Welcome back to my guest series exploring the different experiences women have of breastfeeding. This week we have Wild Atlantic Mum, telling us about feeding her daughter for two years and counting, despite some early challenges.
Wild Atlantic Mum’s breastfeeding experiences
Yes, I’m still breastfeeding….
When I started my breastfeeding journey I never thought I would still be at it two years later. But here I am with an energetic toddler showing no signs of giving up. The irony is that she wasn’t exactly full of enthusiasm at the start! During the hours after ‘Little P’ was born she showed no interest in taking to the breast. I gently touched her nose with my nipple, she turned away. The midwife squeezed a little of the magic colostrum onto her lips, she stayed asleep. We pushed the nipple gently into her tiny mouth, she promptly spat it back out. Five patient midwives and three frustrating hours later she latched on. I was so grateful to the young midwife who finally managed it that I still remember her name (thank you Hazel). I was very determined to breastfeed but the truth is that without that initial support my breastfeeding experience may have ended before it had even begun.
In the days and weeks that followed I struggled with my awkwardness in maintaining a good latch and a good position.The public health nurse that visited gave me some great advice and she was so encouraging (which really helps when you barely have time to get up off the couch to wash your hair!). Things were going relatively smoothly until ‘Little P’ decided she would only feed from the right breast and the left one became full of milk and incredibly painful. Public health nurse to the rescue again as she suggested a breast-pump. I used it for a for a week until ‘Little P’ went back to the left breast again – problem solved.
My friends had shared their breastfeeding stories with me, everything from tongue tie to mastitis so I wasn’t expecting it to be plain sailing. I had been warned many times about sore nipples (baby’s mouths are more powerful than they look!). But I was so preoccupied with her latch and my milk supply that I had forgotten all advice about applying ‘Lasinoh’ ointment. By the time ‘Little P’ was three weeks old my nipples were red raw. Cue sharp intake of breath and counting to ten every time she started a feed. Then a liberal application of ‘Lasinoh’ when she finished and my nipples healed within days.
By the time she was about two months old breastfeeding became easy. I remember going to stay with my parents and feeding ”Little P’ during visits with relatives, something I would never have contemplated in the early days. Since then, although growth spurts and teething have seen me stuck to the couch for long periods again at various stages, it has been mostly straightforward and convenient for us both. That is why we’re still doing it two years later! For me early support and advice was essential. And talking to friends and family about their experiences meant I knew that the difficulties were neither failures on my part nor reasons to stop.
Now the only difficulty I face (and I’m ashamed to admit it) is embarrassment that I’m still breastfeeding. People can sometimes react with shock but I think I just have to realise that the problem lies more in their reaction. Mostly I feel proud and lucky that I am able to breastfeed ‘Little P’. I especially feel grateful to the women in my life who told me, honestly, what to expect and to the midwives who took the time to help me. And Hazel, I’m especially grateful to Hazel!
Thanks for sharing your story with us. I bet Hazel would be so chuffed to read this! I totally agree that early support is vital and so is sharing honest experiences so women know what to expect. It’s amazing that you are still breastfeeding ‘Little P’. I don’t think you should be embarrassed at all.
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