when you’re pregnant, everyone tells you that breastfeeding is a learned skill, and it can take both mother and baby some time to get the hang of it. i knew this was the case, and yet, i still found it incredibly upsetting when arty and i didn’t get it together as easily as i’d hoped.
my supply was good from the very beginning. i had fantastic amounts of colostrum, which we expressed and fed him through a syringe as he sucked on a finger. i just couldn’t get him to latch on and suckle for himself. he became so hungry and frustrated that he would scream whenever i offered him the breast, and this just broke my heart. i knew what he wanted, i wanted to give it to him, but nine times out of ten we just couldn’t make it happen. this all meant that arty wasn’t gaining weight fast enough for the paediatrician’s liking, and he suggested we start supplementing his feeds with formula. i really wanted to avoid this, so i got very anxious, and very determined to find ways to get breastmilk into our boy!
our hospital had a breastfeeding room which turned out to be a godsend. there was a lactation specialist on duty there all day every day, and i was in and out of there with arty pretty constantly. towards the end of our stay, one of the consultants gave me a nipple shield to use which helped enormously with arty’s attachment. my nipples are quite small, and he was having trouble getting enough tissue into his mouth to suckle effectively. the nipple shield gave him more to put in his mouth, an made it much easier for him to suckle. i also used the breast pumps to express milk to bottle feed between breastfeeds. getting on the boob was still stressing him out, so having a bottle there to calm him when he got too upset was great.

arty having a midnight breastfeed

s has been really encouraging of our attempts to breastfeed, and i have been determined to keep trying. it’s been a slow process, but in the last two days almost all his feeds have been directly from the breast, and i am so proud of us. i’m still expressing a bit so that s can feed him from time to time, and because i feel better having some backup milk in reserve in case we take a few steps backwards, but we seem to really be getting the hang of this, and it’s such a relief.

from what i have read, we should really be weaning ourselves off the nipple shields in the long term. i am a bit nervous about that, but would like to try. i think i’ll wait until we’ve seen the maternal and child health nurse on thursday and i’ve asked her opinion about whether he has a tongue-tie (one of the lactation specialists in the hospital said she thought he did) which would effect his latch.

in the mean time, he’s thriving.