Feeding Friday: Hannah and Beth

This one is an absolute triumph over adversity. There is no force equal to that of a determined woman. As always, my only agenda is that women make informed decisions with the right support around them. I want you to know it doesn’t have to be either easy or impossible- the spectrum is ENORMOUS.

Make a brew and feast your eyes on this, from the lovely Hannah…

(You may remember Hannah from her HG story which went on to be featured in major newspapers and women’s magazines).

 

I always wanted to breastfeed its something I’m hugely passionate about!! And, like many, thought it would be the most easy, natural thing in the world.
I did my research and felt prepared. It was so much harder that I thought!

Beth was born at 00.02 by emergency c section, she latched on in surgery and never looked back! I was so happy, after a stressful birth I felt I had this down!!
However the next night she fed for 8 hours straight, and I mean she screamed the place down if you tried to unlatch her!  I had been up for over 48 hours by this point I was exhausted, sore, and I felt I was failing. Was she not getting enough? What she latched wrong? Was I not producing enough for her?

 
The midwives said I was doing fine and was discharged the next morning.  However Beth carried on her continual feeding and by the end of day 2 my nipples were on fire!! They were cracked and bleeding, so much so that Beth was vomiting up blood!
And this point I was ready to quit. I felt like a failure, I couldn’t even feed my own baby.  I remember sitting in bed sobbing my heart out that I was a terrible mum! (Bloody hormones) if there had been formula in the house I would have used it.

 
At this point I called in every help I could. And thanks to a breastfeeding consultant, a good midwife and a very good friend, I was given cream, nipple shields and the support I needed- we carried on feeding!

 
Next hurdle arrived next morning, my milk arrived and I woke up looking like Jordan! I felt dreadful, I was sick and shaking.  I was assured this was a normal part of getting your milk!
Now I started to questioning my decision to breastfeed- why was something so natural so hard? But we carried on feeding!
Next problem, Beth lost weight- a lot of weight! The midwife gave me 24 hours to get her weight up or we were going to hospital. For a new mum this was terrifying. I was told to boost my calories, and to go on the mars bar diet! I did just that, mars bars and full fat milk! She stated to gain and although is still a small child she is perfectly healthy. We carried on feeding.

Beth fed every 2-3 hours for the first year! It was only after this she started to drop feeds! She could go all day without milk but still fed 3/4 times a night!  This pattern continued until she was around 19/20 months old when I started to wean her off night feeds.  (Mummy needed sleep!!) She still fed night and morning until around 22 months when she dropped down to one feed a day before bed.  
The hardest thing for me has been the lack sleep as I was still only getting 3 hours blocks at night until she was nearly 2! But you do adjust! You just have to be gentle with yourself and realize you can’t do everything by your self. Ask for help and take it when it’s offered!!! Don’t be afraid to ask for the things and help you need.

I have had so many ups and downs of feeding and cried tears of joy and sadness!
Here are some of my better/funny memories!
We had a big dinner party at my mums the summer after Beth was born. I excuses my self to give her a feed and walked back in to the dinner without putting my top back and my bra still out!! Big mum fail seeing the looks on people’s faces!

 
I have fed everywhere and been amazed at the support of friends and family! Weirder places include trains, my desk at work at a bank in the city, the top of Glastonbury tor, the zoo train, beaches, go ape, weddings, airplanes and the kick boxing world Championships (huge kick boxing men from all over the world would smile and give me thumbs up!!)

 
I have what’s known as hypa lactation meaning I produce a lot of milk! I used to wear 3-4 pairs of breast pad at a time and have to change ever few hours! My friends used to hold muslins up so I could change behind them and it was a regular occurrence for me to leak through my tops and even hoodies! I had to borrow so many people’s clothes!
I also chose to donate my milk to hospitals to help feed ill and premature babies. In total I donated over 5 litres and it is to date one of my biggest achievements!

We used nipple shields, throughout our feeding journey.  Something I was criticized for not giving up, but for us it worked! If it works for you and your happy why change? From around 8 months old Beth learnt to sign milk, and I loved when she use to toddle over and asks for her milk!
I returned to work and still carried on breastfeeding, another hurdle I didn’t think we would pass.

Beth is now 25 months old and self weaned 7 weeks ago.  I had said I would feed till 2 then see how things went, with the idea in mind of stopping feeding gradually over the coming 6 months.  However one night on a family holiday, as we cuddled in bed for her nightly feed, she said ‘No mummy, story please’.  I was surprised but read her a book and she dozed off, this continued the next few nights and she has never asked, or taken when offered, any more milk.  Clearly that was her time.  Part of me was happy she self weaned so easily with no tears or unhappiness, the other part wished I had known her last feed was her last so I could have hugged her a bit tighter and savoured every moment.  I miss feeding her.

 

Now 7 weeks on my boobs look much better than they did (YAY!) but I’m still producing milk! Not a lot, and I hope this will tail off soon.  I sometimes look at my happy, healthy, talkative little girl and think, Wow, I grew her for 9 months and continued to grow her with my body for 2 years!!
Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone and that’s an individual choice, but, for those who chose to, go you mamma!! But don’t worry if it’s not like was it looks in films! If you bleed, or cry or soak the person sitting next to you in milk spray! Us breast feeding mums have been here and feel your pain and joy!  My main advice is do what works for you and your baby. If that’s ebf from day 1, go you, or combi feeding, manual pumps or Electric pumps, nipple shields or not.  If you’re happy and your baby is happy you’re doing fab!! Don’t be put off by set backs or if it’s not that perfect image you imagined!   Ask for help when you need it, eat that chocolate bar and don’t feel guilty and talk about it feeding!!! You are doing amazingly!! Be proud of yourself!!!
#womensupportingwomen #normalisingbreastfeeding #gomamma #doitlikeamother #incredibleimperfectmothers #feedingfriday

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