Thursday, April 24, 2014

Breasts and Bottles: Shielded



One of the most popular posts on this blog is this one, where I talk about my own experience with (attempting) breastfeeding and formula feeding Dear Boy. Quite a few of the ladies who find their way here seem to come via a search for a baby-feeding story that resonates with their own experience. With this new Breasts and Bottles series, I'm keen to share some of those other stories. I've asked friends and family and strangers to send me the story of their own experience with feeding their babies. Because if a first-time pregnant lady asks me about my breastfeeding experience, I want to be able to offer something other than just my own rawness. I would have loved to know, back then, that there's no one right way to do this (I would have also liked to know that formula-feeding wasn't a bad choice, it's just a choice - although I deal with that in my own post). This next story is from S, who did battle with nipple shields and a complete cow of a community nurse.

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I wasn’t worried about breastfeeding at all until Bub was born and he just wouldn’t latch onto my breast. No-one seemed very worried about it and I just kept trying. But my nipples ended up blistered and bleeding because of the bad latch. I was covered in Lansinoh and putting cold packs on my breasts afterwards, but they weren’t healing and it just kept being painful anytime Bub’s mouth touched me. A Mothercare nurse gave me a nipple shield to try and it was much better. It gave my nipples a chance to heal (oh, and that is so gross – the skin on my nipples peeled off before they got better). I bought some nice thin ones when I left the hospital, the Medela ones, and just kept using them at home.

When the community nurse came to visit she was really demanding that I didn’t use it, and basically threw it away and spent an hour with us, trying to jam Bub’s mouth onto my breast. She said he’d never get enough milk with a shield and would start to get unhealthy. I just felt like such a failure after her visit I cried and cried even though Bub’s always been fine with weight and wet nappies and all of that. But my husband told me to just use the shield again if that’s what I felt comfortable with. Basically he said it’s either use it or give up breast feeding if I didn’t want to keep trying without it.

I’m so glad I listened to him and not that nurse. I saw a proper lactation consultant a few weeks later who was much more supportive. Instead of being negative about the shield, she helped me see that if it was helping me continue to breastfeed then it’s not a big no-no. Because I did want to stop using the shield eventually (cause it is a pain having to always have it on hand and mess around with it whenever he wants to feed), she taught me some techniques I could try when I felt comfortable, stuff like starting with the shield then removing it after a few minutes and getting him to latch back on. It didn’t work at all the first few times but maybe once a week I’d give it a go and sometimes he would latch and sometimes he wouldn’t.

I finally weaned him off the shield at four and a half months old when his mouth was obviously bigger and I think my breasts were softer from a couple of months of feeding. Now we’ve been going for nine months. Without the shield, we wouldn’t have lasted anywhere near this long.

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If you'd also like to share your breastfeeding story, short or long, happy or sad, boring or weird, please email me at: lilybett[at]gmail[dot]com 

5 comments :

  1. I'm a great case study for breastfeeding. I fed Max with a nipple shield for a month until we got going - he was a very slow breastfeeder (I had a low supply, a trickle poor boy), but we had all the time in the world and I weaned him at 13 months when I was 5 months pregnant with Cappers. Cappers fed like a trouper from day one and self-weaned at 5 months (that low supply - she wasn't having a bar of it) so I bottle fed her formula from 6 months until 8 months when she could manage a cup. Then along came Badoo and she refused point-;blank to breastfeed. She's my madam and there was no way she was putting in the effort in to get the low-supply going. So I pumped for 9 weeks and bottle-fed her a combination of breast milk and formula and formula after that.

    I have no judgement whatsoever to any mother for however she ends up feeding her baby. And I have no doubt in my mind that in the end it doesn't matter much either way either. x

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    1. A great case study! I wish more of the midwives/community nurses/mother care nurses shared stories like these when you're at the start of the breastfeeding journey instead of all the "it's natural/ it's the best" messages (I get why that's the party line, but it's not really helpful when you're struggling).

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  2. Shields saved my life! You can send em here too if you want: http://theveggiemama.com/2012/08/its-world-breastfeeding-week-so-heres/

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    1. Great story - thanks for sharing the link. I wish I'd been encouraged to try a shield when we were having difficulties (the pain! Oh, the toe-curling pain!) Because pumping is the worst - after three months of pumping I was so emotionally and physically spent (and so damn tired because it takes twice as long to feed the baby at night and then pump for the next one after they've gone back down), I just couldn't perservere any more.

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  3. I can totally relate to this story....except for the nurse. I couldn't breastfed my bubs because of his latch and my ravaged nipples, and also my near non-existent milk supply. But we both survived with bottle feeding. I would love if all nurses were supportive of people's issues!!

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Thanks for taking the time to respond to what you have read here at Lilybett and Boy. I love reading through all your comments.

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