Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Breastfeeding Guest Post - The Early Days.

First of, excuse the high amount of posts over the next couple of days, if you've been reading my blog you'll read that I've been in hospital, so haven't been able to post my regular posts, so here they are all at once :)

Jydan is now six months. To celebrate that I've been feeding him for (almost) six months I'm did a 'guest post call out' on the topic of; BREASTFEEDING! Until Jydan turned six months.
If you want to read the original a guest post call out out check it out 

Torey has wrote a post about her experience with breastfeeding, especially in the first few days, which, if you've breastfed, you know it's a tough gig! ... Here is Torey's story:

I live in Australia. I’m 29 and married with one son, who is 6 months old, and has been exclusively breastfed (demand feeding), and we are just starting solid food now. I hope to continue breastfeeding until he is 12 months old.
Each woman’s (and each baby’s) breastfeeding experience is unique, this is what I had heard prior to beginning my breastfeeding journey, and this is what still holds true for me today. This is my experience.
It is my belief that some material about breastfeeding comes across as if it was tied up neatly with a pretty bow and given to women in a square package, in a way that makes it seem “natural, easy, normal”. I feel that to improve breastfeeding rates, there needs to be honesty about its realities. I personally don’t find breastfeeding a “joyful experience” and really the only joy I get is having empty breasts and a sleeping baby when the job is done! Yes indeed, I am thankful to be lucky enough to have a milk supply, I do feel an achievement from my body being able to nurture my child, and found it to be convenient to always have food for him on hand, however, I found learning to breastfeed to be one of the most difficult times in my life, despite my preparation for it before my son arrived. Perhaps my preparation did help me in the end, but I think in our current western society, there’s not enough visibility and firsthand knowledge about breastfeeding, and in those first few hazy days once your first baby arrives, any prior knowledge on breastfeeding might help others to know what to expect.
Once I found out I was pregnant, everything I learned about breastfeeding sounded positive; good for baby, good for me, free and convenient. My mind was set. I wanted to breastfeed. I was as proud as punch when I saw the 19 week scan and the little thumb up beside our baby’s mouth “Good on them, good to see they’re getting plenty of practice in”, I thought. I bought some breastfeeding clothes, including a nursing dress I had to get online from overseas, as I found it hard to find suitable nursing clothes in the stores and I wanted something affordable and fancy but easy to feed in for my friends’ upcoming wedding, as I knew this would be my first public breastfeeding venture. I read as much as I had time to, while I was pregnant, and attended a breastfeeding workshop at my local hospital, as well as went to antenatal classes with my husband, where breastfeeding as a topic was also covered. “All women have the capacity to produce breast milk once they have given birth” – were the words I recall from the midwife who took my breastfeeding class. I told myself formula was not going to be an option. Despite my strong goal to breastfeed, I still had real concerns about being able to achieve it. I had heard about problems with milk supply, mastitis, babies rejecting the breast, mothers who needed to return to work and then face the mammoth task of expressing if they still wanted to give the baby breast milk, and about how I would confidently breastfeed in public.
When our son arrived, I knew the first and most important thing was to make sure he had an opportunity to come to the breast for a feed. I had to go away for a few hours to have surgery to repair a bad tear, shortly after his birth, which saddened me that we had to be separated, but I did get to spend approximately 90 minutes with him first, where he did actually go onto my left breast for a suck. I was pleased. I was so focused in that moment with him, I didn’t even notice the pain from my tear. While he sucked away on the left breast, the midwife was hand expressing my right for some colostrum for him to have while I would be away. “Look at your veins! There’s plenty coming out here, you’re going to have a great supply,” she said.
Because I was in hospital for 5 days, due to the recovery from my tear, I was able to make the most of the midwives when it came to learning to breastfeed. I recall the hardest part for me was getting my son to latch on. I remember spending up to 20 minutes trying to get him on. If he did go on, he would fall asleep, or was so upset from the wait to get a feed (or perhaps it was wind pain) that he would come off again, and cry, cry, cry. I would often give up trying and buzz the midwives and get them to help with attaching him. I do however recall a long night where I persisted with it myself and had some success, which helped my confidence, bit by bit. The rotations of midwives, meant I was able to get information from each of them, as they all had different things to offer. I was shown how to feed lying on my side, which I couldn’t really master again, so have now given up on it. They also offered me the lactation consultant. I was sure she would be telling me all the things I was doing wrong. As I was, at that point, doing things “my own way” as the things I had been shown by the midwives, I wasn’t able to do. I couldn’t do the holding the baby up the side to feed, I couldn’t shape my nipple “like a hamburger” to match the shape of his mouth, I couldn’t (and to my disappointment, still cannot) hand express my own milk, I couldn’t bring his head to the breast with one hand and hold him with my other. There was only one thing that worked for me, it was holding him by laying him across one arm, and rolling him towards the breast hoping for the best! I also found the sliding my nipple down over his nose trick, helped to get him on correctly too. To my surprise the lactation consultant told me that we were doing it well, and that my son and I were learning together, and that when it comes to feeding, there should be minimal intervention between the mother and baby so that they can work it out together. What a confidence boost she was! Being discharged did concern me as I still hadn’t mastered the latching on with him, but through the early weeks at home we persisted and pushed on. I found some wonderful natural based cream for my sore nipples, and eventually I didn’t need the cream at all.
Breastfeeding in public became my next biggest hurdle. I knew I could use a shawl over my shoulder if it made me feel more comfortable, but because I was so used to feeling the need to check his correct attachment and nose being clear to breathe, I never bothered with one and began to think a shawl over the shoulder would be more of a hindrance than a help. I read about how in Australia, a woman and baby have the right to breastfeed wherever and however, and kept those words in my mind when out in public. I liked the idea and convenience of feeding clothes. I gradually learnt to feed in places that were outside the comfort zone of my couch, or bed, at home. The most bizarre place I’ve ever had to feed is leaning up against a fallen tree while on a forest walk and I’m proud as it’s a long way from where I started 6 months ago! Publicly, the most awkward moment was walking while simultaneously feeding at a busy doctors’ surgery as my little man was too hungry to come off and he would have screamed the place down otherwise.
I would encourage all new mothers to try and persist with breastfeeding, as it really is a learned skill for you and the baby. It’s the most challenging thing I’ve experienced about motherhood. I do know, however, that for a variety of reasons, breastfeeding doesn’t end up being for everyone, and mothers shouldn’t feel any shame for choosing (or needing to) bottle, or formula feed. I’ve made the choice, and am fortunate enough, to be able to take about 15 months off from work to be able to focus on breastfeeding and weaning. I didn’t need to call the Australian Breastfeeding Association hotline until he was around 5 months old, as I was getting a sore, cracked nipple again, which I hadn’t experienced since our early weeks together. Their advice was to re-focus on the attachment, as babies at that age can become distracted and mothers can also forget to focus on attachment when they are around that age too. I took their advice, and sure enough, it healed up again in days. What a wonderful, free, 24 hour, supportive service they offer during any stage in the breastfeeding journey (marathon).

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