I found breastfeeding difficult with Ella. Exhausting, painful and frustrating. I didn’t know it would be like that. No one warns you!
And I didn’t know enough about it. I had low supply. But I didn’t know the best thing was to let her feed and feed and the supply would increase. Instead, at 3 weeks old, we started supplementing with formula and did so until the amount of formula increased and my supply dwindled even more, until I dried up at 3 months.
I had read, when pregnant with Ella, books about routine and how often babies ‘should’ breastfeed. I didn’t realise that in the early days they can literally feed nonstop.
I want so determined that this time would be different. I have no issues with formula feeding at all, but really wanted to give breastfeeding a good go.
For the first week, Sienna did feed nearly nonstop. After a couple of days, it became apparent that her latch was not the best. My nipples were killing! Each feed was more painful, to the point they eventually cracked and bled.
Sienna was gaining weight well and getting the milk she needed, but something definitely had to be done to make it less painful!
The midwife gave me some advice about latch, which improved things slightly. But the thing that helped me most was YouTube! I watched numerous videos on breastfeeding latch until I found one that gave me a method that worked!
It involved essentially squeezing your areola into a long ellipse shape and then putting as much as possible in the baby’s mouth when it was wide open. It worked!!! After a week of using this method, I didn’t actually have to do it any more as Sienna naturally took in more of the areola.
I found the first couple of weeks quite tough with back-to-back feeding. I found myself constantly on google checking that it was normal for her to feed so much. And had worries about low supply but realised that this was the best way to ensure any supply issues would be rectified. Sienna was producing lots of wet nappies and gained weight fast, so there was nothing to suggest she wasn’t getting enough milk.
The nonstop feeding became an evening only thing after a couple of weeks. There’s a feeling that you will always be stuck with a baby attached all evening. But it soon passed.
Now, at 5 weeks old, Sienna’s feeding has settled in to somewhat of a routine. She goes mostly 2-3 hours between feeds and some times longer at night. She does still have the occasional hourly feeds, but I just go with it. After all, we don’t time the gap between snacks or drinks, so why should a baby?!
There is no pain mostly. Though sometimes when she is being a bit fussy she can suck really hard and pull away first, which isn’t the most comfortable.
I’m quite confident that we can keep up the feeding for a good while longer. I have a cover for feeding in public as my boobs are just too big to be discreet about it and I’m not really comfortable showing them off!! And I’ve managed to do some expressing so far, which has allowed me and Sean to go for dinner and for me to honour a work commitment.
I’m determined to keep it up for as long as I can. But, having solely formula-fed Ella from three months on, I’m also happy to use formula if that ends up being the best thing for me and Sienna.
And I’m loving the closeness that breastfeeding is giving me with Sienna. With a boisterous toddler around, it’s our chance to connect one-on-one with each other, even if Ella is sometimes sat on my knee too!