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A Mama's Breastfeeding Journey - Why do we feel like we have failed when breastfeeding doesn't work as we expected?

Georgina Kingswell is a first time mum from Chichester and shares her breastfeeding journey with us, including your most asked questions on breastfeeding and her top tips to navigate the challenges of feeding. 

How would you describe your breastfeeding journey in one sentence?

Hard work, but so worth it

Did you prepare for breastfeeding before birth, if so what was the best thing you learnt?

I followed a few accounts on Instagram and began attempting to harvest colostrum, as I had gestational diabetes so was recommended. 

Share your most valuable piece of advice for breastfeeding that you think got you through your journey?

From my mum: Go with my gut and to not put too much pressure on myself.

What do you wish you had known about breastfeeding before?

That’s it’s not all smooth sailing for everyone. I had a unrealistic expectation that your baby is born and you have a beautiful first latch experience and boom feeding begins.

What is/was your high and low of breastfeeding?

A low was those first few nights and feeling guilty over using formula. My high was that first day we got milk and my first time him feeding on me!

My Feeding Journey

Pregnancy & Birth

My pregnancy was a bit rocky, it took us 3 years of TTC and my pregnancy I’m forever grateful, but I was very poorly. Sickness, anaemia, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia it was a wild ride!

My gorgeous boy was brought into the world via C-section and that was the most magical and surreal experience. My chunky 8lb15 hairy boy was placed on my chest and it’s a feeling I won’t forget. But it was quite abruptly interrupted once we were wheeled to recovery by a midwife helping us attempt feeding.

The First Feed

She straight away asked if I had any colostrum and I explained I had tried but was unsuccessful in harvesting any. She explained that it’s common for C-section mums to have a lack of milk in the first 24 hours as your body doesn’t realise you’ve given birth initially. I understood this so had lots of skin-to-skin, bringing baby to boob often to try and encourage my milk to come in. 

He was very clever and would latch, suck, but nothing would happen and he would then unlatch! This carried on for a few hours until a student midwife offered to help me hand express to see if we could get any colostrum for my baby to feed. We tried this for what felt like hours, we managed 1ml and I was advised again this is common and not to worry.

Fast forward to 12 hours after my birth and I had a starving upset baby who was SCREAMING. I was post-C Section and couldn’t move and felt so helpless. It was me and one other mum on our ward she was having the opposite problem her baby wouldn’t stop feeding!

A wonderful student midwife came on shift again and came to see if she could help, we tried for hours with no luck so it was agreed 15 hours after birth to supplement feed him a few mls of formula to take the edge off.
I acted strong but all I wanted to do was cry. I felt like such a failure but I knew he needed a full tummy.

Hometime

I was allowed to go home after only one night in the hospital, which a part of me thinks I shouldn’t have been allowed as we had no feeding plan in place, but I went home. That night was another night of a screaming baby, he was starving and had only eaten his few MLS the night before. I phoned my mum to drive to the nearest 24-hour supermarket and buy me a bottle and formula as I was done with the emotions and needed sleep!

My mum is an angel, she did that she stayed with us helping to learn how to bottle feed and he had a full tummy and we all got some sleep.
We decided I didn’t want to stop trying to breastfeed so we purchased a breast pump to try and help my milk come in as well. A few days later I got milk! 

"I cried the happiest of tears that my body was finally doing what it should and making my baby some yummy milk."

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We Exclusively pumped and bottle-fed for 3 months and one day he randomly decided to fully latch properly and suck! And he has never looked back!

It was a journey changing to breastfeeding from bottles. The freedom of just whacking a boob out is amazing, but the constant worry of not being able to see what he eats I still have now. I think I’ll always have a worry that he’s hungry or has not eaten enough but I’m so glad I stuck it out to get where we are today. I’m forever proud of us for sticking at it and proud we didn’t give up!

What is the best + worst thing someone has said or done when you were breastfeeding? How did it impact your journey?

People constantly telling me how clever he was for taking the bottle made me happy every time. 

What is the best part of breastfeeding for you?

That bond there’s honestly nothing like it, looking into his eyes while feeding just gets me every time.

What is the worst part or experience of breastfeeding for you?

The nipple pain at the beginning! Still makes me cringe the thought of it. 

Share the praise of a person or professional that helped you on your feeding journey.

The local milk clinic via the health visitor helped once he latched for me to then practice positions! Would recommend attending this if you have one! 

Tell us about a step you have taken to improve or extend your breastfeeding journey. Share any sources.

I purchased your Bon + Bear Chicago loop to help me feel confident in feeding in public 

Did you have to supplement with formula or switch to formula fully before 6 months? Zero judgment!

Yes, no real choice in doing so but I’m glad I did at the time

What is the best part of becoming a mother so far?

My boy is just my world he makes me smile every day!

Your top 3 must-haves for new mothers

  1. Chicago loop! The best cover up for pumping or feeding
  2. Follow lactation specialists - @olivia_lactation_consultant is my fave 
  3. Elvie pump - the best pump I used and will be so handy during weaning, so worth the investment. 

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