Thursday, 5 August 2010


One of my co-habiters Nat drew my attention to the fact that it is World Breastfeeding Week. She's written a great post over here about making super excellent breastmilk.

And given I am a devout breastfeeder, here's my post to join in the celebrations.

I began my breastfeeding career in May 2005. It was a rude shock to me that it did not come naturally. The nurses grabbed my *modest* bosoms and shoved them unceremoniously towards the Doctor. It wasn't happening and it was frustrating and every time I needed to feed the Doctor, my sweet little newborn, I had to be 'monitored'. Like I was on probation. Like I need a Lindsay Lohan style ankle bracelet thing to monitor my progress. They then decided I should try a nipple shield.

My oh my, if you've never had to use a nipple shield, consider yourself lucky. The luckiest person in lucky town.

Using a nipple shield was, to me, so unnatural and repulsive, but I did it to feed my baby and get these toe rags out of my sight! I also requested to see the lactation consultant before I was released from hospital. The response was, no, you can go home and come back and see her.

Not a great solution for me. So we sought a private lactation consultant - Leila Chirgwin. Leila was exactly what I needed. She was gentle, nurturing, reassuring. And she helped me better than all of those nurses combined shoving my boob into the Doctor's mouth. Leila helped us wean the Doctor off the nipple shields, and had us feeding well within a few days. With nipple shields I felt like a fembot. Without nipple shields I felt like a totally rad mama.

I got mastitis ten days after giving birth to the Doctor. I vividly remember lying in bed feeling very grey, wanting to die. I felt cranky and digusting. I couldn't lie on the sore side. I felt sick as a dog. My breast felt as though it was on fire. I went to a GP and he told me that I was 'young and just had the flu' and that I'd get over it. Despite the fact I had shown him the very red, very cranky segment of sore breast.

Coincidentally I had an appointment with the Early Childhood Nurse that afternoon and she sent me off pronto to get an appointment with any GP because I had mastitis and if I didn't go on antibiotics straight away I might wind up in hospital. So off I went with my Mum and the Doctor to visit.. the only doctor I could get into. A geriatric doctor. He promptly conduced that I needed antibiotics and we went home. Within hours of taking them I felt infinitely better.

Throughout breastfeeding I had many bouts of mastitis, but for the most part, I managed to nip them in the bud before they spiralled out of control via massage and ultrasound, and continuing to feed feed feed off the sore side. New mums go through so much, and are on such a steep learning curve, mastitis is like a double dose of rude shock.

We persevered and The Doctor and I continued breastfeeding successfully until he was 19 months. We loved it.

When Tiny came along, I knew not to expect anything to be easy, but that little sucker came out sucking, and thankfully breastfeeding was a dreamy ride with her, and rarely a bout of mastitis. We breastfeed for 22 months.

Now Tiny likes to pretend to breastfeed her dollies, and talks about 'nilckles' - which to her is milkies.

The Australian Breastfeeding Association is a fantastic organisation with loads of support on tap (pun not intended). If you ever need any help or tips or tricks with breastfeeding call their hotline, they are amazing.

1800 mum 2 mum

1800 686 2 686

I've featured this clip before on my blog, but I love it so much - especially those stretchy, stretchy nipples - it's up again. I love it.

* Please note:: I'm not critical of anyone that can't breastfeed - this isn't meant to be an anti-formula, Gisele Bundchen type rant. I just loved breastfeeding. I really struggled with it, I sought help, and it took a long time for it to click. I had a lot of grey days when it just didn't work for me. It wasn't just boom - the Lactation Consultant remedied everything, it took weeks, maybe months to master it.

* I realise nipple shields help lots of people - but for me, it wasn't a solution to my problem. I felt it was the easy way for the nurses at the hospital to get me out of their way for someone else to come in, without giving me the option to visit the lactation consultant. They have their place, but I also wasn't shown how to use them properly, so in the wee hours, when I was trying to get a nipple shield to stick and my newborn was crying, it would have been more helpful to a) show me how to use them properly so they don't keep coming off and b) let me see the damn lactation consultant instead of having to go home and come back later. At the end of the day, we're all trying to feed our babies, right?!


Cindy said...

Did you see the big outrage over Giselle (the super model - I am sure she has a last name too but no idea what it is) when she came out really pro breast feeding.
I think it can be really sensitive to some mums as if it didn't work out for them there is an implyed sense of failure - and there really shouldn't be. I didn't manage it first time but did with Poppy and was really glad when it work out both times.
- Sorry did that sound soap boxy?

Alisha Stamper | Photographer said...

LOVE this post! we do a community outreach where I live, and I did some images for it this year. Thanks for the video, I LOVE it!

sophie said...

YAY for breastfeeding, I breastfed my kiddos for as long as they liked and truely loved it. I am VERY lucky in that the only issues were cracked nipples initially but apart from that it was very smooth sailing. I know that a lot of success with breastfeeding comes from having support and I had lots of it so I was really very lucky.

Anna Bartlett said...

As I'm getting towards the end of breastfeeding my last baby, it's lovely to see this vid and reminice! (spelling?)
My first bub had a cleft lip and palate, and luckily I was paired up with a brilliant lactation consultant who LOVED cleft kids and taught me breastfeeding and helped me from day one. We tried EVERYTHING and even after his op at 3 months, things didn't really work out - but I expressed for 5 months and his mouth healed beautifully. Looking back, the time was a drop in the ocean.
Because of that training, I had no issues feeding 3 subsequent bubs and have been lucky enough to stay home, so I've continued for as long as they wanted.
So cheers to boobs! Having carried them around for so many years prior, I'm so glad (and feel so lucky) that they have done their job so capably.
Mind you, I'm pretty sure Giselle will come out the other side with a much more attractive decolletage!

Little Pinwheel said...

rock on for boobies! mine are still going. also love to all those women who cannot breastfeed or choose not to. they are still awesome mums.

BOB & MABEL said...

Go to boobie feeding. I had very similar issues with my first bub, we just couldn't get it together. After a few visits with the lactation consultant off on our merry breastfeeding life we went. With the next two bubbies I knew what to expect and was on to it straight away. Loved it all and miss it terribly. It was so nice to just sit and watch my lovely little baby feed from ME!

Cath @ chunkychooky said...

Ohh I miss breastfeeding- i really do- i loved it. I was a member of the breastfeeding assocaition when Busy was a babe and breastfed her for 2 years. I get really upset when Mothers are given misinformation by well meaning Midwives/ health workers/ general public and they stop BF because of this bad advice.

When Busy was born she didn't put on weight for the first month and it was really stressful- I got told to put her on formula once a day - this didn't seem right to me as I really wanted to Breastfeed her- I spoke to the local breastfeeding counsellor- who was AWESOME and basically the problem was Busy was not crying therefore I wasn't feeding her enough and what I had to do was feed her more often and that if I had of given her formula my supply would possibly have dried up- I had low supply- we use to joke that I had skim milk in my boobs...

Jgee said...

Oh beautiful, bonding breastfeeding. After months of breastfeeding clinics, lactation consultants, breast refusal, no weight gain and mastitis I have finally conceded/surrendered and introduced formula to my little guy. Still expressing as much I can, but I do miss the beautiful boobie connection. Either way, yay for Mamas who can, and yay for those who can't- I agree with Little Pinwheel.

Nat Kringoudis Melbourne said...

Oh well Im glad I could be of inspiration (or something along those lines...) for your post today! I will be posting my breast feeding journey on my blog tomorrow. Whilst breast feeding is awesome, at the beginning it was super hard work and like you my initial weeks were awful.
Yay for the boobies I say!

Michelle said...

I loved breastfeeding - it wasn't easy at first but I eventually got the hang of it. Such a gorgeous clip, I could almost feel a let down!

Black Eyed Susie said...

Just a little note on nipple sheilds. They can be wonderful. I had inverted nipples and would not, no matter how much help, have managed to breastfeed without the shields. Using them I made it to 13 and 14 months which was just what I wanted. My kids both spontaneously gave up the shields and latched on without them, Chloe at 4 months and Arj at about 2 I think. Contrary to what some people say my milk didn't dry up using them.

So not being critical of what you say! It's just that I know how hard it was and you wouldn't believe how many people were critical of my using shields. Seems that your hospital was pretty unsupportive and it's great that you found a good consultant. I went through all the local ones until I got the one who was right for us.

Sorry for the essay!

Trash said...

I always find people's veiws and responses to breastfeeding interesting.

Here in the UK the midwives ask during your booking app't (as soon as you confirm your pregnancy medically, about 8 weeks in) whether you are going to breastfeed. What?? I don't even know if I am going to give birth or wait for ParcelForce to deliver this baby and you want to know if I am going to breastfeed?

When my girl was born in hospital they thrust Miss Fish, the breastfeeding consultant at me. She looked like no pair of lips had been near her breasts in her life, infant or otherwise. Also on the ward was a woman who knew she was going to bottlefeed and was set-up to do so however the lactation fascists forced this heavily pregnant women to watch videos about the joy and importance of b/f! A midwife I know well was horrified by this attitude and told me how important it was to support the mother's choices and work w her to achieve them.

I was fortunate w my girl that we clicked automatically and never had a feeding issue but 2 yrs later w my boy it was a different story. After a few days of extreme hunger we did mixed feeding and he thrived. What no one ever seems to explain is that even when you have breastfed prev the new baby has never done it so it is a steep learning curve again.

Sleekit said...

The Breatfeeding Asscociation (BEST) was so good for me when I had difficulty breast feeding my son. I persevered with their help and ended up feeding my son for just over a year, best start you can give a new bub me thinks

Sleekit x

Anonymous said...

Little Tuesday tells me that she loves me and then promptly tells 'her' boobies that she loves them (so much). It makes me giggle.

Home Girl said...

fab post, thank for sharing your personal journey. it reminded me of my struggles with attatchment, also temporarily remedied by the nipple shield, then remedied by the private LC. breastfeeding my frst bub was a monumental struggle (for 5 months) but i battled on and was so pleased i persisited. that video is beautiful and funny - so quirky with the nipple tweaking etc! it sure is a special experience - i'm not looking forward to finishing with my last little one. am currently sucking in (excuse the pun) every moment. ps thanks for dropping past my blog recently always lovely to hear from you xxx

Michele said...

I could write so much about the ups and downs of breastfeeding for me. Loved it but certainly didnt come easy with first baby in special care, on meds to prevent seizures that made her sleepy, and then in a hip brace so she was stiff as a board and not able to wrap around in a cosy snuggle to feed but we did rather well (oh and mastitis EVEN BEFORE SHE WAS BORN!) and then number 2 baby well that was a nightmare. Again we got there but it was sheer hell (4 and a half months of a baby who screamed, didnt have the reflex to open his mouth to latch on, wouldnt feed, would feed occasionally on one side only, so expressed around the clock for 4-5 mths and then woo hoo we got it and he fed beautifully until self weaning around 9-10 mths. Oh and did I mention silent reflux and 9 bouts of mastitis. Had lots of very unhelpful "help" then found a brilliant lactation consultant who while she couldnt "fix" it actually helped by encouragemenr and support and space to vent. And thankful for an amazing husband. And in hindsight I think very damaging to stresslevels for all of us (no sleep for me and trying to calm this screaming baby, husband started a business 2 weeks before baby, no time for husband and no time for poor 2 yo who spent most of this 4-5 mths playing on the floor in my room and watching DVDs and reading books while I struggled to express and feed. Man my stress levels are even raising and I am getting teary thinking about that time. It was AWFUL. As hard as it is to say there was one awful time I came close to throwing him across the room. Never would. Never did. Passed him to my husband and went and cried in the shower and calmed down. But scary to think that I felt like this. So not me but thats what 4-5 mths of screaming and no sleep do to you (or did to me). That said I am so glad I was stubborn and persisted and that we got there in the end and loved the time we did feed when it was all "easy". I do feel sad about those first awful months though.

I have to finish by suggesting this article on breastfeeding - I love it. Gives some really simple reasons why breast is best (and like PMM I am not bagging women who opt not to breastfeed. I know how hard it can be) just wanting to share this article for those who are interested

Go here

Michele said...

wow that was an essay wasnt it. Obviously still have strong feelings about the topic and I didnt even touch on nippleshields.

Oh Man!!!! They were the pits (for me - but maybe I wasnt using them properly??? No one showed how just reccomended them and I was willing to try anything. Stand on your head and breastfeed - yeah ok sure I'll give that a go)

Just remember this screaming squirming baby tossing and turning and thrashing his head around and couldnt for the life of me keep the darn things on. Now they i DID throw across the room. Not my precious boy.

ClaireyH said...

Always a tricky issue. I tend to never write or discuss bf as I am one of the super lucky ones. Both girls arrived and just fed instantly, put on heaps of weight and away we went. No.1 put on 485grams from day 5 to 8. I would have loved to assist a breast milk bank but there were none around. I was happy to help the Mercy last year when they opened, but my bubba was then 5 months and they didn't need me. I seem to just be a good ol' jersey cow.

To all those having trouble, don't give up til you get some good advice, (and mother in laws do not count as good advice) but most of all, trust in yourself, your body and your baby.