Breastfeeding is always a topic that sparks debate with many differing opinions, ideas, do’s/don’ts, and should-haves. There always seems to be research or recommendations we need to be across. Even just this week new research has suggested that introducing solids earlier can reduce a child’s risk of allergies.
One thing we should agree on though is that none of us have the same boobs or the same child – and that’s where, with a little help and advice here and there from the experts or our brave ‘sisters’ that have gone before us, the mother should have the right (and the thinking space!) to make her own decision on what is right for her and her child.
We will be coming back to the topic of breastfeeding in the sorella-hood regularly to discuss different issues and experiences. Our first post delves into the dreaded topic of ‘supply’. That is, how long can the milk bar stock the milk? Alisha tells us her story.
I had big 9 pound babies so I was lucky to have a head start with a newborn with plenty of weight on. I think this helped me be more relaxed with feeding. Mums who have had babies at a much lower weight will probably vouch for feeling added pressure very early on to be able to develop their babies weight – and I can only guess how that kind of pressure would then negatively influence your ability to feed and make you feel worse. No one likes stress on top of stress. It can never have a happy ending.
So with my big ‘buddhas’, things started off pretty smoothly. I had no pain or dreaded infections like mastitis that many poor women suffer from, and my babies latched on and fed with ease.
It wasn’t long though that my bubble of security burst when my Mum kept reminding me:
“You need to rest or you’ll lose your milk!”
“Have you drunk enough water today? You’ll lose your milk if you get dehydrated!”
This certainly got me feeling the pressure of what I could do more and what would I do if I did lose my milk early.
My little boy, as they tend to say with all boys, was a ‘big feeder’ and was feeding every 2 hours. Initially, I was coping with supply and demand but after a few months it was getting exhausting – kinda like how it must feel coming into the last 10km of a marathon – my energy was waning and I wasn’t sure how long I would be able to sustain the pace. Such short time between feeds with little rest was starting to affect my supply. I’m sure many Mums can relate to this unrelenting shift-work like a cow in a milking shed with no end in sight, but a voice in your head saying “This is for your baby. Pull yourself together!!’
I decided to introduce a dummy to stretch him out a bit – I found some research indicating that pacifiers affect milk supply but the constant feeding wasn’t giving me the time to produce more milk. My daughter didn’t have a dummy, so this was a really big decision.
By around 4 months I was still feeding him through the night – usually 2-3 hourly. Then as he got older, there were nights he didn’t wake each interval (rarely!), but I would still get up and express – not because I felt ‘full’ but because I wanted to keep producing milk and also freeze it for the times when I had nothing for him. My milk was starting to get low.
I wasn’t getting much sleep and this whole time is a haze! I do look back on these months and wonder how I did it all. But I was determined!
I managed to feed him to 6 months but I felt guilty about not feeding him to a similar amount of time that I did for my daughter (I fed her till she was 12 months). Towards the end, I did everything I could to maximise my supply – including supplements such as Fenugreek and my GP even prescribed some medication. But with a sense of achievement (but also a fair bit of sadness), I had to hang the nursing bras up.
The most important thing that might help expectant or new sorella-hood Mums is to firstly, trust your mother’s intuition. For example, while at the time my husband thought expressing through the night was a tad crazy, putting my baby first was priority even if it meant I would be a sleep deprived grumpy mess! Getting that extra supply stored away and available was great for him, but it also gave me some peace of mind.
The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) is a great resource for advice and information regarding breastfeeding including issues with supply. I spoke to an ABA counselor for advice which helped – even just to provide some reassurance that what I was doing was ok! A one-on–one chat where you can be specific about your own challenges, and come up with solutions that just suit you and your baby can be really helpful.
Breastfeeding created an amazing bond and I truly believe it has given my children a wonderful start – and I know I am very lucky that I was in a position to be able to do it. I know some women aren’t so fortunate. Trust your intuition. Looking back it was tough, but it’s so worth the fight.
Good luck!! ~ alisha
The ABA runs the National Breastfeeding Helpline as is available 7 days a week PH: 1800 mum 2 mum (1800 686 268).
sorella & me have developed a number of beautiful pieces of sleepwear and lounge wear that you can ‘live’ in, with features to help you breastfeed with ease and comfort.
The nursing cami and the nursing nightie both have comfortable and functional bust support, suitable to place nursing pads discreetly inside, and drop-cup function with nursing clips with adjustable bra straps.
A second option is the sorella & me singlet which has a pretty pearl press stud feature with suitable length to allow mums to open and feed.
Feeding bub can take a while, so the lounge wrap is a great item to be able to breastfeed in privacy…especially during the hospital stay when visitors arrive, or to throw on for those chilly nightime feeds.
Tell us about your experience with breastfeeding….