Grab a cuppa & put your feet up:Natalie from www.sophie4sophie.com shared her breastfeeding stories. As a mum of four who has breastfed each one she shares her different experiences. First published June 2011.
When I found out I was pregnant with my 1st son 10 years ago, I was adamant that I would breastfeed.
I hadn’t ever been around anyone who had breastfed & none of my friends had had babies at this point, but for some reason I just KNEW I wanted to breastfeed.
The midwives I saw where all really supportive, but I honestly had no clue…
When my son was born, he latched on straight away at birth and it was a magical experience, I was helped to feed him and he was a natural!
We went home after 3 days and he breastfed perfectly, we slept together in my bed (following all the guidelines of course) and feeding him whilst laying down was the best thing ever… sometimes I didnt even wake up, he would just latch himself on and i’d wake up to him chomping away happily!
One of the biggest problems I had with breastfeeding though was finding the right nursing bra. During my pregnancy I wore t-shirt bras, and crop top type bras, but as soon as my milk started to come in, my boobs GREW… like really grew… I went from a DD cup right upto a JJ cup overnight… back then, the internet wasn’t the 1st port of call & even mothercare back then didnt go upto such a large cup size (not even sure they do now tbh!) so I scoured the phone books for local bra shops & found one quite local, so off on the bus I trotted with my baby to hopefully find a bra that would fit me!
I did manage to get a bra, just one, as they were £30 each! YIKES!
It was the most horrid, rigid, boulder holder bra you’d ever seen, I hated it, but I needed it, so what could I do?
We continued to breastfeed until he was about 6 months old, which he naturally wanted to drink water more often & was more interested in playing that being in my arms all the time, so we progressed onto cup feeds with follow on formula, which is where all the problems started. He developed a severe intolerance to powdered milk, had exorcist projective vomiting which sometime would reach 10 feet away, I kid you not…
He was failing to thrive, developed intolerance to every food I gave him and deteriorated rapidly. The docs were called out so many times and we spent hours upon days at the surgeries and hosp trying to get to the bottom of this quick deterioration and after months of trying oodles of different drugs and removals of foods from his diet, he eventually started to gain weight and get healthy. He was put on a soya based formula, which worked really well.
He lead a dairy free diet up till he was about 4 years old, which sorted out his poorly tummy and he can now thankfully eat dairy. He does suffer with eczema tho and if he eats too much dairy it flares up really bad, so we have to watch what he eats…
When my 2nd son was born in 2003, I was all up for breastfeeding again and was determined to feed him for as long as possible as I was worried he might have the same intolerances as his brother, which indeed he did, he had much worse eczema.
But, once again, my boobs grew overnight, after having my first son, they did go back down after I gave up feeding him and they stayed about an E/F cup. This time though, they grew upto an LL cup and I was a monster. My boobs were bigger than my head (each boob that is) they were so heavy. Again I trotted off to the local bra shop and tried to buy a bra, but they didnt have any in my size and only ONE bra company made them in the size I needed, so the shop lady ordered me one in and after about a week I got my new nursing bra, it was SO UGLY, I hated this one even more than my 1st one and I could even fit my son in one of the cups…
He was a breeze to breastfeed, was perfect at it, but the only thing he wouldn’t do was sleep in my bed and feed, he LOVED to have his feeds with a cuddle then was desperate for me to put him down after. I found this extremely exhausting and was desperate for him to just have one night feed in my bed, so I could doze through it with him, but he wouldn’t have any of it!!
I did however have one of those cots which “butted” right up against my bed, so it was easier to put him back into bed!
I continued to feed him until he was about 10 months, after which time he, like his brother, wanted to feed from a cup and play than be stuck in my arms feeding! I naturally put him onto soya based milk like his brother had had, as I was petrified that he would go the same way, but he was brilliant! He never once had the problems his older brother did and he eventually went onto cow’s milk at 12 mths & eating dairy from 16 months!
His eczema was quite bad tho, but the dairy didnt make a jot of difference to it, he still now 8 years on suffers with the eczema but is under control and you hardly remember how bad it used to be with him when he was little.
When I found out I was pregnant with my 3rd son in 2004, I was overjoyed to be able to breastfeed again and very much looked forward to it, but sadly he was born at 27 weeks and was extremely poorly.
I was encouraged to express my milk for him, as they said with premature babies that are born, their mother make an even more unique tailor-made milk that can dramatically help them thrive and survive.
So off me went, hand expressing my milk in the early days trying to get every ml of milk I could… it was really hard too, as i’d never tried to express milk before…
I was told to keep a photo of my son close to me and to look at it whilst expressing as it would help me relax, but it was such an intense and pressured feeling I felt like everything I tried didnt work, I was only producing small quantities and was getting really frustrated.
I had some help from the midwives at the hospital and they got me using one of the expressing machines, it was extremely bizarre and a huge machine, I also had to express both breast at the same time. I didnt like this at all, but for the sake of my son & his health, I persevered and got into a routine, after the 10 days of staying at the hospital in the neonatal unit with him, I was discharged from Hospital (on my birthday too) and sent home with one of the gigantic expressing machines and told to express milk every 2 hours from my boobs, even throughout the night and to store it in the freezer to bring in daily to the hospital for him to have. to start with as he was so small, he didnt actually get to have any of my milk as he was on a special formula for his gestation but the stores of my frozen milk was soon starting to mount up for preparation for when he could start to have it.
Im hazy with the dates, but I think around 30 weeks my milk was introduced into his diet, through a tube directly into his stomach; he began to gain weight brilliantly from it and was tolerating it brilliantly.
The better he got, the more they upped his amounts and soon he was taking in more milk than I was producing! His stores of frozen breast milk were getting thin! I was diligently expressing all the time I could, as I was desperate to help him grow, but after about 3 months of doing so, I began to get really resentful of the expressing machines… I hated them… I felt all I was doing was milking a cow & never spending enough time with my son in the SCBU as expressing was taking longer and longer to get decent amounts and my son was taking in such higher amounts, I wasn’t keeping up.
I told the doctors and nurses about it and they suggested that I tried taking a medicine called motilium (domperidone) which is an anti reflux drug, but one of its side affects is lactation, which helps you produce breast milk… I took the drugs and after a short time, I noticed my milk production was gaining and gaining, I was getting “litres” of milk from each time I expressed and it really gave me the motivation to keep on trying.
Eventually the doctors asked me, that once my son was able to learnt to breastfeed would I like to try and I jumped at the chance, he was using a special dummy to encourage him to suck and after a few weeks, we became natural at breastfeeding! He was doing so brilliantly!
I was so glad that I stuck with the expressing for such a prolonged period of time, without it I feel my son wouldn’t have got the best possible milk for him and he wouldn’t have grown so strong and fought to stay with us.
Eventually he came home.
All this time though, I hadn’t been wearing nursing bras, as he wasn’t with me and I only expressed milk it didnt seem right to wear a nursing bra. It felt wrong, so I’d never thought about buying one. thankfully though, my boobs didnt grow as much as they did with my other 2 sons, im not sure if this had anything to do with the fact I wasn’t actually feeding him and only expressing, but they didnt grow in size at all, I was still wearing my pre pregnancy bras. Even when I was pregnant with my 3rd son, not once did I put on a maternity bra. (I had such saggy skin from where they had grown so HUGE and shrunk after the first two) so I only felt comfortable wearing padded moulded bras (still do now!)
So I thought, what will I wear now he’s home? I was so used to not wearing a nursing bra, that I didnt bother, it was difficult when I was out and about feeing him, but I didnt go out that much. At home I don’t like wearing bras so just had on vest top (with support!) and fed like that.
I continued to feed him until he reached about 12 months. At this point, he was spending lots of time with his dad and it became more convenient to bottle feed him. He was bottle fed until he was nearly two; he had very delayed development and was still the age of a one year old at this time.
So fast forward a couple years, I fall pregnant with Sophie and again, want to breastfeed, but this time, she would be my last ever baby and I wanted to make sure I made the most of breastfeeding.
When she was born (by emergency section) she weighed a whopping 10lb 6oz! They thought I might have had gestational diabetes and wanted to take her away for checks, but thankfully she didnt. I tried breastfeeding her as soon as I was able, but I had a really bad reaction after the section and was on super heavy pain killers and found doing anything other than sleeping agony. Sophie was a really hungry baby too and she was demand feeding every hour or less… it was a constant.
In hospital, I was able to feed her lying on my side, which was easier on my tummy, but hard to pick her back up and wind. We had to stay in hospital for 10 days as I was so poorly, but I persevered with feeding her and she wasn’t bottle fed once, even though I was getting to a point of thinking, I’ve breastfed 3 babies already, I don’t “HAVE” to feed her to prove anything, but really I did. I had to give her the best start in life, as this was given to her brothers, why should she not have the same start.
I found doing anything with her difficult, so we ended up just staying in bed all day whilst shipping the kids to and fro from school in taxis. We just fed and fed and fed and fed and did nothing else, she was such a hungry baby.
My boobs started growing again, which im sure is down to her never getting off them and they grew all the way back up to a LL cup *sigh*
BUT thankfully this time around, the internet was awash with websites selling millions of bras, but only a couple went up big enough for my huge bazookas!
The only website at the time that had a bra that fit me was bravissimo and it was again, a very boring bra. But that’s all I could wear.
Sophie continued to be a super feeder and was constantly on my boobs. We couldn’t go anywhere without her needing a feed and I was always finding myself in a random place trying to conveniently feed her!
Up until she was about a year old, I did this, but I soon got fed up, I had fed her for as long as I think possible, but she didn’t want me to give up. I planned all along that if I continued to feed, I would want to give up at a year, like I had with the other boys.
I stopped wearing nursing bras and went back to wearing my moulded cup bras and thought that this would deter Sophie from getting a hold of them (she knew how to undo the clips on my nursing bra and used to GRAB hold of them if she was hungry!)
I delayed weaning sophie too, It wasn’t until she was about 9/10 months before I introduced her completely to foods, we used the baby led weaning way of feeding which suited her completely, I didnt forbid her any food that we ate and I never pureed or squished anything, I just gave her what we had and she ate it!
BUT, she still wanted my milk… I managed to get her down to a couple feeds during the day, by making it extremely hard for her to get to them! But also, I did love the bond of feeding, so at night-time she had as much as she liked.
With not wearing a nursing bra though, it became super awkward to feed her (see this post on what I found to help me!)
Eventually just before her 2nd birthday I managed to get her to stop feeding from me, I found the bigger she got (at 2 years old she looked like a 3/4 year old) the more stares and “looks” I got from people if I fed her. I had done above and beyond my best for her; the bond we did share though was amazing and im so glad that with my last baby I managed to give her the super duper best start in life! Even if slightly begrudgingly!!!!
I wish when I had started to breast feed by boobs had been super smaller, as it would have made buying bras a lot more interesting and easier and also, If the internet & wealth of information had been readily about I might have had an easier time with my 1st son’s problems.
But thankfully for all you guys who are pregnant or are feeding already, there are so many support networks, websites and online stores willing and ready to help you out.
My sponsor for CyberMummy this year is a wonderful lady, T-J. she runs a few websites, a blog and has a wealth of information for all you wonderful mums & mums to be!
Have a look at some of them & i’m sure you’ll find some support, advice or even a gorgeous BIG busty bra!!