Breastfeeding is something I knew I wanted to try when pregnant with Woody. It is something I had always seen me doing with my babies when I imagined what it would be like to have kids. I put no pressure on myself though. It was always about trying it and seeing if it worked for us. We did the NCT classes which included a session on breastfeeding. A lady came in and spoke about getting the perfect latch and about all the different positions you could hold baby in whilst breastfeeding (who knew there were so many!?). I remember afterwards being glad that we had gone to an NCT where the dads came to the breastfeeding session too, as at some of them they don’t. In the early days when struggling to get a latch, Rob reminding me how to position baby and boob were very well received- when faced with a screaming baby it is easy to forget. She also spoke about the benefits of breastfeeding. I have had asthma, eczema and food allergies forever. It has been suggested that breastfeeding your baby for their first 6 months can help prevent them developing these. I know this isn’t fact as I was breastfed as a baby, but knowing about this advice made me more determined to breastfeed. If I can do anything to prevent my children having anaphylactic food allergies then I will try my best to do that.
I know I have been very lucky with how my babies have taken to breastfeeding. Both have been hungry little birdies who have found the breast and known what to do. There were still so many difficult times though, especially the early days, and especially with Woody. Woody latched perfectly the first time and it all felt very natural. I think at that point I thought I had it sorted! Come witching hour with a fussy and upset baby it was so difficult trying to get him to calm down and feed. Also, the bleeding nipples, the sharp pain when he latched and the pain in my back from holding him to feed all meant I shed many tears early on whilst feeding. It was really difficult and I felt like it was all I did everyday. As the weeks passed though it did get easier. Early on I wanted to get to 3 months, which was a difficult and tiring journey, but as I reached this milestone we had found our rhythm and it was all very easy and so I continued. Taking each week as it came but really enjoying it. I loved the power of the boob!! It would calm Woody down when fussy or upset and would send him to sleep when he needed.
When we got to 5 months I started to become very conscious that I was going back to work when he turned 7 months. We had a holiday to Portugal booked for the week before he turned 6 months and so a few days before this I started giving him a bottle of formula in an afternoon to get him used to it. Portugal was so warm though, and being out of his routine, he was not interested in formula at all and just wanted the comfort of breastfeeding. Once we were home we started weaning and this included formula milk. By the time I went back to work at 7 months I was giving Woody his evening and bedtime feed and if he woke in the night. This lasted for about 6 weeks before one evening I couldn’t settle him and Rob had to settle him to sleep after I had fed him. This happened again the following night and we decided to stop breastfeeding. It was making Woody more distressed as he became used to spending time without me, eating food and drinking bottles, and so continuing would only be for my comfort which felt selfish. So that weekday evening in August was our last feed.
I always knew and hoped that I would breastfeed another baby though, and so with Arlo’s arrival there was no question as to how he would be fed. About 20 minutes after Arlo was born he was lying on my chest and just started moving towards my breast. I moved him towards it and he latched. I again was very fortunate- he was a hungry boy who knew exactly what to do! The first few days were fine, he fed often and well. As my milk came in though oh the pain. I had to bite down on a muslin as he latched as the let down was so painful. Like razor blades scratching inside my boobs. I knew it was going to get better though, and that pain lasted about 6 weeks. Arlo is now coming up to 10 weeks old and feeding is going really well. I will admit I dream of formula feeding on nights he can’t go longer that 2 hours between feeds, but I know deep down that this isn’t going to last forever, and I want to give him what I gave Woody so am determined to get to 6 months.