Georgina from Not Just Phoebe’s breastfeeding experiences
When I was pregnant with Phoebe (3 years) I always knew that I wanted to breastfeed her (if I was able to of course) and the same goes with baby Frankie (now 4 months old). It was just something that felt right, completely natural and normal to do. So, when the big moment came first time round, I was all ready for that amazing biological nurturing feed I’d heard so much about straight after birth. However, stubborn baby Phoebe had other ideas and just didn’t latch on, she kept trying and managed maybe a few sucks but it wasn’t quite right and couldn’t stay on and she was falling asleep a lot.
I had midwives/breastfeeding supports come round on that first night in hospital, but she just wouldn’t get on properly, cried and then only wanted to sleep on me. I had no idea what I was doing to be honest but kept trying, remembering the whole nose to nipple advice I’d been given during our antenatal classes. In the morning (not that I’d slept) one lady really helped me get a good position and Phoebe fed for a while on both sides, which meant we were able to go home. Once at home it was a different story and again I couldn’t get the latch quite right, she was a lazy feeder and seemed to just keep sleeping.
Just after the first feed
Day 2 I starting expressing milk, as I didn’t want to lose the golden nectar that is colostrum and with the advice of our midwife we syringed the hard-earned yellow coloured milk into little Phoebe’s mouth, some “feeds” were tougher than others but she was taking some. Unfortunately all our hard work wasn’t paying off as she lost quite a lot of her birth weight over that first week, but I knew it would take both of us some time to get into the swing of it, so stayed positive and would keep trying on her boob. I also kept a diary of what she was having either via syringe or breast as the midwives were quick to suggest formula after her drop in weight, doing this gave me peace of mind and almost some form of evidence to show them we were really trying.
My big turning point in those first few weeks, was going along to a local breastfeeding support group and finally getting phoebe on for a nice long feed, on both sides. I was so happy. My positioning had been slightly wrong and obviously my stress (even though I thought I was chilled) levels weren’t helping either of us crack it, but the amazing ladies at the group helped me so much and I’ll forever be grateful to them. I’m not going to lie, those first proper latch on’s were painful and toe curling, but it didn’t last long and any concerns or worries I had, I just chatted to the bf supporters and instantly felt reassured that it was normal and if anything wasn’t right they quickly corrected it. Not only did I manage to get breastfeeding confidently through the group, I also made some fantastic mummy mates who I still speak to pretty much every day and that’s 3 years later.
Mine and Phoebe’s breastfeeding journey had its up and downs and once she got teeth it was tough on the old nips but I absolutely loved feeding Phoebe. I had no problem feeding in public places and felt comfortable when out and about, I felt so proud watching her growing on just mummy milk. I continued to go along to the bf group and after around 6 months I was very kindly approached by the staff to take part in some free training to become a breastfeeding supporter. I jumped at the opportunity as even though it was still baby related it felt like I was using my brain again. The training ran over 6 weeks and phoebe joined the nursery attached to the centre while I was doing the training, which in itself was a nice break. The training was fab and I soon started volunteering at the centre as a peer supporter in the bf group and the feeling of being able to help other mums who like me were struggling to establish bf was amazing. Watching those babies growing week by week knowing you played a part of it was incredible and helping those mums by just giving them a hot drink and listening for an hour or two each week was a pleasure. It was my life line during those blurry early days so I know how much it can help. Our breastfeeding journey came to rather an abrupt ending at around 9 months. Her day feeds had been reducing and a few nights a week she had a bottle of expressed milk from daddy, but still loved the boob or so I thought.
The sudden stopping was a huge blow to me, I felt totally rejected in a way I didn’t even know possible, plus the hormones hit me hard and on top of that I ended up with mastitis. A very painful experience and I can still remember sitting in the bath with rock solid concrete tits, crying my eyes out trying to hand express my unwanted milk, thinking why doesn’t my baby girl want me like that anymore!? Why doesn’t she need me? Now looking back I know that was just phoebe’s personality coming through, stopping on her own terms and in a way I’m glad as we had no problems with that part of weaning, I just took the brunt of it. After a few weeks of sore sits (lots of cold cabbage leaves in the bra), weird raging hormones and hand expressing my milk had dried up, gone. We then gave P formula for a few months, weaned her off that shortly after her first birthday before switching to blue top milk. I didn’t enjoy all the faffing around sterilising bottles, getting powder everywhere so was happy when she could simply have some milk without all the fuss. As normal Phoebe took it really well and still enjoys milk now.
Thank you for sharing this Georgina. It’s great that you got such good help from your local breastfeeding support group. I found my local support group really helpful too. You can follow Georgina on social media by clicking on the links below.