"My first day back at work was horrible. I missed my little boy terribly and this feeling was expressed through my breasts which were rock hard, and wept milk around the times he usually fed..." Can you relate, mummies?
I struggled to conceive my first child. Three rounds of
torture IVF which failed miserably, plenty of heartache, and many years later, we finally had our first child.
As you can imagine, I wanted to do everything right by this little boy – and breastfeeding him for as long as possible was high on my list of priorities.
Breastfeeding was super-easy (not)!
I had seen other mums breastfeeding their little ones effortlessly. It looked so simple and I was confident I would have no issues – until it was actually my turn. It started as soon as my baby was born, when I struggled to get him to latch on properly.
One day after his birth, the nurses were still coaxing a few drops of colostrum out of me and feeding it to him via a dropper. By Day 2, he was still struggling to latch on and I was starting to panic because one of the nurses wanted to feed him formula.
Before it came to that, this amazing nurse showed me proper breastfeeding positions and how to get my little one to latch on properly, and it finally happened – he started nursing properly!
A tiny, very slow drinker
After my initial setbacks, I had no issues with getting my baby to latch on properly. In fact, he was getting so good at it that it felt like he never unlatched – literally!
There were days when I was confined to my comfy glider for hours at a stretch. My little one would fall asleep at my breast and any attempt to put him in his cot would be unsuccessful and he would wake up.
My saviour? Co-sleeping! Co-sleeping enabled my baby to nurse and doze for as long as he liked and let me get much needed shut-eye too.
“My breasts were rock hard and wept milk”… this is what happened on my first day back at work.
“It felt like needles in my breast”
When my child was around four months old, I developed this terrible pain in my left breast. It felt like a million needles were pricking me every time he latched on. I didn’t think to see a doctor and I persisted nursing through this terrible pain which I know now was probably a symptom of nipple thrush.
Luckily for me, the pain went away after a week or so and I was able to continue nursing. The next nursing challenge for me was related to preparing to go back to work.
I had six months of maternity leave and in preparation, I expressed milk and tried to bottle-feed my son with it when he was about two months old.
The first few tries were successful, but soon he came to hate the bottle and would cry murder if he even saw it anywhere near him! So I took the easy way out and continued breastfeeding him.
I thought I would deal with the issue of ensuring he still got breastmilk closer to when I had to return to work. My solution definitely didn’t involve the bottle (which he still hated). Instead, I introduced him to solids and got the nanny to give him expressed breast milk in a cup.
My first day back at work was horrible. I missed my little boy terribly and this feeling was expressed through my breasts: they were rock hard and wept milk around the times he usually fed. It slowly got better though as he got bigger and more used to solids and my body adjusted to the changed nursing routine.
Pregnant again and still breastfeeding
By the time I got pregnant with my second child, my older boy was almost two years old and still going strong with breastfeeding.
At the beginning of my pregnancy, the nursing was okay. But as the pregnancy progressed, it became increasingly painful whenever my boy latched on. I still persisted through the pain and around my seventh month of pregnancy, my little boy self-weaned.
It was a bittersweet moment: no more pain but also no more sweet cheeks pressed against my chest as he fell asleep at my breast in the quietness of night. But it was okay because I knew I had done my best by him through this nursing journey and I was ready to start all over again with my second child.
A much smoother ride
When my second son was born, breastfeeding was so much easier than it was the first time. I had no issues with getting him to latch on, I knew nursing and co-sleeping would save my own sleep, and I had no painful nursing episodes.
I also didn’t have to worry about expressing milk for him because I became, and still am, a work-from-home mum.
My second son also breastfed for over two years. My breasts have provided nourishment for both my children for almost five years, and I don’t regret one moment of this time. However, it is true that especially with my first son, I came really close to giving up several times in my first year of nursing.
But mums, can I tell you my secrets to persevering?
It was thanks to a few good friends who supported me through my breastfeeding rough patches.
It was working in an environment (with both kids) that encouraged breastfeeding. I had highly supportive colleagues (most of them breastfeeding mums themselves), a comfortable room for expressing milk, a section in the freezer for storing my expressed milk and flexi-hours, so I could head home in time for my little one’s afternoon feed.
And without a doubt, it was because of my husband, who encouraged and supported me breastfeeding both our kids from beginning to end.
Breastfeeding seems like the most natural thing in the world, but it can be tough. So mums, if you are nursing your little baby and you feel like giving up because of reasons you think are beyond your control, we understand what you are going through.
But before you give up, try reaching out to your friends, to other breastfeeding mums in groups like the Breastfeeding Mums Support Group on Facebook, to your colleagues, and to your partner. Give breastfeeding a go – it’s worth it!
What were your breastfeeding woes and wins? Do tell us by leaving a comment below.