Tell us about your breastfeeding journey. How were the early days?
They were tough! My milk took a long time to come in and latching was near impossible.
I pretty much walked around topless for the first few weeks, baby attached to me 24/7. I remember wondering how all these new mums seemed to sit at cafes with cute little muslin cloths draped over their shoulders feeding their baby like it was nothing… while I sat on the couch in my granny undies, crying my eyes out.
Luckily for my neighbours (sorry guys), that stage didn't last too long. We started to get the hang of things after a few weeks, and although we had to supplement with formula to get Reef’s weight up, I eventually got to a point where I was exclusively breastfeeding.
And since then?
The ‘exclusively breastfeeding’ part didn't last long! I was doing (or more accurately, eating) ALL the things and taking all the supplements, but it wasn't enough. My supply was still low and his latch still wasn’t right.
When Reef was 10 weeks old, we found out he had reflux and a breathing condition called laryngomalacia, both of which impacted his feeding. We then found out he had tongue, lip & cheek ties that weren't picked up on during previous checks. Greeeat.
As hard and frustrating as this time was, it was a relief to know there were factors outside of my control that were affecting my ability to breastfeed. My body wasn't broken!
We did everything we could to make Reef more comfortable: reflux medication, tongue ties released, osteo, and every homeopathic potion under the sun. The combo seemed to work… and our little man became a lot happier… but my supply was still low, so I made the decision to stop breastfeeding.
It was way more emotional than I expected!
What if I couldn’t comfort my baby anymore? What if he hated me for it?
Rationally, I knew it would all be fine, but I was still gutted to stop. I tried so hard and persevered for so long! But I also knew the stress of breastfeeding, pumping, bottle feeding & sterilising was taking its toll on my mental health.
And you know what? Switching to formula was fine.
The first night I offered Reef a bottle in the middle of the night, he reached his arms out for it, smashed it in one go, then went straight back to sleep. I could have cried with relief!
I was also on a pretty restricted diet to help with Reef’s reflux, so being able to eat dairy & nightshades (not to mention have a few wines!) has been a welcome perk.
What are your thoughts on the support available for breastfeeding mothers?
There’s a lot there to start with, in the hospital & birth centre, but the problem is everyone has a different opinion. Conflicting advice can be really stressful for a new mum.
There’s also varying levels of ‘expertise’. I saw (and paid for) two different private lactation consultants. The first missed Reef’s tongue/lip/cheek ties, and the second was absolutely incredible. So, make sure you do your research & get some recommendations!
Fav thing about breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding is a really special thing. I loved how close it made me feel to Reef.
As he got older, he’d feed for a bit then pull away, look at me, and smile. It was so bloody cute! I miss that.
Most challenging thing about breastfeeding?
It would be the constant internal doubt… I never knew if the latch was right, if I had enough milk, if he was hungry or full. All the second guessing made me quite anxious.
Anything you found surprising?
The HANGER and THIRST that comes with breastfeeding!
My loooord, if I didn't have a drink of water with me my mouth would be as dry as the Sahara within 30 seconds. I’d always have fruit toast in the wee hours of the morning… and then wake up again a few hours later genuinely starving.
Any leakage or nip slip moments you’d rather forget?
Fortunately, I never had any problems with leakage (guess there has to be an upside to low supply!) but I’ve definitely had my share of nip slips.
Courier driver knocking on the door + PJ top not buttoned up properly = kill me now.
Weirdest place you’ve fed your babe?
In the back of the car in standstill traffic, winding around the hills on the way to Whangamata.
Reef was screaming and I was freaking out, so despite a couple of guys doing roadworks right outside the window, I climbed through to the back seat and gave him a quick feed. Thank God for boobs!
Your top 3 feeding tips for mums-to-be?
- Get some Silverettes, they’ll save your nips in the early days.
- Have an open mind about how you’ll feed your babe. I’d hoped breastfeeding would be easy and natural, despite people warning me otherwise. You never know what’s going to happen until your baby arrives, so it’s a good idea to have a bottle at home just in case you need it urgently (like we did)
- Enjoy the ‘eat heaps while breastfeeding & lose weight’ sitcho. Seriously - eat all the carbs. Eat all the chocolate. Eat everything in sight! It’s glorious.