Monday, July 7, 2014

Is this normal? Am I doing it right?

This post is in collaboration with Medela

Although our breastfeeding journey went relatively well there were definitely some hiccups along the way. There were so many moments where I found myself thinking is this normal?

Having never breastfed (or had a baby) before I just resigned myself to going with the flow. All I knew about breastfeeding was limited to what the videos had shown me in antenatal classes. I was hoping she would be one of the talented babies who just knew how to find the boob and latch on as soon as she was placed on my chest (like the babies in the videos).

We didn't get to do skin on skin or breastfeeding straight after birth like I'd hoped. Thanks to my emergency c-section she was taken to recovery with her daddy while I was stitched back together in theatre. It was forty five minutes before I got to see her and hold her (yes I was watching the clock the entire time). Once I did see her she was immediately put on me to have a feed and to my surprise she knew exactly what to do. Which was good because I was so out of it from the operation. The nurse had to help hold her on my chest because I was still numb from the spinal.



Even in my dazed, holy-crap-I-just-had-surgery-now-I-have-a-baby state I was amazed that this little person just instinctively knew what to do. Luckily for me she continued to be quite good at latching so I went home quite confident in my ability to breastfeed her. Although it was more her leading me rather than me showing her what to do. I was still very much winging it.

I demand fed her rather than following a strict feeding schedule. I figured she was the best judge of when she was hungry so I let her tell me. The first two weeks this worked well. She basically fed and then slept on continuous rotation. She hardly ever cried except when she woke hungry. At the risk of being cyber slapped by all of you, I'll admit I actually found it quite easy. At least for the first two weeks. After that cracks started to appear (and not just in my nipples).

My angel baby disappeared. She started crying screaming most of the day. She was awake and unsettled for up to seven hours straight. She was only happy when she was feeding. As soon as I took her off she would scream. I started to question my supply. I naturally assumed my supply was diminishing. She wanted to be feeding all the time so I figured she just wasn't getting enough milk. The thing I found hardest during our breastfeeding journey was not knowing whether she was getting enough milk. I wished I could see how much she was drinking so I could be reassured she was getting what she needed. I even started doing some express feeds just so I could see how much she was actually getting. I got mildly neurotic about it.

She also went from feeding fine on both breasts to favouring my left. This became an issue because I was initially only offering one breast per feed and alternating each time like the midwives told us to do. I started getting lop sided at one point so I switched to offering both each feed like my mum suggested. Back in the day they were told five minutes on each side whereas the midwives told me a minimum of ten minutes because the "good milk" didn't come out until then. It was completely confusing. I didn't know whether what I was doing was right or wrong. I spent many feeds wishing bub could speak and tell me what was going on and which way she wanted me to do it so I could get it right.

While I loved breastfeeding I found all the conflicting advice very confusing. As soon as I started having issues I blamed myself, like most mothers probably do. I assumed everything I was doing was wrong because my baby wasn't doing what everyone said she should be doing. I ended up getting quite depressed about it and convinced myself that my supply was low and I couldn't feed my baby enough. It didn't help that she was also diagnosed with her cows milk protein allergy and I was diagnosed with PND all around the same time. In the end I (along with the drs and nurses in hospital) decided it would be best to switch her exclusively to specialised formula for her allergy. While she has thrived wonderfully on formula and it has eliminated all of her dairy related allergy symptoms, there's always been this little voice in the back of my head wondering what it would've been like if I continued breastfeeding.

After attending the Medela Australia talk at the PBC Expo recently I really wish I had've stuck it out longer. I think if I had more support (and people encouraging me to continue breastfeeding rather than telling me I couldn't) then I definitely would've had a better chance of continuing for longer. At the talk they provided us with findings of recent in depth research of breastfeeding babies. It was so enlightening. Basically everything we experienced on our breastfeeding journey (apart from her allergy related screaming and pain) was normal. There is no black and white, straight down the line normal when it comes to breastfeeding babies (contrary to a lot of advice I received). Each baby's breastfeeding needs are as individual as our babies are. I really wish I had've heard about these findings while I was still breastfeeding because it would've given me a great confidence boost; so I'm passing on the info to you guys in the hope that it reaches those mums who are currently breastfeeding (and maybe doubting themselves).

Image: Medela



Medela provides real solutions for breastfeeding mothers to get over any hurdles in the early days and to support their long term breastfeeding goals. Through its extensive range of breast pump products and other breastfeeding products, Medela is committed to promoting the benefits of breast milk and encouraging long term breastfeeding. For more information visit: www.medela.com.au I www.facebook.com/medela.au



GIVEAWAY

I have a $50 Medela voucher available for one lucky reader. 
For your chance to win simply:

1. Like Finding Myself Young on Facebook
2. Leave a comment below with your feeding advice for a new mum

*Giveaway commences 6:00am Monday 7th July 2014 and ends 10:00pm Sunday 13th July 2014. Open to Australian residents only. Winner will be notified by email (please ensure you enter your email address when commenting). Winner has 48hrs to respond or a new winner will be redrawn.


Toni x


*Disclosure - Medela provided me with gift vouchers in exchange for this post (one of which I'm passing onto you guys).


Linking up with Eva, Kirsty and Alicia

43 comments:

  1. It's great if it works out but sometimes, no amount of encouragement and support makes a difference. What's important is the baby getting what it needs to grow. That should be the thing in the forefront of the mothers mind...

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    1. True Lydia. I actually thought I wasn't going to be able to breastfeed at all so I'm forever grateful for the weeks that we did get to do it, but I'm also really glad that there was a formula alternative for her allergies that helped her thrive and gain weight.

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  2. The conflicting advice while in hospital was one of the reasons I didn't stay in longer than I did. I bottle fed from the start but with each new shift of nurses there would be differing advice on what I should or shouldn't be doing to feed Dyllan. The final straw was a nurse telling me that he was drinking too much and I needed to cut his bottle in half. After following that advice, he woke screaming 2 hours later and I had to top him up, after he'd previously been either sleeping 4 hours or waking up and happy to just look around while I got him a bottle.

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    1. I hear ya on the conflicting advice from nurses!

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  3. Dani Dee-
    Do what feels right for you

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    1. I really think if people did this instead of worrying about the advice from others they'd be a lot less stressed.

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  4. There is no one fix for all when it comes to feeding a baby. They are all different in their needs. I was lucky that the last two babies, I had great support and encouragement from the start to help me with breast feeding. My first was a different story, and now I only wished I knew then, what I know now :)

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    1. At least you knew for the last two Alicia :)

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  5. What works for one baby will not necessarily work for the next. I struggled every time. Every. Time. Just worked through a case of mastitis with my fifth. Really, struggle. I wrote this recently, thought maybe it would be some encouragement for next time. http://theeangelproject.wordpress.com/2014/06/13/notes-to-a-nursing-mom/
    You're a good mom!

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    1. I'm so glad I never got mastitis although I think I came very close when I weaned her.

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  6. Relax, don't overthink it and trust your instincts. Working together with the baby and midwife to find the best positions and support for you both can assist with the best possible outcome.

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  8. Isn't it the toughest thing? I battled for weeks with my first, it just didn't come naturally but after that we were away, well til she got reflux about 4-5 weeks and it was horrific again. But 2nd and 3rd fed WAY easier. Just go with it and don't bow to peer pressure!

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    1. I wish I didn't bow to peer pressure (and I wish I didn't have PND and had the emotional capability to try an elimination diet first, but I honestly don't think I could've handled it at the time).

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  9. Oh, Toni! I clicked on your post after you shared some comment love with me this morning.
    This post took me right back to the beginning! Right back to the days of breastfeeding. I loved it SO much, but I was forced to let it go, as I actually didn't have enough milk. My son was so dehydrated by the time the doctor told me to stop. He was almost hospitalised. I'm quietly confident for the next time around though.

    My advice for any new mum is to just feed and feed and feed. Ask for help! Don't go through it alone!

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    1. I'm hoping I have a better go at it next time around too Bianca.

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  10. Having a healthy thriving baby that is growing is what is most important - how that is achieved is less important. I breastfed and formula fed, we have one with allergies, one without, you need to do what works and if it works - then it is as simple as that xx Josefa #teamIBOT

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  11. I think the key thing you said is "I wish more people encouraged me to breastfeed". Me too. I am amazed at the amount of professionals that saw a tired mother (of course I was tired) and thought it best for my wellbeing to formula feed. I am surprised that people feel uncomfortable supporting a breastfeeding mother because they fear it stepping into advocacy. xS

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    1. One nurse told me my supply was going to dry up because I was so small and my metabolism was too fast so she convinced me I was running out of milk. Turns out I was still producing milk for over three months after she stopped breastfeeding.

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  12. Ahh Toni. What a journey. I remember you talking about Hayley's allergies in the past. It must have been a tough decision for you, but undoubtedly the right one for you both. I just love that image above. Reminds me of the first time I tried to get the girls to latch on.

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    1. I struggled with the decision a lot. Ha that photo is so not flattering (I was so out of it), but I love remembering that moment.

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  13. Breast feeding can be an adventure. I wasn't able to breast feed any of my kids for very long but I'm glad I at least gave it a go. It's a memory I'll always cherish.

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    1. My grandmother was unable to breastfeed at all and I thought my PCOS would affect it so I'm glad I got a chance to do it even if it was only for a few weeks.

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  14. I'm definitely the same as you in that if I had more support and the information that was provided by Medela, I reckon I would have stuck it out much longer. You gave it a go and so did I and that's the main thing.

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  15. I was really lucky with feeding thankfully, but I have a huge amount of compassion for those who don't have that easy road. Good on you for giving it a go though. You can only do your best. xx

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    1. Yep thats all we can do Jess :)

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  16. Breastfeeding was the biggest shock for me. I assumed it would happen easily and naturally but it didn't at all. My advice is to trust your instincts and stick with it if you can. I know it gets said a lot but it does get easier. With my first bub, I used to have a warm shower at night and then express. I'd get an early night and hubby would feed her at about 10pm. It was great as I was so tired in those first few weeks.

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    1. I was the opposite I thought it was going to be really hard then found it quite easy and then I think that made the shock of things going wrong worse because I'd become accustomed to it being easy. We did an express feed at about 10pm too so I could get some sleep in the early days.

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  17. I left hospital breastfeeding, but after three sleepless nights I found myself expressing (with my Medela swing) and bottle feeding to allow my husband to share the load. I kept trying to re-attach her but it just wasn't working. I began exclusively expressing with a distant hope that we would find our sync with breastfeeding. Eight long weeks later and success! We finally worked it out and no longer needed to express. Little Miss has just turned six months old and we are still breastfeeding. How did we do it?

    Don't be afraid to hold your breast when feeding. Not all breasts sit perky with a nipple waiting to be taken easily by your baby. If you need to hold your breast up or push it left or right or up or in do it! You don't need to look glamorous like you see in the education books or DVDs!

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    1. I'm not sure any of us look glamorous like the dvds lol, except the supermodels in their instagram pics of course!

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  18. Make sure u have a phone laptop TV or tablet cause late night feeds can become boring u need the entertainment to keep you awake

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    1. So true. I used to sit on Facebook or play Candy Crush in the middle of the night.

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  19. I think we need to sometimes remind Mums that this can be hard work. After watching friends, movies and videos you can be lulled into a sense that it will be natural and easy.......when it can actually be pretty hard work :)

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  20. Feed to sleep for as long as it works. Don't worry about those who say not to. It's so effective and baby will decide when to stop.

    Persist, persist, persist. If it's something you want to do, don't let anyone convince you otherwise. I battled through bleeding nipples, feeding with shields, expressing for months because my daughter refused feeds, low supply and mastitis. In the end all turned out beautifully and my daughter decided enough was enough at a year.

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    1. I used to feed to sleep too Michelle, bub did it whether I liked it or not.

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  21. My advice is to persevere and keep going. I had problems with my first which I overcame wih help from a lactation consultant. I'd recommend seeing one if you have issues. I have again used a lactation consultant recently as my baby was born very prematurely and I am only expressing for her feeds which is challenging but today I am persevering!

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  22. Thanks for linking up with us for #WBW2014 :)

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  23. Oh man, the conflicting advice! And those videos! What?!?! It all looked so easy, but the moment you gut handed an actual baby you realise just how hard it actually is. We used plastic dolls and crocheted boobs in our antenatal classes too. It might not surprise you to hear that that was monumentally ineffectual! Great story, I really enjoyed it.

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  24. * got. "got handed". Urgh. What a horrid typo. LOL.

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