I couldn’t let world breastfeeding week pass by without saying a few words about our journey. Some of this I’ve touched on in previous blog posts but I am still feeding my almost three year old now so it’s different from before.
I’ll start from the very beginning of our journey. When we had Zachary and he was born sleeping, my milk still came in and it was the most devastating, heartbreaking and empty feeling having milk with no baby to feed. Probably the saddest day of my life, full of hormones from just giving birth. My body producing food for a baby who we never got to see take a breath or open his eyes. It wasn’t until I had Zara that I realised that I could have donated by breast milk to the hospital or to others in need. To be honest I don’t think I was in the right frame of mind after he died, I could barely string a sentence together, we sat in the garden most days staring into space, my mum really looked after us and made sure we were fed and well. He was the most beautiful baby boy and was a chunky 8lb 11oz. We think about him every single day.
I was always determined that if we were lucky enough to have more children then I would give it my best shot. I bought all the accessories, breast pumps, breast pads, haaka and even some bottles to put some expressed milk in. All the gear and no idea. It’s not always been easy and at the beginning it was really painful. Your body isn’t used to it and your baby is still learning how to feed.
When we had Zara I was like – what the hell am I doing. The midwives weren’t really much help, especially in the hospital – they were so busy and rushed off their feet but also wanted to see that I could feed Zara and kept missing it every time she needed a feed. In the end a nurse came to see me as I was so upset and wanted to go home. I’d managed to feed Zara and they discharged us. Coming home was a different story, trying to find lots of positions that worked for me and my tiny baby. My nipples were cracked and sore from my baby learning how to feed but I persevered and we had a wonderful breastfeeding journey in the end.
What I found helped was nipple shields for a few days when she was still tiny. It was also amazing to find a friend who was also breastfeeding as we could talk about it and ask each other questions even though neither of us had a clue. Zara gave up on her own accord at around 21 months old when I was pregnant with Zayah. I cried for about 2 weeks I was so hormonal! I know that a lot of people carry on breastfeeding through pregnancy but some people including myself aren’t able to. My milk dried up during pregnancy.
With Zayah I already knew what to do. When she was born she fed for about 3 hours straight! I was so tired I had to ask Reuben to take the baby for a bit. We were out of the hospital so much quicker as we knew what we were doing. She was born at 8am on the dot and we were home for lunch time.
Much like my previous experience it was painful as it had been a few months since I’d breastfed. Also the after pains from having another baby and breastfeeding were horrendous- although this is normal and just your womb getting back to normal. I had mastitis twice in the first few weeks of Zayahs life which was excruciating – but thankfully it went away with the help of antibiotics. Luckily it was smooth sailing from there on out.
With both of the girls I had tried pumping so that I could have a stash in the freezer, for me it was definitely easier near the beginning when I had lots of milk but it just wasn’t for me as I’m so impatient and would end up watching the milk coming out and wondering why there’s not much. I guess some people take to it better than others. When I did manage to pump some milk using a breast pump neither of the girls would take a bottle which was frustrating – especially with Zara as I was very nervous feeding in public and tried to bring some expressed milk with me sometimes which she wouldn’t take. Now I’ll just flop a boob out anywhere, I just felt so comfortable with it when we had Zayah as I knew what to expect and already had a few comebacks in my head if I was to ever receive negative comments.
Right now for us with Zayah nearly 3 years old, it’s not just a feed. It’s for comfort, especially when she knows she’s been naughty, for pain, for sleep and to check in with mummy after playing all day. It’s such a big part of our lives even though it doesn’t really feel like it. It’s so natural to us, I literally feed Zayah in my sleep. Almost 5 years in total of feeding my children and it’s my biggest achievement so far. I’m sure a lot of people will say that Zayah is too old to breastfeed but this is totally normal and she will give it up in her own time. I never thought I would be breastfeeding an almost three year old but here we are – she doesn’t feed like a newborn, sometimes she’ll go most of the day without her “booby”, some days it’s more. Some nights she’s asleep within 2 minutes of having a feed and it’s just as magic as was when she was a teeny baby.
If you’ve got any questions about breastfeeding I would be happy to answer them. I’m no expert but I’ll try my best!