Nicole’s Breastfeeding Story

Nicole’s Breastfeeding Story

I have a complicated breast health history and had no idea how painful breast feeding could be. While I was in Mater Mothers I went to a talk with Gav for new parents on feeding your baby, and then stayed on with the other mums for a feeding class (no dads allowed so it's private).

Baby Charlie just wanted to sleep and wasn't interested in feeding (this was day one as he was only born the night before). The midwives had let me know night two could be a challenge but I could never have imagined what was to come. I sent Gav home for the night to get some decent sleep and my mum stayed with me at the hospital. Charlie screamed all night as we tried manual expressing and feeding with a syringe, the pain was as intense as labour and I had a natural labour without any pain medication (I thought I had a high pain threshold but this was excruciating and I was gritting my teeth and trying to get past the pain as I wanted to make sure Charlie was getting what he needed).

In the end the midwife had to express for me and syringe feed Charlie as I felt like I was blacking out because of the pain. That morning we were exhausted and frustrated and I now had nipple damage (I didn't even know this was a thing!) which added immensely to the pain. With each feed we would try latching on again and Charlie was getting just as frustrated as I was but we were both trying but to no avail and l had to keep expressing until I could get to the breast feeding class in the afternoon.

When I got there most mums were happily feeding their little ones except for one mum who also was in pain from the day before. I was mentally, emotionally and physically on the edge and had been wrung out completely. I shared my ordeal with one of the lactation consultants who listened, examined and helped me to try some new techniques (I am a first time mum so I had zero experience and minimal knowledge on breast feeding). She showed me a new hand expressing technique–which I ended up with about 5mls of colostrum in a tiny cup. This was epic for me as I was struggling to get anything before that and this gave me such a lift in my spirits, and we fed Charlie from the tiny cup. She then wrote a plan out for me of various things to try and also organised pump to come to my room later that afternoon and advised me to come back to the Parenting Support Centre for an appointment next week with a lactation consultant.

I believe this changed the course as to where we were heading for the better. That afternoon I got to used the pump and I felt like it had been sent by an angel! It made expressing less tedious and less painful and I got more colostrum supply in all the syringes they had supplied me with - again this boosted my spirits and I could feed my little boy what he needed even if it wasn't through direct breast contact. Charlie also has jaundice and was on the higher end of the scale and had blood tests which we were waiting on the results, I also had gestational diabetes so Charlie and I were still getting our blood glucose levels  checked regularly. The results came back and he was just under the the line so they decided to hold off on light therapy because they could see my supply of colostrum was increased dramatically. We ended up going home from hospital the next evening and although I was tired and very sore, I felt hopeful.

The three of us attended my appointment with the lactation consultant at the Parenting Support Centre and my new questions were answered and I was given a new program to try. It was a really valuable appointment and encouraged me that we are on the right track. 

They weighed Charlie for the first time since birth and he had only lost 5% of his birth weight which means he was getting more colostrum/milk than I had thought. I have a follow up appointment in a weeks time. I am still recovering, learning and have a long way to go but I am hopeful we will get there in the end even if it's in a round about way - it's ok I'm not a failure.

I wanted to share my story because I don't feel new mums, dads and support people are prepared for breast feeding for better or worse. I have friends and family who have also had a difficult time in different ways and I understand everyone's journey into parenthood is just as unique as the very little ones we have delivered into this world.

It breaks my heart to think and know there are new mums out there going through a rough time feeding and feel exhausted, defeated and alone. I hope this can help someone and encourages people to share their experiences from the positives to the negatives to help and empower one another and bring more awareness to future mums so they know they have options.

I write this after I have just finished my first cluster feed with Charlie and now he has passed out a content and fed little boy (he is one week old today).

By the way, that didn't last the hour and we had to top him up with the bottle!

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