Welcome to the first post in my new guest series exploring different experiences of breastfeeding—good and bad. I’m really excited for you to read this—it really highlights how no two experiences are the same, even with the same woman!
This week Claire Gamble from Play & Adventure is sharing the two very different experiences she had with breastfeeding her children. Claire is a mum of two who blogs at Play & Adventure—a family lifestyle, leisure and travel blog, aimed to inspire and inform modern, busy parents on how to make the most of their free family time.
Why not pop over and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Claire’s breastfeeding experience
Claire with both kids
I’m currently two months into my second breastfeeding journey, and it’s been very different to the first time round with my now three-year-old son, Charlie.
Charlie was born nearly four weeks early and had to be monitored. His blood sugars were low and he had severe jaundice, so was admitted to the children’s hospital to undergo UV lamp treatment and ongoing observations.
I remember trying to feed a very sleepy newborn on the first day and one of the midwives telling me to think about formula. I scowled and said I’d carry on trying. I felt helpless though – I didn’t know what I was doing, and neither did my baby, which didn’t seem fair – surely one of us should know what to do?
When we were in the children’s hospital, I continued to be pulled in two directions. The midwives who visited me once a day were, on the whole, very encouraging. But the doctors who carried out my baby’s checks would tut when I couldn’t tell them how much he’d eaten (sorry, my boobs aren’t measuring jugs) and blame me for my son’s blood sugars dropping and jaundice levels rising (OK, maybe they weren’t really blaming me – but to a sleep deprived, hormonal, worried first-time mum it felt like it at the time).
In the end, we had to give my son formula to help flush his system of the jaundice, which I fed to him in little cups or syringes to avoid the ‘nipple confusion’ I’d been warned about. All the while, I persevered with breastfeeding and after a few weeks we were exclusively on the boob.
I breastfed for about six months. Both my son and I had worked hard to establish breastfeeding, and I’m pleased we did, but it was time to wind it down as he was starting nursery and I wanted to get my body back.
Two months ago, I had my second baby – a little girl, Rosa. Although she arrived a couple of weeks early, she immediately got the hang of breastfeeding. She did, however, have tongue tie, which caused me a lot of pain.
After a few sleepless nights of painful cluster feeds with cut and bleeding nipples, we went to a breastfeeding support group at our local hospital. As well as helping me position my baby correctly, the midwife we saw got us an appointment to fix my daughter’s tongue tie. It helped pretty much straight away and I’m so grateful we were able to access this help and service, as I understand not all hospitals offer this.
Although breastfeeding is going smoothly, we’ve introduced a bedtime bottle of formula. I was struggling with the lack of sleep and couldn’t express milk quick enough, so my husband gives her a bottle while I grab some shut-eye before the night shift begins. This mixed feeding approach really suits us – it means my husband gets bonding time with his girl, she still gets the benefits of breast milk and I get a bit of uninterrupted sleep. As for the ‘nipple confusion’ I’d been worried about the first time round, there’s been no problems.
I’ve definitely been more relaxed with my second baby – partly because I feel like I know what I’m doing, but also because my daughter got the hang of breastfeeding easier than my son did. I’ve realised that just as no two pregnancies, labours or babies are the same, neither are two breastfeeding journeys. It’s such an emotional time when you start trying to breastfeed your baby, and there are so many factors that can impact on how smoothly it goes – most of which you have no control over. Ultimately, you need to work out what’s best for you, your baby and your personal circumstances, and don’t worry if the feeding solution you settle on isn’t what you first had in mind.
Thanks for sharing this Claire! It’s really interesting to hear how different it can be breastfeeding each baby. I definitely agree that its important to work out what’s best for you and your baby and not worry if things don’t go to plan!
If you’d like to contribute to this guest series comment below or send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org