My Breastfeeding Story: Feeling Unprepared, Struggling to Find a Good Latch, Excess Milk Flow and Painful Breast Engorgement!
Next in our series of real mums’ breastfeeding stories, we hear from The Rhetorical Mummy, who shares her breastfeeding journey after her daughter was born in July 2019. Although she felt she was prepared, 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!
On your marks, get set…GO! For me that’s what feeding felt like, and on occasion does still feel like. It certainly wasn’t a slow and steady process with opportunities to reflect, recoup and go again.
If I’d have known what I know now 10 weeks down the line, I’m still not sure what advice I’d give myself in order to prepare myself better. Looking back I was totally clueless.
Did I buy a breastfeeding book, yes!
Did I read it? Partially!
Did I attend a breastfeeding specific session for hours on a Saturday morning to learn about milk flow? Yes!
Did I learn a lot? Yes.
Did I even take notes thinking that I would calmly look back and refer to these in coming weeks? Yes, yes, yes.
I did all the things you are ’supposed’ to do and of course I patted myself on the back and prematurely congratulated myself on the fact that I felt semi prepared - after all I’d even taken notes hadn’t I?
WHAM! My little girl arrived and that was it, the feeling of being on a treadmill that you absolutely cannot get off. Yet, your emotional compass is so massively embroiled in the fact that you have to keep your beautiful baby alive that you go with it. (Plus absolutely zero time to look back on those beautifully taken notes you'd written down the week before!)
Now don’t get me wrong I had spoken to people prior to my little girl being born and the main word that seemed to come out of them was ‘perseverance’, so in my naïve pre-baby brain I thought ‘how hard can it be?’
Fast forward to Day 0, straight after my daughter was born: I remembered that newborn babies instinctively know where their mother’s breasts are and if you leave your baby on your tummy they will gradually make their way to your nipple and latch on. Perfect, piece of cake, no problem, I’ve got this!
Now (and this is purely in my experience, everyone is different) I have found this to be only half true, yes, babies do seem to know where their mother’s breasts are but the latch is so difficult! The one thing that means so much, the thing that you will agonise over (literally), the thing that looks so easy on paper but actually in real life is pretty tricky because babies are living, breathing, beautiful little creatures with arms and legs and a wobbly neck that you are solely responsible for: I found LATCHING my kryptonite of breastfeeding.
On Day 3, I woke up pinned to the bed by two rock hard boulders attached to my chest, I couldn’t even lift my arms above my head, what on earth was this and what was I supposed to do with these new, rock solid boobs?
Engorgement had set in and boy did it hurt! I now know that there are many things that I could have done at this stage to ease my pain but again its only with the power of hindsight that I can reflect on them. The warm baths/showers, massaging and cool compresses (none of which I really wanted to do because it all just hurt too damn much!)
In amongst all this, I saw a wonderful post-natal nurse and I would honestly say 'she saved me' and gave me both the skills and confidence to continue. She got hold of my baby and showed me exactly how to hold her and then she showed me exactly what I should do until we got it right. Bingo the latch felt so much better! Hallelujah! So back home we went armed with new skills, and although it was still very bumpy after this, I felt far more competent. The support of my husband also helped keep me going.
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.
My aim with breastfeeding is 6 months so I will keep you posted as to how it continues but for now my little girl continues to grow and gain weight which i am forever thankful for and for the support of some fantastic people and some wonderful products. Thank you!
Thank you to The Rhetorical Mummy, for sharing her breastfeeding experience. If you would like to share your breastfeeding story please email, firstname.lastname@example.org