I thought I would share my breastfeeding journey.
It has been a long hard road but I’m glad I stuck with it. I can see my now toddler has thrived on my perseverance. Throughout my breastfeeding journey I was able to be a part of a movement. The Australian Breastfeeding Project takes photographs of breastfeeding women across Australia, and I was one of them.
My story starts out like this:
My beautiful baby boy was born a healthy 6 pound 10 at 1:40am, we were overwhelmed by the emotion of finally having him here. As a “first timer” it never occurred to me that I would have to work so hard at what should come so naturally, and so I relied on the “experts” and “medical professionals” to guide me through the process.
We were lucky we had our Birth Photographer Sarah to guide us through the process and capture our memories, in fact it was Sarah who assisted me with latching what would be the first breastfeeding encounter. Bubs was latching but wasn’t sucking. We thought nothing of it.
8 hours later a midwife came in and saw that my baby was doing the same thing, latching but not sucking, she then said “ok let’s express the colostrum and feed him that way for now”. Little did I know this would be the first of many experiences of misguided information. When the midwife couldn’t express “enough” they decided that the baby was hungry and therefore needed formula instead…..When questioned about trying to breastfeed instead at every feed the midwife just said “well you’re not producing it just doesn’t look like its going to happen”
From that time in the hospital it was a stressful spiral of very little time spent latching and breastfeeding to several hours of formula feeding. As a new mum with a newborn baby adjusting to having this little human in their life it became hours of latching, expressing to try and bring on milk production, and formula top ups.
For the one midwife experience there were 8 other wonderful experts. I will never forget my excellent obstetrician who came after the birth who told me “not to give up”, and my private midwife giving me a plan to help bring on my milk production after hospital who disagreed, who knew that I could lactate successfully.
For the first 6 weeks of my life I worked around the clock to give baby what he needed. I would breastfeed, express, provide the expressed milk, and then top up. For a newborn this meant every 2-3 hours which was very tiring. But I never gave up.
I was visited by an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) who checked my baby for tongue and lip ties (none), checked his latch (perfect) and then checked my input. By this time I was fully breastfeeding my baby.
As It had now been weeks and my supply was not building, that was when I was introduced to the possibility of IGT (Insufficient Glandular Tissue). It was mentioned at the hospital that there was no change in tissue during pregnancy nor after, and my private midwife wondered whether IGT was a possible cause however did not want to exhaust all other options first.
All of this information became overwhelming, and with the lack of sleep, strict feeding routine, and different people providing “their words” on whether my baby was hungry or not, I developed “the baby blues” for a short period of time. I was lucky enough to have a large support network to overcome this.
As my story has become long enough, my short summary is this- I NEVER gave up! a plan was devised for my IGT diagnosis and my baby now feeds 80% through lactation, and I am proud of what I have been able to provide to him.
The Australian Breastfeeding Project has been able to empower me to share my story, and to encourage others to seek as much information as possible. Without the support of breastfeeding professionals I would not have been able to continue to provide my son’s biological needs.
I would love to share a couple of photos to represent my journey (All taken by Sarah Murnane, birth and breastfeeding photographer at the Australian Breastfeeding Project)
Posted anonymously, 28th January 2017