Got milk? Two mum share their experience on breastfeeding & what to expect if you’re expecting.
Breastfeeding. It can offer a mix of emotions and is a different experience for every new mum. Sometimes the expectation is that your milk will come and you’ll get straight to feeding! But like many stories we have heard from our mumma tribe, it isn’t always the case. We speak with two mums both with very different experiences to understand the highs and lows of breastfeeding. If you’re a new or expecting mum, you’ll want to read this.
Anna shares her story of giving birth to bub in December, and her milk supply was the last thing she would’ve thought of when planning for bub.
QUESTION: so what happened at the hospital right after bub was born.
ANNA: Well, the midwife put her on my chest and I was just in awe. After the commotion had settled down I noticed that Lottie (bub) was automatically searching for my breast. It was strange really. I never knew she’d just start heading that way on her own. At the time I didn’t really understand it, but the nurses were really good at helping me encourage feeding.
QUESTION: what happened next?
ANNA: not much really. I actually thought she would just latch on and milk would come. Boy was I wrong! I realised not only was I super sensitive, but you don’t actually get milk right away. It’s more a liquid type substance (colostrum) that comes out the first few days. I wasn’t really prepared for that. I guess I just assumed “milk” (laughs).
QUESTION: how did the feeding go in the hospital and when did your milk arrive?
ANNA: At first I was quite sensitive when Lottie was attaching and sucking. I was also weirdly wondering “is she getting what she needs?”. The nurses assured me it was normal and my milk would follow soon after. And it did. About 3 days later my breast became very hard and sore and I was wondering what was going on. And then I remember feeling the wetness around my top and I realised it was my milk!
QUESTION: how was breastfeeding overall for you once your milk came?
ANNA: honestly, once my milk came it all started flowing. I was actually pumping and freezing a lot of the milk because my supply was a lot. I didn’t think my supply would be so strong as I only had small breasts (A cup), so who would’ve known. I’ve been feeding Lottie since, and haven’t had much issues with supply. I will say though my supply is sometimes so heavy I just don’t know how to slow it down. It’s definitely more than what she needs.
QUESTION: Was there anything surprising you can share from your experience?
ANNA: The cracked and sore nipples. They are seriously excruciating. And I think pumping so much because I have a high supply is making it worse. I do use a natural home remedy of calendula and cocoa butter to rub afterwards. But they’re certainly very sore.
I was also surprised that my milk didn’t arrive right away. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I guess I just never thought about what would happen those first few days.
We speak with Olivia about her experience breastfeeding as a new mum and the challenges she faced when trying to get her milk flowing.
Question: how was your hospital breastfeeding experience when bub was born?
OLIVIA: It was terrible! I remember the nurses telling me I have to try and feed bub and going okay, this should be easy. Only nothing happened and I was in agonising pain! Whenever James (bub) even got close to my nipple he couldn’t latch properly and I was so sensitive it was excruciating.
Question: so what happened next? What did you do?
OLIVIA: James was born in the early morning. I remember stressing all day thinking how am I going to feed this baby? I have no milk and I can’t even touch my nipples they were so sore. Luckily the nurses offered some support and said it was okay to give James some formula. It wasn’t at all how I thought I planned things to go, but I was in survival mode and needed to feed him.
Question: so did your milk come? If so when?
OLIVIA: I was in hospital for 5 days. No milk. Eventually we packed and went home and I resorted to the fact I wouldn’t get any milk supply. We bought some formula for the ready. Then I was sitting on the couch that evening and all of a sudden my breasts went very hard and painful. I wasn’t sure what was happening but I quickly phoned my midwife and she said to try and attach bub because it meant my milk had arrived.
Question: how was your experience once your milk arrived?
OLIVIA: it was horrible. I honestly thought to myself perfect, milk is here and everything will be fine. Only it wasn’t. I was having huge problems trying to get James to latch. And when he did it was so painful I could only get through a few seconds. I was constantly substituting with formula, but I just didn’t want to give up so I pushed through the pain.
Question: what did you do next? How did you cope?
OLIVIA: It was very stressful. I felt like a failure. I finally reached out to my midwife after 2 weeks at the verge of tears. Thankfully she recommend an amazing lactation consultant. The consultant visited my home and in about an hour gave me some fantastic tips on how to correctly latch to help ease the pain. She also gave me a nipple shield, which was a great lifesaver. I’m not going to sugar coat, it was still very painful, but I was so excited to be able to at least give it a good shot with the proper information on hand. And it helped. The more I fed, the more the pain eased.
Question: any advice for mums experience the same situation?
OLIVIA: Speak with your midwife! Don’t wait as long as I did. They deal with these types of issues all the time. You are not alone. On reflection I wish I had done it sooner.
My midwife also gave me a prescription for a pill that helped produce more milk supply. It was fantastic. I managed to pump a bit of milk on my downtime (not a huge amount) but it definitely made me feel like I was giving it a go. I managed to breastfeed for 5 months and then eventually had to transition to formula. And that was okay. My midwife was very supportive throughout the whole process and I am very thankful for that.
Have a breastfeeding experience or new Bub experience that you would like to share with our mum community? We'd love to hear from you!