Little sunday story time by Leanne
I was 100% determined to breastfeed when I was pregnant. I read everything I could get my hands on and tried to prepare myself for difficulties or obstacles that might hinder me breastfeeding my son. I became a little obsessed and my husband bought loads of bottle and formula equipment 'just in case' because he was worried about how I would be affected if breastfeeding couldn't or wouldn't work for us.
When Elliot was born, I hoped for one of those magical moments where your newborn crawls to your nipple and latches on straight away. It didn't work like that for us however! Elliot was so exhausted, he wouldn't latch and just wanted to sleep. I was doing all the things I'd read about but he was just so tired. The new mum anxiety set in and I started nagging the midwives to watch me try and latch him. He just wasn't interested and I could feel the feelings of failure begin to seep in. Then I met Amber. Amber was the midwife who saved us. She was very proactive and positive and literally got my baby on my breast and he fed - just like that. She said he'd just decided he was ready. I have never felt so relieved and sure of what I wanted in my life.
Feeding at home however was a different story. He was just the sleepiest baby! Waking him for feeds and keeping him awake long enough was a challenge and we definitely worried whether he was getting the nutrition he needed. But he started gaining weight and feeding more and then he never stopped. I was deliriously happy that we were breastfeeding but I was also delirious with exhaustion and the effects breastfeeding had on my body. I just hadn't read about the draining effects, not just the thirst and hunger but the lethargy and weakness. I was a shell. My husband said my skin would go grey and I would look physically drained and wouldn't be able to move. It felt like my tiny baby was literally eating me alive. I persevered, I upped my intake and continued to feed. I asked anyone who would listen to check my latch and positioning to ensure I was doing everything I could and slowly as the weeks passed, it got easier and my strength began to build.
Now I could start to enjoy it. Besides the obvious nutritional benefits, there was just nothing like holding my baby close and having skin to skin whilst nursing. Even better was when my husband joined us and were just in this breastfeeding bubble of bonding, feeding and let's face it, pure exhaustion! Despite some nipple pain on both sides and the occasional clogged duct it was relatively smooth sailing from there. I pumped to build up a stash and Elliot would take a bottle from his dad which was just a sight to behold. I breastfed him anywhere and everywhere and have had nothing but support from family and friends. I have enjoyed every step of breastfeeding and even took part in a breastfeeding campaign in my hometown of Sheffield with some other wonderful breastfeeding mums. It was a very proud moment and I feel so passionately that mums deserve to feel supported unconditionally when breastfeeding their babies.
Elliot is now eleven months old and thriving. I plan to continue breastfeeding into toddlerhood or when Elliot is ready to stop. Until then, breastfeeding will continue to be the best mothering tool I will ever have and it has been a journey of strength, patience and joy I never knew I had.