What is ‘Normal’ When it Comes to Breastfeeding? #MummyMondays

           This post is in collaboration with Medela
what is normal in breastfeeding

My breastfeeding journey with Elliott was a bit of a roller coaster ride and it did not help that I had Post Natal Depression early on in the piece but brushed it off.

It all started when Elliott was born at 36 + 6 weeks, what a surprise. From the moment he was born, he just would not feed properly. He found difficulty latching and would always fall asleep on the breast. Because of this he was admitted to special care and was there for almost a week until he began to improve.

My experience in hospital was mixed. I felt like I had so much pressure on my shoulders because my son was in special care and it was up to me to provide the milk to get him through. In the days before my milk came in, I painfully tried to hand express the colostrum, many times feeling as though I had failed when I could only get a few milliliters or when I couldn’t manage to hand express properly. I kept thinking in the back of my mind  ‘my baby needs this milk, if I don’t give it to him he’s going to lose more weight’. That was the hardest part, but it was made even worse by one bitch of a nurse who, when I asked for help hand expressing, physically handled my breast in a way that hurt me, while making me feel absolutely useless and even more guilt stricken with the things she said.

I remember my saving grace in the hospital was the medela electric breast pump. Oh what a dream to hook that baby up, I remember seeing how much milk I had produced for Elliott and was so happy to walk it down to the special care unit to give to them. I was so disappointed that I had spent lots of money on a different brand of breast pump, something I came to regret throughout my breastfeeding journey and something I vow to do next time…buy a Medela breast pump (and I’m not saying this because this post is on behalf of Medela, I swear by it and was so happy I could work with Medela on this one as I love their product).

Once I got home and continued breastfeeding Elliott, my rollercoaster continued. I never came to enjoy breastfeeding, I didn’t have the bonding feeling, I didn’t feel all warm and fuzzy although I tried so very hard to. I persisted as long as I could, for two whole months until I just couldn’t take anymore.

I sat plastered to the couch for hours on end, with most feeds often taking well over an hour each time because Elliott either had trouble latching or would fall asleep. My backside would go numb from sitting in the one spot for so long and  my legs would start to ache. It frustrated me, I felt like it was such a chore, like I was some sort of milk factory, but what I didn’t know was that according to research, a 67 minute feed was in fact deemed a normal length of time.

I would always feel so overwhelmed when Elliott wanted another feed only a short time after a previous one hour long stint, ‘was he not getting enough milk’ I thought? Again, my lack of breastfeeding knowledge lead me to believe that constant feeding like this wasn’t normal, that he wasn’t getting enough, but in fact research shows that feeding between 4-13 times a day is normal and so is the consumption of as little as 54 mL in one session! Oh I wish I knew this back then!

So, with my lack of knowledge on what is ‘normal’ when it comes to breastfeeding and in an attempt to see if Elliott would drink more milk from a bottle, I started pumping half of his feeds and breast feeding the other half and then progressed onto pumping for all his feeds.  With an inferior breast pump, I could only keep this up for so long, it just wasn’t sustainable.

So at two months, I changed over to formula and gosh did I feel guilty and useless for not being able to do something I knew I should have been able to and that I thought I would enjoy. For some reason, I felt as though I had to explain to everyone exactly why I made the change so early (which I didn’t have to) and was worried about being judged. Changing from breastfeeding to formula was my first experience with Mothers instinct and my gut was telling me that Elliott was not getting what he needed and formula would definitely help him along, which it did.

When I look back, I wish I had seeked support and I wish I knew of the research by leading lactation researcher, Jacqueline Kent. At Medela’s 9th International Breastfeeding & Lactation Symposium Kent shared her research findings which stated that there is in fact no breastfeeding norm, no specific pattern that infants will, or need to adopt and certainly no set rules that benchmark the right way to breastfeed and that every breastfeeding relationship between mother and baby is unique.

The additional findings below shared by Medela would have also made my life much easier too, I’m almost certain I would have realised that much of what I was going through was in fact quite normal, I would have stopped making comparisons or listening to others point of view based on their unique experiences and I definitely wouldn’t have been so hard on myself. I’m definitely armed with knowledge for baby number 2, bring on the breastfeeding!

If you’re a first time mother, or someone giving it another shot, I hope that me sharing this information with you will make your breastfeeding experience just that little bit easier. x

Medela

Medela provides real solutions for breastfeeding mothers to get over any hurdles in the early days and to support their long term breastfeeding goals. Through its extensive range of breast pump products and other breastfeeding products, Medela is committed to promoting the benefits of breast milk and encouraging long term breastfeeding. For more information visit: www.medela.com.au I www.facebook.com/medela.au

medela-logo

 
Medela have so kindly offered one lucky reader a $100 Medela Voucher.
For the chance to win, answer the following question:
 
What is one thing you wished you knew about breastfeeding that would have made your experience easier?
 
 
Terms & Conditions

1. This competition is open from now until 14th  July 2014 5pm Australian EST
2. The winner will be announced on this blog, Facebook and Twitter and I will contact you via email. Please supply a valid email address. You will have 3 days to respond, otherwise the prize will be reassessed.
3. The prize is not transferable, changeable or redeemable for cash
4. The prize will not be replaced in the event that it is stolen, lost or damaged in transit
5. The Multitasking Mummy accepts no responsibility for prizes sent by Medela.
6. This competition is open to Australian Residents only.
7. This giveaway is not associated, sponsored, endorsed or administered by Facebook.
8. This giveaway is based on a game of skill and the most creative response will be selected as the winner. 

Disclosure 

The Multitasking Mummy received a voucher to keep and one to giveaway to a lucky reader as compensation for this post. 
Even though I received compensation for this post, I have provided my honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on the topics or products. You can see my disclosure policy here.

And the winner of the $100 Medela Voucher is…

Effie Bakkalis 

Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

Eva is the Editor and Owner of The Multitasking Woman - a lifestyle and parenting blog.She always has her fingers in many different pies but wouldn't have it any other way. Eva is a Mum to her 4-year-old son, 2 month old daughter, two chickens, one dog and a fish called Bob and a wife to Mr G. They all live happily in their little cottage on the outskirts of Brisbane.

Latest posts by Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman) (see all)

Comment with Facebook

comments

Follow:

12 Comments

  1. July 7, 2014 / 7:03 am

    Oh boy could I write a book on breastfeeding tips after six babies!! Each was a very different experience too! My advice: persist until the point where you think you can’t bear it anymore and at that moment, things change. Breastfeeding success can literally happen overnight.

  2. July 7, 2014 / 7:03 am

    I’m with you all the way re: Medela pumps being the superior product! I have had a VERY close relationships with Medela pumps when my boys arrived at 30 & then 32 weeks. If I was to count up the hours I have spent attached to a pump (often double pumping) with both of my boys I think it would easily add up to weeks. When the boys were in hospital, and especially when I was home, at a time when I felt so helpless as really there wasn’t a lot I could do, expressing milk for them gave me some purpose and helped me feel I was also involved in the care. We also had a difficult breastfeeding journey, especially with Liam and I only preserved for 6 months. Hindsight is such a wonderful thing, and I certainly used it when it came time to express and feed Aiden. I preserved during the weeks when he had low to nil weight gain, giving him expressed milk in bottles just to give him some more ‘easy’ calories. My medela pumps (yes I had two swing pumps so I could double pump at home!) were my saviour during FOUR episodes of mastitis and countless blocked ducts. Thank you for sharing your story, I think the more we share our experiences, the more we will help others xx

  3. LydiaCLee
    July 7, 2014 / 8:14 am

    Ain’t that the truth! There is NO breast feeding norm. Anyone who has breast fed multiple children with ease then suddenly can’t breast feed another one, knows that it can be a very strange thing indeed…

  4. July 7, 2014 / 11:05 am

    This is a great post. I do 100% agree that breastfeeding is SO different from child to child mother to mother. I also tried breast feeding and then switched to formula eventually because it just was not working. She couldn’t latch (she isn’t tongue tied but coupled with my anatomy and her lazy suck) and it was making me really depressed. Sadly I feel like I was the first weeks of my daughters life crying over breastfeeding, pumping, etc and she ended up loosing so much weight and getting jaundice that the dr told me in the office give her formula right this second or she had to go to the hosipital! Even though I wish I was a breastfeeder I will not be attempting it again.

  5. July 7, 2014 / 7:05 pm

    Oh snap on the breastfeeding posts today. I used a medela electric pump when I was in hospital too and it was amazing. Im totally getting one when we have another bub.

  6. July 7, 2014 / 8:27 pm

    So the pressure to breast feed was REDICK when I was back there 6 years ago. My the time my 3rd came around I was well and truly over the pressure. He was over BF’ing by 4months, broke my heart but I wasn’t going to push it just for my selfish sake!

  7. Helen
    July 7, 2014 / 9:06 pm

    How much the baby cluster feeds those first few days! I came home from hospital the day after birth and that night I called the ABA hotline after 5 straight hours. The woman I spoke to was lovely and had clearly had this conversation many times. She told me to settle in with some snacks and water with a good movie or two because it wasn’t going to stop anytime soon!

  8. July 8, 2014 / 7:19 am

    I nursed four babies till they were one. Nothing is normal! Haha 🙂 Every baby and every mommy is different. Find what works for you and stick with it!

  9. July 8, 2014 / 8:14 pm

    Feeding your baby is difficult regardless of how you feed your baby. I imagine that once you switched to formula, it may of been physically easier on the body, but it was just as hard.
    I breastfed all five of my babies and each time I vowed to breastfeed longer than the last time. A simple and easily achievable goal.
    Your story sounds similar to mine. My first was born at 36 weeks and 4 days and had no latch reflex. However he was a big baby ( 7 pounds, 4) so I got no hospital support. I hated feeding him. It was so painful and so awkward. Luckily, I had a lot of milk. I easily expressed colostrum and later milk, and this allowed me to breastfeed him for months. But those easy days of struggling with latch, or giving up and feeding him my milk from a spoon and suffering engorgement and being so isolated from normality will forever haunt me.
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. xS

  10. Karina Lee
    July 11, 2014 / 9:12 pm

    Buy lots of breast pads because you leak like hose, especially in the middle of the night!

  11. Effie Bakkalis
    July 13, 2014 / 4:29 pm

    The one thing I would say to mums (and I admit this is easier said than done) is take a step back from baby and look after yourself better. Make sure to eat enough nutrition and drink lots of fluids – this should help keep your milk supply up. Tiredness and hunger will not help in any way!