* This post was written in conjunction with Medela.
If there’s one thing I’ve been thinking about a heck of a lot in the last few weeks of this pregnancy, it’d have to be a cold glass of Secret Stone Sauvignon Blanc.. Well that and breastfeeding. Breastfeeding may even have topped my wine induced fantasies as we grow closer and closer to B-day and my second round of bebe feeding.
I’ve written about the battles I went through with feeding my son before but to summarise; it was hard. There were tears. It didn’t really get easier. I gritted my teeth through 6 months of feeding (whether this was admirable or silly, I’m still not sure), 4.5 months of which, we dealt with an undiagnosed tongue tie situation which would eventually be found out to be the problem and the cause of the difficulties I was experiencing. I wanted desperately to be able to breastfeed my son. I went to the classes, did the reading, asked for help every time he opened his little mouth. And yes, I fed him for over six months. He was filled to the brim with booby juice for the first half of his life. But things were never perfect. There was always an element of pain, ranging from slight discomfort (God bless you Medela Nipple Shields for pretty much saving my sanity) to all out agony.
I’m not going to lie, I have grieved for the breastfeeding relationship I never really managed with Ollie. It was one thing I wanted so badly, yet something that, biologically, just wasn’t great. Have you ever wanted something so badly that it becomes your absolute focus? The pinnacle of your thinking? The shadow constantly hovering over your busy mind? This was breastfeeding for me. I craved the intimacy of the act. I wanted to be that serene mum, sat on the rocking chair, gently nursing her gurgling babe. Sure, it was probably an unrealistic image but I thought if I worked hard enough, tried for long enough, I might just achieve it.
It seemed though that the odds were stacked against me. Ollie and I just never 100% worked. There was the initial blistering and bleeding, followed by a stint with nipple shields and expressing, followed by nipple thrush which then turned into a staph infection. I saw two lactation consultants, visited the breastfeeding day stay unit at my local hospital four times and attended the early childhood clinic breastfeeding support group every Monday for weeks on end. Nothing could stop it from hurting, from my nipples being compressed and the skin broken, even weeks and weeks after the whole process had started. Yet I continued. I wanted to sit, just once, and feed my son without gritting my teeth. I wanted to be able to sit down at Mothers Group and nonchalantly unclip my bra without even thinking about it, instead of battling a wave of anxiety and dread all mixed in with a dollop of hope that this could the ‘the time’ that it worked. That idea, that the next feed could be the one, that if I just kept going eventually it would happen for me like everyone else, spurred me on. Eventually, after 16 long weeks, Ollie was diagnosed with a tongue tie. It took a last ditch appointment with an independent midwife to diagnose what two paediatricians, lactation consultants, clinic nurses had missed. We had the tie cut the day it was diagnosed which did improve things slightly but after teaching himself to feed the incorrect way, it was a little too late for Ollie to re-learn the correct way of doing things.
We persisted for a few more months and I did get closer to the ‘perfect’ feed. There were a few times that could be described as beautiful. Yes, there was still discomfort but it wasn’t teeth gritting. I was willing to keep going, purely for the bonding experience that breastfeeding offered. I was addicted I guess you could say to the idea of my son needing me. Of being able to provide something that no one else could. Almost like I wanted to stake my claim that this was my son and that I was all he needed. Ollie has other ideas however and at almost 7 months, decided to wean, a bitter sweet experience if ever there was one.
Two and a half years on and I’m about to embark on a completely new experience with a completely new baby. I can’t say that I’m not nervous. Genetically, there is a chance that this baby will have a tongue tie, just like her brother. Unlike her brother however, this time around I’m no longer a slightly bewildered first time mama who feels in her gut that something isn’t right but seems to get brushed off every time she tries to mention it to a midwife/lactation consultant/medical professional. There will be no brush off if I feel something is awry in the first hours/days of my daughter’s life. I’m quite prepared to be that slightly deranged mother who’s demanding a second/third/fourth opinion to get things sorted properly and not just pushed to the side.
My knowledge of the process of breastfeeding, from that very first initial latch, has also grown hugely. With all the issues Ollie and I had and the experts we spent time with, I became a bit of a sponge, soaking up massive amounts of knowledge. I’ve pretty much schooled myself on every aspect of the how and why and I’m quite chuffed that friends with newborns now text me with their breastfeeding questions and queries (I do like to feel like a bit of a guru J
Sooner rather than later, I’m going to have to start taking my own advice and this is what I’m hoping I’ll remember.
- Some discomfort is to be expected, hideous pain, blisters and distortion is not.
- Choosing ONE person for advice, help and guidance is the way to go. Every midwife/LC seems to have different (and sometimes conflicting) advice. Pick someone you trust and ask them for help as soon as it’s needed.
- Trust your gut. If something doesn’t seem right, keep pushing whoever it is that needs to be pushed till a solution is reached.
- If in doubt, consult a paediatric surgeon and if there’s a suggestion of any type of tie that’s causing issues, have it cut.
- Stock up on nipple shields, lanolin balm, healing breast discs and ultra soft breast pads BEFORE bub arrives so you’ve got everything necessary just in case.
I’d LOVE to hear your breastfeeding advice.. Is there anything you’ve learnt/been told that’s really stuck in your mind? I’m arming myself with ALLLL the information for this second round!
Medela provides real solutions for breastfeeding mothers to get over any hurdles in the early days and to support their long term breastfeeding goals. Through its extensive range of breastpump products and otherbreastfeeding products, Medela is committed to promoting the benefits of breast milk and encouraging long term breastfeeding. For more information visit: http://www.medela.com.au I http://www.facebook.com/medela.au