Reflections on breastfeeding
Natural? – yes
Easy? – unfortunately not always
Worth it? – Totally!
The best advice I was given (before I had my son) was if you want to breast feed then don’t give up. I want to pass on that valuable advice. Breastfeeding my son had many ups and downs but after a rocky start I breast fed him for 8 months and I’m so glad I did.
Having been told that breastfeeding can be difficult and painful, when my newborn fed easily from both breasts on delivery I was delighted! If only it had continued like that!
My son was four and a half weeks premature. With no room on transitional care they put him in neo natal. I was called back up to feed him at midnight. I sat there trying for 3 hours but he wouldn’t feed. They said he was probably just tired but because he was in neo natal they would have to tube feed him with formula. I felt like I’d failed him. At 3am I went back down to my little room alone and exhausted, phoned my husband and cried.
The next day we were transferred to transitional care and I finally had my baby with me. With heaps of mutual support from others in the same boat I spent days trying to feed him while also trying to express milk and master the tube feeding! We had one breast pump between 2 wards but the camaraderie was great and the midwives amazing! Thank you Breda in LGI!
After a few days Matthew was feeding well and, after a short setback where I developed mastitis, I was able to take him home.
He was an amazing feeder after that. I could live with the occasional bout of mastitis and discomfort – fortunately these days there are lots of products out there like breast pads, shields and medication if needed. Breastfeeding was so much easier than warming and carrying bottles. I breast fed Matthew until he was 8 months old. I’d followed advice and had a varied and balanced diet throughout pregnancy and feeding. His immune system has been amazing and he is strong and healthy. He’s rarely suffered from colds or stomach upsets. Though only 6 years old he has already had to have two operations but bounced back brilliantly from both.
He loves his food – except for lettuce that isn’t crunchy and brown sauce! Can’t blame him for that!
I’m so pleased that I persevered with breastfeeding as I feel that he is still reaping the benefits from the great start.
For me, being up for breastfeeding in the early hours also had a totally unexpected outcome – I wrote my first book! While I was up for the 3am feeds, poems popped into my head quite spontaneously and unexpectedly! By the time I’d stopped feeding there was a book of them, ‘Baby Daze,’ which was published this year by The Book Guild. Now that Matthew is 6 years old he loves the fact that my book of humorous and sentimental poems about early motherhood was inspired by him. Maybe it was the hormones, maybe the intense emotional connection, the peace and quiet or maybe I’m most creative in the early hours!
My top tips for breastfeeding:
- If Dad is around and you can express milk, then a bottle feed from Dad at midnight will give you much needed sleep and strengthen the father and child bond. A win all round!
- Relax – everything is less painful that way.
- Get advice from midwives and doctors who can help with mastitis and other problems or just offer reassurance.
- Don’t give up if your baby has to be tube fed formula early on or needs top up feeds with formula in between.
- Stop when it feels right for you and your baby. For me that was 8 months when Matthew was comfortable on solids. It was a wrench for me at the time but I felt it was right for him.
- Most of all trust your own instincts when it comes to feeding and do what feels right for you and your baby.