There are a couple of decisions that the health professionals will direct you to, several weeks before your little one is due to arrive. One will be your birth plan, the other being breastfeeding. In my experience as a Mum, it is likely that neither will go quite the way you plan it. And, do you know what? That’s really ok! The best way to tackle these matters is to go with what feels right for you and your baby. Especially when it comes to feeding.
I used to imagine all sorts of scenarios when we were trying for our first. What it would feel like to finally be a mum; family picnics with our offspring. I could imagine pushing the pram and even the sorts of clothes that I would dress them in. But I didn’t once give any thought as to how I would be feeding my baby. Despite a blast of conflicting advice from family and friends, I decided that I would like to give breastfeeding a go. I must admit, in the early stages of pregnancy when my midwife first started to talk about it, the concept of breastfeeding my baby did seem a little alien to me. But as the weeks rolled on and I learnt more about the benefits for both baby, and me I was determined to try it. After all, if it didn’t work out, I knew that I had the bottle to fall back on.
Fortunately, we both took to it like ducks to water. All that prep work at the antenatal classes had paid off. She took her first feed just minutes after being born. It wasn’t much of a feed, more like a little suckle but I was amazed at how tenacious her instincts were. With a little wriggle and a head-bob she had soon made her way up my tummy to my nipple and latched on. The whole event was over quite quickly but it felt good. It felt natural. I had done my first feed. I was now confident that we knew what we were doing.
She fed little and often. Very often! It took a few days for my milk to come in and there were times when I wondered if she was getting much at all. My health visitor assured me that she was getting all she needed for her tiny tummy and I knew that the Colostrum that she was feeding on in those first few days was the ideal food for her.
As feeding time became more regular, we started to get into our stride. The constant feeds throughout the day and night were overwhelmingly exhaustive but I was grateful that she was feeding well. Everything was going great until she was about 5 weeks old. I gradually started to feel pain in my nipples each time she latched on to feed. To begin with I just put it down to excessive feeding and slathered on a bit more nipple cream in between feeds. To be honest, when you’re suffering from excessive sleep deprivation, any little aches or pains seemed to blur into the euphoria of being a new Mum. But the pain got steadily worse, to the point of unbearable. I can remember yelping out in pain and curling my toes as she latched on for her late night feed. I would find myself pulling her away from my breast to get a little relief from the torturous pain.
A trip to the breastfeeding clinic confirmed that we both had a spot of thrush. A prescribed cream for me and mouth gel for her, would soon resolve the problem but worried that she wasn’t getting her full quota of milk, I took the decision to introduce her to the bottle. This wasn’t an easy decision to make initially. What if she didn’t take to the bottle? What if she did take to the bottle and then didn’t want to go back to the breast? All I knew was these nipples needed time to heal in between feeds, and so the decision was made for me.
My pre-empted baby nesting meant I already had a couple of the MAM Easy Start Anti-Colic Bottles in my ‘new mum toolkit’. With a 94% teat acceptance rate and a natural skin soft feel, I was hopeful that we could pull this off. And we did. That night I warily pressed the teat of the bottle to her tiny lips – and to my surprise, she started gulping, like nothing had changed. I alternated feeds between breast and bottle without a glitch. Once we were both healed, I started expressing milk so David could take a turn at feeding – which meant some extra, well needed sleep for me.
It felt very liberating to have the choice of how to feed my baby. And more importantly, both felt right. Now I could feed on the go without the need for pre-made bottles or pass over the bottle-feeding duties to someone else with a quick 3 minutes sterilisation in the microwave.
However you do it – if it feels right for you and baby – then it probably is right.
Posted in: Real Life Stories