The one thing I was most looking forward to as a new mum was breastfeeding; knowing I would be giving my baby everything he needed was so important to me. The closeness and bonding was a bonus. I couldn’t wait. But unfortunately for me, it wasn’t that easy.
After Lamb was born I immediately put him on my breast to feed. As a new mum, I didn’t know what was right or wrong, and I instantly assumed he was feeding. As most of you know, new babies sleep a lot during the first couple of days after birth, so he wasn’t waking that much during the night. The next morning I realised he wasn’t latching properly.
The midwives at Colchester General were amazing. There was one in particular who was determined to get Lamb to latch. She spent a long time changing his position and showing me techniques to improve latching: none of which worked (sad face). I asked if I could go home that day, and the answer was no. The midwife wanted to make sure I could feed my baby without introducing a bottle so early. All I wanted to do was breastfeed my son.
They gave me a few options to make sure Lamb was getting some milk.
- Hand Express and feed him with a syringe. I tried this and managed to feed him a little bit of milk.
- Use a breast pump and feed him with a bottle.
- Use nipple shields to help him latch.
I opted for the shields. It turned out that I have ‘inverted nipples’, which basically meant they were too small for Jaxson to latch. I tried the shields, and to my joy, Lamb latched.
It felt AMAZING. I was finally feeding my baby.
We worked out that Lamb had gone without a proper feed for about 48 hours. This panicked me, but I was reassured if he was hungry, he would let me know. And he was as quiet as a mouse, so I was able to relax and concentrate on improving his latching.
Once we were finally home (after 3 days in hospital), I stocked up on nipple shields and off we went on our breastfeeding journey. This lasted about 2 weeks. I would have loved to feed him myself for a lot longer, but using the shields became quite messy. I had a lot of milk and he just couldn’t drink it quick enough. He then developed colic, and feeding with shields wasn’t helping with this, so we moved onto bottles. I expressed my milk 6-8 times a day and stored it in the fridge ready for his feeds. I continued expressing until he was 4 1/2 months. When I tell people this, they are pretty shocked. Apparently that’s a long time to express as it’s pretty stressful, but to me it was my duty as a mother.
What I want to get across to you in this post, is that not everything is straightforward. But there is always a solution to overcome any challenges you face as a mother.
If it wasn’t for nipple shields, I would never have experienced what it was like to feed my baby. I would recommend any mum-to-be to take some to the hospital when you go into labour, as you never know when you might need a little helping hand. If you don’t need them – great!
If you have already read Vicky’s post on her experience with breastfeeding, you will see that everyone is different. She had a beautiful and natural experience with feeding, I however, had to concentrate on finding a way to feed Lamb my milk. Both of us did brilliantly.
If you are worried about breastfeeding, make sure you speak to your midwife or health visitor. They are always on the end of the phone to give advice.
You can also find a lot of breastfeeding advice from Clare Byam-Cook. We spoke to her at the Baby Show and she was extremely helpful. You can buy her book here. One thing I asked her, was if she thinks I will be able to breast feed my next baby. Her response was this. “I always tell mums who can’t breastfeed their first baby to stop after a couple of weeks. If they haven’t started by then, they never will. Each baby is different. It’s not you doing it wrong, it’s the baby. Some babies just don’t know how to suck properly. Look at mums with twins, for example. One baby might feed with ease, the other not at all. There’s always a chance you will be able to breastfeed your second baby.”
I found this advice extremely reassuring 🙂
If you are considering using a breast pump, then there are plenty out there to try. I started off with a Tommee Tippee electric pump, but then moved onto a manual one. Both were great. My advice would be to think about how much you want to express before buying. For example, if you want to express once a day, just build up a supply in the freezer, then perhaps you don’t need the extra cost of an electric pump.
Here are some I recommend:
We would love to hear from you with your breastfeeding tips and advice. Or if you have found this helpful in any way, let us know 🙂
P.S The cover photo is one of the only times I managed to breastfeed Lamb with no shields. It was one of our most precious moments together.