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How To Have a Positive Breastfeeding Experience



Breastfeeding is something that so many women struggle with, and even though it is a completely natural part of birth and of being a woman, that does not mean that it comes naturally to everyone. That does not mean that it is an easy process to adopt. That being said, there is so much benefit, in sharing our journeys of breastfeeding, to open up this forum and share tips and tools that can really help women not feel so alone in this, not feel like they are just doing it wrong, and actually help, guide and support them on what can be such a beautiful and bonding experience.

 

In 2019 I wanted to breastfeed my first born, my son, and so I did. I did no pre-natal education other than an antenatal class which, the information didn’t mean much to me at the time other than solidifying that I did definitely want to feed him this way.

 

So when he was born, I tried the technique I had seen most commonly used (sideways holding), and I was really pleased that he did latch on. The hospital I was in had Breastfeeding support workers coming round and checking in on the women that were hoping to breast feed and she showed me a different way to hold him to breastfeed (the rugby ball) and I found that easier, more comfortable. With all of that said they were happy to discharge us, and it wasn’t till a day or two later that it was becoming sore to nurse him, and sore then became really painful. Even though the position I was holding him in was "working" as far as he was getting milk and it was comfortable for me, I didn’t realise that his latch wasn’t right and I was causing trauma to my breasts.

 

Instead of seeking the help I didn’t even know was really out there, I just carried on, grinning and bearing through the pain, until I found that one side hurt less than the other, so I used one side for feeding and the other for expressing.

 

I ended up with a blocked milk duct. He would feed for longer as he got older, and fall asleep, frankly from trying so hard to get the milk out, that as soon as he woke up again he would want feeding again.

 

I remember one evening I had expressed two bottles, one was so my mum could do a feed while my husband and I went out for dinner. When we returned home I found that my mum had given him both bottles because he was that hungry, and I was mortified. I had only planned for her to use one bottle and the other was for my husband to give him before bed. Even though I trusted my mum implicitly and knew she would always do the right thing and what she felt he needed. The effort that had gone into pumping those two bottles was too much and I had a real emotional response at how quickly they had gone, considering how long it had taken me. I was just feeling exhausted by process and wondering to myself how other women did it, if it was this hard.

 

To add to this, it is really common in my family to be born with a tongue tie, mainly on my dads side, we are all pretty much tongue tied or have a webbing that is further forward. I had my cut in adulthood because I did find in places that it affected my speech. So I also went to go and get my sons checked, in an attempt to also ask the question of whether a tongue tie could be the reason his latch hurt so much. Safe to say the doctor didn’t think his tongue was an issue that he didn’t need to have his tongue tie cut. I was both relieved and disappointed. Relieved he didn’t need to go through that and he was okay, but disappointed in the fact that I almost wanted a reason for why our breastfeeding journey felt so hard.

 

So in the end, with all of this in mind, I felt it right to complete our breastfeeding journey and move to formula at 7ish weeks, before getting ready to wean.

 

When I look back on that now I feel sad for my breast feeding journey.

 

I do wish I had sought out more help, but I didn’t know where to go. I also didn’t research it.

I could have contacted the health visitor and midwives, but I didn’t want to take time away from mums that really needed them.

 

I also felt as though I wouldn’t have a social life if I was breast feeding because of not being able to be away from him for too long and for how long he would feed. I was completely unaware that this could have not been true for me and our breast feeding journey could have all changed, with the right support and education.

 

So now… here we are 5 years later, with my second born, my daughter and on a very different breastfeeding journey.

 

There are two main reasons for this;

 

  1. Research - Sounds silly, but I already knew I wanted to breastfeed again, so I actually did some research this time on latching, how to make pumping work for me, creams that help like lanolin, and what support was available to help me, like lactation consultants, health visitors etc.

  2. Used my Voice - when the midwife came on day 5 and asked me whether I was breastfeeding and how it was going, I was HONEST. I told her it hurt and could she help me. In that moment, she made 3 adjustments; 1. I was leaning in to feed the baby, instead of bringing baby to me. 2. Switched my position from the rugby ball, back to the sideways approach and 3. The angle at which she was latching. & it was an instant miracle.

 

My second journey of breastfeeding started exactly the same of the first, unsure and painful, but the trajectory changed as soon as I became educated and supported.

 

Since then, I have continued doing research and learning about breastfeeding to improve my journey, as being honest, I don’t have a specific goal on how long I want to feed for. I suppose my goal was simply to not feel like I have no other choice than to stop.

 

So, on this journey I had the pleasure of connecting with Alex Wachelka, from Motherhood Blooms Lactation. She is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and she joined me for a podcast episode to talk all things breastfeeding (including myths, pumping, tips & more!) So please go and check out this episode, its jam packed with goodness, and if you're looking for support, whether you're pregnant or already on your breastfeeding journey, reach out to Alex!

 

Podcast Episode - HERE!

 

 

 

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