Having seen so many posts around National Breastfeeding Week recently, I’ve been reflecting on how different my breastfeeding journeys have been with my two daughters.
With my first daughter, I couldn’t get anything right. I was in excruciating pain each time I tried to get her to latch, she lost weight and my midwife helpfully told me that I was holding her all wrong, just as I had felt like I was starting to get the hang of things. She simply wasn’t feeding for long enough to get what she needed.
In the end, I put some expressed breastmilk into a bottle and she took it immediately. As I felt that breastmilk was best for my baby, I ended up exclusively expressing for seven and a half months. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, but I didn’t really know any different so I stuck at it. I became a pro at expressing wherever and whenever I needed to: I even expressed in the car in a layby on the way to my friend’s hen party!
Second time around, I knew that I couldn’t express the way that I had the first time, with a lively toddler as well as a newborn. Two under two is no mean feat, even before you add sitting on a breast bump eight times per day into the mix! As a result, I fought hard to stay in hospital (my daughter was in NICU for the first five days of her life; you can read her rather eventful birth story here) in order to get the breastfeeding support that I felt I so desperately needed.
My persistence paid off and, with the help of some wonderful midwives and midwifery care assistants, I left hospital feeling like we had breastfeeding well on the way to being established. I’ve been so fortunate this time around in that breastfeeding has felt like the most natural thing in the world, and I feel so grateful that it has worked out for us.
My daughter and I are almost five months into our breastfeeding journey now, and I’d like to at least get to one whole year of breastfeeding. At this point I can’t imagine stopping, though, and the World Health Organisation now recommends breastfeeding children until they are at least two years old. On that note, I’ll end with a post from Becky, who shares some things that she’s learned about breastfeeding a toddler, as she’s just reached that milestone feeding her youngest child.