Whether your breastfeeding journey is just beginning or 10 years in we all have different experiences. In this series I will be sharing journeys and experiences from a range of people who have breastfed or are currently breastfeeding their littles.
Jayne Richmond (35, Cardiff) mum of Henry born August 2018.
Was / has your breastfeeding experience been positive? Explain your feeding journey.
It’s been very positive, but that doesn’t mean it has always been easy.
I knew I wanted to try if I could, but due to pregnancy complications I couldn’t attend any antenatal groups (NHS or NCT). Henry was due to be induced early but came even earlier of his own accord. He was born at 36+6 and 5lbs 15 oz (2.7 kilos).
I had ICP and gestational diabetes. And was on a sliding scale during labour, which was relatively smooth.
As a premie, we were kept in for 72 hours. Which was both a blessing and a curse. The midwives were lovely, but advice on breastfeeding was pretty patchy and caused a lot of worry. Due to health issues in pregnancy, I had very little colostrum at all. I was led to believe that not having milk/ much colostrum was unusual. I was encouraged to hand express and power pump. I ended up with pretty bruised breasts so when my milk came in after three days (which I now know is totally normal!) I ended up with blocked ducts and a very serious mastitis infection. I ended up with an overnight stay when Henry was a week old and given a much higher dose of antibiotics. I’ve been lucky to only have mastitis once more in the last 11.5 months and a bleb once.
I did get help and good advice from the breastfeeding team in Cardiff. Like lots of people, I had flat nipples. Which isn’t really obvious until you try feeding a tiny wriggly baby. I also had quite an aggressive let down. I used nipple shields on advice from the lactation team, I used these until Henry decided to wean himself off them when my supply settled at 9 months, soon after I returned to work. They saved my breastfeeding journey.
Henry also had a dairy allergy, which we didn’t really understand until Christmas when I went totally nuts of the cheese board. Fortunately going dairy free helped him within a fortnight. Thank heavens for violife spreadable, Oatly Barista and Koko! Life savers.
How long did you breastfeed for? Did you plan on feeding for that long?
I wanted to try and see if I could do six months. He’s nearly a year old and we’re still going strong. Being back at work hasn’t stopped us either.
Did you have support from health professionals?
Yes. But more in-depth info during pregnancy would be amazing. Especially online on the NHS website.
Did you have support / help from family/ partner / friends?
What is life without amazing family and friends? And I have them. My husband James is fantastic. He’s been there to help with 90% of night feeds – changing nappies in the early days, burping Henry and making sure I have food and snacks.
My friends have been fab too..both those with kids and those without. Everyone has been very supportive when we’re out and about and I need to nurse. My friends who have breastfed have shared tips and advice and listened to midnight rants. My friends who haven’t breastfed have also been there to chat and support. My friends and family have acted as if it is totally normal, totally okay. Which it is, but I know not all mums have that support. I have a mixed group of friends and have to say it’s great to get positive vibes from my male as well as female friends. It’s felt totally normal and comfortable. They are awesome.
What was the best breastfeeding advice you were given?
Pumps and nipple guard sizes are based on the size of your nipple, not your breast.
What is something you wish you were told about breastfeeding before you began?
I guess, I wish I’d been told everything. Warts and wonders all. That it’s normal to love it, but still find it hard. The myriad obstacles you may face, and how to face them. Everything. Don’t simplify, don’t hide it. Share it all. The weird moments, the funny moments, and the downright beautiful moments.
Did / have you ever experience negative comments whilst feeding?
I was worried, but 99% of my experiences have been incredibly positive.
What was your favourite thing about breastfeeding your baby?
I love the smiles he gives me. And when he falls asleep in my arms.
What kept you going on the hard days/ nights?
It’s never the nursing that’s hard. And I’m very rarely alone (thanks amazing husband!) I think being a mum, or indeed new parent in general is hard sometimes. It doesn’t matter how you feed your baby. What gets me through the hard times is the smiles and the cuddles from our little boy. He melts my heart.
Thank you so much to Jayne for taking part, if you would like to take part then please email me firstname.lastname@example.org. Breastfeeding for a month or decade, your journey counts and we’d love to hear from you.