I’ve clocked up many hours of breastfeeding over the years. Each child has given me a story to share, some more eventful than others!
All the children have received breastmilk up to at least a year and some longer, Katie is currently holding on to be my latest weaned, at 2, before her all my babies have weaned by 18 months. I’ve let them take the lead to some extent, but breastfeeding is always a dance and sometimes I have chosen to move them along, listening to their cues and needs and also considering the needs of myself and the whole family. None of them have ever struggled to wean, I have done it slowly and the last feed to go has always been bedtime.
I have had my fair share of challenges from mastitis, oral thrush for the baby, 100% tongue tie, blocked ducts, nipple blisters which needed popping with a needle (ouch!), babies who latched on easily, some who took a while and one with an oral delay which meant eye watering feeds until their muscle development improved.
Katie presented me with one of my most challenging starts to breastfeeding. Many people think that by baby number nine breastfeeding will be a breeze. In reality each baby is an individual and comes with their own set of challenges. Katie was born with 100% tongue tie and was slow to gain weight. By two weeks she had just regained her birth weight, but by then she also had oral thrush, so we treated that, which took 3 weeks of trying a couple of treatments. All this time my nipples were very painful and I had already had mastitis twice. If I had been a first time mother I almost certainly would have given up, but knowing where we would hopefully get to in a few months, I persevered. She was starting to gain weight and so I was unsure whether or not to get her tongue tie clipped. Once the thrush had cleared up though and feeding still caused my toes to curl up and I started brewing once again with mastitis, I knew the only solution was to get her tongue tie clipped. The waiting time on the NHS was simply too long, by then she would have had to go onto bottles, but thankfully we found a private clinic which could do the procedure within the week. It was the best decision we could have made. I don’t think Katie initially agreed with me though, as it took her several hours to persuade her to feed again, but once she realised that the milk came more efficiently she was away!
I think one of the reasons I have fed Katie for a bit longer than the others has been to do with the rough start we had. So many tears were shed during those first few weeks and now I just delight in each feed we share. She mostly only feeds now a couple of times a day, and our days as a feeding team are nearly over. With this in mind I asked Phil to snap a couple of photos of Katie feeding, to remind me of these precious days.
THE GIFT OF BREASTFEEDING
Breastfeeding is such a gift,
As milk flows down my spirits lift.
As oxytocin starts to flow,
My stress and worries seem to go.
Don’t be deceived, I cannot lie,
Breastfeeding can make you cry.
With tongue tie, thrush and blisters sore,
My breasts have often felt quite raw.
Just hold on when the days are tough,
Times ahead won’t be so rough.
Days and weeks and months ahead,
I promise each feed you won’t dread.
The days are long, but months go fast,
Baby days can never last,
Keep on going, just one more feed,
Strength for today is all you need.
I’m with you as you fight on through,
With gritted teeth and nipples chewed.
I know your toes are curling up,
As your baby starts to sup.
If I could go back to the start,
And whisper words into my heart,
I’d tell me, “keep on going mum”,
You won’t regret this when you’re done.
Every feed helps make them strong,
When germs and illness come along,
You’re building up a life times health,
A gift to give beyond all wealth.