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Breastfeeding: Mama's perspective- Part 1

To honour World breastfeeding week we have collated some experiences from fellow mama's that highlight the reality of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is a choice and there is so much more to breastfeeding then making sure your baby has a full tummy. There were so many things that I didn't know when starting my journey with my little one that you just wouldn't as a new breastfeeding mama. Everyone's breastfeeding journeys are different, however its good to hear all about different experiences from other mums. Our latest blog features an insight in their own words from fellow breastfeeding mums of the struggles they faced as well as the joys breastfeeding brings.

Breastfeeding is so beautiful and rewarding however it can also be one of the toughest at times for many reasons.

Part 1 of 3...   

Heather, Mummy to Ellis 2 years 8 Months

Breastfeeding mums talk about their experiences being a breastfeeding Mum.

I gave birth with an open mind about breastfeeding.  My preference was to breastfeed however if for whatever reason if it wasn’t meant to be that would be perfectly fine too. I had heard stories from too many mothers that had decided against or experienced problems breastfeeding and were as a result carrying negative feelings.

I often say my son Ellis was ‘born to breastfeed’, he led the way and made it so easy for me. Within minutes of being born he was suckling on the towel he was wrapped in and had no issues latching on, Ellis is now 2.5 years old and hasn’t been breastfed for a year but he will still reach for my “boobies” at any opportunity!

I enjoyed breastfeeding and have absolutely no regrets however at first its hard work! After Ellis was born I stayed in the hospital for 3 days, I remember saying to the midwife on day 2 “I don’t think he’s getting enough milk, he’s feeding all the time” to which she replied  “ yes, he will” and I responded ‘”NO, you don’t understand, he’s feeding ALL the time!”and I couldn’t believe that this was normal!... it was! Through shear exhaustion, I would have done mix feeding after being discharged from the hospital, however I was advised by my midwife to wait 6 weeks or there was a risk Ellis wouldn’t latch back on to me after experiencing a bottle so I decided against this.  In hindsight I am certain my boob obsessed little baby would have gladly latched back on and it was the bottle that would have been at risk of desertion! I’m glad I stuck with it as it got a lot easier and less demanding after a couple of months when his stomach grew and so he fed less often. I continued until Ellis was 20 months as I felt Ellis was ready at this point and I was too.

In the beginning I was laughably awkward at arranging Ellis and myself so as not to flash any bust, even sending any male relatives out of the room while I got him latched on and my clothes suitably positioned, after a few weeks I was a ninja pro and could ‘pop’ Ellis on anywhere! I never felt awkward breastfeeding Ellis in public, my view was if anyone had a problem with it, it was their problem and not mine!

Breastfeeding definitely created a bond between Ellis and I, I was not only providing his food but I was his comfort too. There were countless moments when he was feeding and we would get lost in each others gaze cementing our mother and son bond.  Once he could smile he would often look up and smile back at me and even burst into laughter whilst latched on, clearly in his ‘happy place’ lol, ill never forget those priceless moments.

I cannot exclude a shout out to my husband, being positively supportive throughout our breastfeeding journey.

I think we were both conscious in the earlier days of his limited time to bond with Ellis due to our decision to exclusively breastfeed and Ellis initially being latched on more than off.  Understandably this must be a common worry for most fathers in the same position, though honestly this has had no bearing on their relationship and their bond is just as strong!  

Lastly, I just wanted to mention although I was lucky to have a seamless and enjoyable experience, every mother and baby are different. Try not to let others sway your decision and definitely do what feels right for you. A happy mother makes for a happy baby, whatever path you take!

Annie, first time Mama to Newborn, Miles

breastfeeding journey of a new mum. Bottle feeding and breastfeeding combinedMy little one is just about to hit the 6 week mark so I feel as though I’m still working out where I am on my breastfeeding journey but I’ll tell you where I’m at so far.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   I hadn’t really thought much about breastfeeding before I had Miles, I had always just assumed- naively - that I would breastfeed and it would be easy and amazing. I’d been told about mixed feeding and liked the sound of it, especially as I am self-employed so would likely be going back to work before the all important 6 month mark. Unfortunately no one mentioned, and I didn’t research enough to find out, that mixed feeding is better started after your milk supply is established after a few weeks. This meant that when Miles was born I started him on formula from day one. There were a number of reasons why I gave him the formula and I’m trying not to beat myself up too much about it, especially given that I gave birth in the middle of a pandemic, however it has really affected my milk supply and I now feel like I’m constantly chasing my tail trying to up it to meet his needs and although he will take both he’s definitely starting to show a preference for the bottle.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          At the moment I am offering him the breast whenever I can, then topping him up with formula and expressed milk which seems to be working for the two of us - and will be sustainable when I go back to work! It wasn’t easy to begin with, Miles seemed to be struggling to process the milk and I cried with him every time he scrunched his little face up as I felt it was my fault, but having spoken to other mums this might not have been all to do with formula. And in any case we’ve since swapped him to an easier to digest organic milk and he’s loads better now.
        
Ultimately my advice for any mum to be or new mum would be do what works for you and your mental health (although I’ve had a million people say that to me and it doesn’t always make you feel any better!) but if you want to breastfeed exclusively, make sure you work on getting your milk flow established straight away.