An interview with Rhiannon about her experience feeding her babies. Sometimes just knowing that the hurdles can be overcome (or will pass in time!) is enough to help you complete another day when things are feeling hard.
What did you know about breastfeeding before got pregnant?
That my mum had breastfed me & my brother successfully. that it was always something I would do and a lot of people are unsuccessful for various reasons. I wanted to do it due to the bond with baby, benefits to baby and convenience to me.
What did you learn whilst you were pregnant?
It’s very demanding in the early days. it does feel like you are constantly feeding but due to size of baby’s stomach, this is normal.
What sort of start did you have?
Ridiculously sore nipples. they were black from blisters, bleeding, skin falling off. my mum got me nipple shields, which made me feel like a failure, but within 2 weeks, my nipples had toughened up and I continued without until my first was 14 months. second time round, I had no problems with nipple pain, but the after pains when feeding was like contractions for about a week.
When, if ever, did you feel like things settled down?
First time round, by 2 weeks when nipple pain had eased and I felt more confident in feeding positions that I could feed discretely in public eye.
second time round, I feel straight into it without any problems.
Were you well supported by…. midwives partner family etc?
NO. It’s always been a question asked so a box can be ticked on paperwork and then no questions. the tea lady in hospital when my son was about 16 hours old asked if she could offer a piece of advice and said to put more of the ariola in his mouth, which was a great help and I was very appreciative. Second time round, my midwife did ask at my home visit if I was having any problems to which I replied no.
The midwives and health visitors at home praised me for feeding well due to both of my baby’s weight gain.
Did you worry about feeding in public? How did you overcome any issue with that?
First time round it took a few weeks to find clothing and positions to feed discretely before I felt 100% confident in public. I was always well prepared with a speech should anyone comment on me feeding, however hardly anyone ever noticed. I found wearing a vest top with adjustable straps underneath my bra line under a baggy top meant I could keep my saggy belly covered and helped feeding discretely.
What was the best / worst piece of advice you got about breastfeeding?
Ensure you are kept well nourished and especially hydrated to maintain milk production. Baby’s bellies are size of a marble at birth so will feed little and often; this does calm down after a few weeks.
How did you find the experience emotionally?
Loved it. The bond and convenience is amazing. I didn’t begrudge being the only one able to feed my babies. I felt it meant there was never a delay when they became hungry. that feeling when they latch on and stare lovingly into your eyes is something that no one can ever understand.
How did you know it was time to stop?
Honestly…you just know. They become settled into a routine with food and cups of drink and they would go to sleep at night without crying out for the comfort of the boob.
What’s the one thing you wish you had known at the very beginning?
Using nipple shields in the early days doesn’t make you a failure…it just means your nipples aren’t used to being sucked so vigorously.
Would you do anything differently if you were to have another baby?
Nope. Managed to successfully breastfed twice now and would do again. Perhaps try expressing with a bottle earlier to make returning to work a little easier.
If you’d like some support along the way, we have groups available the HQ – just follow the facebook page here for details of the sessions. If you’ve got a story you’d like to inspire another mum to be with, just get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org