Guest blog by Rose - @the.hazeldenes.and.me
Little back story to begin with... I was 19 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, living at home, rubbish job, living the life of your average teenager. So already I had the label of 'young mum' but this wasn’t going to define me! Breastfeeding was always going to be the way I fed my baby.
I feel there is a huge stigma around young mums, that they bottle feed because they are young and maybe aren’t informed enough to know the benefits of breastfeeding.
My mother being a peer supporter in the local hospital was also a massive reason I breastfed. My partner is a huge supporter of breastfeeding too, so he really wanted me to breastfeed (he was a massive support throughout my whole journey!).
So out pops Florence (9 days overdue) FINALLY and straight away we do biological nurturing (breast crawl) which for anyone who has experienced this, it is unbelievable, I can’t put into words how surreal it is (for any mums-to-be I would totally recommend looking at YouTube videos on this).
I spent 3 days in hospital (due to complications with myself after birth, Florence was fine) in this time all I remember doing is skin-to-skin and feeding. We mainly did laid-back breastfeeding as it was so comfy, we had a nice latch and Florence was feeding really well!
My milk came in very quickly, after a few days of being home I became slightly engorged, I noticed this straight away and was advised by my mum to try cabbage leaves in my bra (an old trick my great nan had told my mum) I kept them in all day and all night (changed them every so often as they did get a bit smelly haha) by the next morning I felt fine!
When I had a health visitor appointment I was advised to start compressions while feeding to help transfer the milk into Florence as her latch was lovely but she wasn’t transferring milk efficiently. We could tell this because her poo wasn’t changing colour as quickly as they would of liked. The compressions really helped (poop changed colour) and Florence was putting on weight.
The next few days were all a blur to me, I think the most I did was lay on the sofa and feed my baby. At some point in this baby bubble I remember losing all confidence. I felt like I wasn’t feeding well enough, my nipples had started hurting and I just didn’t feel good enough for my baby.
Looking back now, I think this feeling is pretty normal and after talking to many other mums, they experienced this too in the early days!
After some reassurance from my mother I built up my confidence again and carried on! We were even featured on BBC’s Inside Out’s episode about breastfeeding with Dr. Ranj, Florence was 3 weeks old at this point and I fed my baby on TV. This was a very proud moment for me as a mother and as a young woman.
After about 11 weeks of feeding I noticed Florence had developed a clicking noise while feeding, still gaining weight and nappy output being okay, I didn’t think anything if it. It wasn’t until a family friend and peer supporter said: “she’s tongue tied”, turns out she was in fact right!
Florence has a tongue tie and slight lip tie as well, so no wonder I lost confidence, feeding was hurting slightly, her poop wasn’t changing colour as quickly as they’d like to see and she wasn’t putting on loads of weight. We had already found positions that suited us by then so I decided not to get her tie cut. We have had no problems from this.
After 6 months of feeding I decided I wanted to be able to give the support I had received to women in my area, so when I was offered a space on a breastfeeding peer supporting course I jumped at the chance!
I completed the whole course, Florence attending every session as she was still very much a boob monster and received my certificate, officially making me a trained breastfeeding peer supporter. A very big achievement for me!
In December 2018 I fell pregnant with baby #2, in Florence’s pregnancy I never suffered with sore boobs or nipples but this time they hurt so bad!
In January I decided to wean. We started by day weaning, which wasn’t that difficult, slowly but surely we then went to night weaning, this took about a month. Our last feed being March 4th - she was just over 19 months.
At first I was relieved by this, but I was told some mothers grieve after weaning. I can officially say this is true! As much as it hurt to feed, I wasn’t ready to stop feeding, I felt and feel awful. It may be a major case of mum guilt but I do wish I continued. I think I’ve forgotten how much it hurt, but still I wish we'd carried on.
One thing I was so worried about was our bond changing on losing our close bond. Thankfully our bond is as strong as ever and I really do put that down to feeding her!
I am so proud of myself and Florence for what we achieved, seeing her grow, develop and how healthy she is, all because of me!
For any mummies thinking about breastfeeding I can tell you, it’s not easy, you’ll have good days and bad days, but it’s so worth it!
I wish you all the best of luck and I’m so excited to start my new journey in September with my son!