My breastfeeding journey
With most women when they are pregnant, one of the things they look forward to is breastfeeding their babies. I knew from the word go that I would want to breastfeed my children. It is something I had seen my mother do when my brothers were babies. Every time I saw a mother feeding a baby I would look at them with admiration. So as I was going through my first pregnancy I started doing my research on breastfeeding and I was set on the fact that my baby would be exclusively breastfed.
s it for everyone?
When you think of breastfeeding a question pops in my head, “Is it for everyone?” The answer is No. While some people like myself enjoy breastfeeding, for some it is traumatic from the get go. That very first time the baby latches and starts sucking for a period of time, one can experience pain in the nipples, cracked nipples and that alone can be a turn off breastfeeding for some. The babies may have issues latching on and that becomes emotional for both mother and baby because the baby is not getting enough and the mother feels like she is failing her baby. At this stage some people seek help from lactation consultants and this can help resolve some issues.
I was lucky to give birth to both my kids at the Mater hospital in Brisbane. While I was in hospital they organized sessions with lactation consultants which was really great because the issues I would have worried about once I got home I got to get them resolved then. Even after getting discharged I still sort out information online from the Australian breastfeeding association (https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au). This was awesome because there were also local groups I could go to and meet and discuss any issues I had. Some sites I visited where the likes of, https://themilkmeg.com where I could get more professional information.
I have met women of all walks of life who have told me stories and why they could not breastfeed. I am one of those people who think, “Whatever works for you as long as it keeps you sane and baby healthy.” I have met some women who just do not want to breastfeed because they do not want to have saggy boobs afterwards.
Complications of breastfeeding
Complications of breastfeeding can be another reason some women decide to wean early. I remember the first time I developed mastitis. OMG my breast was so painful even the fabric of my bra against it felt like I had walked into a wall. By then I had been in a mother’s group I joined during pregnancy . The mothers in this group were so helpful. Some were first time mothers like myself and some had had 1 or more children. In this group I could ask remedies for anything or just vent about my day and my sore boobs and knew I was talking to women who understood. I remember them telling me what I could possibly have after mentioning my symptoms. A trip to the doctors confirmed it and I was on antibiotics. To relieve the pain they told me to keep feeding on that breast and to express using my hand to massage. I remember doing this crying because it was so painful. Every time my son latched on I was in tears. I remember thinking, “I give up. If it is going to be like this I am not doing it anymore.” Then someone from my mothers group told me to put cabbage leaves to cool it down. Oh my, what a relief. That cabbage went so quick and I just kept persevering. Kupa would be told some day about how mama kept on going no matter how difficult and painful it was. He also had cases of reflux and colic which I later read from http://www.breastfeedingconsultant.com/common-complications that, ‘it is closely related to the rapid transfer of high breast milk volume to the stomach.’ Now Kupa refused to take the bottle. When I had to go out and leave him with his father he would rather starve and sleep than feed from the bottle. It made it difficult for me to leave him with people and whenever I tried to pump he never took it.
hen i started worrying about my supply. Another complication is of low milk volume and because I always worried he would not be getting enough I was constantly making lactation cookies, smoothies and taking tablets. Maybe that’s why I had engorgement and mastitis very frequently, when I think of it now.
How long can you breastfeed for?
The World Health Organization and the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia recommend exclusive breastfeeding that is with no other fluids or solids for six months and then continued breastfeeding combined with solid foods for 12-24 months or as long as mother and baby desire. By the time we hit the 6 months mark, some people started to tell me I should wean him. I could not bring myself to wean him. He was still so young and only just starting on a solid diet. So kept on breastfeeding him until he was 22 months old. I was pregnant with Nashe then and I only stopped because I was so sick all the time and never had energy so I had to think of the little being that was now growing inside of me. I knew a few women who were tandem feeding some from my mummy group and some from seeing them around. I also wanted that but my body wouldn’t let me. I chose to listen to my body then. It was not difficult to wean Kupa because I just explained he had to leave some for his baby sister. That was easy and he adored her before she was even born and still does to date.
Nashe came along and the second time around I did not have as many problems as I did the first time. It was like my nipples had grown immune to little beings feeding. The mastitis though, that hit me real hard 4 weeks in and I happened to be at the shopping mall when I suddenly had massive pain, dizziness, and nearly lost consciousness. Luckily I was with my mother and she knew what to do. I knew then what people mean when they say they fainted from pain. I am still breastfeeding my beautiful daughter who is now 20 months old. A part of me feels sad thinking of weaning because the time I spent with my babies feeding them was just “our” time. Nashe is a cheeky one though. She chooses which breast she wants to feed from and will tell me when she is ready to swap. At this stage I think she just comfort feeds because I feel like I have reached that stage where I am low on supply. I now even have her on formula because I was never one of those people who said I wouldn’t give my child formula. She loves both her ‘kaka’ breast milk and her formula.
While I have enjoyed my breastfeeding journey, I have also embraced formula feeding as well. I will say this again, ‘whatever works for you.’ If you are lucky to breastfeed, embrace it and enjoy it. They say breast milk is liquid gold. Some mothers wish they could have done what you have done or doing. If you couldn’t breastfeed the first time and want to have a got the second time around. Go for it, you may have a better experience this time around. If you are formula feeding your baby, you are doing an awesome job because you are considering what is best for your baby.