I always wanted to breastfeed. But am ashamed to admit I honestly thought those that said it was too hard or hurt too much weren’t trying hard enough. How amazing is hindsight? I now know how hard breastfeeding is. I left the hospital with cracked, bleeding and scabby nipples. When the midwife visited, she was able to leave me with a loan great pump to see if that would help. After returning the loan pump to the hospital I borrowed one from my sister in law, and it was a godsend, especially when I returned to work.
The best breastfeeding advice I received was from a friend with an 18-month-old. She told me it got a lot easier for her around the six-week mark. So that’s what I aimed for, hoping it would get better. Week six came and went but it didn’t appear to be getting easier. Then week eight hit and it was like magic. This is what it felt like when breastfeeding was normal.
It becomes all about the latch. My daughter struggled to latch properly but it did it perfectly when I visited a lactation specialist. They were able to suggest different holds for me to try because of her size.
I had several incidents where my daughter ended up with a mouth full of blood. To give my nipples a break I used nipple shields or the breast pump.
I suffered from nipple thrush more than once. It was really difficult to get rid of because I kept giving it to my daughter, who would then give it back to me.
I was unfortunate enough to experience a blocked milk duct on several occasions. But I was also lucky enough that I found a solution that worked for me, which helped me prevent it from turning into mastitis.
The first few times I breastfed in public was difficult. I couldn’t get the cover to stay on properly while I was getting myself organised. And I was really concerned about being covered so as not to offend anyone.
Ask for and research advice if you are unsure about what you are doing. Join Facebook groups, ask your friends, watch YouTube videos and speak to your healthcare provider. I know I did all of the above.
The friend I mentioned above gave me a bunch of useful breastfeeding items at my baby shower. A tube of lanolin for chapped nipples, which can also double as a lip balm. I also received some nipple shields, which were an absolute godsend. By the time I was done with them they had big cracks and looked really worn out.
Having a breast pump allowed me to continue to exclusively feed my daughter breastmilk, even after I returned to work full time. If I had my time again, I would consider a double pump or a pumping bra.
The best thing that helped clear my blocked ducts was vibration. After some googling and not having results with massage or heat, I decided to try an electric toothbrush. The relief the next day was amazing.
If you want to breastfeed in public with a cover, practice at home. I wish I practised beforehand.
I found supplements to be more useful than the lactation cookies. Fenugreek seemed to be the ingredient that helped the most.
I last breastfed my daughter on Christmas Day. She was 13 and a half months old and I was very proud of our efforts. By then she was also having some formula as well. I was sad for that part of my life to be over but glad I was able to make it to a year, which was the last end goal that I gave myself. Less than a month after finishing up breastfeeding my daughter also gave up formula.