Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Breastfeeding - The end of a journey?

I never planned to breastfeed for a year.

I never really had any sort of plan. I knew I wanted to give breastfeeding a go but while I was pregnant that was as far ahead as I'd thought. I think I was probably more determined than I realised though.

Before Monkey was born I'd read Gill Rapley's book Baby-led Breastfeeding: How to make breastfeeding work - with your baby's help and this was the approach I wanted to try. Monkey was delivered straight onto my chest and began to feed away. I was lucky that we both took to breastfeeding quite easily. I didn't get any soreness and Monkey seemed to feed quite happily.

In those first few days it seemed like our breastfeeding journey was going to be absolutely fine and problem free. I wish I could say it stayed that way.

At ten days old Monkey was sent to hospital due to concerns about her weight. I was surprised that they seemed to suggest formula almost straight away as I thought the NHS encouraged breastfeeding. I'm not quite sure what had happened in those ten days but I'd changed from someone who was going to try breastfeeding and see how it went to someone who was passionate that that's what I wanted for my baby.

I was put under quite a lot of pressure to put Monkey on a bottle but I felt sure she was getting enough milk. In the end I agreed to breastfeed on demand as I had been doing but also to cup feed expressed milk as top up so we could have some kind of measurement.

This arrangement was awful. I'd had no problems with breastfeeding until this point, now I hated it. It felt like I was always either feeding or pumping. I struggled to express and felt guilty about not spending time with Monkey while I was doing it, especially once daddy went back to work. Add all this to the tiredness and hormones that come with being a new mum and I was a mess. In this whole year of breastfeeding that was the only time I thought about giving up. I was so close.

And then in walked my health visitor!!

I was dreading her coming. I thought she was just going to be another person telling me I was doing it wrong and starving my baby. She was great though - saved our breastfeeding and continues to be a great support to me and Monkey.

She watched me feed and said there were no obvious problems. Monkey had a slight tongue tie but it wasn't affecting her latch and she was feeding well. She told me about a breastfeeding support group she ran where I could get Monkey weighed and talk about any issues we had.

I'lI never be able to explain how much that group meant to me. I went every week until I went back to work and I still try to go when I'm off. I've met a great bunch of mummies there who have become good friend's, I've had lots of support for Monkey's allergies but most importantly in those first few weeks when I was feeling so vulnerable I was given the support, encouragement and confidence to continue to breastfeeding feed.

And what a good job I did.

Although we didn't know it at the time, Monkey's weight issues were down to a number of allergies - the worst one being dairy. If I'd done as suggested and given her formula then she would have been so much more poorly. Her reactions to food I ate through my breast milk were scary enough.

Once we knew about Monkey's allergies I was given the choice to put her on a special hypoallergenic formula or change my diet to continue breastfeeding. We were three months into our breastfeeding journey at this point and now we had such great support there was no question.

I was told if I didn't want the formula I would have to breastfeed for at least a year. By now I was convinced it was the best thing for her but a year seemed like a very long time especially without a lot of my favourite foods.. The countdown to when I could eat normally again was on!!

And then Monkey turned one......

This was when I should have stopped, when I could eat whatever I wanted,, the day I'd been counting down to. But I was in no rush to stop. I love breastfeeding -- the closeness, the cuddles and that special bond you can't explain. I love her being my baby.

She's growing up though. And she's been dropping her feeds. She's not had a breastfeed since Saturday now and I feel sad. I miss it much more than I ever thought I would. I don't quite dare go back to my normal diet yet but it looks like our breastfeeding journey is coming to an end.

While I'm sad I'm also incredibly proud. She's had my milk for a year, when I look back to how I felt at ten days that's amazing. And she's completely self weaned, I've never refused her a feed.

It's been an amazing journey :-)

Domestic Momster


  1. Wow- that is incredible. Huge well done. I breastfed and really loved it and though we are now well beyond that phase it sometimes takes you by surprise how much little milestones affect you. Do pleased you stuck at it- clearly right for you.

    1. Thanks Tanya. You're right, it is the little things that affect you most. She's growing up so quickly and I'm not convinced I like it

  2. What a journey you've had with it. Well done

    1. Thank you. It's been tough at times but we'll worth it

  3. Brilliant post! How lucky that you got a great health visitor! I had to feed S top-ups from a cup too, it was a bloody nightmare and she never wanted extra milk after she'd fed from me - because she'd just had as much milk as she could fit in, and she wanted to go to sleep! I'm glad you got it all sorted out in the end. You are right to be proud of yourself. Well done!
    Oh, and thanks for joining in with the Weekend Blog Hop!

    1. Monkey was the same with top ups - not interested as she'd had what she needed already. I've been so lucky to have a great health visitor,I've heard some right horror stories!
      Thanks for hosting, love your blog and finding new ones through your linky

  4. Well done you!!! That is a big achievement!! I'm currently breastfeeding my 11 months old and I'm thinking to stop when she turns 1 but I'm having such a mixed feelings at the moment because I love it like you and I'm not 100% sure if I want to stop now :-( but I guess she will let me know like your daughter I guess. I have recently dropped the feed after her lunch nap time and I feel I have much freedom now so maybe that is why at the moment I don't have a rush to stop any more!! Let's see what happens in a month ;-) Thanks for sharing your story. I love it! xx #monsterlink

    A Moment With Franca

  5. You should be one proud mama! Good for you for sticking it out and believing in yourself and feeding your baby! I had so many issues with breastfeeding but stuck with it for as long as I could. Thanks so much for sharing your story with #momsterslink. Hope to see you again this weekend!

  6. What a wonderful story. I can imagine the pressure of those 10 days in the hospital - they must have felt like an eternity. Finding a support group is so important!

  7. You've had a beautiful journey and I'm so happy you had someone to help you and get you in those groups. Those groups are amazing support and really being able to weigh baby before and after feeds is helpful to know exactly how much you are making and the baby is getting. We had to do formula top offs cause I wasn't making enough. We'd nurse for almost the entire duration of the 2 hour group, and he would still be hungry hah. But he's almost a year old and we're still breastfeeding, even if a little bit, and it is wonderful to be able to do it.

  8. Well done mama! To be forewarned is to be forearmed, good job you were prepared for your feeding choice and as such was able to hold your ground against medical personnel and prob the options available to you. I was too breastfeeding illiterate to know better when we were offered top ups. What a journey with the pumping! I didn't even have the space in me to feel guilty, I was too manic over producing enough milk to feed my little man. I am really pleased for you that you hit the year mark, as you wanted and that you little one has self weaned too. So much to feel pleased about, yah!

    Thanks for linking up with #breastfeedingandI and so sorry that I didn't get round earlier.