Breastfeeding – My hopes and fears fourth time around.

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll have seen some of my previous posts about something I am very passionate about.
That is breastfeeding.
I am now entering what will be a new breastfeeding journey with our new little baby due at the beginning of April, our little spring baby and from three breastfeeding experiences, I can tell you that as much as I am looking forward to nourishing our baby, I know that it comes with great difficulty sometimes, more importantly I remember that every journey is completely different. Let me take you through my three previous breastfeeding journeys briefly:
My first breastfeeding journey:
I was completely clueless really, that was until I decided I wanted to give it a go despite not being told much about it. I was very fortunate that my sister in law had breastfed her four sons, and that her cousin (also a good friend of mine) was a breastfeeding peer support worker. So towards the end of my pregnancy I started attending the baby café meet ups, watching and learning to make sure I had an idea for when my own baby should arrive.
Fast forward to her birth, feeding started well, with normal soreness as I was told to expect. The problem I found that the pain didn’t go away. Throughout the next ten weeks I had endured two rounds of mastitis, thrush, a bitten and bloody nipple which then cracked with each feed, along with lots of razor sharp pain from a bad latch, all despite my efforts. Halfway through this chapter I kept questioning why I was still carrying on, it was making me so emotional that I wasn’t ‘getting it right’. With lots of advice, support and friendly words from my friend I persevered. I don’t think it was due to any pressure from media, or society or anything, I just wanted to fulfil this for my baby and I. I had faith that it would get better, and wow did those ten long weeks pay off. We went on to have an amazing breastfeeding journey until she self weaned at 13 months. By this point I think my milk had altered as I was then almost four months pregnant with our second baby. Overall though I loved my first journey and felt so sad that it was over, all the memories will remain the same though and the harder ones left me with the realisation that it could be hard again even though I’ve done it once before.
My second breastfeeding journey: 
When I gave birth to our second baby girl, I did the same as before but with the knowledge that it can actually be tough. I’m not sure if it was sheer luck, the fact that I felt a bit more relaxed, especially when feeding in public, or it was just simply easier – my second experience was blissful. There’s always little moments when it can be tough, or when your baby bites your nipple and catches you unaware, baby thrush can rear its head etc but overall it was a lovely experience to be able to share the journey again but with our second daughter up until she self weaned to 15 months ( typically when I wanted her to carry on as we were flying abroad!), this may have been that my milk altered again as I was now three months pregnant with our third baby! Before I talk about my third experience, I wanted to add that during my second time feeding, I volunteered and completed a breastfeeding peer support course which I thoroughly enjoyed. I loved learning more technical things, looking at case studies and then writing about it too. I then went on to help out a few friends who were having difficulties, and still like to read my notes now.
My third breastfeeding journey: 
This then takes me to when we had our third little bundle of joy. Third time around I should have been completely clued up right?, especially having had experiences from both ends of the stick, not time to mention that I now had some professional knowledge behind me. My feeding journey started really well with my little chap. Except this time, problems started to arise a few weeks after he was born instead of from birth onwards. Turned out that he had recurring oral thrush that would not shift at all, he showed signs of colic in one week but then all of a sudden it all started to flow a lot better. I had moments (again) when I would be quite emotional, question myself as to why it was being hard third time around, why I was continuing, but within weeks it all resolved itself and for that I am thankful as he fed wonderfully before self weaning at 17 and a half months.

My thoughts fourth time around: 
I do have little worries sometimes that because life can be pretty hectic with three little ones and soon to be four, will I get the chance to really enjoy this last chapter of breastfeeding, will I get the change to establish feeding properly, will any of the previous things occur again? So, my hopes for our fourth (and more than likely last baby) would be that I will have a lovely last journey to remember, I am looking forward to seeing that ‘look of love’ from my nourished baby, the comfort of us being close and bonding, being part of such a magical yet natural act of love once more. Importantly though, I am going to keep the rational and realistic view in mind that not one baby is the same, even siblings!
One thing I am feeling really positive about is that I no longer feel on edge when feeding in public, ever since I found my confidence when our first baby was about four months old I remember it clear as day when I was in town, she needed feeding and I refused to hide or go in a toilet to see to her needs anymore. I sat myself in Starbucks, made sure I was comfortable and discreetly fed my baby, tended to her needs and walked out feeling a new mama. I still have guilt that I felt her in a sodding toilet when I public sometimes but I guess that’s all part of a new challenge when you lack confidence. Point is, I found the confidence, opened my eyes to the normality of feeding my own baby and felt immensely proud there after. Prior to having her i didn’t have much support or knowledge from my own upbringing, I was told that bottles were the only way to feed a baby so learning this new life skill was amazing for me.

I’ve also been given the opportunity to ask Medela’s lactation consultant, Sioned Hilton a couple of questions related that may help me or other Mamas out there:

1. In pregnancy, I also have such a low iron count, this takes a while for me to boost once baby is born and when told to eat lots of leafy greens, this can play havoc with a baby’s delicate tummy. Any tips on keeping up nutrition levels for myself without hindering the baby’s feeding?
This is a bit of a balancing act. Taking iron supplements affects your body with constipation and gripe and having a lot of iron rich foods such as kale, cabbage , spinach affects babies fussy and gassiness. What is important is to get a right balance these foods are also rich in calcium, and folic acid and are essential for you both. Continue with utilising the iron rich vegetables and monitor how this affects babys fussiness, and look for other iron and folic acid rich foods such as fortified cereals and breasts, having a glass of orange juice with your iron tablets helps with absorption and continue with taking folic acid as this is a binder/ building block with iron. Baby colic does affect breastfed babies too but it is more associated with formula because of the cow milk protein. Other factors for fussiness include eating chocolate, dairy and diet drinks so it is worth keeping a food diary to see if it is always down to the veg or if it was following something else
2. Any tips for slightly inverted nipples/different shape which may effect the way a baby feeds each side?

Nipples come in different shapes sizes and some are flat, inverted and bulbous. In reality the baby doesn’t require a nipple to feed as it is vacuum that removes the milk. Ways to erect a tight nipple is to massage and hand express just before you feed so that the nipple expands a little. Making sure baby has a big wide mouth to compensate for a inverted nipple with help elongate it in the baby’s mouth. If baby keeps on slipping off you can try a laid back position where you are semi-reclined and baby is more on top so he falls on deeper onto the breast and nipple falls in baby’s mouth.  It is trying different positions , possibly using a nipple shield  and in the late part of your pregnancy you can do some nipple stretching with hand massage to help stretch the tight cooper ligaments.
{Feeding my little Phoenix last year}

I am thrilled to be working as a ‘Medela Mum’ for the next twelve months, and to be sharing my fourth breastfeeding journey, tips and advice with you guys as its something I feel so passionate about.

Something that links in well to this topic is that I recently wrote a post called ‘Ten of my worries in this fourth pregnancy of mine’ which also features in the latest magazine addition of ‘Littles Mag’.

Last year, in order to write a little to celebrate ‘National Breastfeeding awareness week’, I wrote a post about my favourite breastfeeding books, which some may find resourceful and nice to read!

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5 Discussion to this post

  1. Mary Smith says:

    Natalie I was totally clueless too with number 1 haha its awful looking back that I thought it would be so natural and I hated it, it was painful and just generally the worst thing to me. I found with #2 I was more confident as a mother so more relaxed, and it went better.
    Of course my 3rd passed away and it was breast feeding I sobbed about, id missed so much. I still fear public feeding but looking forward to conquering that this time and having another go!

    Good luck, I hope it works out and that despite your brood you can fit it in xx

    • Thank you for your comment. Yes the feeling of public feeding once made me so nervous but after a while I thought about it with the bigger perspective. Nothing more natural than feeding your baby. Sorry to hear about your little one, that must've been very hard for you guys. you will be fine feeding out & about, trust your instincts, two fingers to what anyone else thinks. xx

  2. Aah it's so lovely to read of positive breastfeeding experiences- I had awful ones so anything positive is uplifting! Congrats on your consultancy role hon xx

  3. Just shows you how different each child is and each experience. Both of my breastfeeding experience we opposite to say the least. With MM I kept getting mastitis over and over, sick and hospitalize and she was biting me and wouldn't latch for months and months. I refused to quick with MM because well I had done it for way over a year with B the first time so why was it so hard with MM? I hated that I ended up stopping at 8months as I was so ill and in pain and she was unhappy by this point. I hope that if I ever have a third I can end on a positive experience because it can be such a beautiful bonding time with your baby. I wish you luck for baby four. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me and the continual support. #sharewithme

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