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Breastfeeding Take 2

It's world breast feeding week. Kirsty - @themummysomniac inspired me to share one of my stories with you all. If you're not following her already pleas go check her out. She's awesome.

I am going to share my experience with my second baby, Indiana, who I have no feeding photos with. This photo here was taken on day 2 and while I look happy and I was, I was also in agony.

My first baby, Audrey, came out and so easily attached and fed for 8 months until she weaned herself in favour of a bottle, waaaa! In spite of her reflux she was actually a really good feeder! She was efficient, I didn't get much pain at all apart from the initial little bit and I didn't even get a bout of mastitis, I was so lucky! Actually, with Audrey breastfeeding was our soother, it was the trigger of the reflux and spewing but it also soothed her, talk about a bloody double-edged sword! However, we had so many gorgeous quiet bonding moments just the two of us. I used to get jelly of other people feeding her when she started doing bottles of expressed milk! Hahaha #helicoptermum #crazymum

Anyway, given my feeding experience with Audrey was so great from the get go I didn't give a second thought to feeding my second baby when I was pregnant. I thought it would be super smooth sailing like the first time. I was more worried of the experience after a feed, the reflux. However, the second Indi came out and I tried to feed her we had issues. Indi wouldn't attach for one and for two when she did it was painful, more painful than I remembered. I thought my nipples had to ‘harden up’ again so the short time I was in hospital after having her (about 12 hours) I kept persevering. She was a great sleeper so I would have to wake her for feeds. When she would feed she would suckle a little bit but then fall asleep, I thought she was just a sleepy baby but it became clear the sucking motion was also tiring her out, it was all so much work for her. I also mentioned the pain to the midwives who had the paediatrician look for a tongue tie. Very quickly she had a tiny look in Indiana’s mouth and said she was fine. I wasn't sure if the doctor was right or not, my gut so early on said something else but then again, I just thought maybe it was the whole needing to get used to feeding a baby again which is what the midwives also told me (no discredit to them my midwives were amazing and were just using pretty logical reasoning).

Well by day 3 the pain had become unbearable, I never realised it could hurt so much! I was desperately trying to get Indiana to latch properly and it would cause many tears from the both of us, I would squeeze my husband’s hand hard or a pillow, whatever was next to me, it killed! I had no drugs with Indi so would say my pain threshold is fairly high and this was right up there with birth! She still wasn't latching properly. It was like my breast was too large for her mouth. My nipples were cracked and bleeding. We had to take her to get the heal prick test as I had opted to leave hospital so soon. After the test, I tried to settle her after with a feed which didn't happen. It had me and her leave in tears and her with blood in her mouth. The ride home was hellish. My new-born baby screaming, me in tears, my 2.5-year-old deeply concerned and starting to whimper herself and my poor husband trying to calm us all down. By 12pm that day my 3-day old was yet to have a wet nappy, I went into panic stations. My sister received a very panicked call from me and came to my rescue. She bought me shields and a tin of formula if I felt like I really needed it. I continued to feed through a shield. The pain was easing but was still quite horrid and Indi struggled to drink even more with a shield. That evening I decided enough was enough and I needed a break. I needed to try to heal myself and she needed a full belly and my two-year-old needed mummy to not be a mess for a bit as she was growing even more distressed. Gingerly hubby and I sterilised some bottles and made her a formula bottle. The guilt I felt was tremendous. I knew other women who had persevered for longer but my baby was not wetting nappies and I was a mess. For the sanity and health of my family it was the best choice.

The first bottle didn't go smoothly at all she choked and spluttered. I thought she wasn't used to getting so much milk at once. I fed her a few more bottles over the next lot of hours while I healed and bf as much as I could in between. Over the next few days she started to prefer a bottle and I started expressing more. Even after I healed that latch still hurt like a bitch. I of course spoke to midwifes and lactation consults about our issues. We tried to fix our technique with latching but ultimately there was another issue. After the one-week check-up at my doctor’s office Indi was then diagnosed with a lip and tongue tie. They were happy to see us continue to mix feed, I was mainly feeding her expressed milk, with one to two bottles a day of formula and a couple of breast feeds in between. My doctor suggested to wait and see if she would outgrow the tie. However, my milk supply started to dwindle, I tried to pump even more but my doctor prescribed me Motilium to increase supply. I also took fenugreek and ate the breastfeeding cookies, nothing helped, I ended up with mastitis and laryngitis at the same time. Not only were my boobs going mental but I was run down from expressing and dealing with a new-born and 2.5-year-old. I felt like I legitimately might die. I had a water birth with Indi and dead set through I had contracted legionnaires disease from the hospital #notadramaqueenatall.

Indi had her last breastfeed at 9 weeks, I remember it clearly and at the time I knew it was the end. She pulled off and screamed after a couple of seconds, I hand expressed and I received a couple drops of milk, at that point we were both mentally and physically exhausted.

Over the next couple of weeks, we worked our way through my breast milk in the freezer and used formula which tore me apart. Every bottle of formula would bring so many feelings of guilt with it but why? It was feeding my baby and we were all happy with it (well apart from the washing up). Sadly, Indi still struggled with bottles, she would choke and cough every feed. I finally decided to book her into a tongue tie specialist where they found she had 'severe tongue and lip ties'. I decided to make the decision to have them snipped. It was an extremely hard decision to make and something I would hate other people to have to put their babies through but it was a necessary one for us. She recovered quite fast and became a great feeder on the bottle, we still had more food issues to come but she ended up taking her bottles like a champ.

In hindsight, I wish I pursued the tongue tie issue a lot sooner so we would have had a better feeding experience. I loved my time feeding Audrey and I'm sad my final breastfeeding experience wasn't a positive one as I know how beautiful it can be. However, we still had many cuddling bonding moments on the bottle and it was the best decision for us which meant a fed baby which equalled a happy baby and happy mum which is the best outcome for everyone.

Until next time!

Kirsty xx

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