When it came to breastfeeding my firstborn, I figured I would simply follow in the footsteps of my mum with the same apparent ease that she had.
I had a great pregnancy and birth experience so was somewhat surprised to discover not everybody has quite the same luck.
For me, breastfeeding in the early days was hands down the biggest challenge I’ve ever endured.
It all started in the first week with an incredibly painful cracked nipple coupled with my first bout of mastitis. After the birth of my daughter, we only spent one night in hospital. Before I knew it we were at home and a long way from mastering the art of the seemingly impossible latch.
In my previous posts I’ve touched on a couple of these early difficulties, but little did I know at the time the worst was yet to come and I was to return to the hospital on multiple occasions.
This time it was just me as the patient in need of treatment for a very painful breast abscess. I’d been breastfeeding exclusively for more than a month and simply got to the point where I needed to give my poor breast a break. Some people were suggesting it might be time to give up breastfeeding all together, but I was determined to provide the best nourishment for my baby and longed to enjoy the beautiful bond it’s known to create.
Instead, I stocked up on a Medela breast pump and chose to express exclusively on my right side in order for it to heal. While my daughter feed on the left side, I would sit and pump away on the right. The compact size of the award-winning Swing Electric breast pump made it very easy and it was such a welcome relief to no longer be in pain.
With all the pumping going on, the lactation consultants at the hospital encouraged us to try the Calma feeding solution which was uniquely designed to mimic the natural feeding behaviour learned at the breast.
Introducing the right bottle was particularly important given all the challenges we’d faced and I was quite wary of risking the potential for nipple confusion. We were relieved to discover our baby could suck, swallow and breathe, in much the same fashion as breastfeeding where a vacuum is created in order for the breastmilk to flow. My husband was enjoying the opportunity to get more involved in the feeding and I was finally able to have some much-needed rest.
After a few courses of antibiotics, my nipple completely healed and the abscess was under control.
The new pumping and bottle feeding routine evolved and it was no longer my sole responsibility to nourish and feed our baby. I eventually gained the confidence to revert back to breastfeeding on both sides and one day I looked down to discover my daughter had latched on without me even noticing. It had become a natural manoeuvre where we were finally in synch and well and truly mastering the art of breastfeeding!
I continued to use the breast pump off and on to enable the occasional night off and for my return to work.
In those uncomfortable early days, I was pushed to my limits and very close to stopping breastfeeding. My goal was to try and make it through the first few months, but we are now going on a year and a half and I can honestly say I wouldn’t have got to this point if it wasn’t for the practical help of Medela’s easy to use and quality breastfeeding products.
I was one of the unlucky ones where pretty much everything that could go wrong did, but I’m so incredibly grateful for the fact I can now enjoy the close bond breastfeeding has the amazing ability to provide. It has been the ultimate reward for all the pain endured in those hazy early weeks.
To all you new mums, best of luck on your feeding journey. The early days are tough, but it can all work out in the end.
– by Sally Wood
READ: Go back to the start with Diary of a new breastfeeding mum – Part One
Sally’s Diary of a New Breastfeeding Mum is sponsored by Medela.