Medela Mums Roundup: Showing Our Support for Mums in 2020

2020 has certainly been quite the year, and we’ve really enjoyed sharing a breastfeeding story on our blog each month from our wonderful community of Medela Mums. Here at Medela, it’s so important to us that we share authentic and true accounts of women’s breastfeeding journeys, so we can hopefully offer help and support for mums, as well as highlight some of the common problems women can face, and provide solutions! Encouraging the conversation around breastfeeding is key for us, so hearing real life experiences has been amazing!

Back in January, new mum Sarah shared her uncertainties of whether she wanted to breastfeed at all when her son was born. She gave it a go, fully expecting to stop after a couple of weeks, but found herself really enjoying it, and ended up breastfeeding for over a year! She says “I am so glad that I gave breastfeeding a go. It has been the most wonderful experience and I feel really lucky to have been able to feed my baby in this way.”

Aimee shared her story in February and was surprised at how different her breastfeeding journeys were with each of her children. After initially struggling with her firstborn latching on as well as heaps of self-doubt, she eventually went to see a lactation consultant who suggested different positions and gave her confidence with feeding, so much so that she continued for 8 months!

Second time around, Aimee was much more relaxed when it came to feeding, and her little boy latched on very quickly! She used a Swing Flex breast pump to help with her nipple pain and is still continuing to feed now!

She says “I have a healthy growing baby, so we are just going to go with the flow and see where we end up. You cannot prepare a new mum for the emotional rollercoaster that being a new mum trying to breastfeed can be, but I hope by sharing my experiences, it will allow others to know that they are not alone and are not failing in their role of mother!”

Many women find that they struggle with mastitis when breastfeeding, and new mum Leah was no exception. Sharing her story in March, single-mum Leah fed her daughter a mixture of expressed milk as well as breastfeeding, and found that with the help of family and friends, she was able to continue feeding her daughter liquid gold  – you go mama! Her top tip would be “Take the help! The bond you have with your baby through breastfeeding is remarkable and isn’t going to go anywhere because you let someone else feed them some expressed milk so you can get some well-deserved shut eye.”

Reading and preparation before baby is born is key to understanding how breastfeeding works and, although the lovely Rhetorical Mummy did her prep, once her daughter arrived, she struggled with latching on, and ended up feeling quite naïve to the challenges that breastfeeding can bring. Added to this, once breast engorgement set in, it threw her entire breastfeeding journey into turmoil! She confessed “It's definitely not easy, some days I still find it exhausting and overwhelming and then some days I think nothing of it. It’s amazing how the body and mind adapt and develop through this crazy period of such dramatic change”. Her hope was to get to six months of breastfeeding, so we really hope she achieved her goals!

Research isn’t everything though, as new mum Steph explained in July – “Before George was born, I knew I wanted to breastfeed if I could. I told myself, my friends and family of my plans to attempt to breastfeed and read all of the breastfeeding books out there! I was prepared for latching, painful let-down, sore nipples and engorgement, but oh boy I was not prepared for the leaking, night sweats, the intensity and the cluster feeding and growth spurts! My son is now 19 weeks old and we are still here, still breastfeeding! I learnt a lot from both books and from experience, and on the whole had a positive experience!”

A blogpost about 2020 wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the COVID-19 pandemic, and as the year went on, we started hearing stories of giving birth during the lockdown and what to expect! Amanda gave birth to her daughter earlier in the year and struggled without the support of her family by her side. After some issues with tongue tie, Amanda tried the Freestyle Flex and found that expressing milk worked really well for her. “I’m pleased to say that we managed to remove her from formula completely within 2 days of receiving and using the Freestyle Flex pump and although we’re not 100% exclusively breastfeeding, this pump is my daughter’s lifeline and for that I’m eternally grateful. If we do succeed on the breastfeeding front, I will continue to use the pump to make sure my husband can do an odd feed to maintain bonding with her.”

If your baby has to spend time in the NICU, it can throw your plans for breastfeeding up in the air, as mummy to Henry, Charlotte explained in June.

“Henry was born just before 38 weeks, at 4:30am. I had a very straight-forward pregnancy, with a super quick labour and delivery! At 11:50am it was found that Henry was quite poorly and needed to go to NICU. Whilst in NICU he was tube fed via an oral gastric tube, then a nasogastric tube. I opted straight for the Medela Symphony which they had at the hospital. After 36 hours of pumping 15-30ml every 3 hours, I found my supply building up to where I was able to express 200-300ml every 3 hours.

I built up a huge freezer stash, and once Henry was home, we quickly got through it all! I started combi-feeding him with formula as well as my expressed milk, which we continued to do until he was 6 months old.

It was a difficult journey, but it was so worth it for us. For me to be able to continue providing Henry with the goodness from my milk despite the fact he couldn’t physically breastfeed was amazing. I couldn’t have done it without hiring the Symphony from the hospital, so a big thank you to Medela who made our journey possible.”

It can be hard enough for your baby to be in the NICU, but if they are also born with special needs, like Rachel’s son Reuben, it can be really hard to get to grips with it all!

“My gorgeous boy Reuben was born in April 2020. Throughout the pregnancy we knew there was a high chance of him having Downs Syndrome, and this was confirmed soon after he was born. He was placed straight onto my chest at birth, and the midwives helped me to get him feeding. However, he went a bit floppy and was struggling to breathe so he was taken up to NICU.

The whole time he was in NICU I was expressing and tube feeding him, and once he was discharged, we continued feeding him expressed milk, and just before he was 12 weeks, he was hungry while I was expressing, so I thought, may as well give breastfeeding a go while they’re out! Amazingly, he took to it like he’d been doing it since birth! We’ve been breastfeeding for just over 2 weeks now and it saves so much time on washing and sterilising etc.

It’s been a long journey, and we’re still learning, but it’s such a rewarding one!”

Having a baby and a positive COVID test certainly wasn’t in Kiri’s birth plan but that’s 2020 for you!

“I hadn’t really prepared for breastfeeding too much while I was pregnant. I was really scared of the impacts of COVID-19 on my birth plan, and I went in for my induction on 31st March, alone and very scared. When I was in hospital, I developed COVID-19 symptoms, and tested positive – added to this my induction wasn’t working so I ended up having to have a c-section.

When my baby was born, the midwives taught me how to ensure I had a good latch and all about different positions, but once we got home, I was recovering from the c-section, and COVID-19, and felt so useless and vulnerable. I remember crying in pain most nights and telling my partner I couldn’t do it – I just wanted one day pain free. Armed with nipple cream and sheer stubbornness, we battled on.

I am so happy and grateful that all the obstacles didn’t stop me from breastfeeding. During the times I felt so down and so weak and couldn’t do much else, I could still feed her whilst my partner took care of everything else. Although the birth didn’t go to plan and it was hard work – I’ll always look back on my breastfeeding journey and smile.”

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