I thought I would write about our breastfeeding journey seeing as it has played a huge part in our lives over the past few years.
When I was pregnant with our first baby Zachary, which feels like yesterday but also a whole lifetime ago, I knew I wanted to give breastfeeding a go. As a first time mum I didn’t really know much about it or what I would need apart from a nursing bra so I also bought some formula, some cute tommee tippee bottles and a steriliser.
Not long after our beautiful boy was born sleeping, my body started to produce milk. I honestly can’t even put it into words how sad it was that my body was making milk to feed my baby and I had no baby to feed. Just thinking back to that first day when my milk came in it breaks my heart. My arms physically ached not only from a long labour but having empty arms when I should have been cradling our boy. It was extremely painful and sore for at least a week and I couldn’t wear a proper bra. Looking back I wish that someone had told me that you can take tablets prescribed by the doctors to stop you producing milk because that was the last thing I needed after losing Zachary so suddenly at almost 42 weeks.
When we fell pregnant with our rainbow baby Zara I was more determined than ever to breastfeed!I joined a few Facebook groups and honestly they were so helpful, I don’t even remember having to post many questions when she was born because someone had already asked and had some really helpful answers.
When Zara was born I had no idea what I was doing. I was so tired from labour, an anxiety ridden pregnancy and totally in shock at having a living baby in my arms that I would get to take home from the hospital. I missed the chance at having her feed right from the moment she was born and one of the midwifes said I should probably feed my baby because she must be hungry now. She helped me to latch her onto me and it seemed like everything was going really well… That was until we got to the post natal ward. It was so busy and HOT! They wanted to observe me feeding her but they kept missing every feed and then when they finally came along they said I was doing it wrong and to look in the leaflet they had given me which was very helpful. How can you possibly figure everything out for yourself from just a picture and a description. I felt pressured to do it right so I could go home. I ended up in tears until a really nice lady who I believe has had proper training showed me loads of different positions and she was happy that we were doing it correctly and we were able to go home.
The next couple of days my nipples felt like they were ripped to shreds and at one point they were bleeding, scabbing over then bleeding again after a feed and the pain was so intense it made my toes curl and had shooting pains all the way up my body! We gave Zara some ready made formula ( I can’t believe how expensive it is ) in between feeds for a couple of days while I gave myself time to heal. I felt like a failure when she had formula but I also know I had to do what was best for us both at the time. Reuben went out to get nipple shields during this time and they really helped along with using Lansinoh nipple cream and letting them air out for a bit after every feed. Both myself and Zara were still learning and I am very happy to say that it was pretty much plain sailing from then on out and I started to love breastfeeding and the bond we had. There’s nothing like looking into your baby’s eyes while they are feeding and you feel so full of love for them. Seeing the instant comfort it brings them when they are experiencing so many emotions that they’ve never had before.
Cookies and milk 🍪
I did feel pain when Zara began to get teeth and she would bite me and laugh at me. I would unlatch her from my boob and tell her “no we don’t bite mummy” and would try and feed her again. As she got older she fed in some of the funniest positions, I’ve had toes in my nose and fingers in my eyes, ears and mouth!
I’ve never really got along with using a breast pump because I’d rather just breastfeed (I’m lazy and impatient) I’ve had a stash of milk in the freezer before that was never used because Zara would not take a bottle. Saying that I have friends who exclusively pump milk for their baby and it’s really worked for them and their little ones.
I found it so easy to feed Zara at home but when we were out and about I felt overwhelmed with nerves and felt like everyone would be staring at me. I’ve hidden under a blanket in the middle of a zoo, in front of my friends, at my sisters house, fed in smelly changing rooms, in toilets.
It was not until Zara was almost a year old that I started to feel a bit more relaxed about it all in public although I would still feel nervous. Whenever I did manage to feed in public is was a really big deal for me.
When I fell pregnant with our second rainbow baby Zayah, Zara was not feeding as much and then suddenly went off feeding, I think my milk had changed taste and then I had a huge drop in my supply. Zara stopped feeding at almost 21 months. I was really sad about it which I wasn’t expecting and for around a week or two it felt as if I was grieving. I felt like she didn’t need me anymore. That feeling soon went away and I was just proud that we had got so far and that I’d nourished her with my milk and watched her grow. She’s nearly 3 now and needs me every 5 minutes!
Fast forward to September 2017 when Zayah was born, she latched on pretty much straight away after she was born and I had to ask Reuben to take her after three hours because I was so tired. The hospital discharged us just hours after she was born as they were confident that she was feeding so well. She was born at 8am and we were home by around 12pm. Totally skipped the post natal ward which I was pretty happy about. From then on I knew she would be a chunky monkey! Zayah always wanted mummy’s milk, more so than Zara ever did when she was tiny. I did experience soreness again after a few days, not as bad as when Zara was little but it got worse and worse when she was around a week old. I started to feel really unwell, my boobs were hot and swollen and I was shivering. This turned out to be mastitis and was so incredibly painful. We had to ride it out and feed through the pain whilst also taking hot showers and massaging the blocked milk ducts. I started to feel better after taking antibiotics but it reared it’s ugly head again about a week later where I then took even more antibiotics until it had cleared up.
After round two of mastitis had gone, breastfeeding Zayah was a happy experience and she is still going strong now at 9 months old. Zayah is very nosey and latches on and off every 2 minutes because she wants to see what Zara’s doing. She is so easily distracted by her big sister which is adorable except for when she’s desperate to sleep!
I was very anxious feeding Zara out in public but for some reason I’ve not once felt awkward or anxious with Zayah. I guess this is because I’ve done it all before and now that Zara is running around like a lunatic, I don’t have time to hide away. It’s such a relief and makes it so easy for us to go out to places even if she will need feeding.
I will happily just whip my boob out wherever we are. I have never actually had any negative comments from anyone but I will literally bark at someone if they do!
I was lucky enough to have a friend who was also breastfeeding her son who’s three months younger than Zara and it was so good to know that I was not alone. We would send each other messages at stupid o clock asking for advice. Her baby had a milk allergy and she cut out everything dairy from her diet. So much dedication! I am also lucky enough to have friends who are breastfeeding their little ones who are a similar age to Zayah I think it’s great to have a little support system of other breastfeeding mums as it can feel like you’re the odd one out when so many mums choose to use formula. If you are planning on breastfeeding and don’t really know anyone else who it then it wouldn’t do any harm to join a breastfeeding group whether it be local to you or online where you can offer each other support. Instagram was also helpful as I met many other mums who are breastfeeding their little ones too. It’s like a lovely little community 🙂 even though some of us live far from each other. I know that it upsets some people when breastfeeding mothers post about their achievements but it’s never the intention to upset anybody, we are just proud of ourselves and want to share our experience. Just like any other mother who is proud of something they have achieved.
Although we have had some problems along the way on our journey, when I reflect on it all those problems seem so minor. I have watched my children grow from within the womb and out. I still am in awe that my body can do this, especially after losing Zachary and I am very proud of how far we have come. I will continue to feed Zayah until she self weans and if we are lucky enough to have any more children I will definitely be breastfeeding them also. I can hand on heart say that’s it’s one of my biggest accomplishments in my life even though I can feel touched out/exhausted at times and I wouldn’t change it for the the world. With everything in the news recently about a certain brand of formula ending with babies being sick in hospital it makes me really glad that I chose to breastfeed my babies. Also shame on that company for trying to make more money out of parents and not openly telling their customers that they’d changed the ingredients.
(To Chloe, don’t let any of my negative experiences put you off because honestly the good by far outweighs all of the bad! Sending you all the love for when your baby boy arrives )
Breastfeeding/nursing essentials that really helped me.
Nursing Bras – definitely go and get fitted it makes the world of difference!
Nursing vests – so easy to just whip them out whenever you want, no need for a bra! Although I don’t feel comfortable going braless in public 😂
Nursing dresses from ASOS – my wardrobe staple. I basically wear these almost every day, I look like a tramp wearing the same clothes all the time but they are honestly my favourite. I also like to wear wrap dresses if they aren’t nursing dresses. Not a fan of the one up one down, too layery for me..
Lansinoh nipple cream, especially for those early days.
Multimam cold compress – OH MY GOODNESS WHY DID I NOT DISCOVER THESE WHEN ZARA WAS LITTLE the relief when you use these is bloody amazing!
Boo.B smoothie – tasty, healthy and great for your milk supply. I’ve also been making these myself with my own ingredients.
My favourite breastfeeding pages online
The milk meg.
UK breastfeeding and parenting support.
Can I breastfeed in it?
Breastfeeding older babies and beyond.
Thanks for reading 🙂