[Baby] Edith’s Breastfeeding Journey and Breastfeeding Advice

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[ Photograph from our wedding by our lovely photographer Emily Tyler]
I had always planned to breastfeed Edith. Even before we knew that Edith was Edith. (Does that even make sense?) It was something I wanted to do. At the same time if I wasn’t able to do it I wasn’t going to get upset about it. At the end of the day it’s your choice. I chose what I feel is best for my baby. Like you will choose what’s best for yours. As long as your baby is happy and well it doesn’t matter how they are fed. I thought I should get that bit in just in case anyone thinks I’m anti-bottle feeding.
It was written in my “birth plan”. What I had of a birth plan anyway, that I wanted immediate skin to skin contact and that I wanted baby to latch as soon as she could to start to breastfeeding. When Edith was born (read my birth story here if you haven’t already) she was given to me straight away. I had a quick cuddle, the baby Doctor then took her to get her checked over. She was away from me for five to ten minutes at the most, I was being stitched up at that point. After she had been checked over and I had been stitched up she was given back to me. The midwife asked if I wanted to try and feed her, I said yes, asked for help and then Edith latched on. For her first feed she was on for an hour just sucking away. I was incredible and I couldn’t quite believe I was doing it. Looking back on it now I think that this is one of the things that really helped both of us get on so well with breastfeeding, that immediate bond really set us up well. 
When we were transferred to the ward Edith needed feeding again. I asked the midwife who was on duty there if she could help me again as I was struggling with how I should hold Edith. I had no clue that I was supposed to hold her head and neck with one hand and support her body with the other, it’s not as simple as it sounds with a delicate newborn. It sounds so straight forward but it wasn’t. When I asked for help I was greeted with, you’ll get used to it (which I did, but not really helpful at the time) and “I don’t even have children and I can do the hold”. It really wasn’t helpful to me. Luckily my husband could help me and I started to get the hang of it. Edith fed really well and there was a small amount of pain but I had expected that.
The next morning was spent in hospital I asked if the midwife on duty could come in and check that I was feeding Edith properly. I concerned about her latch as I had read in the leaflets in my Bounty Pack that she should be taking in the areola around the nipple as well. We buzzed for some help when Edith needed feeding again. The midwife came over to us, I asked if she was on ok and the midwife replied with “yeah it looks ok”, when I asked if she should have more areola in her mouth, I was met with “yeah she could have more”. It was left at that. The midwives didn’t seem particularly helpful in hospital which was a bit of a shame. I could see why some women would be put off feeding and want to give up in those early days. But I persevered.
We got home that evening and Edith fed really well. She fed a lot but I was told that was normal. The next day the midwife came out to check that I was ok and that everything with Edith was great too. I told her about my concerns and she said that she would watch us carefully as I fed. She was so helpful and she came to the conclusion that my nipples were quite long (too much info there for you guys, sorry!) so Edith didn’t need to take in so much because the milk was getting to the back of her throat without much effort. The breastfeeding team gave me a call to make sure everything was going ok, which it was and they said that I could call them any time of the day or night if I had any issues.
On day 3 my milk came in. I woke up with massive boobs. They were so full of milk. My husband still jokes about them now, they looked like they were going to explode and grew bigger by the hour. A week later when my milk had fully come in I discovered that I had a large milk supply (I still do!). I also had a fast let down which meant that Edith would gag and choke for the first part of feeding. It was awful to watch. I called my local breastfeeding team who gave me some helpful advice about “uphill feeding” (I found this website really helpful)  It helped a little and eventually it sorted itself out. It did take a good 3 months before it settled completely.
In the early days feeding did hurt a little. That initial latch on made me wince every time, it was only the latch that hurt after that it was fine. My nipples were so sore and I used lots of nipple creams combined. Luckily the ones I used were fine for Edith to feed straight after, which meant that I didn’t have to wipe it off every time. The amount of times Edith had a shiny face from the nipple cream, it was a funny sight.
I would say that after a couple of months I stopped using nipple cream. They got used to feeding pretty quickly and there’s no need to use it now. However it’s still handy as it’s so moisturising it works wonders on dry lips! The sensation of my boobs filling up and that tingly feeling when Edith first latches on still happens and it’s something you just get used to.
At 6 weeks. Edith had a bit of oral thrush. She didn’t seem in pain with it but it infected my nipples. We both had a cream to apply and eventually it cleared by itself. The thrush made my nipples sore and red. It wasn’t too bad but it did make feeding uncomfortable for a while.

I have been pretty luckily and have so far *touch wood* escaped mastitis, I have however have had quite a few plugged ducts. I’ve managed to clear them myself, with using various techniques. Applying hot flannels in the bath and massaging the duct when feeding. Also feed from the affected boob first helps but make sure you still feed from both so you don’t cause any plugged ducts to that boob either. 

I’ve always fed Edith on demand, she knows when she’s hungry or thirsty or needs comfort. So I’ve let her take the lead. Edith used to feed every 45 minutes when she was new. She now feeds every 2 hours (roughly). Which sounds like a lot but she never on for very long at a time. She is a bit of a grazer, Having lots of little “snacks” and then having bigger feeds in the morning and at night. Edith wakes up 2-3 times a night (we had one night where she slept through) to feed. She feeds, burps and then goes back off.
I’ve not had any negativity towards breastfeeding which is refreshing. In fact a lot of people have said how nice it is to see it. Which is great! I do get some funny looks from kids though, it made me realise that a lot of kids in my area (which has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the country) have never seen a baby be fed that way.
I have really loved feeding Edith and I’m not putting a time limit on it. We will stop when she is good and ready. Bottle fed babies have formula until they are 1 so my plan is to make it until then, we might stop before or after then. Ultimately it is whenever Edith is ready to stop. When I go back to work I will express milk for her to have. I’m in the process of writing a post all around expressing as I found very little information out there when I was pregnant.
We’ve just hit the 6 month mark and I’m really happy with how everything has gone. It makes me really proud to see Edith grow, knowing that my milk does that, it’s certainly an empowering feeling. I’ve really enjoyed it and I’ve been asked by one of the local health visitors if I’d like to become a breastfeeding peer, helping other women. It’s something I would love to do. There’s a real lack of support and if I could help someone and give them confidence in breastfeeding that would be amazing.

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