So I have bee meaning to write ths blog in time for breast feeding awareness week, but thanks to my little
monster angel of a son it didn’t quite make it out at the beginning of the week but rather the end… Oh well this is my life now, all my well laid out plans up in smoke. But the smiles I share with my darling boy make up for the frustration my type A personality feels by the end of a week. But I digress, I want to share our breast feeding story so others who go through the same thing can find encouragement.
My little boy was born with a tongue tie and heart shaped tongue, from the moment he was laid on my tummy the mid-wives, who so wonderfully helped bring him into the world, watched him like a hawk. Their biggest concern was if he would be able to feed cause tongue tied babies usually have a problem manuevering their tongue in order to suck at the nipple. But our little man latched like a champion although I don’t think its as strong as normal cause I can pull him off really easily and he dribbles out the side of his mouth, however it’s never been an issue!
But then my milk came in (for any preggie ladies reading, you start with colostrum for the first few days and only on about day 3/4 do you get your full milk…colostrum’s the good yellow stuff). That’s when our struggle started, it flowed into our poor child’s mouth like niagra falls!
He would pop of gasping for air and my milk would squirt in all directions (mostly on his little face). It really bothered him and me and would make feeding quite stressful for us both. Especially the evening feeds when he was tired, we would both just end up in tears. My nipples we starting to hurt and he couldn’t cope with the large amount of milk my breasts were making so they we becoming way to full and engoured, and I kept getting small lumps (which I think was mastitis).
In between feeds my breast would fill up and he wouldn’t be hungry so they would just start leaking everywhere and fill up a breastpad in seconds. Then at about 3 months it all started to change, my milk started to regulate itself and I started to panic that I wasn’t making enough for him and he was always hungry. I even. Started him on. Solids at 4 months thinking he was hungry, but we ended up stopping cause he wasn’t quite yet ready. Gratefully that was not the case, all that was going on was my body (and this always amazes me) had started to figure out how much he needed and had adapted to that.
So panic averted he was still getting plenty and was even adapting his drinking to the speed at which it came out meaning our feeds only take about 7mins on each side.
For anyone struggling with the same problems, hang in there! Don’t give up feeding, breast really is best for your little one in fact we now aren’t rushing off to feed him solids at all cause the more research I have done the more I am convinced that feeding them anything to early other than breast milk can actually not be helpful to them at all.
What helped us through this time:
1. Speak to people about it, you aren’t alone!
I found this the most useful, we are lucky enough to have a breast feeding support group run by the midwives here in our area and they were fantastic. They gave me plenty of hints and tips and made me feel quite at ease about all the stuff I was worrying about. Also try and find a group of like minded mums groups or just a bunch of mums with babies and with the same issues so you can off load, have a cry and get some hugs from.
2. It is a big deal!
I felt awful for complaining or talking about it, I would often hear things like “oh how I wish I had that problem”, or “that’s nothing to complain about”. But you know what it was a big deal to me, having Billy crying and not eating stressed me out and concerned me. Just because it wasn’t the worst thing that could happen when breast feeding doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. I know we were lucky and I know other people have it worse than us but its all relative and if its bothering you don’t let people bring you down or make you feel like you shouldn’t talk about it… It is a problem!
3. It’s gonna be ok.
Right now it’s hard, you feel like you could tear out your hair but it will all come to an end and you will both be ok. It’s hard to look to the future when you are struggling with the now but there is a end in sight and once you both figure out what you are doing you will instantly notice the difference. Looking back I can now pat myself on he back and say “see, I told you we would get through this”. You will be able too as well, just hang in there.
4. Do what works for you.
We were given lots of advice, some worked some didn’t. We stopped doing what didn’t work and kept doing what did. Here are some of the things that we were told…
* Lie down or on your side when feeding as this helps slow the flow down. (This didn’t work for us but it might for you)
* Once you feel your let down pop the baby off and let the heavy flow run into a towel until its not as strong and then pop your bub back on. (This really worked for us and little Billy now does it himself)
* Express milk between feeds or just before a feed so that you don’t have the let down when your baby is drinking. (This worked well but we heard different views it. One being that your body will think your baby needs lots of milk cause you are expressing so much and will not regulate itself accordingly. That would be great if you need the extra milk for when you go back to work but since I am staying home for at least the first year we didn’t keep this one up. It did however help a lot when my breasts filled up between feeds and it was uncomfortable to lie down and sleep)
* Part of having such a strong flow was that Billy was getting extremely gassy from gulping it down so we we advised to burp him during the feed. So he would feed, I would feel the let down; pop him off (always remember to break the seal first or you will have raw nipples); let the flow out into a cloth and sit him up for a burp (don’t force it though, if they don’t burp it’s fine). Once it’s normalised pop him back on and let him drink again. Offer the other breast and do the same for that side then once you are finished feeding lay the baby down for a minute or so gently raise him into a sitting position or upright against your shoulder (the higher the better when we did it) until the trapped wind is out. This worked wonders for us and he now burps himself during or after a feed.
4. Breast feeding is truly best!
Now I know not everyone can breast feed and I understand that if you need to move onto formula or someone else’s breast milk (which I fully support) then please don’t feel like I am saying you have failed as a mum or as a parent. You as a child’s caregiver needs to make whatever decision is best for the health and well being of your child, family and you.
For us however I felt like breast was (and still is) best and reading up on it I can see why. The nutritional benefits of breast feeding far out way anything else you can do check out why here.
I have found breast feeding invaluable in creating a bond between Billy and I. Whenever he is on me he stares up at me, laughs, plays around and generally feels better for not only having something to eat but having the warm comfort of being on my lap and getting a cuddle from mom. This isn’t going to last forever so for now I will take it whenever I can.
Sit in a quite room, no distractions for you or your baby. Get comfy, make sure your arms feel supported. Don’t be in a rush or make your baby feel like they need to rush. Always drink water before or during and if you need it have a nice healthy snack on hand like almonds or an apple. Get your darling baby settled and ready, take a deep breath… Now another one. Look down at your precious bundle of joy and smile. Then try and feed. This was my routine on a good and bad day and boy did it make a difference to baby and my frame of mind. Don’t forget your baby can sense your emotions so if you are stressed they will be stressed. This doesn’t help anyone 🙂
Some resources :
Obviously there are many more resources out there so do some research if you need it especially when pressured to stop beast feeding by family etc cause its nice to be able to lovingly and calmly explain the facts and health benefits and these links only skim the top, but hopefully it helps.
Billy is now 5 months old and going strong. We still have days when breast feeding takes a lot more work and he is now getting easily distracted so a quiet rooms is very helpful. His latch still isn’t super strong but he feeds great, sometimes when he is really tired we still have issues with feeding him and when he is done there is milk all over his gorgeous little face and it dribbles down his cute squishy cheeks. But we a getting there and so will you and we aren’t planning on stopping till he wants to.
Stay strong, stick to your guns and chat to a professional, try not to listen to too many old wives tales or the pressure to give up. Most of all GOOD LUCK, you and bub are both learning something very new so have patience and don’t forget to smile 🙂