Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Breastfeeding Journey

In a couple of weeks Ezra will be a year old, this also means that in a couple of weeks I will have been Breastfeeding for 12 months, which was my original goal! It feels good to know that I have made it this far. This was just my own personal amount of time that I wanted to breastfeed for, and I know different people choose to do things differently and their circumstances are different,  in the end you have to choose whats right for you and your baby.

For me breastfeeding wasn't always easy. 
In fact in the early days, it was one of the most difficult and challenging experiences of my life.

So now that I am nearing my goal, and because it is World Breastfeeding Week I thought I would share My Breastfeeding Journey 

As soon as Ezra was born we did skin to skin, in our pre-natal classes we were told about how babies could latch on themselves (baby led attachment) during this time and that it was amazing. This didn't happen for us, my baby just made a lot of grunting noises and didn't seem too interested. There were still amazing benefits for us both to have the skin to skin time, but it wasn't like the videos they made us watch, and it wasn't like any movies! 

When we got back to the hospital room, Joel was swiftly sent home as it was nearing midnight and I was left alone, sore, tired and with a baby I really had no idea what to do with. The midwives came in every few hours to wake me (although I was mostly already awake, there was too much in my head to sleep) so I could feed him. But, I still couldn't get him to latch, I had to express so that he would get the much needed colostrum. Finally, on the second evening my new favourite midwife came along and boom she helped me to get him attached properly and off we went. I was able to finally relax. No one told me about the stress that unsuccessful breastfeeding causes. By the next afternoon I was keen to get out of there, my milk still hadn't come in, but after getting the once over and checking that he was feeding properly, off we went. I was so confident, I thought I had it sorted. 

When my milk came in it all changed, I had MAJOR engorgement issues and as a new breastfeeding Mum I didn't realise that this would make latching such a big problem (described to me beautifully as trying to bite the outside of a watermelon, its just not going to happen). Breastfeeding became terribly painful, I had sore and blistered nipples and every time I would hear my beautiful new baby wake up or cry for milk I would cringe. I dreaded the thought of feeding him. I started to pump a little milk out before every feed to make things easier, but because the damage had already been done I was still in a lot of pain. Every feed was excruciating.

After two weeks of crying and beating myself up I finally sucked it up and decided I needed help. I ended up visiting three different lactation consultants. We managed to get latching right and painless in our first two appointments, and we were sent on our merry way, once again full of confidence. I would try again at home only to be unable to duplicate it, and end up a blubbering mess again. I tried 'skin to skin' and baby-led attachment, only  to find myself laying in milk soaked sheets with a hungry and screaming baby. I watched so many 'how-to' you-tube videos,  I was absolutely consumed with breastfeeding, it was the only thing I could think about.  I didn't even want to go out because God forbid I would have to try twenty million times to get my baby to latch properly in public.

My last lactation consultant visit was when Ez was 5 weeks old, and although she was unable to help me breastfeed painlessly, she offered me some amazing words of encouragement.

 'Just hang in there, it will get better. When his mouth gets bigger it will be easier. You are doing a great job. This is a really common problem, we are booked out all the time helping Mums with breastfeeding problems, its going to be ok.'

Wow I needed to hear these words. Even though I was so determined to breastfeed I was thinking how much easier formula would be. She encouraged me just to keep using the nipple shield, which other lactation consultants made me feel guilty about, but HELLO I had to feed my baby somehow right. I went away from that visit with a clear head, I had positivity and determination again, I wasn't going to beat myself up anymore or feel like a failure as a Mother. 

On the advice of the consultant I also made a visit to my GP, who also informed me I had a fever, and suspected that the majority of the pain I was experiencing was due to the dreaded Mastitis (an infection). It had started due to the nipple damage. After a round of antibiotics, and allowing myself to heal using the shield, things began to change. 

Soon breastfeeding was a breeze, once we made sure Ezra was latched on correctly every time, I healed up and we got the hang of it,  it was the most relaxing time of my day. I would have cup of tea, flick on a DVD and put my feet up. I now kind of miss exclusive breastfeeding because I didn't have to worry about packing lunch with me when we went out, it was already packed and at the right temperature! It's awesome to think that my body could sustain my baby, and give him everything he needs, as a woman I think it is pretty empowering.

 Now we are down to two breastfeeds a day (morning and evening), gone are the days of tea cups, or tv or any other sort of distraction for that matter while feeding, even Joel gets sent out of the room. I have to sit in a quiet place or the little man decides to look around and display my boob to the world whilst milk is squirting everywhere. Lets not even get started on biting.  Soon we will be finishing, and it makes me a little sad. It is the only time my baby boy lies still in my arms anymore, I really do love it.

I hope I haven't terrified any soon-to-be Mums who are planning on breastfeeding! I hope that you have no issues. But, the reality is it isn't easy for many Mums, and I think it is so important in the early days when you are holding onto your tube of Lanisoh for dear life, to know that your not the only one. So many of us have been through the same things, you aren't a failure, there isn't anything wrong with you, it just takes time to figure out what your doing. It is a whole new thing!

  My advice would be if you are keen to Breastfeed, do some research, get clued in, talk to friends who have breastfed, have a support system, go to the Australian Breastfeeding Association website, and focus more on that than the colour walls for the nursery! 

Did you find your experience with Breastfeeding what you expected it to be?

Karen xx




26 comments:

  1. Thank you Karen. I thought I was going to read another post about how easy it was. Your experience was similar to mine (for both children) down to the mastitis. In the first few weeks I dreaded my son feeding and then felt guilty about feeling this way. I persevered, but don't believe I need a medal, as I saw the anguish of my friends that couldn't manage it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. In some ways I wish I could post about how easy it was! I know how alone I felt going through this, and because there are so many 'it was so easy' posts, I really wanted to share how you can be successful even when you get off to a rough start! I'm sorry you had to experience the dreaded Mastitis, ugh it is The Worst!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I had so much trouble and pain too for the first several weeks even months. But I am so happy I stuck with it, I made it a full 13 months and would do it again in a heartbeat! I was a determined mama and also benifited from the shield at first too. I have helped a few friends and benefited from hands on help as well. I had trouble with an infection and being blocked but you are right to seek out help and definitely let people.know that the struggle is definitely worth it! Kudos mama!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I had so much trouble and the start too and continued for as long as I could. Kudos to you for your strength and courage! It can be a bitter sweet journey.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dani @ Fitness Food And StyleAugust 3, 2012 at 12:49 PM

    Hi Karen, love your post esp with it being International Breastfeeding Week :-))))) Also connecting via FYOB!!!
    Let me know if it's ok that I posted my b/feeding image, otherwise please feel free to remove it. I am currently b/feeding baby no.4 (Zali turns 1 next week) and will continue to do so until she is over it....6 months MAX!!! It is the best experience ever and have enjoyed each and every one of my kids. XxDani
    http://fitnessfoodandstyle.blogspot.com.au

    ReplyDelete
  6. Gorgeous photo. I'm so glad that you found that support and were able to get passed your initial difficulties xx

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks Dani, its awesome that you posted that pic!! Once I got it down pat it really has been such a great experience! You must be an expert now on #4!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. That is one thing that at least that was good about having a rough experience at first is that now we can help and give advice to those who are going through it, I feel like a wealth of knowledge after all the advice and research I did!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. It seems like it is rare not to have any trouble and It can be bitter sweet that is for sure!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks Catherine xx

    ReplyDelete
  11. I didn't BF my first for very long, not because I was having problems, but he was a very hungry baby and my mum convinced me to put him on the bottle. But Izzy was great(i made 11 mnths) and I'm currently doing it now with Summer(shes almost 9 months). I had an relatively easy journey compared to yours. I had a great lactation nurse, very supportive through the cracked nipples at the start. Well done on making it 12 months having the determination to see it through and telling it like it is :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Renay @ Mummy's MiraclesAugust 3, 2012 at 5:20 PM

    I'm so glad that you have had a successful time (even though those first few weeks/months were so let's say unexpected:) ). It's so nice to hear about the success stories. I've had trouble breastfeeding with both of my girls but I'm hoping that if there is a third that I'll be able to get it right then. I think it's so important to share stories like yours because it gives hope and determination to others. Thankyou :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yes, breastfeeding can be an interesting journey for many mums. I had nipple thrush for 2 months when the twinlets were about 8 weeks old. It was hell. I made a lot of late night emergency calls to the Australian Breastfeeding Association. So glad that it's turned out to be a beautiful experience for you and little Ezra x

    ReplyDelete
  14. Breastfeeding can be tough and everyone's journey is unique. Congratulations on making twelve months. That was my goal too and I also made it. Yeah for us! Thanks for linking up for Flash Blog Friday :-)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I also love the name Ezra - just beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  16. What a beautiful story. I'd heard some breastfeeding horror stories, so when I had a hard time breastfeeding my first it kind of was I expected it to be. That didn't make it any easier though, I was still heartbroken. I didn't have much encouragement and was continually told to "just give him a bottle" so I stopped feeding after 5 months. Babies 2 & 3 were a different story, there was nothing stopping me ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks Alicia!! Having good support definitely makes a huge difference.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks Renay, I also think there needs to be more success stories around, especially from people who had a hard time at the beginning, because so many women give up in the first month, it can be such an isolating thing!

    ReplyDelete
  19. How amazing are the ABA!! Such great resources. It makes it easier in a country where there is a lot of support!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi Bree, Thank you! And yes YAY for us! ha!

    ReplyDelete
  21. It is amazing what great support can do, especially when it is your first baby everything is so new and strange! I didn't realise how much breastfeeding would affect me before I became a mother, it really is such an emotional experience, especially so when it isn't going right

    ReplyDelete
  22. I can totally relate to this story. I found the beginning really hard too. Just when we seemed to be getting the hang of it we were discharged and sent home. Then bang! My milk came it and like you it was a whole new challenge. The first full day we were at home I send the entire day on the lounge balling my eyes out, with a crying baby who just couldn't latch on. Thank God for my husband, he was the absolute best and without his encouragement I would have given up then and there! We ended up getting the breat pump off laby that day (well Dave went and got it!), Mia had one bottle of formula (before we'd gotten the breast pump) and I pumped so much milk I could have fed her for days. Knowing that I then had fall backs took the pressure off and gave me the piece of mind to relax and know that even if we couldnt get a decent latch she wasn't going to starve. Eventually we got the hang of it though, starting off those first few days bu expressing a bit to soften up the nipple so Mia could latch on better and eventually it just became second nature!

    ReplyDelete
  23. No body ever really tells you how much it will hurt. It is a learned process and does take time. I BF my first for 6months, returning to work scared me into weaning him. My second is still feeding at 14months, I'm following the whole 'don't offer and don't refuse' thing. It's working for us at the moment. Great post Karen!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Visiting from Wonderful Wednesday link up. Following via GFC. Looking forward to following your blog! You can find me over at www.dalaynadillon.blogspot.com.
    Dalayna

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thanks so much for linking up with us for Wonderful Wednesday! Have a great week and hope to see you next time :)


    Rachel (co-host)

    ReplyDelete
  26. love that name! Ezra :)


    Happy Saturday! have a great weekend! Drop by nichollvincent.blogspot.com and say hello!

    ReplyDelete

Template by Pink + Lola