I think I am always going to look back on my breastfeeding experience with mixed emotions, I have found it both incredibly rewarding but also incredibly difficult. My daughter is currently 8 months old and I am breastfeeding her on demand and we started weaning at 6 months. I don’t want to focus on the difficulties too much in this post, I just want to give my overall feelings looking back over the last 8 months, and it is overwhelmingly positive.
My breastfeeding journey started before my daughter was born, because I have had an operation on each breast to remove a lump there was some concern that the scar tissue would cause problems for me feeding my daughter (it looks like my nipples have eyebrows), I was advised by midwives to express colostrum once I got to 37 weeks. This had to be done every day for four weeks (my daughter was a week late). It was fairly painful in my breasts but also cause small contraction like pains in my stomach. I froze and saved the colostrum I managed to express (sadly it sat in my freezer for a couple of months before it was thrown out, as once my daughter was here and I could breastfeed I was told not to add the stored colostrum to expressed breast milk by my health visitor – this was not the first, nor the last piece of conflicting advice I have had on subject of breastfeeding).
Luckily once my daughter was born I could breastfeed her, and after a few early problems with latching her on, my milk came through about 48 hours after she was born. My daughter was colicky and also suffers from Silent Reflux so her early weeks are a haze of tummy massages, feeding and then keeping my daughter as upright as we could, curling up on the sofa all day and, sadly my daughter crying. Lansinoh cream was a godsend, and we persevered on through a bout of mastitis which was excruciating. Slowly her reflux medication was sorted out and her colic started to ease, this meant that things got a little easier in terms of feeding and latching on. At about 5 months she finally got the hang of my fast let down and didn’t gag and unlatch several times during each feed, which meant I felt more comfortable going out and feeding her in public places. Though not long after this (6months or so) she became a lot more curious and active and now feeding her with any distractions in the area/room is a big nono as she is more interested in everything else than feeding!
Even now at 8 months it is difficult to feed her in public as she is too easily distracted, and my fast let down and possibly some of the damage from my operations means my milk sprays out in all directions which can be quiet embarrassing. So I try to make sure that we go out in between feeds, though I will try to feed her if she lets me know she is hungry. However, we rarely have much success in feeding her much while we are away from home.
She will not feed from a bottle anymore. She did for a while, when her meds needed to be mixed with expressed breast milk, but from about three months her meds were given by syringe and so I stopped expressing. When we tried bottles a few weeks later she just refused them and still does. I am thinking about trying to reintroduce a bottle as I have to go back to work when my daughter is 11 months old, but I haven’t quite got round to starting on that yet.
I am still feeding my daughter at night, for the past few weeks she wakes only once a night, usually between 12am and 1am for a feed and otherwise sleeps through (touch wood). Before then she was waking several times a night for feeds, and as she still eats very little solid food, (something to do with her reflux or not I don’t know), I was happy to do this. I do want to drop her last night feed sometime in the next few months, but I am in no rush and I am hoping she will drop it of her own accord sometime soon.
I feel that for me, personally breastfeeding has been a really positive but challenging experience and I am proud that I kept going and I honestly believe that for my daughter and I breastfeeding was the right choice.