What is normal for breastfeeding?

So as I sit here with my Tommee Tippee breast pump mooing at me (no honestly it sounds like an actual cow) trying to pacify a wriggling baby, I wonder is breastfeeding really for me? Now I keep saying I am failing at breastfeeding, but that really isn’t true, I’m succeeding at breastfeeding just in a very different way to other people (or maybe not, having spoken to a lot of people about this ever popular topic it turns out the majority have or are struggling with breastfeeding).

Now while I was pregnant I had this fairy tale idea that I would be able to breast feed straight away as long as I gave it my best shot and put all my effort into it. Que night two when I was sitting in my nursing chair crying with a screaming baby, ordering my husband to go out at 2 am to go and get formula because I couldn’t do it anymore. I really thought it would be easy, no one tells you before you try to breastfeed that it’s really hard. Not only is it really hard it really hurts, your baby doesn’t know how to breastfeed! Yet everybody tells you they do! Baby’s and mums need to learn how to breastfeed, and it takes a while to establish. I wish I knew what I know about breastfeeding now while I was pregnant. It would have saved a lot of grief. After I had gotten my husband to go out and get formula I felt like a failure, but I wasn’t lots of mums have to do the same thing and it certainly isn’t failing! Although a lot of people think and say it is.

Breastfeeding is painful. I had lacerations all over my nipples for weeks trying to get her to latch properly. Even by getting the wrong size nipple shields, and the wrong type, apparently boots own are poop, buy medulla if you are investing in nipple shields. I now sit here with bruised nipples and am currently unable to feed her from myself, even expressing is painful now because of my botched attempts at feeding her from my breast.

If you don’t want to continue breastfeeding its ok. I know people that have ended up with horrendous PND because of trying and struggling to breastfeed, or have felt they missed out on the first months with their baby because they felt like a permanent dairy cow. They felt they missed out on playing and engaging with their baby because of breastfeeding, and no before everyone tells you get an amazing bonding experience, not everyone does and not always straight away, I myself am yet to have one. That doesn’t mean I won’t and I am holding out hoping but if it doesn’t happen I am not going to beat myself up about it and neither should anyone else.

I have a plan that has been set up with the help of my health visitor and my lactation consultant. I cannot stress enough how helpful these services have been, if you are struggling with breastfeeding or feeling rubbish because you stopped breastfeeding have a word with them they will make you feel much better. They are not there to judge your decisions (after all this is YOUR baby) they are there to help support you on whatever decisions you decide to make. Forums have also been a fantastic form of support for me (especially BabyCenter forums).

So to start with after using formula I started expressing (by hand which is a nightmare but doable) hand expressing into a small pot hurt especially as it was colostrum, which is the thick yellowy stuff full of all sorts of good stuff like antibodies and vitamins. It took me roughly half an hour to get 10mls of colostrum for the first two days of expressing. I tried using my hand pump which failed to start with as it there was enough suction to get anything out. Eventually my milk came in (which feels like somebody has pumped your boobs up with concrete) then I was able to express more and use the hand pump. I eventually gave in with the hand pump as I felt like my hands were going to fall off (a symptom I didn’t want to add to the list of growing post pregnancy niceties) I went and brought a Tommee Tippee electric pump (as this was on offer at boots and apparently the reviews were fantastic, just one niggle that it made a lot of noise). I continued to try and get her to latch which occasionally she did at lunch time for some reason. However I had to give up with this when like I said earlier I brought the wrong size nipple shields and ruined my nipples for a bit (apparently they come in sizes?? I had no idea). I am now waiting for my nipples to heal, while expressing like I am an actual cow in an actual dairy farm to keep up with my veracious infant. This is so I can do a hard core 24 hour nursing session. This is basically where I sit in bed and nurse her almost constantly for an entire day until she forgets about bottles and how easy they are and instead starts breastfeeding properly (that is how it’s supposed to go we shall see). Like I say if this doesn’t work I am not going to beat myself up about it, I know I have tried everything (and believe me I mean everything!) for now I am happy to remain a dairy human with my fantastically loud and annoying breast pump.

Love Kate

trying skin to skin (which sends her to sleep) 

IMG_0730

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8 thoughts on “What is normal for breastfeeding?

  1. I remember sending my other half out to get formula! I was in pain, badically crying everytime he needed a feed or I had a letdown, nipple Shields weren’t working, apparently I had also gotten the wrong size! I had to just pump and feed via bottle for ages, I also had to Combination feed for a while (that came to an end a few months ago as my supply came back up). I got mastitis and had to feed even though my nipples were battered, because pumping isn’t as effective. It was a hard few months and I do feel it made me miss out on enjoying it. Now im glad I persevered but I so wish it hadn’t been so hard! Our problem started at birth,he was so tired and drugged up and jaundiced that he didnt learn to latch properly until three + months old. Atleast I know for next time!
    Lots of cream and two weeks with only pumping (though hand expressing would have probably been better) before I let him go near them! Hand expressing also gets easier, I couldnt do it for ages,now I can express a good few ounces in under tens minutes! Xxx

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    1. One of our problems was that she was Jaundiced too, she was too tired and fatigued to latch properly. well were at one month old now so here’s to hoping she learns how to latch! It must have been awful having mastitis i’m hoping it doesn’t happen to me, but i know so many people who have had it! xxx

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      1. I had to use nipple Shields for a while, ones that fit properly eventually 🙈 and then one day he knocked it off and he suddenly got it, they say mid feed when they are sleepy is a good time to try xxx

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  2. Yes, this should be written in every article on brestfeeding. Some kids can do it straightaway (my second one), some take a long time to learn propper latch (my first one). Everybody says it is their nature, ok, their nature is sucking, but how to do it is not a reflex. I brestfed exlusively for a year, never used a shield or formula, but it was crazy at the begining and I remember crying while feeding because it hurt so much and I felt like a looser who can’t do it properly. Lanolin is the best, it is gross, but very effective. The second baby had no problems with latch but she destroyed my nipples too. It took me 3 month with both kids to get used to it and now it is fine. You nipples must get used to it, but it is no fun…

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    1. exactly sometimes it feels like official breastfeeding help leaflets leave out that it can be painful as if they are going to put people off, but I think its far more likely for people to stop breastfeeding when they are given unrealistic information. Well done on breastfeeding exclusively for a year that is some feat of strength! XXX

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      1. In my country, main lactation organisation says that breastfeeding shoul not hurt and when it does, it is because you are doing it wrong. I asked 4! nurses to check my daughter’s latch and it was all right, so no problem here. I was so depressed because I didn’t expect the pain at all. Well, second time I was prepared, bottle of lanolin ready and it was much better. But it still hurt for almost 2,5 months. So don’t take any advice too seriously, common sense is the best, everybody is different.

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      2. It took two weeks for my nipples to stop being sore after I got her back in me. It took two months for them to heal from the lacerations though 😦 they are fine now though. It’s daft that there isn’t accurate info out there for pregnant ladies and post natal ladies xxx

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