I’ve done it, I’ve put up with the pain and embarrassment, the long hours pumping in the night, the hour long feeds and poor latches. I’ve finally come through the other side of “establishing breastfeeding”. So after all the pumping and waiting for the perfect moment to retry my baby on the breast it only took a poke from my breastfeeding support worker and off I went I can officially say I am exclusively breastfeeding at the breast! I had a plan I had set a date to try my 24 hours of nursing. I had selected my box set to sit and watch for that 24 hours. I had organised a babysitter for myself so I didn’t have to get out of bed, I had even made sure it was on a date that my husband wasn’t at work and had psyched my husband up for the horrible night we were going to have. Then instead of doing all this I just breastfed her.
I often attend a breastfeeding support group; I try and go as often as possible because I believe if there is free help available to use you should access it (I am a massive NHS supported, especially as I am a nurse) Unfortunately I know there isn’t this support everywhere (mainly due to government cuts) and that is a massive shame because if I hadn’t had the support of this group and my breastfeeding support worker, I wouldn’t be breastfeeding now. There is a website with some resources but the website really doesn’t do the group justice peer support is invaluable.
So I had planned to start this breastfeeding 24 hours on the Saturday as my husband was off work and there would be people available to help me all day. I am a very strategic person with a dash of random spontaneity. I like to have a plan, I don’t always stick to it. If you are a much more organised and less fickle than me then my plan may work for you. Basically I had planned to sit in bed and nurse for 24 hours, I had organised for my support worker to visit me that day to check my latch. My mum was going to come round to make me breakfast, dinner and tea (my husband was also around) and generally help out. I had decided to watch doctor who all day (I love doctor who) all my breastfeeding needs would be set up next to me: my nipple shields (which I never used as they actually hurt me more), a jug of water, my phone, breast pump (for getting my let down to encourage her to feed) pots for hand expressing (same intention), my mum was going to top up a hot bowl of water and flannel (to also help my let down) and snacks (I had bought party rings).
As I value preparation, however am not always prepared, I decided to have a little go at getting her to latch while I was in the safe zone (where I wasn’t in this special 24 hours). Lo and behold the little bugger latched perfectly after weeks of refusing to; I was rather happy with this I’ll admit I did a little celebration dance afterwards. Feeling rather pleased with how prepared I was I toddled off to my breastfeeding group to announce my success, they were all also rather pleased but pointed out to me that I may as well just continue breastfeeding, I didn’t really need a 24 hour nursing session as the whole point of that was to get a successful latch. Ah. So I did just that I went home and continued breastfeeding, expecting it not to work, but it did work; I honestly think that Joanie just didn’t want me to have a day in bed watching Doctor Who.
Now it’s been at least a month and a half since then and we are still managing very well. After initially getting her back on, it did hurt for a little while, as in my nipples were sore in an overused way, not a horrifically painful way as they were before. Eventually through extensive use of Lasinoh lanolin cream (which I recently found out is made out of sheep wool grease, gross but it works for some reason) my nipples stopped being sore after about a week and now I’m fine, there finally is no pain at all ever (so far). What’s even more amazing is that through all sorts of obstacles: UTI’s, hot weather and Jabs. So far she’s manage gain 5 pound 4 ounces in 10 weeks, which I think is pretty good! (And so does my health visitor).
So to anyone finding breastfeeding difficult, it is but if you really want to do it for yourself as well as your baby then there is definitely a way to do it. I really thought I would never get her back to breast but somehow I did through shear perseverance I think. Some websites I found particularly helpful were Kellymom and Laleche both are fantastic resources and have advised me on many a problem.
love Kate x