Breastfeeding is hard…

Yesterday I had a chat with my new breastfeeding consultant. Actually, she was one of the boob-ladies that I saw after having Dylan but she is new to me this time round.  SHe has also helped a friend of mine who also has IGT so she is fully genned up on the condition, which was lovely not having to explain it. We had a long chat about my issues and past experiences etc and we tried to come up with a plan of attack.

I have already waffled at length about my various adventures in breastfeeding (here, here and here). I am yet again trying not to put pressure on myself. I am taking the attitude of if it works, then it works but if not, that’s fine too. This time round I haven’t bothered with any of the herbal supplements that I took during my pregnancy with Eilys. They didn’t really make any noticeable difference to anything so why waste the money and my time with it. After much discussion with both my midwife and the lactation consultant I have decided that I will yet again attempt to harvest some colostrum before the baby comes (from about 36 weeks). This should help to stimulate the boob-glands that produce milk and therefore they are a bit “readier” when the baby is here and it allows me to practice expressing milk too. The only downside to this is that stimulating the breastickles might induce labour but I have fine last time so fingers crossed I will be again.

The one thing that I wish I had been told before I had Dylan was that Breastfeeding is hard. Really hard. Even when it works outs, it is hard. At the breastfeeding class that we went to when I was pregnant with Dylan they made it sound like the baby latched on, milk comes out and all is hunky dory but this is very rarely the reality for most people. Breastfeeding is a skill that you have to learn but it is a skill that the baby needs to learn too. The first few days are such a rollercoaster and having the right support is so important. Unfortunately, quite a lot of the time the support that is offered is too hard on the “keep breastfeeding” message. I agree that breast is best in a lot of cases but sometimes banging that drum isn’t helpful. For me, getting support early really was key. With Dylan, if the information I was given was more honest and not a “everything thing works and everything is easy” kind of deal then my first few weeks with him would have been a lot easier. I felt like I wasn’t trying hard enough, like I was in the wrong and after talking to a lot of my friends, I think that they have had similar experiences. I think I would have felt a bit more positive and I’d have been a lot easier on myself had I known how hard it would be. Breastfeeding hurts, sometimes it hurts really really badly in those early days, which I wasn’t expecting. Feeding in those first few weeks is relentless and exhausting. But it does get easier after a few weeks. Like I said, it is a learning curve for both you and the baby.

With Eilys and baby 3, I am a lot more prepped for the boobing. I met with a lactation consultant during pregnancy with both. With Eilys it was definitely a more formal appointment and we drew up a physical feeding plan, which worked really well… the feeding didn’t go exactly to plan though. The plan of attack was to throw everything at it. I was taking herbal supplements that were meant to help during pregnancy, I had fenugreeek to take once baby was out (it worked well with Dylan), I harvested colostrum, I pumped after every feed once Eilys was born etc etc. By Day 3 she was a bit dehydrated so we started to supplement with formula. Then she was diagnosed with a severe tongue tie and we were added to the waiting list to get it snipped. The following day we were called with our tongue tie appointment… in 5 weeks time. 5 Weeks!! How bloody ridiculous. I called my midwife quite distressed about it and then she said to call the lactation consultant and she tried to get us another appointment at another hospital or for a cancellation. The next day they called and said that it would only be a 3 week wait but we had to go to a different hospital about an hour away (the first appointment was only about 45mins away). So that was a bit of a result.

The service offered to correct tongue ties and lip ties is utterly ridiculous. I understand that the NHS is super stretched but it is such a small procedure and I am sure it wouldn’t take too much to train more people in it. I don’t understand why all midwives or all health visitors can’t just be trained in it?! It really doesn’t make any sense to me that so many people I know have had to wait for weeks and weeks to get a tongue or lip tie corrected when breastfeeding is being pushed so heavily. It isn’t feesable for a mother to continue breastfeeding through the sometimes excruciating pain of breastfeeding with a tongue-tied baby for 5 weeks. I resorted to pumping as much as I could to keep my pathetic supply up but it was so hard to do with a newborn and a very active toddler. I have read about tongue ties and lip ties (Dylan has an uncorrected severe lip tie) and I know that the chances are that this baby will also have either a tongue tie or a lip tie. I have requested that the baby is referred for a correction as soon as he is born so that the wait isn’t so long, I can always cancel the appointment if it isn’t needed. I was also told that they have someone trained at my local hospital that corrects tongue ties and lip tie but they are reluctant to take patients unless it is causing really bad feeding issues, which personally I think is utterly ridiculous!!

I don’t know what is going to happen with breastfeeding this time round. I feel like my boobs have grown a bit, which is a huge thing as this has never happened with pregnancies 1 and 2.   weeks 12 to 26 or so my breasts were quite uncomfortable on and off, my nips have definitely darkened, both of these things were totally new to me during pregnancy. Thinking about it, breastfeeding Eilys might have worked had we not had so many hurdles. Maybe if she hadn’t had a tongue tie or if it had been corrected earlier then my supply might have been better, maybe the SMA had effected her suck more than I knew and I am sure me being induced didn’t help at all. I am really really hoping for a “natural” labour and birth this time so hopefully this will help things out as well.

Breastfeeding should be a choice that you make, not something that women feel badgered into doing. People who bottle feed are so vilified by some women and it is unfair. It shouldn’t matter how you are feeding your baby, the important thing is that you are feeding your baby and that you are bonding with your baby and that you love your baby. I am hoping that this time I can fully enjoy breastfeeding my little one and I am hoping that it works. But I am really hoping that if for whatever reason it doesn’t work, that I can forgive myself and enjoy those early days of motherhood without feeling crappy about myself.

Thanks for reading

xx

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