Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Breastfeeding - not as easy as it looks!

I am writing this post as I am now 26 weeks pregnant and so have to think about how I am going to feed my baby so I can get myself prepared. As this is my second child I have experience of breast feeding but despite my sheer determination it didn't go as successfully as I thought it would last time.

When I had my boy K he was born 2 weeks early and weighed 6lb 1oz. I was lucky to have a quick natural birth and enjoyed skin to skin contact and immediately breast fed my baby after the birth so all started off smoothly. I knew all the way through my pregnancy that I wanted to breastfeed as it is the most natural way which is good for the baby and good for the mother in many different ways:
  • It gives your baby all the nutrients he/she needs for the first 6 months of their life.
  • It helps to protect your baby from infection and other diseases such as chest infections,ear infections, constipation, upset stomach, being obese and developing eczema.
  • It helps reduce the mothers chances of getting illnesses in later life such as breast and ovarian cancer.
  • Breastfeeding helps the emotional and physical bond between mother and baby.
  • It saves money!
  • You use up to 5oo calories a day breastfeeding which will help shift that baby weight.
Sounds like a no brainer . . . . . 

I had to stay in hospital for 3 days after having K as I spotted jaundice just as I was checking out so he had to be treated on a 'billy bed' to help fight it. While in hospital I breast fed him and found it hard work but I felt he was latching on well and feeling satisfied after his feeds so I was doing o.k. I had been given a barrier cream which I was using called Lansinoh which seemed to help.

K in his Billy bed

When I got home K was feeding every 2 hours and I was finding it hard work, my nipples were starting to hurt in the most excruciating way and I was counting to 10 from when I would first put him on to feed to get through the pain. Not only that I was bursting with milk in the morning and in the afternoon I couldn't seem to satisfy him at all and he was constantly wanting to be on my breast. 

After a week or so of this I spoke to my midwife who advised and watched me breastfeed to ensure K was latching on ok, he had not put on much weight but I was advised to persist with the breastfeeding. Because I was still finding the process so painful I decided to buy some nipple shields, I read pro's and cons on using these but by now one of my nipples was so cracked that I thought it might drop off altogether so I was willing to give anything a try. Again I struggled with these. K was still not putting on any weight and trying to feed constantly and I was an emotional wreck and tired. I started expressing my milk and brought an electric pump.

K with a bit of baby fat on him
The pump helped me see that no matter what I did I ran out of milk in the afternoon, I don't know why but I did and I tried everything!! I then started expressing all my milk so I could make sure K had enough for his feeds and supplemented the afternoon feed with formula milk. K started gaining weight. I managed to keep this up for 3 months before changing over completely to formula milk. Expressing in this way was such hard work but I was so determined at the time. When I stopped giving K breast milk I found it a hard thing for me to give up because I felt such a failure not being able to breastfeed in the proper way and really beat myself up about it but it was taking such a toll on me that it was the right thing to do in the end.
Fun Times
After having a baby it is difficult in the first few months as your emotions and hormones are everywhere anyway and I did feel I had a case of the baby blues after K was born. With K being my first I was always trying to do everything by the book  & 'in the right way' and put so much pressure on myself. All the advice you receive points to breastfeeding and the midwives also encourage it. Breastfeeding was really important to me but I just couldn't do it with K.

This brings me to my decision now, do I put myself under the same pressure again? Will I be more relaxed about it all this time which may help me be more successful at it? I think the biggest lesson I learned with having K is to trust your mothering instinct as you are usually right, nobody knows your baby better than you and you just have to trust yourself. 

As I stand now I am going to try again as I still feel it is important and it is something I really want to be able to do for all the reasons I listed above BUT if I can't for any reason and it is affecting my baby's weight and making me unhappy in any way I will be switching to formula milk. Surely a happy baby and mum is more important than anything else?

I would really like to hear how other mum's have successfully or unsuccessfully breastfed and any tips that can be shared to help me next time. I will let you know how I get on!

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