My breastfeeding journey started off beautifully, I had given birth to my baby girl Isra who was then put on my chest and had her first feed a short while after. She latched on and was suckling just fine which was comforting as I knew that I wanted to try my best to breastfeed and had even read all about pumping colostrum whilst pregnant to have on hand!
Breastfeeding was a norm in my family — we were all breastfed — however in my husband’s family they were bottle fed.
Newborn Days Breastfeeding
Once Isra was born I had a good supply of colostrum but because she was a petite baby weighing just 2.47kg, she struggled to maintain her blood sugar levels and drinking straight from the breast was tiring; so, we decided to hand express colostrum into a syringe and feed it to her, that way she didn't have to expend any energy. However, the midwife said we had to top her up with formula otherwise she wouldn't be taking in enough food. Straight away I was trying to think of other options; including having my sister in law who was breastfeeding her 2-month-old to help feed Isra, but of course the hospitals can't sign off on anything like that, so we finally agreed to giving her a little bit of formula.
She refused to take the bottle which in a way I was relieved about, as I knew that I wanted to exclusively breastfeed for at least 6 months and was more than happy to continue to hand express colostrum for her to take.
I worked really hard those first few days to feed her every 2-3 hours to help bring her weight up and although it was tiring, it absolutely paid off. She put on weight by the time her first midwife appointment came around and continued to put on weight, giving her more energy to feed herself and the cluster feeding helped bring my milk in by day 3 too.
At the back of my mind too, Isras cousin who is 9 months older had to go back in to hospital as she was dehydrated and not receiving enough milk, so this put a lot of scare and worry into our thoughts too. I was constantly being questioned on whether she was getting enough milk even though she clearly was since she was steadily putting on weight.
I was comfortable with how Isra was feeding, she was gaining weight, she had plenty of wet and dirty nappies which means she ticked all the boxes of a well-fed baby!
Reflux & Colic
Isra would always spit up, since she was born, it was guaranteed that after almost every feed she would and went through several bibs and outfit changes a day. I had tried everything for her reflux and colic; from changing my diet, having digestive teas, gripe water and taking probiotics. It got to the point that I was constantly being told by those around me “only a few more months until she’s on solids and that I could always start earlier than 6 months” as though it was my breastmilk that was the issue!
It wasn’t until I was on Instagram and saw a post by @mamawayau that was about supporting breastfeeding mothers instead of blaming/ questioning them, that I realised that my breastfeeding journey hadn’t been easy. Since Isra was born petite, people around me questioned if she was getting enough milk. Every time Isra would cry, (as babies do) to communicate hunger/tiredness etc. people would gesture that she was hungry and not getting enough milk. I know that they’re coming from a good place, but a new mum doesn’t need any extra anxieties! Instead of receiving words of encouragement, I was getting the total opposite, it was like I was harming my baby by giving her breastmilk instead of formula. I’m grateful that I stuck to my instinct and was confident that breastfeeding my baby was the best option for her and us.
Most people say that they grow out of these colicky/reflux symptoms by 3-4 months but it took Isra a little while longer, her tummy had settled down but she would still be sick. At 9 months now, she still spits up occasionally, but she's a happy baby who still feeds on demand as well as having 3 solid meals a day. My goal is to make it to 2 years, or whenever Isra chooses to wean herself off the breast.
I hope this has helped encourage Mama’s to continue with your own breastfeeding journey whether you're at the beginning or the end, there's always someone with a similar story to yours!