As we come to the end of World Breast Feeding week I admit to feeling a little bitter sweet. I have seen so many encouraging and educational posts for women hoping to or trying to Breastfeed, yet on the other hand, I have read countless nasty debates between Mummy’s who choose to Breastfeed and those who choose to Formula feed. Breastfeeding and Me, my story of complete lactation failure is an honest blog post, and one that I’ve struggled to write. I wonder if you can relate? Did you even know this could happen?! Reading some of the online posts I wish that as Mummy’s we would take a softer approach to one another, after all we’re all motivated by the same thing, love for our precious babies. It can be really difficult carrying around the Mummy guilt and I think we should support each other in our choices rather than being so down right nasty.
As soon as we discovered I was pregnant, we began discussing all our parenting ideals. My husband and I share a lot of common values and interests and he is always supportive of my choices. He was happy when I explained that I wanted to Breastfeed. I explained that I knew it would be difficult but that was my decision and I was sticking to it. I read up a lot about it in the early days and kept my decision close to my heart for the next few months of pregnancy.
As we drew closer to my due date, I was reading the amazing book by Giovanna Fletcher Happy Mum Happy Baby and this left me feeling prepared for all the different things to expect with my milk supply. I started to wonder when a fewof the wee symptoms would start, I hadn’t noticed my Breasts feeling fuller, or any sign of Colostrum but none the less was excited about Breast Feeding my firstborn. I couldn’t wait for the bond we would build, for the knowledge that I was providing them with a nourishing supply of food, tending to their needs.
I went to town and bought all the essential bits and bobs for Breastfeeding and told all my family and close friends of my choice, I wouldn’t even entertain the buying of Formula or any equipment needed to Bottle feed as I was ready to Breastfeed! Or so I thought!
I’m not going to delve into my Birth Story as you can read that Here but after a long induced labour, I had a post-partum haemorrhage and lost a lot of blood. I didn’t realise at the time how serious this was or how weak I would feel in the first few weeks because of this. I also didn’t realise that this could delay your bodies milk supply coming in, and was not told anything like this whilst in the Hospital.
As soon as David was born, he had been checked and I had been stitched (I’ll spare you the gory details) and we were lost in the wonderful world of unconditional love, the Midwife suggested I try to Breastfeed him and he latched on! I was elated! The only problem was we were fairly certain there was very little Colostrum, but the Midwife suggested that the more we tried the more supply I would have. That was fine by me. I continued to try for the next while in Hospital with the help of one of the staff. The staff during the night were kind, but didn’t hold back with squeezing and squishing my Breasts trying to get Colostrum to come out. By the time I left hospital my Breasts were bruised, black and very sore and I still had no supply, nor any Colostrum. I was very sad about this, but decided that David needed to eat, so started feeding him Aptamil. He loved his bottles and with the help of my Husband I soon learnt how to make up the bottles and got my head round sterilising too. I continued to try to Breast Feed despite having no supply. It was heart wrenching.
I was trying to stay positive about not being able to provide Breast Milk for my wee baby, but I will admit that I felt a little bit of a failure. I couldn’t believe my body couldn’t provide for my gorgeous Son, I felt like I was letting him down. I kept my feelings inside until I received my second call from the Breastfeeding Support worker at my local Hospital. I had already explained on the first call that I was trying to feed him from the Breast but there seemed to be no supply. I genuinely was trying every day. The aforementioned second call broke me, the lady was very chirpy and asked how I was getting on. I said just as before I had no supply, I was trying and it wasn’t working. In a matter of words she suggested that perhaps I was doing it wrong, and that I could be put in touch with a local successful breastfeeding Mother to show me how. I was embarrassed and hurt by this suggestion and felt like she was not listening or believing that I had no supply. She kept persisting and as I started to cry I softly asked that she could try to not call me again, and if I needed help I’d call her.
The same day, I had a scheduled Midwife visit to the house. I talked through how devastated I was that no matter what I did or how hard I tried nothing was there. Now this particular Midwife has a real Motherly quality about her, she told me to strip down, she was shocked as she seen the Bruises I had been left with and knew that every effort had been made. She asked if she could move me about a bit to see if she could find anything, she got nothing not a single drop! ‘Julie my dear, there’s nothing there, you have no supply, please don’t beat yourself up, your baby is thriving, healthy and content’. A part of me was relieved, but I still continued to try in between feeds for about 10 weeks after this conversation. I was much more content knowing I had tried everything!
My biggest concern throughout the whole journey was that David wouldn’t have a strong bond with me. I had garnered this assumption through my silly internet browsing (I’ve wrote about this before Here) but oh how wrong I was, from the moment he was born he and I and him and his Daddy have had an unbreakable bond, we are just so close and he is very very content, strong, healthy and happy. Fast forward many months later and I now know through my own research (as opposed to having been told by a medical professional) that the likely cause for my Failure of Lactation was my Postpartum Haemorrhage. I wish I had have known this months ago, I’d have felt so much better.
Its so important to me to write that I am so supportive of Breastfeeding mothers, I wish I could have been one of you and should I have another child I will definitely try again, although I won’t be so hard on myself should I not be able to. On a final note, to the several social media commentators who have stated point blank that all women can Breastfeed but either have the wrong technique, are too lazy or are ill informed, this is simply not true, some of us have failure of lactation, in my case, complete failure, but that doesn’t make me a bad mother, or a failure in any way shape or form, as I said in the beginning, let’s just go easier on one another, we’re all trying our best!