Thursday, 28 April 2016

The Early Days - Breastfeeding for the fourth time.

It's now 13 days since I gave birth to our fourth little baby, our darling little girl. 

I'm still yet to get round to finishing her birth story post, along with about a million others! So this post is dedicated to the beginning of our breastfeeding journey really. It's something i've felt so strongly and passionate about since learning I was pregnant with our first baby, I managed to breastfeed our three children to 13 months with Yve's, 15 months with Halle and to 17 months with Phoenix - this wasn't without any issues though and I can't honestly write it down here that it has shown me some very tough times physically and mentally. 

I've written here before about my previous breastfeeding experiences, and about how I even volunteered and completed a 'breastfeeding peer support worker' course just to gain any extra knowledge, and for me to be able to offer any advice to those who would ever be in the same situation with breastfeeding with the difficulties that can crop up. 

This specific post, I wanted to write about our fourth little bundle of joy. I will start by saying that she is a natural with feeding, suckling contentedly within minutes of being born, she just knew what she wanted, instincts kicked in and that was the start of where we are now.  Even though she is our fourth baby, I still had those hazy moments after giving birth of 'what if i've forgotten how to breastfeed?', 'What if she latches wrong and i don't realise until its too late and it's gone into an open wound' - been there, done that and it is not nice at all.
While she was latched, and feeding away, I was just taking it all in, and just in complete awe that I had been given this opportunity again. It wasn't the most comfortable of things but it never is when you first start. A problem for me is that prior to breastfeeding children, my boobs are on the smaller scale - so when they have to change so quickly I think it's my body that takes the longest to adapt where as she is fully equipped and ready to guzzle. I spent a night and an afternoon in hospital this time due to observations following a blood loss, and as much as I just wanted to be home with all of my babies I knew it was a good thing being there, so that I could get a little extra time to master feeding before coming home and getting back to reality of busy family life. 

Once home, my milk soon followed and with that brought a whole other level of discomfort. Like I said, I'm in no way used to having bigger boobs, not to mention ones that are ever so swollen and being awkward for baby to latch on with one taking longer, and another having milk that comes out at a ridiculous speed. In my first breastfeeding journey, I had 10 whole weeks of sheer pain, exhaustion of the pain, an open wound from bad latches, thrush for us both and rounds of the dreaded mastitis. I'm not sure why, and for me it wasn't pressured on me but I wanted to persevere and i'm thankful I did. I think in a way I put a bit on myself to carry on, but it's something I wanted to do for our baby, after all I had already dedicated 40 weeks to growing her so why not carry on this act of love for a few more weeks (even though the pain was absolutely razor sharp). My second and third babies were a lot more straight forward but also pain in the early weeks. 

I'm at the point now where its still very new this time. With hindsight on my side, I know that every baby is different regardless of all coming from the same Mama. Feeding has been very tender the past 12 days, i've shouted into thin air, i've winced in pain, looked at my slightly bleeding nipple from a rushed and bad latch by me, shed many tears of frustration, and literally wrapped myself in my dressing gown at any opportunity to make sure my boobs are warm and covered to ease the stinging. Completely dreading each feed as I know for that first part - it really sodding hurts. Whats also been tough is that the littles have seen me wincing in pain sometimes & are probably wondering why on earth I am doing what i'm doing, with Phoenix looking quite concerned and questioning me if baby is 'biting mummys boobie?'. Once baby is on though these past few days, they've all been fascinated how she gets her milk, and I find it quite sad that none of them remember each of our special journeys together. 
That being said, each day I feel like we're getting somewhere even if its at such a slow pace. Little E is feeding very well, I think it is just the case of my body adapting once again and doing this along with recovering from the birth itself which is harder this time around. Once she is latched on and drinking herself into Dozeyland I have been content in admiring her sweet fluffy head, her button nose, the way she snuggles one hand into my chest and the other wrapped around my side, the way she gazes up at me mid-feed with her big blue eyes as if she's telling me how thankful she is for her meal, and not to mention inhaling her delicious newborn scent.

In those moments where i'm petrified about putting her to my boob, I know that this won't last forever. I'm equally knowledgable that problems can arise as the weeks go on too as baby grows, or other elements come into play. For now, i'm going to stay brave, know that she is gaining weight well so we must be doing something right (She was born 8lb 5oz, went up to 8lb 8oz at 5 days old and at 10 days old she was 9lb 2oz!) All of them have gained so well despite me feeling like giving up in pain! So well done to us, well done boobs and here's to taking one feed at a time and doing it our way. I'm really sad that this is 95% the last time i'm going to be breastfeeding a newborn of ours, So I want to embrace it all, knowing that we are overcoming tough times with some feeds and relishing in the lovely moments mentioned above. This is a journey that some are unable to take off on and I will be forever grateful that I've managed to feed, nurture and offer this act of love to our four babies as time is whizzing by and I don't want to forget any of it. 

Here are some of the things that have helped me in the early weeks of breastfeeding (four times over!)


Comfortable nursing bras and non-restrictive clothing. 
I've been using my lovely nursing bras from Bravado, H&M and Mothercare 'Blooming Marvellous' sleeping crop tops. Wearing clothing that doesn't make it even more difficult to feed will help so much, I've mastered the whole layering thing now so that I can feed without having my tummy on show, or just making sure i have buttons or something easy to unfasten. Trying to remain just a little bit stylish along the way of course! (try being the predominant word!)

Learning as you go through reading: 
This topic can sometimes be a hinderance if you get the wrong book that dictates how & when you should feed your baby thatjust offers unsupportive and judgemental advice. I have made this mistake buying the gina ford books in the past as they were recommend, thank goodness I saw sense within a short time, and got hold of some wonderful books along the way. Here's my list of favourite breastfeeding books that I will definitely revert back to during this fourth time breastfeeding.

Soothe and try to comfort with cream:
Lanolin cream is an absolute must for sore, cracked and even cut nipples. This goes hand in hand with nice quality breast pads. For both of these, i'm currently using a mixture of Medela & Lasinoh. These are both my 'go-to' for this problem area. They aid comfort in the simplest form and helps wonders when you feel like your boobs are about to fall off! ;)

Listening to your baby and your own instinct - 
I can't stress this factor enough, don't listen to others who want to tell you how to feed, how often, tells you that your baby isn't getting enough, cover up etc - its your journey - do it your way which suits you and your baby.

Don't feel alone:
If you're feeling like its all getting a bit much, that it's not going to plan - please don't feel alone. Reach out to others with experiences on their side, take a trip to your local Baby cafe, talk to a supportive friend or family member and remember that there is plenty of support should you need it.

I'm thrilled to be working with Medela throughout this year and I'm looking forward to talking more about my fourth breastfeeding journey while sharing any tips I have or to just support others as well as sharing our experience. Here is a previous post talking about some of my hopes and fears that I had fourth time around. 

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2 comments

  1. This is such a refreshing post. Someone said to me when I had LP then if you get through the first two weeks you are over the worst part and it was so true, everything was so much easier after the first two weeks but I hadn't expected pain or discomfort - even with a good latch and so posts like this will teach first time mums that it is hard, it does hurt at times but it does get easier, it will pass and it will be such a lovely experience. Such a lovely, honest post x

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  2. Loved reading this Nat and you are incredible for persevering for so long. I forgot how much it hurt this time around and know exactly what you mean when you want to feed but you're wincing in pain. We're one month in and it is so easy now, it was so worth the pain in the first few days and weeks. I love leaving the house knowing that I have everything the baby needs on me...other than a couple of nappies! I really hope it improves quickly...if it hasn't already. What a beautiful little girl you have there xxx

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