Thought I’d share my experience with feeding D, specifically the difficulties we had to start with.
(Warning: this entry talks about boobs :P )
I have always wanted to breastfeed my children. Even though I was bottle/formula-fed (for the most part), I always knew that breasts were for feeding babies. As a baby, my brother had a better time of it than I did, but there was little to no support back then – formula feeding was considered the norm (still kind of is, IMO) so when my mum came across poor latch, reflux and wind issues with me, she switched to formula. It was introduced after a few days, and I was on it permanently at around 8 weeks.
Having been told of these problems, I was uncertain I’d be able to breastfeed. However, the thought of being up all night preparing bottles didn’t appeal to me when I could just use what was available – ever the lazy one, me ;)
When D was born, we had some issues getting him latched on for his first feed. He managed it eventually but I was left in quite a bit of pain. I was told he had a small mouth but that his latch was good. After the 5th day of this, I was in agony. D was having real trouble getting what he wanted out of the breast and I didn’t know what else to do. In desperation, I bought a manual pump and some bottles and expressed a bit to try and help take the pressure off. I sought the help of a local peer support network whose volunteers visited me at home to try and help. As I expected, the problem wasn’t a small mouth – it was a poor latch. I was shown various positions to try and encourage improvement but it wasn’t until the 4th visit that I noticed things getting better. In that time I’d tried nipple shields, creams, more expressing and was developing mastitis. I had cracked nipples too and was pretty much dreading feeds now. I was very tempted to give up; the added pressure from people around me telling me to “just give him a bottle” was not making things easier either. Despite all this, D was putting on lots of weight and filling his nappies well.
It was around the 6 week mark that I noticed improvement. With a slight adjustment to the ‘cradle hold’, D would latch on perfectly and there was no pain. The trick was to support his head slightly at an angle – my peer supporter suggested that as D had had a traumatic birth (it ended in an assisted delivery), he was getting distressed at pressure around the neck, shoulders or back of the head as this may be reminding him of birth or may still be sore as a result.
10 weeks later, we are still going strong… But there’s a new problem, possibly the cause of all the problems we had to start with. Even though D is feeding well, there is no pain and he is putting on weight, his latch is still on the shallow side. This, coupled with the wind issues led to a suspicion of tongue (and possibly lip) tie. I’ve written to a specialist about it; we’ll see what they say.
In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy the feeding experience we’ve built together. I’m very happy I persevered to get to this point. I’ll be sad to see it go when he weans, but that’s (hopefully) a long way away for now ;)