I’m not going to lie, the start of our breastfeeding journey has been a tough one but I wanted to be really honest in this post to show those that are struggling that they’re not alone! Breastfeeding is incredibly difficult, it doesn’t come naturally for everyone and it’s especially difficult when you’re recovering from a traumatic birth like I am.
I’d dreamt of cuddles and bonding and spending the first few blissful hours after the birth getting our latch right and doing lots of feeding. Due to my emergency c section I was unable to feed Theo straight away as I was under anaesthetic. This meant the first time Theo ate was a small bit of hand expressed colostrum in a syringe.
If you read my post on my hopes and anxieties for breastfeeding you’ll know I have a large lump in one nipple. Before having Theo I was very anxious this would effect our journey and unfortunately I was right. Theo was unable to latch on that side meaning I had to exclusively feed him from one side while expressing on the other. We continued this throughout our hospital stay. It was exhausting making sure I was pumping everytime Theo fed to keep up the supply in both sides. I was super careful to use Lansinoh lanolin after every feed in a hope of keeping my nipples in tact. Theo’s latch wasn’t right though and my nipple took a complete battering. Two days after we arrived at home from hospital I was losing the plot. My nipple had a huge blood blister that burst and became a big open sore, along with numerous other bleeding cracks. Everytime Theo latched on I sat and wanted to cry and my toes curled with the pain. Lanolin was my only saviour during this time but even it could only do so much when my nipple was being chomped on for each feed. I finally managed to get in contact with a lactation consultant who said enough was enough. She said I needed to rest and heal my nipple or I was going to have to give up breastfeeding for good which is not what I wanted.
With a heavy heart (and quite a few tears) I exclusively pumped for 3 days and gave Theo expressed milk in a bottle. The Lansinoh Compact Breast Pump became my best friend! We had lots of hospital appointments for Theo at this time so having a super compact pump I could pop in the changing bag was a life saver! It meant I could sit and pump in the hospital while Theo got tests done and I’ll be forever grateful for this! The break gave my nipple a chance to heal. I’ll be honest I was absolutely gutted having to give him a bottle before the advised six weeks to establish breastfeeding was up but looking back now I’m so grateful he took it so well and if it hadn’t have been for that break I really don’t know how I’d have carried on.
After the rest days filled with careful washing and drying of my nipples along with lots of lanolin, I met up with my lactation consultant who introduced the use of nipple shields. Turns out both my nipples aren’t cut out for breastfeeding, one nipple is flat and the other has the large lump, I wasn’t making it easy for poor Theo! Nipple shields have been a god send for us! We’re still using them now one month in and although I hope we can eventually stop using them they’re the only reason at present that we can continue. There’s something for Theo to latch onto and he can be fed on both sides! I’m so chuffed we’re still exclusively breastfeeding a month on.
For something that’s supposed to be so natural and easy you may have read that and thought – why bother? Surely it’d be easier to give in and let Theo have formula. Yes, it probably would be (mind you formula comes with its own challenges too!) but I just adore the bond breastfeeding gives Theo and I and we’re just not ready to give that up yet. Theo doesn’t just look to me to feed when he’s hungry, he likes to suckle when he’s hungry, when he’s tired, when he’s cuddly, even when he’s happy and just wants to be close to me! He likes suckling so much I had to give in and introduce a dummy! (Though that’s a whole other story!)