Today I thought i'd share my breastfeeding experience. The whole thing has been abit of a whirlwind and I wanted to document it for next time we have a baby and to share my experience with others who are considering breastfeeding.

I knew I wanted to breastfeed Amelia but I was very open-minded and knew it would be hard but I would try everything I could to breastfeed.

I wanted to breastfeed for a number of reasons, I felt it would create a closer bond with my baby, money - I thought breastfeeding would be a more affordable way to feed my baby, the health benefits for baby and having milk on demand and not needing to worry about carrying bottles around, how I would heat milk up etc.

Amelia was born weighing 6lb 5oz and was considered small, because of this they had to monitor her blood sugars meaning she needed to be fed. We did skin to skin and Amelia was fine, pretty chilled and wasn't really crying for food but they explained that she needed to ideally be fed within the first hour so they could check her sugar levels. I tried to get her to latch for a while and the midwives helped but stressed that she needed to be fed so I agreed to give her a bottle. Once I was moved from the labour suite to a ward I knew I would want to give breastfeeding another try but I didn't really know what to do and how often she would need feeding etc how long to do it for? I gave it another shot and was given some more help from another midwife to try and get her to latch but she just screamed and screamed. I felt so bad and just gave her another bottle. Everytime she was due a feed I would try and try to get her to latch. I had help from the midwives to get her to latch but she still wasn't able to latch and was getting herself really worked up and stressed out. A midwife then gave me some syringes to try and get some milk by hand expressing. Again I didn't really know what to do but I tried and managed to get a little bit but I found this difficult because it took a while to get a decent amount and I just wanted to sleep. I was happy that i'd managed to give a little bit of my colostrum to Amelia even though we didn't manage  to establish feeding. We were kept in over night because we hadn't managed to breastfeed, I decided to just give her formula and thought we wouldn't be able to breastfeed anymore.

We got home and I thought that was it, I did try to get Amelia to latch a few more times but she still just screamed and got herself so worked up that it was quite distressing for me. I had the Medela Harmony breast pump  *already so I decided to try expressing and I was so excited when milk actually came out, and it was a really decent amount of milk too. The hand pump was really easy to use and I liked that it was quiet and discreet. It was also really easy to use. From this point I was expressing when I could which was very difficult as we were having alot of visitors. I was managing about 3 times a day which I was very happy with, so we were combination feeding for a couple of weeks. It's actually alot harder to pump than I actually thought it would be. At first I think the adrenaline helped but it quickly became harder and harder. It wasn't just physically hard but also mentally. I felt a bit pushed out because I would hide in another room to pump away from my family or I couldn't really hold Amelia whilst I pumped so I felt like I was constantly trying to put her down when all i wanted to do was hold her. It was draining because I was feeding Amelia her bottle, changing her and getting her to sleep and then I would sit and pump for an hour and then do it all over again. We bought the Medela Mini electric breast pump and this made pumping easier, it was quicker and easier, the only thing I didn't like about the electric pump was the noise. It's quite loud and again meant I would sit in a separate room. I started to find it really difficult to find the time and motivation to pump and then I got Mastitis which btw is HORRIBLE! I had flu-like symptoms, I was exhausted and my boob killed. I went to the doctors and was prescribed antibiotics and it started to clear up. I was told that I could continue to give the milk to Amelia even from the infected side and then she broke out in a rash and was so unsettled. She was still drinking her milk and her temperature was fine so the doctor wasn't concerned about her but this made it so much harder as I was just drained and exhausted. I made the decision to stop giving her the milk until the antibiotics were out of my system. I continued to pump but was even more un-motivated once I wasn't even giving it to her. It did clear up and then it came straight back. My milk supply was very low so I decided to stop expressing and my milk supply very quickly dried up.

I do think that Amelia was just too small and just found it hard to latch and I don't think I could have done much more. I had hoped that i'd be able to express all of her bottles and eventually get her to latch but once I had got Mastitis this wasn't an option anymore and I really didn't expect pumping to be so hard!

We have still had some issues with Amelia's feeding. She has always drank her formula really well. She is still only drinking 3 ounces (90ml) which for her age isn't alot but shes still only 7lb15oz so it's about right maybe a little under average. Shes always been quite a sicky baby, even when she was drinking the breastmilk she was sick alot of the time. I had mentioned it whilst in hospital, at midwife appointments and when we took her to get weighed but shes always put weight on so it's not been a concern. We got her weighed a couple of weeks ago and although she had gained weight they were not happy with where she plotted on her chart so we had to go back the following week, they were happy with her weight gain the following week which was good. We actually had our 8 week appointment and jabs that week so i'd mentioned her being quite sick and we've now been prescribed Gaviscon. I haven't given it to Amelia yet because shes not been too sickly this week but I will try it because I think she might have reflux as sometimes she pulls faces like she has a nasty taste in her mouth. The doctor did explain to us that some reflux is normal so this made me feel a little bit better.
I'm finally feeling more confident with Amelia's feeding (just 10 weeks in) i'm hoping that she continues to put weigh on nicely. I want to write updates on Amelia to document her first year so I have it to look back on.

A few other products I used during breastfeeding and pumping included Boots Ultra Slim Breast pads which honestly were rubbish, the sticky bit isn't very sticky so they kept falling off/ out of my bra when pumping. They were free by signing up for the Boots parenting club so I can't moan too much.

I had a couple of Nursing bras that I used, first up was the Panache Sophie Nursing bra in the black lace. This was really comfy and because it's bra sized it fitted me really well. It is also abit prettier because of the lace detailing on the cups.

I also used the Theya Fleur back fastening comfort bra * which is very popular for nursing and during pregnancy. It's such a soft material and such a comfy bra. The bra is also really smooth so you can wear it under anything, even a t-shirt. It is also perfect for those who suffer from skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, epidermolysis bullosa and ichthyosis because of the soft material it's made from. I found it easy to use as the nursing clips are easy to unclip. 

I wore nursing bras for a few weeks whilst I was expressing as I found my boobs were fluctuating and I found the non-wired bras were the comfiest.

I also used the Haakaa silicone breast pump, this is a portable pump which you don't need to pump yourself as it pumps the milk itself. I found the milk came out really slowly but I would put it on the side I wasn't pumping to catch any milk that would otherwise be wasted into a breast pad. 

1/2/18 - Amelia has now started drinking 4 ounces and is so much better drinking her milk. She's still quite sicky but not as bad. She's putting on weight well and at her last weighing was 8lb 8oz which is fab.  

* this post contains pr samples

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