Monday, 16 January 2017

My Breastfeeding Story - One Valuable Lesson

My Breastfeeding Story - One Valuable Lesson WHIITELIST

As I near the end of my breastfeeding journey, I look back on my breastfeeding experience.

So far I have been breastfeeding for 402 days!

Everyone has heard that ‘breast is best’ and even I have engaged in conversation with friends, family and colleagues of the phenomenal benefits of breastfeeding.
From how this bespoke nourishment is best for baby,  encourages growth of friendly bacteria in your little one’s tummy and makes for slightly smarter babies, to sweet smelling number two’s,  as well as a whole host of other benefits.

When my son Chance was born, after a 10 hours and 14 minutes, the longest but most fulfilling journey to meeting my son, I felt lucky that he naturally found my breast.
The immediate skin to skin contact, initiated this deep bonding experience and first feed.
Of course all the breastfeeding preparation I had done, had been completely forgotten from the antenatal classes I had attended. Positioning and achieving the perfect latch didn’t even come into my mind; I was letting Chance guide me using his natural reflexes and simple crawling technique.

“I felt lucky that he naturally found my breast”

That Thursday evening after being transferred to the labour ward (I had been bleeding a little more than they had liked) whilst I lay in the hospital bed next to my new son, with my husband by my side, I continued to attempt to feed. I say attempt to feed, as even though it seemed as though Chance was feeding, I couldn’t feel whether he was feeding or not?!
I called for help from the midwife, who supported me in allaying all fears with regards to Chance’s latch and attachment and my positioning. In fact she gave my breast the deepest massage to express the breastmilk to show that there was in fact milk there!

Golden nectar!

Seeing Chance’s first milk, the colostrum, the yellow, golden colour, no more than a teaspoon I was in awe. Every hour on the hour, I would watch as Chance suckled, feeding on this nutrient rich milk gold.
After a few days of this continuous sucking action, I felt it. No one has accurately been able to describe to me what this let down would feel like. Yes it was tingly, but it was incredibly strong and powerful. When Chance was near me, this warmth would arrive in my breasts and the milk would flow.
I wish that during this initial phase of milk abundance that I had pumped and stored my milk in the freezer. You live, and you learn.
There was so much milk, and my boobs felt so engorged that I would pump into bottles, which my son would reject.  Chance was feeding every two hours and in fact in that period where a newborn is meant to lose weight, Chance actually increased in weight!

Over the next six months, my breasts filled and emptied according to Chance...demand feeding.
By this time he was 75th centile for weight and height, and would only feed from the breast.
I felt lucky.
No real breastfeeding woes, I relied on nipple shields for a week at the beginning whilst my nipples got used to the continuous sucking; nipple balm became my ‘breast’ friend for about 2 months (now it’s a beauty essential) and my boobs were huge!
Other pluses included quick postpartum recovery (10 days after giving birth I was at a wedding in a body con dress), the ability to be mobile going for lunch with my friends not having to worry about packing a ton of baby stuffs, as I was carrying the most portable food ever...breastmilk. And, then there was the bonding, Chance and I had developed this mummy son bond, which had me completely enamoured.

“That familiar feeling of ‘is my son getting enough milk?’ returned”

Then, I returned to work.

This was the same time that I had began to wean Chance. That familiar feeling of ‘is my son getting enough milk?’ returned. This time, unlike when I was at the hospital, I didn’t have anyone to allay my fears. I googled what a 6 month old latch technique was meant to look like. I checked signs that Chance was getting enough milk.
It just didn't seem like he was feeding well!
Was it the fact that he was weaning?
Was it that I had returned to work and could no longer demand feed as he was used to?
I mean I was still pumping twice a day at work, but was that enough?
Then Chance’s weight seemed to decline.
He had gone from 75th centile to 50th and finally 25th centile. He was still 80th centile for height but was certainly thinning out.
The more I grew anxious, despite Chance being happy, alert and producing enough wet/soiled nappies, the more my milk supply dwindled.

I searched for ways to boost my milk supply, and researched formula that I could use to supplement my breastmilk when I was at work. Knowing that breast was best, and seeing that my breasts seemed to be failing me, it was critical that I find a formula that was modeled on the benefits of breastmilk, easy to digest and organic. A solution like Honest’s organic premium formula.
Whereas Chance had taken to alternating between formula and breastmilk, I needed to address my milk supply issues.
I wasn’t drinking, I don’t smoke, of course I was anxious...I needed to boost my supply ASAP. I had read about the herbal remedy Fenugreek (read more here), and the anecdotal benefits of building up supply by supporting milk production. So I tried it.

It worked.

Instead of ending my breastfeeding journey when my son was 6 months old, I was able to find solutions in the formula and fenugreek, which supported my 13 month long breastfeeding experience.
I had learnt that breastfeeding wasn’t the be all and end all, at a detriment to my son’s health.
Full time breastfeeding suffered when I returned to work, and for some women it’s neither realistic or even possible...and that was completely fine!
I learnt what was best for me and Chance. Feeding, just simple feeding. Breastfeeding! Formula feeding! Fenugreek boosted breastfeeding! Feeding was the solution!
That whatever feeding option you choose, just choose the best one for you and your child.

What’s your feeding story? Did you ever worry about your baby’s weight gain? Which worked for you, breast or bottle?

Thank you for reading, and please do subscribe to read about my #MotherhoodMonday experiences.

SAL xx


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