While I had quite a traumatic labour and birth, breastfeeding went well for us during the early days. As soon as Cosi was born she feed well and I had a lot of colostrum - she gained weight from the very start and when we left hospital two days after her birth she was back to her birth weight and then some. 👌🏼
Although it wasn’t in my plan to stay in the hospital (I was ‘meant’ to have Cosi in the birth centre at RBWH but ended up having an emergency C-section.) I was really grateful that it ended up this way as the knowledge and support I received - especially when it came to breastfeeding - from the midwives on the ward was incredible and looking back, I don’t know what I would have done if I had to go straight home!
During the first two days I found that Cosi liked feeding from one side more than the other but the midwives at RBWH helped me with different positions to ‘trick’ her into feeding from the side she didn’t like.
On our first day home (Cosi was three days old), my milk came in and I could not believe how enormous and hard my boobs were! I remember trying to lay down on my stomach and it was so uncomfortable. Luckily it didn’t take them long to soften up. There was definitely nothing wrong with my milk supply - I was feeding Cosi on demand and could pump 120mls about an hour after a feed. This was great because it meant Letecia could bottle feed her once a day and I could get a solid sleep.
Three weeks to the day after Cosette was born, she developed colic. I would try and feed her and she would just scream. It was horrible. We didn’t realise until about a week later this was what was going on and my confidence in my ability to breastfeed took a massive hit. I did continue to breastfeed after this but Cosette was predominantly bottle feed from this point on so we could utilise anticolic bottles. They seemed to help a lot. Mostly I would put her on the boob before a bottle and see how we went, sometimes she feed well and other times she didn’t. On the advice of my doctor, I also gave up dairy to help with her colic. For someone who is a massive chocolate lover this was hard! I found some great dairy alternatives and was determined to help my bubba any way I could.
I also had two bouts of mastitis (blocked milk ducts) which was painful but thankfully I didn’t have any of the flu-like symptoms which are common with mastitis. I did have to take antibiotics each time (they were safe to take while breastfeeding) and I also took a high dose of a probiotic to counteract the effects of the antibiotics as I was still breastfeeding Cosi and didn’t want the antibiotics destroying her gut bacteria.
The time was fast approaching for me to go back to work, full time, and like magic at around four months old Cosette weaned herself. In the end she would actually laugh at me if I offered her the breast! While I was sad our breastfeeding journey had come to an end I knew my baby was done and she was healthy and happy and in the end that’s all that really mattered.
How did you think breastfeeding would be?
I thought it would come quite naturally - I was SO wrong! The Birth Centre at RBWH had great educational resources available and I had read some articles and watched videos but I knew that no matter how prepared I was, my breastfeeding journey with my baby would have a life of its own. I should add it was always my intention to breastfeed my baby but I was also open to bottle feeding if for some reason breastfeeding didn’t work for us.
What was the toughest part of feeding for you?
I don’t think we really mastered a good latch and because of this, my nipples quickly became quite sore and tender. I hated anything against my nipples and if I accidentally brushed over them with the towel when I was drying myself after a shower it was agony. 😬 When Cosi would first latch on during those first few weeks I would describe the feeling as if someone was sucking needles through your nipples.
Mentally, I found breastfeeding quite tough. Knowing that this little baby was relying on me for her food was quite daunting. In the first weeks after she was born my emotions were all over the place (I would just cry because I loved her so much!) We were sleep deprived and the weight of this huge responsibility lay heavily on my shoulders. I had the best support I could ask for but at the end of the day, breastfeeding can feel like an incredibly lonely journey.
What was the best part of feeding for you?
I loved spending the special time with Cosette, knowing that she was receiving the best nutrition and all the other good stuff that breast milk contains. While I mentioned above that it was quite daunting being her only food source, it was also really special and I loved the bond we forged.
What would you tell yourself now about breastfeeding?
1. To not worry so much and just enjoy the ride - you baby is more resilient and adaptable than you think. 2. Cluster feeding sucks but it won’t last forever. 3. Don’t eat a whole packet of M&M’s before breast feeding your baby because she will have green poo (whoops) 🍫
What are your breastfeeding must haves?
Bonds Maternity Singlets/ bras
Rite Aide Hydrogel breast disks - these seriously saved my nipples
A Stable Table - I would set myself up on the couch with my drink bottle, tv remotes, phone, lip balm and tissues beside me on the stable table as I couldn’t reach the coffee table easily and I knew I might potentially be stuck there for hours at a time
Clothes that make you feel good - I felt so frumpy in the first few months after I gave birth. I bought myself a few new breast feeding friendly items but I never found anything that made me feel amazing. And that is why we launched the Bump and Beyond Dress! 👗