Blog Takeover - My Breastfeeding journey
My breastfeeding journey by Ruby @rubydiamonds
Hi! My name is Ruby, mama to five. I have Jacob 15, Tilly 13, Alfie almost 11, Oscar almost 8 and Bodie 5 months. We live in Suffolk not far from the coast which is our favourite place to be. We live a fairly busy life but a simple one. I am a stay at home mum and live for the weekend when we get to be back together again as seven!! I run my own blog salt and sand where I chat about parenthood, adventures, products and loads more! I was thrilled to be asked to be a guest blogger with Tommy&REX for some parenting posts. We decided to do ours on our breastfeeding journey so far.
Before I was pregnant I would say I was fairly judgemental when it came to feeding your baby. Breast is best so thats the only option right?
It was also 7 years since I had last breastfed a baby and I was now bombarded with so much more information about pregnancy, birth and beyond. I didn’t think I needed to do much more reading as I’ve done it all before. This is my fifth baby I would be breastfeeding so what else do I need to know?
Everywhere you look whether its on social media or on the front of a newspaper in your local street, you get opinions. Professional opinions, mum opinions, dad opinions, people who don’t have kids opinions!
So I thought i’d start to read what they were all saying. There I was reading stories after stories on breastfeeding battles, breastfeeding highs and lows, breastfeeding journeys where mums could only manage the first few weeks, or still breastfeeding their babies age 3 and beyond. I soon learnt I had to take off those judgey pants and embrace all the other mums who chose to feed their baby how they wish, and I found myself using the words over and over FED is BEST. It's so true, fed is best and I have left my ‘breast is best’ opinion firmly at the door. Lesson learnt!
I am exclusively breastfeeding Bodie at the moment and will continue to do so for as long as he wants it. It has not been an easy ride for us at all though. I definitely took for granted being able to get all my other babies latched pretty much from birth and feed through until around 18 months without many hiccups.
Bodie was a breech Caesarean birth. Born into the world as chilled as anything, he slept the whole operation and didn’t really cry at all. He was a good colour though so they weren’t concerned. We got into recovery and I got him to latch on the breast straight away. He was so sleepy though so he didn’t do much sucking! When we were back onto the ward he had developed a grunting singing noise. Within minutes he was whisked away down to special care.
My son Oscar who was born before Bodie, got group B strep which developed into Meningitis when he was 5 weeks old and it had started one afternoon with him grunting. Within 2 hours he was in intensive care being told we could have lost him had we not come in when we did.
This is one of the reasons they took Bodie off so quickly. But this also meant our skin to skin and crucial bonding time didn’t happen. I couldn’t move as I was still very numb from the waist down so it was hours until I would be able to get to see him.
I hand expressed my colostrum into the smallest syringes I’d ever seen. My husband took them down to feed to him, little drops of golden goodness. He had wires everywhere and was becoming quite jaundice so his lethargy didn’t get much better!
As soon as I could feel my legs again I was downstairs to see him, through the night I would go back down hourly to try and feed him around the wires and machines bleeping every few mins. He wasn’t very interested but we managed a few short feeds. He was losing weight quite quickly and by the time they had treated for infection (day 3) he weighed 15oz under his birth weight. Unfortunately we didn’t seem to get the support in hospital and we were sent home quite quickly. When you’ve had babies before it seems to be more this way.
The struggle to feed him was very apparent, my milk was in and LOTS of it but he couldn’t keep up with it. Falling asleep at every feed within minutes left me so engorged I would have to just stand in the shower hand expressing it out to relieve the pain. By day 10 he had lost about 13% of his birthweight and the midwives were going into to panic mode. His jaundice was being checked twice a day as was our feeding. I had to set my alarm hourly throughout the night to get him on the breast to feed. They mentioned formula but I was confident I could do it. The times I did doubt myself though were countless!! By 2 weeks old he started to gain, a few grams but it was something!!! I had never had a baby with weight loss after birth so I felt very disappointed in my own abilities.
After that huge mountain was climbed we seem to turn a corner and he started piling on those pounds and we both got into a rhythm of feeding and adjusting to his needs.
To this day age 21 weeks Bodie weighs a chunky 16lbs so you can tell he loves the milk. We still struggle with latch a little now and he will often get on and off during a feed with crying and struggling and be happy at the breast so its not all ups! With feeding five babies my milk supply isn’t fantastic and I know he gets frustrated with that especially in the evening when he’s been at it all day. Thats the part that is very wearing for both of us! Its a huge toll on your body and a big sacrifice but the times he looks up to me when he’s feeding and gives me the look of enjoyment, its all worth it!
A few things i’d like to give to you when you’re feeling low or wandering why you can’t do it:
Remember, fed is best. And your best is all you can do.
If things don’t feel right, it hurts or you can get a good latch, then ask for help! Don’t wait until the next feed. I used to be terrible at accepting help but now I’m much better! There are so many lactation support networks and groups so take advantage of them. Even on social media there is a wealth of knowledge. Medela is a great support I found.
Don't set yourself a timeline, go with the flow and see where it takes you.
Eat and DRINK well. I have to remind myself to drink more daily. Set yourself an alarm or put a note in the kitchen so you’ll see it every time you’re there! Also snack throughout the day. When it gets to 3pm and you’ve not eaten much, you’ll feel awful and then your supply won’t be the best either.
Buy a good nursing bra and some good nursing pads. I find lansinoh the slimmest and don’t leak.
Always have plenty of muslins by your side when feeding, that milk can travel!!!!
Get a pump, let the dads feed the baby. As much as I find this a little extra work, its very rewarding seeing what you’ve pumped and then watching dad get involved too.
Lastly, with all the bad days, the long nights and the endless hours of baby stuck to you, try and ENJOY it! These months don’t last long and before you know it they’ll be a teenager asking you for money every five minutes!!