No one really tells you how hard breastfeeding is going to be…
When I found out I was pregnant, I started thinking about the logistics of caring for a child, and part of that was breastfeeding. My initial thought about it was, yes I’m definitely breastfeeding… it’ll be easy.
My partner and I attended courses on the weekends to help prepare us for what to expect, and how to care for a child— part of that brought us to the topic of breastfeeding and all the benefits and different ways to breastfeed bubs- it all seemed pretty black and white, right? You’ll become a mum, and you’ll get it. Not in my case.
After Zev was born, they placed him on my chest for skin-to-skin contact, and an hour or so later, the nurse suggested that I start breastfeeding him.
He got a few drops, which is all they need in the beginning, as their tummy sizes are so small and breast milk is packed with nutrients!
I stayed at the hospital for a total of four days, and it wasn’t until the second day that I realised it was really hard for him to stay latched on.
My immediate thought as a new mum was, is it me? It’s got to be a problem with me if he won’t stay on.
From then on, I had all my breastfeeds supervised by a midwife so they could help me find a position that worked for both bub and I. After a few more supervised feeds, they had observed that bubs possibly had a small tongue-tie, which would explain his poor attachment. As a result, we experienced shorter feeds with little breast milk- something we needed to resolve ASAP.
The midwives and Lactation Consultant advised at that point to introduce using a Contact Nipple Shield (CNS) temporarily. They advised that it would elongate the nipple, positioning it further back in his mouth for better milk flow. I purchased a CNS that day with one brand in mind that I knew would help – Medela.
The Lactation Consultant didn’t see that the tongue tie was a problem, so from there, they suggested all my feeds include my Medela CNS and expressing about 10mls after my feeds to prepare for the next feed to give bubs.
After a day of monitored feeds, the midwives and I were happy with our breastfeeding progress, and on the 4th day, I was discharged from the hospital. I was given a feeding plan to continue when I returned home until my next appointment, which was:
1. Feed bubs every two hours
2. Use my Medela CNS, feeding on both breasts, until they felt soft
3. Express at least 10mls at the end of every feed for the next feed
At the hospital, I was using an electric breast pump that they provided during my stay. At home, I had a manual pump gifted to me at my baby shower, and initially, I thought I would manage with a manual, but I quickly learned that it was not for me. With a newborn, I had no time to express manually, so I jumped online and headed to the Medela website to purchase the Swing Single Electric Breast Pump. It was perfect for my needs as it was compact and portable.
By this point, breastfeeding was taking a massive toll on me emotionally because I wasn’t sure if Zev was getting enough milk to be healthy.
Every day my partner and I would weigh him and check the infant growth charts to ensure that he was gaining enough weight. With no scheduled check-ups, we were left to our own devices to figure out if all was well with our bub.
So, when the day finally arrived, and I received my Swing, I was over the moon. I finally felt as though I’d be able to ensure that he was getting the milk he needed because I could see how much I was giving him for each feed. I could get back into the routine we had set in the hospital, and rest easy knowing that I was doing all I could to keep his development on track.
Zev is now three months old, and to this day, I still use both my CNS and Swing pump. We are not yet at the end of the tunnel, but I can now see the light. Zev’s weight gain is right on track, and he is perfectly healthy.
Being hit with the realities of breastfeeding, and the difficulties that come along with that was really tough. There is so much emphasis and stress put on mothers to be able to breastfeed perfectly from the get-go, but the reality for many mothers is that they need a helping hand. When I could take a step back and acknowledge that asking for help didn’t mean that I was ill-prepared to be a mother, I was able to do what was best for Zev.