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My experience of breastfeeding
The Breastfeeding Debate
Member Name: taramorg23
The Breastfeeding Debate
Date: 13/05/11, updated on 12/09/11 (41 review reads)
Advantages: Convienient and easy!
Disadvantages: Exhausting, frustrating and painful at times
I would firstly like to state that I am in no way against formula feeding, I feel it is a personal choice for every mum.
When I found out that I was pregnant last July I knew straight away I would like to breastfeed. I knew that exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months would give my baby all of the nutrients she would need to protect her from infection and other diseases. I didn't really have any idea of what to expect, my mum had formula fed both myself and my brother and none of my friends had breastfed their baby's. I was so determined I never bought a steraliser or bottles.
After a few appointments with the midwife the issue of feeding was brought up, at this time I was living in Durham and I was offered classes to help me learn about breastfeeding and how to do it. However in December of last year I moved back home to South Wales and unfortunately nothing like this was on offer. This made me really nervous as my midwife didn't seem as positive about breastfeeding as they had been in Durham. It just shows how different each NHS area can be.
I was given an NHS book and there were a few pages in there about breastfeeding everything else I knew had come from magazines such as Pregnancy and Birth.
I knew that it was important to have skin on skin contact with your baby as soon as they are born as this helps with breastfeeding but I was also nervous about what would happen if I had a traumatic birth and if this would affect it. Luckily for me I had a straightforward birth and it was a very positive experience. My daughter was born after 4 hours I had gas and air and pethadine as pain relief, I had wanted an epidural but as my labour was so quick there was no time!
I was very fortunate to have a really helpful midwife, after my daughter was born she was placed on my chest and the midwife helped guide her towards my nipple, luckily my daughter latched on and seemed to know what to do.
I was kept in hospital overnight as this is standard practice in my area to help you learn to breastfeed. The first night was great, everytime I went to feed my daughter a midwife would be on hand to help me with the latch and positioning.
Unfortunately my daughter developed and infection and we were kept in for a further 5 days. During this time I was given one on one help by a midwife. I think that this is one of the reasons I took to it so well.
What I wasn't told about was how hard it would be. When my milk started coming in my daughter would feed constantly all night. I didn't know to expect this as I had never been told, it was only when I asked that I was told it was so that she could stimulate my breasts into producing just enough milk for her needs. I was advised to keep feeding on demand. Even though I had a straightforward labour as my daughter was born first thing in the morning I hadn't had any sleep the night before and I was exhausted. I felt like crying after sitting up all night feeding. I was on a ward with 5 other women all of whom were bottle feeding and their baby's were going for 4 hours between feeds whereas my daughter seemed to be constantly awake.
After two constant nights of this I felt close to giving up, my nipples became extremely sore and even when my daughter was latched on correctly it hurt so much. My arms were also aching from holding her in the same position. I was also convinced I was not producing any milk. It was only when a midwife showed me how to hand express I realised that I was producing milk. I think a lot of mums give up because they think they aren't making enough when the reality is that this only happens for a small percentage of women.
When I explained to the midwife about my nipple pain they gave me some Avent nipple cream, I have reviewed this previously, I have to say it was my godsend. I used this and continued feeding and the pain eased.
I was discharged from hospital a week after my daughter was born and I had no idea what to expect at home or how breastfeeding would fit into my life. In hospital I seemed to have it cracked and we had developed a little routine.
The first night back at home was difficult, my daughter would cluster feed in the evenings. For those of you who don't know what cluster feeding is it is when your baby will feed often during a short space of time ready to go for a longer period without feeding. For my daughter this normally happened around 7pm she would then sleep for 3 hours and wake every hour again during the night. I was absolutely exhausted. It didn't help me either that I had little support from my family, I couldn't go far with my daughter as she would need feeding and while everyone wanted cuddles all she wanted was to be with me and feeding. Some of my family members would joke and say all she did was feed. This made me feel so disheartened. Luckily I have a really supportive partner who would bring my daughter to me during the night and settle her after a feed so I could sleep.
I found it difficult to go out as my daughter would need feeding and we'd have to stop what we were doing she could then feed for anything up to an hour at a time. I was also suffering from painful full breasts which leaked over all of my clothes and through breastpads. Luckily this settled down within about 3 weeks.
Whenever I told people I was breastfeeding I got a lot of raised eyebrows, even the health visitor assumed I was bottle feeding on her first visit. I never experienced any of the pushiness other mums have.
This pattern went on constantly for about 8 weeks until suddenly things got easier. It was like we had turned a corner. My daughter suddenly fell into a routine and as she became more interested in the world around her she fed less often and became more efficient at feeding.
This meant that I was able to take her out shopping and for long walks. I was initially terrified of feeding in public, and whenever I went out I would hide in the mother and baby room to do it. It was only after a few weeks I thought sod it I can't hide away forever I now breastfeed wherever my daughter needs it. There is no need to display anything and you can discreetly do it without people really noticing. As time went on and I had more practice it became easier for me. I find that no one even looks.
Unfortunately bottle is not an option, I bought a breastpump and expressed lots of milk, only to find that my daughter hates anything other than my boobies! I have tried various teats as well as cup feeding with no success. My partner still tries every couple of days in the hope she will learn to make my life easier so he can help out more. So if any ladies have any tips I would be grateful!
My daughter is now 10 weeks old and feeds about 8 times a day. Her feeds are predictable and she goes for longer periods between feeding.
Looking back I now realise it was definately the right choice for me, in the night I can wake up, lie my daughter beside me feed her and settle her. This whole process would take longer if I had to make formula and heat it up etc... It also gave me back my figure quicker, within two weeks of giving birth I was back to my pre pregnancy weight.
I love breastfeeding my daughter and intend on carrying until she is 6 months. It does get easier with time. I only wish there was more help and support out there. I feel that all mums should be given all of the options so that they can then make an informed decision as to what is right for them and their baby.
I would just like to add to this that we reached the 6 month mark and I have decided to continue feeding my daughter, I don't want to upset her by switching her to formula, I am going to wait until she is 12 months and can go onto cows milk.
Summary: It works for me but it's not for everyone!