World Breastfeeding Week 2021 // something I am so incredibly passionate about. I have been breastfeeding for over 4 years now. My first son I exclusively breastfed him until he was 3 and he self weaned the day his little brother was born who is also still exclusively breastfed at 18 months – I have such a love/hate with it if I’m honest. It is my FAR the most mentally draining thing I have ever done. A lot of people give this unrealistic idea that breastfeeding is beautiful; full of quiet moments and cuddles.. which sometimes it is…
But it’s also full of pressure, lack of faith in you and your body and it’s also incredibly isolating. My partner could be sat right next to me in bed whilst I fed our babies and I never felt more alone. Breastfeeding a toddler is a whole other ball game – he’s winding his legs round my head and playing stretch Armstrong with my other nipple.
I have received strange looks whilst feeding out in public – or an eye roll, (spoiler – I am not a subtle feeder, the baby wants feeding, I’m not fannying about with a blanket or making sure I’m decent. It’s a tit. People need to calm down and mind their own) but I have also received the most LOVELY comments. However you chose to feed your baby, I don’t care. Honestly. As long as they’re fed, happy and YOU are happy.. go forth and do what you gotta do to survive because lord knows there’s bigger shit to worry about than how OTHER people choose to feed their children. I’m sending you all so much love – those who are breastfeeding, you’re doing amazing! And those who find this week hard for various reasons – you are sensational.
We reached out to various people from our Instagram community and asked them to share their breastfeeding experiences; donating milk, tandem feeding, mastitis and so many more!
WORLD BREASTFEEDING WEEK 2021
I breastfed from only one boob for mainly my second baby (milo) but half way through my first baby (Rocco) too. This was a challenge in its self. Milo was a very hungry boy so we had some days were he was constantly on the breast. So we give him the bottle just after a week old. As feeding from one boob, the supply just couldn’t cope and he was too hungry. He’s was combie fed from 2 weeks old.
I’ve suffered with an inverted nipple on my left breast ever since Rocco, who I managed to feed for 6 months. I thought it would go back to normal once Milo arrived but it never did and it killed me to try get Milo to feed from it so we stopped straight away on that side. (It’s still inverted.) So I had a breast cancer panic, luckily it’s not, but I’m glad I went and got it checked out! They don’t know the reason why it’s done this, so I’ll be forever wondering why. It’s been a rollercoaster ride but I wouldn’t of had it any other way, I love the bond from it & I’m proud we lasted 13 weeks just on one boob! – ALICE
I was 19 when I had my first daughter, my mum didn’t breastfeed me or my sister and none of my friends had kids. I really wasn’t sure what I was doing! I have a bit of an over supply and I was pumping too much early on. I ended up getting mastitis 3 times, so I stopped after the last time, my daughter was 6 months old. She was such a chill baby, she would take a bottle of expressed milk from the get go, and when I first offered her formula she chugged it! She loved it and didn’t really care. My second daughter is now 9 months and I’m still breastfeeding her, it’s going well. I think I knew what to expect this time, I’m also older and wiser!! I didn’t get an electric pump this time, I opted for a Haakaa pump. I think this helped with my over supply as it takes the edge off without completely emptying my boobs which helped them adjust to what my daughter needs instead of what I’m pumping. She is also a lot more clingy than my first, she loves being breastfed and isn’t too keen on a bottle! Both experiences have been so different. I’m very thankful for being able to breast feed both my daughters. It’s been a wonderful experience and nothing is better than the feeding cuddles. I’m hoping to get to my daughters first birthday.. wish me luck! – ISOBEL
I don’t know why but breastfeeding has always been so important to me. Maybe it’s because none of my close family had ever breastfed and they’ve always sort of frowned upon it, it made me want to prove a point. I certainly struggled at first with my first born. I just couldn’t quite get his latch right on the left side which ended up severely cracked. This meant he favoured the right and it became engorged and led to mastitis!
Hi I’m Sydney, a first time mama to two year old Atticus and a post-breastfeeding mum. To mark Breastfeeding Awareness Week, I wanted to share my journey. From the moment I found out I was pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I thought it would be natural and easy, but little did I know, I didn’t know much about it at all. I had a very quick labour, and when Atticus was placed on my chest, he naturally started nuzzling but couldn’t latch. Within one or two hours of giving birth I was told Atticus had an upper tongue tie and that breastfeeding would be a struggle. I had never heard of this before; straight away I panicked and sobbed that I just wanted to feed my baby.
I was so lucky to have such an amazing midwife, who came into my room and gave me syringes to collect colostrum. I remember how calm and patient she was as she sat with me on the bed, helping me collect my milk while I struggled to get the hang of it. Yet I was determined to make breastfeeding work; knowing I had the milk meant I wasn’t giving up easily. As the hours flew by I persisted with putting Atticus to my breast and he was trying so hard to latch. Fast forward a day later, I was still using the syringes but I felt defeated as it just wasn’t happening for us. I remember sobbing and hobbling down the hallway to find a midwife, and asking for a bottle because I just couldn’t do it anymore.
But she believed in me even when I didn’t and said, “let’s give it one last go”. To my surprise he latched, perfectly and pain free. I will always remember that moment, it was just magical. I never experienced any pain or discomfort throughout my whole journey, which was a surprise to me. The doctor said he may have a slight tongue tie but if it wasn’t causing any issues he wouldn’t need the procedure. (So Atticus never had it done.) When I bought Atticus home, the midwives didn’t give me much information on breastfeeding. I’d received the usual chart and spoken briefly about the amount of feeds he should have in 24hrs. But as he was feeding a lot more than what they said, I started to panic thinking I wasn’t providing him with enough. He was constantly on the boob, even if he wasn’t feeding he would just like to be very close to the boob (which I now know is completely normal).
I was so lucky to find an amazing support group on Facebook. There were hundreds of women with questions and we supported each other to learn about cluster feeding, leaps and the many other benefits to breastfeeding. I found my journey with breastfeeding empowering. I would always feed in public without covering up. I was very lucky to never experience any negative / bad comments, which only contributed to my positive experience. There were, of course, bad days: the constant demand, the feeling of being touched, the claustrophobia. I never spoke openly about how I was feeling because I was scared of judgment. But just because I held it close doesn’t mean you should to.
To any mama reading this, please talk to a friend a family member or whoever you feel comfortable. So many people are there to listen and help you. I always said I wanted to breastfeed for the first year but no longer, yet I ended up breastfeeding for 14 months. I still remember the last feed, knowing it was the last time, I felt sad but proud of how far we come. Atticus self weaned and it was the best time for both of us. I think by then we had both just had enough. I personally found the change huge and it was a real struggle going from a baby to a one year old, not to mention that the nip lash was real! – SYDNEY
Being brought up in a pretty devout Catholic family, the image of the Madonna, boob out, nursing an angelic baby Jesus is sort of etched onto my brain: and – weirdly – I think it’s this sort of image that created my pre-baby expectation of what breastfeeding would be like: an innately tranquil experience, with a sacred vibe. So, when my daughter arrived in 2017, via emergency C section, wouldn’t latch properly and I had to pump and bottle feed her, I felt as if I was the only mum in the world that was genuinely useless at breastfeeding. Thankfully, rather belatedly, once I’d been home a few weeks, I got help from my Health Visitor (who recommended using nipple shields) and eventually Little Miss learnt to latch and feed. Having been on the receiving end of several nasty remarks, I was very shy about breastfeeding out and about, and I spent a lot of time feeding in public loos; however, despite all this, I breastfed successfully for a year until the process naturally came to an end.
With my son, a 2020 lockdown bubba, also born by EMCS, my journey was higgledy-piggledy for different reasons. He was a NICU baby and so, after our very first feed, he was taken away from me and whisked off; so, for the first few days all I could do was pump and bag up my milk ready for someone else to feed him. He didn’t gain weight properly, was constantly sick and miserable, and 3 weeks later he started haemorrhaging; he was diagnosed with an acute Cows’ Milk Protein Allergy – he was severely allergic to the traces of dairy present in my breastmilk. So, I was told that if I wanted to continue to breastfeed him, I would have to eliminate dairy (and soya) from my diet until he was completely weaned. And I have – and it’s made the world of difference to him; he’s a happy baby now and I’m able to breastfeed him with relative ease (he has just got his first two teeth in though, so I won’t say it’s always a comfortable process!); I’m hoping to be able to continue to breastfeed him at least until his first birthday.
So when I think of my breastfeeding journey, it doesn’t marry with the image of the Nursing Madonna, it’s been a journey of cabbage leaves and lanolin cream; 4 different breast pumps, vegan cheese, washable nursing pads and good old nipple shields: but that’s okay, actually: that’s pretty brilliant; I’ve fed two small people all by myself, and if I can’t give myself a pat on the back for that during #WORLDBREASTFEEDINGWEEK then when can I! – ISSY
A complicated pregnancy and unexpected four weeks in Neonatal ICU, meant I wasn’t surprised to find myself feeling low following the birth of my eldest son and I began to suspect I had post natal depression, or PTSD. However, as the days, weeks and months passed and the periods between feeds increased, it became clear that the overwhelming ‘lows’ only occurred as my let down began. No warm, fuzzy feeling for me and definitely no ‘settling down with a piece of cake’. In short, my ‘let down’ was a total let down.
I described the sensation to a lactation consultant, who told me about D-MER (Dysphoric – Milk Ejection Response/Reflex). She explained how changes in Dopamine levels, which occur as a normal part of breastfeeding, were causing the sudden and intense waves of negative emotion. As D-MER is a spectrum hormonal response, the intensity and duration vary from person to person. I continued to breastfeed my eldest son for 15 months and experienced D-MER during every feed and I continue to do so whilst feeding my, now five month old, second son. There is no treatment for D-MER. However, having a name for it and an understanding of what it is, makes it easier to live with…I simply save the cake until later. For more information about D-MER and the role Dopamine has to play, here https://d-mer.org