Breastfeeding- What is normal?

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Darling Rascals

I have been so lucky to have been able to breastfeed all three of my children. But all three experiences have been completely and utterly different.

Angus, my first born, arrived three weeks early. He latched on fairly soon after birth and our first two days went pretty well. It was the third day, when my milk started to come in and my breasts became engorged (think two watermelons attached to your chest) that we hit a roadblock.

Gus was also jaundice and the combination of him being extremely lethargic and my breasts, now being double the size of his head, meant we had one very upset baby who couldn’t latch and one very distraught mother wondering what she had done wrong.

I was so lucky to have a lactation consultant visit me the following day. She patted me on the back and told me that I wasn’t the first and I wouldn’t be the last, to be in this exact position. She hooked me up to the breast pump, ordered me a cup of tea and told me to relax.

This very same LC also diagnosed me with flat nipples and handed me what would become the very reason I could breastfeed my first born for 10 months, a Medela nipple shield.

Eddie, my second born, was born right on his due date and latched on with all of his might. But despite successfully breastfeeding Gus for 10 months I still felt unsure of what I was doing. I ended up with grazed and blistered nipples. So on went the nipple shield again, but this time after 3 months I was able to wean Eddie off, and we went on to breastfeed for 12 beautiful months.

When Billy was born I was very confident I knew what I was doing. He attached well. He fed well. He gained an enormous amount of weight in his first week of life. But it was about two weeks into arriving home that we hit a huge stumbling block. Mastitis.

I still shudder when I say that word. If you’ve ever had it, you’ll know. If you haven’t, I hope you never do.

Then I got it again. So My G.P put me onto antibiotics, which then resulted in me getting a very resisted strain of nipple thrush.

On went the beloved nipple shield again to protect Billy from getting the nipple thrush and three months later we were able to pack it away again and go on to breastfeed for 15 months in total.

Natural Saffie

The reason I’m sharing my stories with you is this…96 % of mothers choose to breastfeed their babies from birth, but by the second and third months that figure drops dramatically. By 5 months, that number has dropped to under 30%.

The main reasons? Mothers worrying they’re not producing enough milk for their babies. Worrying that their babies should be sleeping through the night. Worrying that they’re not doing it right.

But the reality, the range of normal is so wide. We are all different and our babies all have different needs.

Medela has done some amazing research into how we breastfeed and what our babies need. I wish this info was around when I was a new mum!

Medela

Medela

Medela supports mums with their breastfeeding journey by providing the most technologically advanced, superior-quality breastfeeding products, conducting ongoing research and by working with community groups and charities on innovative programs assisting breastfeeding mums. For more info visit www.medela.com.au

They are also kindly donating one of their magnificent Calma bottles and a $50 My Pharmacy voucher to one lucky reader. All you have to do is comment below to be in the running.

*Winner will be announced Friday the 11th of December 2015 at 5pm AEST

*Competition open to Australian residents only.

***This post has been sponsored by Medela.

11 Comments on “Breastfeeding- What is normal?”

  1. Miranda

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m in the midst of navigating breastfeeding with my first who is two weeks old. We’ve had a tough start with weight loss and being pushed towards formula but we are committed to making it work! I see a lactation consultant tomorrow so hoping they can help us to get sorted! X

  2. Janene Morgan

    Thank you for such a great article. I tried to breastfeed my first son who is now 17 and couldn’t after 1 week. I was young and had no support or help with breastfeeding advice. I felt like a failure.
    As I write this I am breastfeeding my 6 week old second son. It’s been a totally different experience this time round with great latching and abundant milk supply. It’s fantastic. I was so important to me and I worried a lot about it when I was pregnant but am thrilled to be able to feed my gorgeous baby boy and see him thrive. xx

  3. Karen Johnson

    Great little read, well done for keeping it up, I breastfed my first until she was 2.5yrs (not planned, just happened) and currently am with our 5month old boy, returning to work next month and can’t wait to keep pumping and feeding him too! people ask if I’ll give him formula when I’m at work but with a medela double pump it takes like 10mins, no time at all! I don’t understand why they tell me it’s such a hassle, I enjoy it!

  4. Laura

    How amazing to have three such different experiences! I also had mastitis five weeks in on Christmas Eve, worst night of my life! I feel so lucky to have been able to BF both of my kids past the 12 month mark even after returning to work, the best piece of advice I got was to watch their output, it’s the only way to have any confidence that something is going in!

  5. Kate

    Both my experiences were so different too. Best advice is to use the midwives in the hospital. Get them to check that you are getting bubba latching on etc. When it’s all done right it feels like the most natural thing in the world but there are so many factors that impact getting to that point. Whatever is normal it shouldn’t be an unpleasant experience for mumma or bubba.

  6. Abby

    This is so true. The range of normal is just huge! And each of my babies there has been a different normal. Thanks so much for this article!!

  7. Ailia

    Thanks for posting this Erin. It’s great to have a conversation like this about this topic so whatever your readers are experiencing they can credit as their own version of normal rather than what a textbook might say 🙂 While pregnant and in the early days of my first I just assumed I’d breastfeed, and I did, but not as successfully as I thought I would. When your baby just screams when you try and feed it’s pretty disheartening. We got there and we fed and after a little while it became a split feed with formula which just made everyone happy in the end. Supply was my main issue, there just wasn’t enough and my kids liked to tell me so, at full volume. We found a solution and my medela swing breast pump really helped as they could get the quantity they wanted at the speed they wanted it through a bottle. Antibiotics for an infection created nipple/bubba mouth thrush and then a bout of mastitis … it’s all horrific business but it passed and we got on with the job (clearly a huge amount of hindsight writing this years later… at the time it was the end of the world. Really awful stuff). Like every hiccup of motherhood, the issue passes and you find a solution that works for you and your baby. Well done with your feeding perseverance :)!!

  8. Jess

    My lil one was struggling to latch properly and by day 3 simply refused the breast. My midwife gave me a medela nipple shield to try and instantly bub latched on. We used it for about 10 weeks, then bubs was able to latch without it. 6 months later I am still breastfeeding.I was very lucky to have such great midwives. If I didn’t have the support early on I would have given up.

  9. Kath

    Incredibly helpful info and I wish the midwives had handed this out instead of focusing so much on the ‘right’ number of feeds and their length of time. Watching output is definitely great advice to reassure you that there is enough going in!
    I was fortunate enough to BF my first baby for 18 months and currently feeding my 11 week old. Both very different experiences but what’s different this time is me. I was so anxious first time round and worried whether or not he was getting enough milk. He had reflux so I always felt like I was trying to catch up and would feed and worry and then feed some more! Thankfully baby number two doesn’t have reflux and was a good little feeder from day one but I feel that I am just much more relaxed this time round. I have learnt to trust myself and baby. Thanks for the read Ez !!

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