My breastfeeding journey began perfectly. After I birthed my son he crawled up my chest, latching onto my left breast. There he stayed suckling for 40 minutes and continued to feed beautifully for the next four days.
On day four, things took a turn. Also known, as the four-day blues, not only are you exhausted, you’re getting to know your new baby and coping with visitors.
It’s also time to weigh your baby.
My husband and I laughed as we approached the scales, saying, "He will probably be the first baby to gain weight he's fed so much!” But a dark cloud crept over us as we were told our baby had lost 12 per cent of his body weight. “That's not good,” the midwife told us.
So began the fun of pumping after every feed and syringe feeding our boy.
By day six, he had put on 40 grams and they "let" us go home as long as long as we brought our boy back in two days. We felt like we had failed and we were now on probation.
Two days later, he’d only gained 25 grams. The nurse reassured me that I was doing a beautiful job and pointed us in the direction of the community nurses - to keep an eye on us.
That’s where I met the "dragon"(her words not mine). She told me I was feeding my baby too frequently and causing him pain!! She told me I needed to give him a dummy and not feed him so much.
"The dragon" was wrong. With the incredible support and reassurance from my husband and sister, I kept breastfeeding my baby as much as he needed.
My husband would pack me a lunch box every morning and I would sit and feed him non-stop. I fed him on the toilet, I fed him answering the door, I fed him everywhere and anywhere and still, whenever I asked for help, all the midwives would look at was his perfect latch.
"It’s funny that two per cent of the population (like me) doesn’t have enough milk, yet all new mums question their supply at some stage."
Over the next few weeks, he continued to make what we believe were amazing gains of 100grams a week.
During this time, I constantly questioned my milk supply even though a lactation specialist reassured me it was fine. I kept calling the specialist, worried that something wasn’t right and she kept insisting that I just needed to relax.
At six weeks, things changed again and our little man plateaued. At the same time, we received confirmation that I had insufficient glandular tissue. Also, that my son was tongue-tied, had reoccurring UTI's and possibly reflux. But like many mums, I blamed my boobs first.
It’s funny that two per cent of the population (like me) doesn’t have enough milk, yet all new mums question their supply at some stage. We don't question how well our heart is functioning, so why do we question our breasts?
As directed by the GP we offered our boy a bottle and he loved it. A little too much! Still wanting to breastfeed, I set out to find the best way to supplement.
The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) website had an article about a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) feeder, so that night I bought one and our world changed. We used the SNS for five months.
There were times when I wanted to throw it against the wall, I burnt three of them to dust while sterilising, but most of all – I loved it.
The feeder has allowed me to continue my breastfeeding journey as I wished. With the support of my amazing husband, sister, the ABA groups and my lactation specialist I successfully supplemented, enabling my son to have the maximum breast milk I could offer as well as the extra he needed through the feeder.
I wanted to share my story because breastfeeding is complex and is rarely black and white, boob or bottle. I love formula, it allowed me to feed my baby! And the SNS optimised my breastfeeding and helped me achieve my personal breastfeeding goals.
There are so many options out there and with the right help anyone can achieve their goals. My boy is now 9 months old and we have been exclusively breastfeeding again since he was 7 1/2 months. Us Mums need to trust ourselves. Our bodies made these beautiful beings and we know how to love and care for them. Believe in yourself!
The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) runs the National Breastfeeding Helpline 1800 mum 2 mum (1800 686 268). The Breastfeeding Helpline is available 7 days a week. It is staffed by trained, volunteer counsellors who answer calls on a roster system in their own homes.