Breastfeeding my newborn was something that I had always wanted to do, and always assumed I could do. I have a family history of breastfeeding issues, so I was concerned I might have problems too, but I kept my spirits high and ran with the assumption that I wouldn’t have any issues.
Soon after bubba was born, the midwife gave him to me for that first feed. It was a very strange and yet vary natural feeling. I had been leaking colostrum for weeks, so I knew there was something in there for him. His latch was pretty painful, but I was so out of it I didn’t really care. Besides, I was feeding my brand new baby!
Those first couple of feeds were stressful. I didn’t know if I was holding him right, if he was latching right, if he was actually getting anything. I was exhausted, elated, and so emotional. The midwives and nurses came in regularly to check on us, and I got a couple of them to check us out to make sure we were doing it right. His latch wasn’t great, in fact it was quite painful, but I knew my nipples needed to adjust. And like the midwife said – this is a new learning curve for both me and my baby, as neither of us have ever done this before!
The second night it got to about midnight and he wasn’t settling. His crying could be heard across the hospital, surely! I was so exhausted (I know I keep saying it, but unless you’ve been there you really can’t understand the truth of that statement). It seemed like bubba kept wanting to feed, and that I couldn’t provide enough for him. Eventually a midwife came in to see what was going on. I broke down into tears, explaining how I didn’t seem to have anything left for him and yet he was still wanting to feed. My husband was worried about us both, and about the fact that I hadn’t got much sleep in the past 48 hours.
The midwife was brilliant. As soon as she had assessed the situation, she went out and got a little bottle of formula. I was really sad that we had resorted to this on our second night, feeling like I wasn’t good enough to provide for my baby and worried that it would continue like that and I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed him. The midwife fed our baby the formula, and he settled straight away. She then sent my husband out of the room with bubba for an hour or so so that I could get some sleep. She assured us that he wouldn’t need feeding again soon, and there was a comfortable sitting room husband could go to. When I woke a couple of hours later, they had returned and were both asleep. It seemed like the formula top-up was a success!
Over the first few days at home, we continued to have latching issues. I kept being told how the baby was ‘supposed’ to latch (four points of contact, body in a certain position, etc), but he would grab on before I could position him ‘correctly’. It got to the point where my nipples were cracked and bleeding, and I would cry every feed from the pain. The midwife who came to visit us at home suggested to get some nipple cream and nipple shields. My goodness were they life savers! It still hurt for a while, but I used the shields with every feed, and after a couple of weeks my nipples healed enough that I didn’t need them any more. I don’t know if the cream really does anything, but I used it anyway. Eventually bubba learned to adjust his latch himself, though sometimes I would detach him or adjust his lips myself.
My transition from colostrum to breast milk happened quickly, and my supply increased rapidly as well. We did feed bubba formula twice in that first week at home, both at night in an attempt to fill his belly and calm him enough to sleep. Since then we haven’t needed to use it. In fact, if anything, I have an oversupply of milk now! Must like the sleep situation, I decided not to go by any particular routine for feeding. Instead I simply feed on demand, and it seems to be working well for us. I don’t stress over how long he has fed for, or how long it’s been since his last feed. He hasn’t been ill, so I am trusting him to inform me when he is hungry. Initially we were feeding off both sides each time, with a short rest in between, but now at 8 weeks he seems to only want one side each time. If I feed him off the second side when he doesn’t actually want it, he simply vomits it all back up again – as soon as I realised that’s what was happening I kept it to one side at a time and we seem to be getting on a lot better! Of course, if he is still unsettled and indicating he wants more, I feed him off the second side, but most of the time that isn’t the case.
I ended up with mastitis at one point, and I wouldn’t wish that experience on my worst enemy. I will write about that in detail in another post though.
I also ended up with a sore back, but I know that is because I wasn’t sitting correctly most of the time. I would curl forward over my baby while feeding, either to make it seemingly more comfortable for him, to bring my breast down to his level, or to be able to look at him. I used cushions and pillows for a while to help support his weight, but eventually it was just too hot and uncomfortable with them. I now don’t use any, and we seem to be getting on fine. I wonder how much stronger my arms are now!
During the day we feed on the couch, where I can watch TV or read or play games on my phone. You spend so much time in that scenario, you need to find ways to entertain yourself when you need a break from admiring your baby! At night, as mentioned in my sleep post, we feed in bed. I have only tried the side-lying position once – I usually just sit up cross-legged with him because I am worried I will fall asleep while he is feeding and something will go wrong.
I am so happy and lucky that I am able to breastfeed my beautiful little baby. I know so many women want to and can’t, for a variety of reasons. I also know many women choose not to, for a different variety of reasons. I truly believe that fed is best, regardless of how it happens, and if I had to use formula then so be it. But for now, 2 months after his birth, we are still happily breastfeeding with no more issues now!
How did feeding go for you in that first month?