Welcome to World Breastfeeding Week 2020!
Over the next week, we will be dedicating our platforms to sharing the stories of the women in our communities and the different paths that they walked on their journey through breastfeeding. You'll see stories of all kind... the good, the difficult, the uplifting and the decision to choose another form of feeding for their littles. All of their stories have been compiled here as well!
But one thing you will notice is that all of these mamas have one thing in common - they made the best decision possible for themselves and their babies. ❤️
"No one ever said how hard breastfeeding could be.
I always thought that it was just whip out the boob, baby eats, and everyone is happy. Then my son was born. He had a bit of a hard time latching on at the beginning because his mouth was so small compared to my nipples - or so we thought.
After a week, he stopped gaining weight well and it started to hurt when he latched on every time. I went to so many different drop-in breastfeeding groups and they just told me to hold him differently and just get him to open his mouth wider before latching him on. After a month of stressing out about his weight, we finally hired a lactation consultant who happened to be a pediatric nurse to come to our house.
She immediately identified that my son had a tongue tie, an upper lip tie, and two cheek buckles, and that my son was purely surviving off of my forceful letdown and huge oversupply. He could not physically open his mouth wider to nurse effectively and could not even latch onto a bottle, but because I had such a huge letdown, he could still eat. We took him to a specialist who performed a frenectomy and after a month of rubbing and stretching the poor little guy's mouth and gums, we finally were able to nurse properly at around 3 months old.
My son is now 10.5 months and has never drank more than an ounce from a bottle at one time (despite us spending so much money on different bottles and trying so hard for months)." - Amanda
"I never thought I would have the desire to breastfeed until I became pregnant. It became the most important thing to me! And hearing everyone’s stories made me feel so envious and I want that!
When my son was born they put him on my chest and he immediately latched and I felt so relieved that I wouldn’t have any issues. Fast forward four days and my son is inconsolable, pulling painfully at my nipples and wanting to be on the breast at all times.
I see my doctor and she tells me my son is loosing weight and that it doesn’t appear I have sufficient glands to produce milk. I was devastated but carried on with a plan.
After a month of pumping and latching and lots of help from some great lactation consultants, I came to the conclusion I would not be able to keep up with the schedule. I began hallucinating from exhaustion and soon after was diagnosed with postpartum depression. It wasn’t at all the experience I expected or wanted but I am hopeful for the future and plan to try again with any future children I have." - Marina
"Our daughter Jade was born April 23, 2018.
I was always open to giving breastfeeding a try. But my mother wasn't a very good 'cow' and so I wasn't sure how it was going to go for me. When Jade was born she wasn't good at the latch. I had to hand express into shot glasses and we syringe fed her for her first 4 days of life. Our hospital stay was actually prolonged because of this. I was still persistent and she finally got the latch.
From then we painfully started our breastfeeding journey together. After I got used to it, it was much easier. About 5 months later my right was not producing any more milk. It was my fault because I usually just went off feel of which one was more full, and truth be told the left one was just easier to hold her so I had my right hand free. My left breast fed Jade until she was 13 months old. I was going to go for a year but I had a hard time letting go. I knew I was ready to have my body back and Jade took a bottle so easily when I was ready.
I feel privileged to have been able to breastfeed her for so long and will always cherish those moments. Breastfeeding can be very rewarding but also extremely isolating and lonely. Is important to normalize breastfeeding so us ladies are not hiding away to nourish our babies. I hope to do the same with our second baby and do it for a year. <3" - Heather
"After a very long, highly medicated labour and emergency C-section, breastfeeding was the last thing I could cling to of the 'natural' birth experience I had hoped for.
Despite the help from the nurses, my nipples were raw within hours and I had toe-curling pain every time my baby latched on. I was so discouraged and considered letting go of this dream too.
Three days in my baby was spitting up blood and finally, the doctor found a tongue tie hiding in my baby's mouth. She clipped it within the hour and recommended a local lactation support group - my nipples mended within a week! My goal started out as two weeks...then two months...and now we are 14 months into our journey.
Do I miss my old perky boobs? Hell yes! But I absolutely love the moments where it's just me and my baby in our tiny corner of the world and I wouldn't trade that for anything." - Anonymous
"When I found myself expecting my first child, one of my thoughts was about how he would be fed. Bottle? Breast? Both? It felt like pressure to make a decision prematurely, so I decided to wait and see what would work for us.
My son was born and I decided to give breastfeeding a go, since it is so highly promoted as being what is most beneficial. Besides, I had the equipment, so why not at least try? Straight away, it was frustrating. I was distressed because I thought my baby was starving. I didn’t know it would take awhile for my milk to come in. The nursing consultant on site assured me colostrum was enough in those early moments.
Even then, it felt off. I struggled to get my son to latch, despite the help of the nurses, consultant, and my husband. They offered nipple shields which at least helped him but I was in a lot of pain each time he’d try to feed.
Fast forwarding a bit, we battled jaundice, weight loss of the baby (which is normal, to an extent), and I still was having issues nursing. My son never seemed to get enough. We decided to supplement with formula. I cried the first day we tried it, not out of guilt, but out of relief...he finally got enough to eat! He slept better, seemed more content, lost his lethargy, and was an overall happier baby! For the first time, I felt like I did something right.
Eventually, he started refusing any and all formula. We spent money we hardly had trying several different kinds of formula. Nothing worked. All of success seemed to backpedal rapidly.
At that point, I knew breastfeeding wasn’t working out. We learned he had both a lip and tongue tie. The doctor released the tongue tie in office but we couldn’t get the lip one taken care of due to COVID restrictions. At least not in any helpful timeframe. I decided to switch to pumping and trying to nurse in-between. That eventually resulted in me switching to exclusive pumping. He only wanted my milk and pumping was the only way to make it happen at that point.
I’ve been exclusively pumping for close to 4 months now (son is nearly 6 months old). My baby is healthy, meets all of his milestones, and is thriving! His doctor is pleased and so are we.
Exclusively pumping has its ups and downs. If I may be honest, it seems like more downs than ups! The main positive is that he is getting enough milk. No more struggles with latching. Oh, and daddy can help with feeds! The downs...well...
👉 I started off pumping every 2 hours to keep up my supply. That is exhausting... I’m pumping every 3-4 now and that helps but is still rough.
👉 supply issues.
👉 cracking hands from constantly washing pump parts and bottles. Lotion doesn’t really help.
👉 pumps stop working. I struggle to empty each breast after awhile of using a pump. We’ve gone through 3 at this point.
In all, breastfeeding is difficult. I would roll my eyes when friends would say that but I’ve learned it is very true. Just because we would think it should be biologically possible doesn’t mean it is the easy route! That right there has taught me to hold a lot of grace for myself, for my baby, and for other parents. I don’t question why someone chooses one method or another. We all want our babies to have full tummies. That’s all and it doesn’t matter whether that comes from a can of formula or from our breasts. Also, I’m thankful to have gone into this with an open mind because I don’t feel like a failure. I made choices based on what my baby was “telling” me. His smiles make it worth it 💙 I will continue giving him my milk for as long as I’m able to." - Alyssa
"I was always nervous when I was pregnant about breastfeeding. I felt like I expected it to not go well as my body has let me down in a few other ways.
I stopped drinking peppermint tea in my third trimester and started to store colostrum when I hit 37 weeks pregnant. I'm not sure if storing colostrum ahead of time helped or what, but I am extraordinarily grateful and relived to be able to say that breastfeeding has gone well for me!
I exclusively breastfed my son for the first 6 months of his life, now he is nearly 9 months old and is on a diet of BLW and still breastfeeds on demand - almost as much as he did before we introduced solids!
I am grateful during the pandemic to have the ability to offer my son even a tiny bit more protection with breastmilk. I cant imagine not breastfeeding- it is a comfort for my son as well as a bonding activity and an excuse to take a few quiet minutes alone with my baby even in the most hectic of situations." - Lily
"I get so emotional when it comes to breastfeeding. In the midst of a very traumatic birth experience with my first, the most amazing thing happened - I became a mommy!
But in that experience, no one encouraged me to do skin on skin with him. No one told me to breastfeed him. No one told me to even hold him. My husband overheard one of the nurses say to another nurse that my son was going to have a hard time breastfeeding. But she didn't say why and she didn't tell me anything! My whole hospital stay, I felt I was in a daze. Barely held my son, only fed him when I was told to. Literally felt like my brain left my body!
I had a few lactation specialists come and help me and it seemed that my little one was breastfeeding perfectly but he really wasn't. We got home and he was fussy all day every day. I was barely pumping any milk at each session and I didn't have milk for him to drink. I was tired of staying up at all hours of the night trying to pump. (That went on for almost a year!) I went every week for 3 weeks to work on Adam's latch because he was having a hard time as well. Despite all my efforts, I wanted to try to both formula feed and breastfeed because nothing worked until about 3-4 weeks when he finally got the latching down but I was still not making enough.
I told a few people that I was going to give him formula and that he was really hungry but everyone told me not to give him the bottle! Keep trying! Only give him the breast! I was being pulled in all directions! One day, I had a friend come over to visit and meet the little guy. I cried to her about my breastfeeding struggle and everyone was confusing me. All she told me was "fed is best", you are a great mom, and you know what to do."
That night, he was acting fussy as usual because he was hungry. I had some guilt but I decided I'm going to do whatever I want! I snuck downstairs with him, made him a bottle of formula, and fed him! He drank it up, was so happy, and he fell right to sleep! I told my husband the next day what I did. He also felt he was being pulled back and forth with what others were saying. But he looked at me and told me we have to do what's best for him. He needs to eat! So I started every night with a bottle of formula and the rest of the night and during the day, I gave him the breast. I felt like that one bottle a night not only fed him, but it gave me peace of mind and somehow helped with building my supply, among other things I was making and eating. He also refused to take the bottle more than one time each day, so I felt night time was best.
In some ways, I felt like Adam was telling me to not give up on him and to keep fighting! I got into the groove and started to feel better about it! Around 2 months, I got food poisoning and couldn't eat for 5-6 days! I had to get an IV for fluids because I couldn't take it anymore. In that time, I could barely make any milk for Adam. Whatever little supply I had was almost completely gone. I tried to drink liquids as much as I could and I tried to give him the bottle more than once a day. Some days he'd take it and other days, he refused. Because of his persistence and me never giving up, we were able to get back to where I was at before.
Around 4 months I was somewhat recovered from childbirth and almost pain free, so I was finally able to focus more emotionally on Adam and less on my traumatic experience and the after effects of his birth, both physically and emotionally. (I struggled with what happened to me since the time we got home from the hospital. I think emotionally it was one of the reasons why my milk supply was affected.)
I was finally able to bond with him, love on him, and do more skin on skin with him. I felt like things would start to look up now with breastfeeding Adam. Around 4-5 months, we went to Mexico to travel for a bit and to visit my husband's sister and family. I brought only one bottle and enough formula to last the whole trip. I fed him the first night we were there. And then I realized it would be a bit hard for me to sanitize the bottle every night while staying in our hostel. So I decided I would just offer the breast every time he wanted it, even at night, and when we get home, I'd go back to the bottle routine. Well, we got home and he would no longer take the bottle! He refused it and would keep his mouth shut every time I tried to give it to him! He only wanted me to feed him!
So I started exclusively breastfeeding him then! It took me about 5 months to be able to make enough to feed him! I'm so thankful he did not give up on me and that I did not give up on him! I went to 17 months breastfeeding him, through my 2nd pregnancy because I didn't want to stop and I weaned him the day I went to get induced with my second.
I struggled a bit at first with my second and was not able to tandem nurse, which was my goal, but I got the groove faster this time around and I am still going strong! And I felt emotionally ok that I did an amazing job with Adam and that it was Sage's turn! I've been breastfeeding for 2 1/2 years now and I will go to 3 years, when my second turns 2 in 6 months! I NEVER thought I'd be able to do or say this!
I want to encourage everyone to try your best but to go with how you feel and what you want to do! To not let anyone pressure you! You are a great mom and you know what is best for your baby! As long as they are fed, that is all that matters. 💕" - Reima
"My breastfeeding journey started off pretty average, but it very quickly turned into a rollercoaster ride.
At about 4 weeks suddenly there was this unbearable pain. I would dread feedings because of the searing nipple pain. I was prescribed different creams, I used hot packs, cold packs, cooling gel pads and medicated compresses and nothing helped the pain. It was nauseating and would often bring me to tears. My baby appeared to be latching well, but he would make smacking sounds and would never stay latched. Every time I'd put him back on the pain would increase, and the more he fell off the more time it took to feed him and sometimes sessions would last over an hour.
I spent so much time sitting and nursing that I actually developed bed sores on my lady parts, which were still sore and swollen from delivery! At 7 weeks I found a breastfeeding group and asked the lactation consultant there for advice. Besides a few positioning tips she recommended I get him assessed for lip and tongue ties. So we followed her advice and went to a clinic to be assessed by another lactation consultant who confirmed both lip and tongue ties. It broke my heart, but finally an answer!
Then we were off to see an ENT to have the ties clipped and hopefully solve all our breastfeeding woes. But upon inspection, the ENT said he had never seen a more perfectly functioning tongue and the lip tie was too small to need clipping or to possibly have any effect on breastfeeding, so we were back to square one. (Side note: this was about the time the pandemic was starting so getting all these appointments was extremely difficult, not to mention scary, and the breastfeeding support group I was going to had to shut down).
By now I was getting blocked ducts and blebs/milk blisters about two or three times a week, which added to my discomfort and would keep me up at night. I went back to the clinic, now at 10 weeks, to see a different lactation consultant and when she weighed him she noted his weight gain had almost slowed to a halt. Because of his poor feeding, my supply had decreased.
This explained why he had become so fussy lately and why feeding sessions were now reaching 90 minutes. So there I was thinking to myself, "I've done everything possible to make sure my body is as healthy and fit as it can be to carry, birth, and nourish this baby. Yet, it's still not enough." I was absolutely crushed. I cried. A lot. But I refused to give up on my body or my baby. I would try anything and everything until my doctor told me otherwise.
I started on Domperidone, began pumping 4 to 5 times a day, and using a feeding tube taped to my breast to supplement my baby with my pumped breast milk. It meant sacrificing sleep to pump, to wash and sanitize all the pump parts and the feeding tubes, to thaw and warm up milk so it would be ready for him when he woke up, etc. I also had to do breast compressions with every feeding and while pumping, which gave me carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists. It was exhausting and frustrating, but it seemed to be working. The nipple pain was diminishing and my boy was happy as a clam again with a full belly. After a month he no longer wanted additional milk, feeding was almost pain free and sessions were down to 30 minutes. His weight gain was back up and I could finally ease up on the pumping and give my wrists a break. We made it through!
I never did get an explanation for his initial difficulties or my nipple pain other than his mouth is small and his muscles maybe just needed time to get stronger. It didn't matter now, I could feed my baby without either of us shedding tears. I was so thankful! There was a month or so in there where I was in a really dark place, locked down, cut off from family, friends and community support. I don't know how we got through it - me, my husband, and my little man - all I know is that we did.
Aside from some mild residual pain in my wrists, the only issue since those first two to three months was the little man developed a very strong nursing sleep association. It took two weeks to break him off so that my husband could put him down for naps if needed and I didn't have to nurse him all night long. That was a weird switch: one day I'm feeding him constantly and at every whimper, and the next I'm trying to wean him off it, haha. I can laugh about it now, so I guess that means in hindsight it wasn't as bad as I thought it was at the time." - Nicole
👉 We also asked if there was anything else she would like to add, and she had this piece of beautiful advice to share:
"Having my sister, who is a labour and delivery nurse and mom to a 2 year old, only a phone call away was huge for me. Even though she didn't have any of the issues I did, I could confide in her and at least get some validation for what I was feeling. I strongly encourage new moms and mom's to be to have a nursing buddy - someone they can go to for advice, support, reassurance or just to cry and let it all out in a safe way." ❤️
"Today was one of those days. You guys, I broke down and cried. Some happy tears, some relief and a dash of proud.
We made it to one year of breast feeding.
I never expected it would be this hard. After all, I breastfed my daughter until she self weaned at two and a half. It should be easier second time around, right?!
Our journey has been a challenge full of more questions than answers but I’m stubborn. Like really stubborn.
Right off the bat I noticed something weird about how my son nursed. He had a rough delivery and presented sideways and looking up. When he nursed he would pull and and pop off and just couldn’t quite stay latched. His tongue was all over the place. Nursing was a mess. He was frustrated and so was I. Despite all this he was gaining weight like a champ which is why I think it was so hard to get help.
We went to our midwife.
Back to our midwife.
Back to the lactation consultant.
To the nurse practitioner.
To the Pediatrician.
To a Pediatric Ear Nose Throat Specialist.
Back to the Pediatrician.
To a Pediatric Chiropractor.
Back to the Nurse Practioner.
To a new lactation consultant (She saw something!!!!)
To a Osteopath (He found something!!)
... and now we made it. We think he had some sort of tightening is his skull from his birth which limited his tongue mobility. After 2 months of osteopathic treatments, he now nurses well and it actually is calming.
It’s been a journey and I can’t believe we made it to a year.
The icing on the cake - he feel asleep nursing for the first time ever today (yes, crazy I know!!) and had his last nap before he turns 1 in my arms. 😭💕
My heart is full." - Michelle
"So I am a super-producer but normally can't pump very well or without difficulty. 2 weeks after my son was born, he woke up with a fairly high fever and wouldn't nurse.
My milk was in but the amount was still normalizing, so I had a LOT of milk. Oh. I also don't leak, so I was engorged and uncomfortable. Because he was only 2 weeks old with a fever, and it was a Friday evening, I took him to the children's hospital in our city to be examined.
We arrived around 6pm and they admitted him right away because of the fever. They ended up doing several tests and we didn't actually make it to the ward until 10pm or so. This baby hadn't nursed in nearly 20 hours by then. I asked for a pump (because I heard that the children's hospital kept industrial grade pumps for moms, and boy I needed one). They forgot.
I asked a couple more times and finally got a pump around 1am. They also gave me about 4 of those teeny 2oz containers. By this time I had rock-hard watermelons under my shirt and was in PAIN. I got the pump going and filled those containers in about 3 minutes. So I had to stop pumping(!!) and ask for more. So they gave me 2 more. I said "I need more than that." So they gave me another 2 more. I filled those in about 3 minutes as well. Then I had to ask for MORE!! The nurses were in a little disbelief, but gave me more containers. In less than 20 minutes I had pumped over 16oz of milk, and my boobs finally felt better.
We were at the hospital for 4 days (because it was the weekend) and I pumped a fair bit, because the boy wasn't really interested in milk until day 3. When we were being discharged, I asked the nurse (we had a new one every day) if she could get my milk out of the freezer. She came back with a grocery bag FULL of containers, and was shaking he head and laughing a bit. She said, "so normally when moms ask to get their milk, they have maybe half a dozen containers max. How long were you here??" - Hannah