Our Bodies Are Wondrous Things, Let’s Trust Them

When I was pregnant with my first son, I always wondered what breastfeeding would feel like. If it would be ‘weird’ having another human ‘suck’ milk from my body. I thought it sounded nice, nourishing another human, but breasts are so sexualized. The more I thought about it, the weirder it sounded to me. I always knew that regardless of what the public thought, I wanted to breastfeed my babies. I hoped I liked the experience with my son.

When they handed him to me and he started looking for food naturally, I knew, this would be an amazing journey. He came out of the womb, already knowing what he wanted and needed¬†– that my friends, was mummy’s milk! ūüôā

In the first couple of days, because we were all so new at feeding, he dropped more than 10% of his body weight. We were then advised to be topping off with breast milk preferably, but if not, formula would work ‘fine’. This is where I went wrong. Totally wrong. I had no clue or understanding as to how the breast worked, supply and demand, foremilk and hind milk, or how my baby processed the milk in his tummy then let it out through the nappy. He was an hourly eater. I was certain I wasn’t enough for him. We cried and struggled. I fought mastitis what seemed like a weekly issue. Just as quickly as I would get rid of it, it would come¬†back. I was trying to train him to eat every 3 hours, so I started skipping feeds and feeding longer. I’d fed for an hour…or I thought I was ‘feeding’ for an hour. Little did I know the placement, the latch, the angle, everything was all wrong. He was comfort sucking, This is why he was feeding hourly. Finally, after 5 months of persevering….he stopped feeding. 2 weeks later, we found out we were pregnant with baby number two. I still to this day am not sure if he weened because I was pregnant or if I fell pregnant because he weaned. Nonetheless, our journey was cut shorter than I would have liked, but a new journey would be beginning sooner rather than later.

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Our second son was born with a sweet little 15 month age gap between the boys. I really quite enjoyed it. I put him to the breast as if I were a pro. Weeks went by, and he was constantly vomiting up entire feeds. I was told the reflux was fine as long as he was happy and not showing he was in pain. He was such a happy baby that I was never concerned with more than what I was told to. He started to lose weight like our first did. I again was asked to give him formula. I refused and fed on demand this time. I began reading and listening to stories and consulting lactation consultants and finally began to have an understanding of how my body and my baby’s bodies worked. Then, everything started to click and I saw what happened in my first journey that caused¬†us¬†so much grief. We continued feeding, happily, without¬†mastitis, without¬†tears, and no formula. I was ecstatic. We powered through to 6 months, still breastfeeding, but we introduced solids at 5 months. I was still telling our nurse that he was still spewing up all his milk, but he was happy. I was still told as long as he is happy…….
At 7 months, I went in to see a different nurse about my older son, who had been head-butting when he was angry. I was concerned he would injure himself. Upon seeing my youngest and commenting on his weight, she sent us straight to the emergency department for undernourishment. I was then made to feel as if I was negligent by keeping my son on the breast for as long as I had, because obviously what I was giving him wasn’t enough for him to be healthy. I was asked to immediately stop breastfeeding him and to put him on a weight gain formula. We then spent the next 8 days being questioned about the day I found out I was pregnant, to the day we were admitted. They were wanting to know all the details as to why he would be so under weight. Mind you, I am not the biggest person in the world and he was reaching all of his milestones, so to me and the previous nurse, a little bit of a happy chuck never hurt anyone.
On day three, I found myself being watched to make sure I put the bottle in his mouth and he was eating before the nurses would leave my room. I cried. My breasts were sore. And we weren’t ready to end our journey there…in a hospital room because someone else told us we had to. So I decided to pull the bottle out of his mouth, and feed him. Immediately after his feeds, he would drift off into a deep sleep in my arms. Finally, that’s how it was supposed to be.
On day four, we got a test result back that he was ‘borderline’ Celiacs disease. I found that pretty crazy…to have a ‘borderline’ diagnosis. So I made them run more tests, assuring them there had to have been something that was wrong (that would explain all the spewing since birth) rather than assuming I was negligent in feeding my baby. More tests were run. I was caught breastfeeding him when a nurse forgot something in my room and walked back in to us curled up in the cot together sleeping and breastfeeding. I was fussed at and told that I was jeopardizing the weight gain plan the dietitian had put in place. I was so angry, everyone is told breast is best right? Here I am fighting for my right to feed my baby. I braved up and said, “until we can prove its malnutrition from breastfeeding, I will not jeopardize our relationship.” And so I continued to feed my little man. With no fear, in front of hospital staff.
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Day 6 hailed a positive test result for Salmonella. This explained the throwing up. This also told the hospital that I was NOT a bad mum. I was as glad as anyone could be to find out their was actually something wrong¬†with their¬†baby. Not to say that him being ill brought me joy. It didn’t. It made me sad that I had been speaking out for months and months that something was not right and my instincts were overlooked and pushed to the side. Yet when someone else finally noticed, I was being negligent. It brought me validation, that I was right. That I was not wrong in continuing to feed my¬†baby, and that what I supplied him with was enough! A very quick round of antibiotics¬†cleared it up¬†and he was CHUNKY in a week. We continued to breastfeed until I fell pregnant again at 14 months.Now, we ‘re enjoying our third breastfeeding journey going 9 months strong.
Mums, don’t doubt yourself. No one knows your baby like you do. Be confident in your ability to feed your baby. Be confident that what you are supplying is enough. Our bodies are wondrous things….let’s trust them¬†ūüôā
Melbourne, Australia 
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