Breastfeeding in Jess’ words.

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.

I’m Jess 29 year old first time mum to my a little boy named Evan. Maths teacher in the rest of my time and based in Caerphilly.

Was / has your breastfeeding experience been positive? Explain your feeding journey.

I always expected to breastfeed and didn’t buy any bottles/pumps or formula before as I was so sure I would breastfeed.

My son was born at 2.17am we had a few minutes of skin to skin then they put him in a cot while they spent 3 hours delivering the placenta and doing my stitches. Eventually they tried his first feed and he wouldn’t latch, the rest of my time in hospital I was helped to express colostrum and syringe feed. I really struggled to hand express myself and needed help each time, in the night time one HCA told me I didn’t have any milk and baby needed formula.

I was eventually given an electric pump to use but this kept getting taken from me. This lead to a bit of a spiral when I left hospital where baby was having more and more formula and I was getting less each time I pumped. I looked for help in as many avenues as possible and got so many conflicting opinions and very little useful help.

I decided to increase my pumping (or relactate) to give my son my milk instead of formula and found a really good Facebook group that gave me loads of support. I took my son to a private lactation consultant who performed a tongue tie division, I hoped he would instantly latch but it took a few weeks for him to relearn how to use his tongue.

By 10 weeks old my son was having mainly expressed milk but still refusing to latch, we managed to get to a la leche league meeting (snow had cancelled the previous one) and one of the leaders gave me some vital tips that eventually got my son to latch with nipple shields. At 13 weeks I had reduced all bottles and my son was exclusively breastfeeding with the nipple shields. At 5 months old he pulled the shield off and fed without it for the first time!

How long did you breastfeed for? Did you plan on feeding that long?

I am still feeding him at 18 months and plan to continue until he naturally weans.

Did you have support from health professionals?

I saw everyone! I was going to 3 breastfeeding groups a week at one point!

Did you have support / help from family/ partner / friends?

My family felt that my determination to breastfeed was causing me so much upset and stress that I would have been better off giving up. In fact they still struggle to understand that the opposite is true and that it was essential for my health not to have given up. I am grateful everyday that I stuck to my guns and did things my way.What was the best breastfeeding advice you were given?I was given lots of specific advice that helped but the main thing was making sure I was using a nipple shield properly as that was the game changer for us.

What is something you wish you were told about breastfeeding before you began?

I was so naive before breastfeeding and can’t believe how unprepared I was. If I could go back I would do so much more research especially about tongue tie and the supply and demand aspect of feeding. I would also make sure I had the details for all the local groups ahead – in fact I would go to the groups and make a “feeding plan”.

Did / have you ever experience negative comments whilst feeding? Was you worried you would before you started?

I was nervous in the early days to feed out and about especially when my son might not latch and needed to use shields as well but after a few times it became a non- issue. I will now feed him anywhere I need to and no one even notices or cares.

What was your favourite thing about breastfeeding your baby?

Breastfeeding is a magic cure all for my son, tired/hungry/thirsty/frustrated/windy/ill/overwhelmed/etc etc breastfeeding solves it all.

What kept you going on the hard days/ nights?

Even though I have had some real struggles I have always known that stopping would be harder than carrying on. I have no idea how my son would sleep without it!

Thank you so much to Jess for taking part, if you would like to take part then please email me Breastfeeding for a month or decade, your journey counts and we’d love to hear from you.

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