my bag but I could discreetly cuddle her to me and soothe her with a feed. On the topic of public feeding I think people underestimate how many people they ‘see’ breastfeeding when out and about as the majority will do it so discreetly that most people will not even notice. You really can breastfeed your baby, without using a cover, and without anyone seeing your breasts! I know because I’ve done it!
The other major positive of breastfeeding that I’ve found is that although both my partner and I have been ill with colds etc the baby has never caught it! This can only be because of the immunity she’s getting from breastmilk and it means I currently have a 10 month old baby who has never been ill or had to have any medicine! Brilliant!
Breastfeeding my baby has been one of the most enjoyable parts of becoming a mummy and I wouldn’t change anything it for the world. I know many people struggle with breastfeeding and it’s not for everyone, but I think there is also a serious lack of support, advice and education for new mums in this area; you can read more on my thoughts and experience of this HERE.
Ten Reasons why I love breastfeeding: 1) Special cuddle time with baby. 2) No sterilisation needed. 3) Feed preparation very quick (consists of get boob out). 4) Immunity it gives baby. 5) Helps you get your figure back quicker after birth. 6) Milk is always the right temperature. 7) Milk is tailored for my baby – exactly what she needs. 8) It’s stopping my periods! :-) 9) No washing bottles etc required. 10) Feeding when out and about is very easy (don’t have to pack milk etc).
So now my baby is 10 months old the final question when it comes to breastfeeding is: When will I stop? You can read my thoughts on this question HERE.