Tuesday, 7 May 2013

My breast feeding story

I've been breast feeding for 4 months. My original plan was to feed for 6 months, but now I'm not so sure about giving it up that easily. As with most of my 'original plans' with motherhood, the reality is always a lot more real. So I want to write my experience before it ends and I forget...

The beginning was actually quite a stress and distracting from really enjoying and chilling out in the first couple of days. We were not as blissfully connected as I imagined we would be. She had slight tongue tie, I couldn't get my nipple into her mouth, I couldn't find a comfortable position, and when she did finally latch it hurt and I needed nipple cream. She was also jaundice so was more interested in sleeping than eating and the midwives wouldn't discharge us until she looked less yellow.

But, after a couple of weeks we were pretty sure of ourselves and had even started expressed feeds so daddy could take over in the evenings. Baby Boo was on a cluster feeding mission every night, it was exhausting and I could barely put her down for a minute to do anything else. Despite being a big baby she was still too small to get a good position, I was addicted to my pillow pile, trying new combinations and different types, but still had permanent back pain. Feeding her outside of the house and away from pillows was disastrous.

But I had developed life saving habits to see us through the tough times. As well as multiple pillows and shot gunning the best place on the sofa I religiously kept near me at all times: the tv remote, my phone, a muslin, a bottle of water, a hot cross bun and my kindle.

Eventually I became more confident with positioning, and relaxed enough to adjust and not worry about disturbing the latch. I created a bedtime routine based on feeding - after her bath around 8 I would only feed her in bed, lying down, which was relaxing for me and probably for her too as she was soon sleeping through the night by about 6 weeks. That last feed always sends her off to sleep, even though people say don't feed them to sleep, it works for us so that's all that matters right now. We exclusively feed in bed and don't leave the dark quiet of the bedroom until official morning time, around 7am.

So from 8 weeks onwards we were pros at breast feeding and I started to reap the benefits of persevering. She fed for around 30 minutes each feed, every 2 or 3 hours. Feeding took up most of our time, and with at least one hand free I made excellent use of my kindle and love film subscription, I blame my addiction to Buffy on those long feeds. I was able to write little blog posts to record our non feeding adventures, I was even able to knit (but Buffy took priority).

By 18 weeks she had become a more efficient feeder, taking as little as 10 minutes to be full. So no more Buffy in the daytime. But we definitely have a good routine now so I have my evenings from 8ish to do what I want, until I remember to have an early night (in bed before 11pm) to prep for the next day, when it happen all over again.

It was hard at the beginning, and especially after a long birth I can see why people get frustrated and swap to bottles. But now I'm so grateful to myself for persevering with breast feeding. Anytime that Boo is upset, whether she is hungry or tired or ill or just grumpy, I feed her and it is always the magic cure. She is a happy baby and sleeps well. Shes on the 75th percentile and is a real chubster. She's become all that she is on a diet of my breast milk alone. Excuse the excess pride but after all the (mostly unseen) effort of motherhood, I think I deserve it.