“The truth is, I’ve had many challenges, I got cracked nipples from the first week of breastfeeding and the pain was so intense I would be crying every time she fed.”
Breastfeeding: Sarah’s Story
"I think I could write a book about my breastfeeding journey!
The truth is, I’ve had many challenges, I got cracked nipples from the first week of breastfeeding and the pain was so intense I would be crying every time she fed. I naively thought that it would be easy. I thought if I decided to breastfeed, I'll be breastfeeding and that was it. I never thought that there could be so many challenges along the way. I didn’t really have a plan. I just wanted to breastfeed. But it could have been easier if I had done my research and prepared more.
At one point, I was in so much pain that I considered stopping, until the midwife gave me a nipple shield to allow my nipple to heal whilst continuing breastfeeding. It really helped me and saved me from stopping to breastfeed altogether, but at the same time it created other problems. Mila got used to it and preferred to feed with the nipple shield instead of on the breast. The nipple shield also didn’t stimulate my breast as much as if she was feeding directly. There are some women who use the nipple shield without a problem, so it’s difficult to really know what causes low milk supply.
After one month of exclusively breastfeeding, we went to our paediatrician for a routine check and he told me that Mila hadn’t put any weight on since her birth weight and that she was at the limit of being hospitalised as she was very skinny and dehydrated. He told me I had no choice but to supplement with formula.
The good thing is that baby recovered quickly in this case and she started to put weight on rapidly. I continued like that, while still breastfeeding in between bottle feeding sessions, for weeks until my daughter started to understand that bottle feeding was a lot easier for her.
After this, I had mastitis and my milk lowered even more. Since then, I’ve been having trouble with my baby latching on as she realised I don’t have a lot of milk and is not keen on feeding this way. I then contacted a breastfeeding specialist, and she gave me many tricks that are helping me tremendously as I didn’t know what the solution was at that stage. I thought it would be all over, but she helped me keep positive and with hard work, we can get breastfeeding back on track.
I also express and I absolutely love it! For me, it’s pain-free and allows me to have some time for myself when my baby is being looked after by someone else, it gave me some time to have a little freedom from my daily routine so I could exercise or work etc.
The support system available out there, for breastfeeding Mums, is just amazing. I don’t have any parents, so I had to seek support elsewhere, and what I found truly surprised me in the best way. From midwives, to breastfeeding clinics and specialists, as well as a helpline you can call for help. Even my GP referred me to the best specialist to help me with my breastfeeding problems. I am very grateful for this support system because it encouraged me to continue despite the difficulties. I felt heard, understood, safe and supported. I never felt judged, only compassion.
If I could give any advice to breastfeeding Mums who are just starting out it’d be to relax and enjoy the experience as much as you can. Babies teaches us to slow down and be more present in the moment. You don’t have to try and do everything by yourself. You don’t have to prove you can be a super Mum. You already are! Enjoy every second because it goes by so fast. Find your support system and you will be fine. You are amazing.
You’ve got this. You can do it."