We all have nipples, I don’t care who I offend; my baby wants to eat – Selma Blair
A few months ago I shared a post about my breastfeeding journey so far and it’s proven to be one of my most popular post. Since then I have also shared Emily’s bedtime routine as a breastfed baby. As yesterday marked 11 months of exclusively breastfeeding Emily I thought I would write a follow up post and share a little more about our journey.
Recently I had a little wobble. Emily now has 6 teeth and she LOVES to use them. I don’t think you know pain until you’ve had a hungry teething baby biting at your nipple. I wasn’t sure if continuing to breastfeed was the right choice for me. I started to dread feeds as it had become so painful and I’d noticed Emily had started to feed for longer meaning more pain for me. Thinking about stopping came with immense amounts of guilt. I tried to tell myself I was being ridiculous, I’d never even intended to breastfeed so making it to 10.5 months was absolutely incredible. I tried to give myself the praise and encouragement I would give any other mother making this decision but ultimately the guilt stayed with me.
I couldn’t make up my mind on what would be the best thing to do. I tried to work on Emily’s latch but every time I put her on, she would pull off and readjust herself causing me more pain. It got to the point where I was crying through the pain and just willing her to hurry up and finish so I could stop. This is not what I wanted from feeding. I love breastfeeding for the closeness, the cuddles, the milk drunk face of a sleeping baby – I did not want the huge amounts of pain and the stress that came with it.
I spoke to my friends about it and shared my worries. Becqui was a huge help to me at this time, especially this post on her blog where she shared her breastfeeding journey. I decided to give it a couple of days and if there was no improvement then I would buy some formula. Before that though I thought I would get out my old friend the breast pump. I figured I could give it a go and try to express enough to give Emily one bottle and allow my nipples a break. At the start of our breastfeeding journey I loved using the pump. I found it amazing to see how much milk I could produce and the little bottles filling up gave me such a feeling of pride knowing I was making all that my baby needed and more.
Laugh, sing, dance and glow. Let the oxytocin flow – Unknown
When using the pump I found that there was no pain. This was like a light bulb moment for me. I figured if I could express all the milk that Emily needed then I could switch to bottles of pumped milk through the day and only feed at night. That way my nipples could have a much needed break through the day and hopefully the pain would either be gone or much less during the night time feeds.
However, I found that whatever I expressed she wanted straight away. She would point and cry whilst I used the pump (which triggered my let down so was helpful in a way) but I found it awful that I couldn’t comfort her straight away. Everything was poured into her MAM bottle and given to her straight away so I wasn’t able to build up a supply in the fridge.
After a few days the pain still hadn’t subsided and I’d found myself getting increasingly more and more worked up about it. I felt the lowest I’d felt in a while and I found myself upset at the smallest of things. I decided enough was enough and I was going to go to town and buy some formula. I asked around some of my mum friends and decided to buy Aldi’s own brand ‘breast milk substitute’ first milk. I figured I didn’t have to use it but it was there if I needed it and this must have effected my subconscious more than I’d thought as I started to be more relaxed about feeding. At least now I had a back up option should I need to use it.
Feeding became less painful again and I started to enjoy it again. Emily must have noticed a shift in my attitude too because she started to latch better and was more relaxed when it came to feeding. After a day or two the pain had completely gone and I am once again on track for my golden boobies! I never realised how desperately I wanted to make it to 12 months. I’m sure when I get there I’ll change the goal posts and set a new target but for now 12 months is my goal. I have one month left!
When I sit back and think about how far I’ve come on this journey I feel nothing but pride. From sitting in hospital with my newborn willing her to latch on and feed, to thinking ‘just get through two weeks’ then ‘two months’ to now. 11 whole months of feeding my baby from my body, watching her grow, learn and develop knowing that I made her and I feed her. When I think about how this time last year, the idea of breastfeeding made me feel sick to my stomach compared and now I’m happy to crack on and feed Emily whenever, wherever we are.
Breastfeeding is the hardest, most challenging thing I’ve ever done. But it is also the most rewarding. I couldn’t be more proud of myself and my baby for our journey so far and I hope we can continue for the foreseeable future.
Love Laura xx