I'll leave you with some top tips from my experience:
• If you want to exclusively breastfeed and the staff suggest topping up with formula, tell them you'd rather top up with breastmilk and ask for a pump.
• If you're struggling to get much milk when you express try a different pump. The first one I was given in the hospital seemed to be all about ferocious sucking, but I was swapped to one that had a two stage action to mimic baby's sucking and my milk yield improved.
• Once home I used a Medela Swing Electric Breastpump
Alex writes her own blog (which is a great read!) at www.badgermad.blogspot.com and you can learn more about her experiences by there.
My breastfeeding story ~ Meryl
My midwife was very supportive of breastfeeding and gave me DVDs and books on the subject as well as recommending breastfeeding classes. My antenatal classes covered breastfeeding reasonably in depth and highlighted common problems, as well as what to to about them. We were told that our babies would be fine on colostrum until our milk came in, that cluster feeding and very frequent feeding/night wakings were normal in newborns - and didn't mean we weren't producing enough milk! This was, I might add, from a childbirth educator who for medical reasons had been unable to breastfeed herself.
I spent only 24 hours in hospital as I was keen to get home. In hindsight, I wished I'd stayed longer until we had breastfeeding fully established. This is because it took a couple of days for my nipples to get really sore, so the developing problems weren't picked up. While I was in hospital Mila didn't want to do anything except for feed, all night long and then most of the next day. The hospital midwives were good at offering support and showing me how to breastfeed in different positions, but they never checked for tongue-tie. There was a lactation consultant in the hospital I could have gone and seen, but I was too tired so I just watched the videos on breastfeeding that the hospital brought round to our rooms. Oh the benefit of hindsight! I should have gone to see the lactation consultant there and then.
I rang the private consultant (because I was told she was available at short notice) and she came round two hours later. She immediately diagnosed tongue-tie and snipped it there and then. Seconds later my baby was feeding greedily and I was shocked at the sensation. "Oh, so this is what it's supposed to feel like!" It was still painful at that stage, but only because of the damage that had already been done.
I am still exclusively breastfeeding at 5 months and Mila has never had any formula. Not once did anyone ever suggest formula to me and so I was never really tempted by it or encouraged to use it. When I'm breastfeeding out and about nobody bats an eyelid, except sometimes for cafe staff - and that's only to offer me a glass of water or cushions! Feeding my little girl now is just the easiest and most natural thing in the world. While the support I had wasn't perfect, it was a pretty damn good second - I never felt like I had run out of options or had nowhere to turn. That made all the difference during those first few weeks.'
'I was very surprised to learn that in the UK it takes a long time (if ever) to have the tongue-tie snipped. A few of my breastfeeding friend's babies also had tongue-tie [ed. in NZ] and saw the free govt funded lactation consultants - apparently the wait to see one of them is only a couple of days, so even if you couldn't see a private one you wouldn't be left high and dry. All of them had the baby's frenulum cut immediately too (and none of them had babies more than a week old).
Oh and I might add - my lovely midwife was so horrified she'd missed tongue-tie in my baby that she has been in contact with the LC ever since and attends some of the LC's breastfeeding counselling sessions to see tongue-tie being diagnosed.'
Ed: Where is it you live again Meryl? Utopia? ;) Sounds like we could learn quite a lot over here from the NZ way of doing things!
|Meryl feeding her 5 month old.|
About 3 weeks after developing mastitis I felt absolutely fine within myself, and if i would have just been able to unscrew that breast and put a new one on, everything would have been perfect but those three lumps, the pus filled abscesses weren't going.
At my second appointment in the breast clinic the nurse managed to drain quite a bit off the lump under my armpit, which took the pressure off and felt amazing. The other two abscesses had opened up on their own and kept draining themselves, then filling up, then opening up and draining again. This went on for two weeks or so and I was in and out of the breast clinic to keep and eye on things and make sure the infection wasn't getting worse. however, as soon as i had finished the second round of antibiotics I woke up one morning, my breast being sore again and feeling flu like. I thought i was going to scream, how could this be happening???? on top of my abscesses mastitis AGAIN???? I cried because I knew too much about the effects of formula feeding to just quit but I couldn't bare for anyone to touch me, never mind a baby to suck at my breast! And I had a newborn to nurse!!!!
Throughout all of this my 3 1/2 year old had to draw the short straw as baby obviously came first with breastfeeding. He actually didn't breastfeed at all for more than a week during the worst time and he was great about it but I felt horrible as he had to sit and watch the baby feed...
Finally after about 5 weeks my body beat the abscesses and they stopped producing pus, however the biggest abscess on the inside of my breast left me with an open wound and i needed to replace the bandages twice a day.
We went camping(!) when baby was 2 months old, just as my breast was slowly starting to look normal again and the wound was slowly closing up. It was "The Mother magazine" camp and I wouldn't have missed it for the world!
I finally felt like things were back to normal three months after my baby was first born. I was due to go visit my mother in Austria and two days before the flight - guess what. Mastitis. Again. There must have still been some infection lingering in my breast from the abscess under my armpit which i could still see signs of. This time there was a difference though, I had met a woman just a few days before who wanted to come visit me that day. Instead she came round, bringing homeopathic remedies to help me heal. I think the act of knowing someone cared helped me heal as much as the remedies did. Thank you Gwen!
I got my flight and in Austria, where I could relax and let my mum take care of things completely, where I could breathe fresh mountain air and go for walks in the lovely sunshine, I could finally let my body heal properly. As I was mainly breastfeeding on my right breast throughout my illnesses I also used this time to try and build up the milk supply in my left breast again.
My son is 6 months old now and still exclusively breastfed. There are probably many in my family who would have suggested giving up had they not known this was never an option for me.
I am lucky to have supportive family and supportive health care providers who NEVER even hinted that I should give up. My doctor even said: "i know antibiotics arent great, but I'd rather a baby got some antibiotics through his mothers milk than be formula fed!"
My son is 6 months old now and still fully breastfed. I'm not a martyr for breastfeeding but I knew that those few weeks - yes they seemed like an eternity - would be nothing compared to the years of breastfeeding and benefits for my child.