I’ve decided to write this down because I’ve been hearing a few new mums recently say that they are struggling or were struggling in the beginning and I found it beneficial to read other people’s stories.
When I first had my baby, my milk took a very long time to come in. I know that a lot of midwives will tell you, just keep feeding it will come in sooner or later, but this wasn’t quite the case for me and I needed some assistance to bring in my supply. I think this was largely due to the way in which Maddison came into the world (that is a whole different story) and the stress that I felt after her birth and on the labour ward.
I was very motivated to breastfeed. I had anticipated that it wouldn’t be as easy as pop the baby on and ‘Bob’s your uncle’ but I also hadn’t anticipated what a struggle it would be. I was discharged from hospital Tuesday morning after having her Sunday night via emergency C section. Maddison however was kept another day in special care as she was receiving some antibiotics. Luckily the special care nursery allowed me to stay an extra day in there with her. However the first 48 hours after her birth I really struggled with the feeding and I found it very painful. I did have midwives to show me how to get her to latch correctly, however I felt a lack of support getting to her to feed and I wasn’t sleeping because I was worried that she would need me as she wasn’t in my room. I produced a very small amount of colostrum the first couple of days, however by the Wednesday when we both went home my colostrum had dried up. Again, I think this was mainly due to stress, and the stress kept building as I was so upset that I wasn’t able to feed my baby. There was talk of supplementing her with formula while in hospital but I wasn’t keen on this idea as I thought that my breastmilk supply would never come in if I started with formula so early. This is not an ‘anti-formula’ post, I believe everyone has to do what is right for them and their baby. However, I was so keen to breastfeed my baby, and was getting more and more stressed that she wasn’t eating or getting enough fluid.
I had midwives come out to see us at home and basically tell me that if I did not give her formula she would end up back in hospital. So I watched while they fed my newborn baby and I stood by feeling helpless. The first 2 weeks for us where really just a blur, I still regret not being able to enjoy her during those early days but I was so upset and feeling like I was failing her, I was struggling to sleep and she was struggling to feed.
I had midwives teach me feeding positions, lactation consultants in the breastfeeding clinic watch us feed and tell me not to worry about it and that I needed to just get over the stress of her birth. I also made the mistake of taking a bottle of boiled water and had already added the formula before we went in to the clinic (I didn’t know at that stage that you were meant to keep them separate before feeding) and had the lactation consultant tell me off, which again resulted in tears.
I spoke to one of my good friends who is a paediatric dietitian and she recommended going to see my GP and getting some domperidone. I started on this 3x per day and hired a hospital grade pump and begun a very strict 2 hourly, round the clock pumping regime (this left me very little time to eat or sleep, let alone bond with my baby). Luckily I had the help and support of my Mother-in-law to help me feed Maddison around the clock.
This continued until day 10…. when my milk finally came in!!!! I started to produce colostrum again after a couple of days on the strict regime but actual milk started to flow on day 10. I was so happy, I can’t even begin to tell you. That’s not to say my milk came in and it was a smooth breastfeeding journey ever since. I did get her back onto purely breastmilk but I still really struggled with the latching. All the professionals said the first 6 weeks are the hardest…. I found the first 12 weeks for me were difficult and then it got a bit easier. It really wasn’t until the 4 month mark that I would say it was easy and felt natural. But I am happy to say we are now 10 months on and still breastfeeding! Maddison loves her solids and often prefers to feed herself rather than breastfeed but she still has about 3 good milk feeds in a day.
For some people breastfeeding really is a tough journey and if you are one of those people and you want to breastfeed your baby but you’re not sure if you are physically able to, please go to see a lactation consultant or trusted GP first. There are people that can help you to feed if you want to persist with it. Though if you choose to formula feed and that is best for your mental health, that’s really important too. I just wanted to tell my story so that if there’s someone out there struggling with it, I hope this provides a little bit of support.
Please note that taking care of yourself; eating well, drinking fluids and sleeping is soooo important too! I wasn’t doing this adequately in the early days and it definitely hindered my milk supply.
Since my struggle with breastfeeding I have come across the most amazing lactation cookies – Milk and Cookies by Jewels, which come in a variety of different flavours. Full of breastmilk boosting goodies such as oats, brewers yeast and flaxseeds. You can get these at her webpage or a great supplier: www.mylittlehood.com.au