My Breastfeeding and Pumping Journey

For more doodles go to @Mumma.may on Instagram
For more doodles go to @Mumma.may on Instagram

My breastfeeding journey has been a struggle to say the least. I have a love hate relationship with my pumps. On one hand, I love that I can feed my baby from my body. On the other hand I’m still mourning the feeding journey I didn’t get to have. I dreamt of a skin to skin ‘natural’ bonding experience that we’re told so much about. Instead I’m strapped to two electrical devices whilst I try and distract my daughter from crying for the next 15-30 minutes. 

This was not my plan. But for many reasons it’s where we ended up. Originally, I was pumping to try and encourage my milk supply to come whilst I tried to get my daughter to latch. But as the days went on, I quickly realised we were in it for the long haul. 

So how did I get here? Initially baby was disinterested with latching. I was assured by the midwife this was normal for the first 24 hours. So, in the meantime I hand expressed colostrum into syringes to feed her. But after the first day she was the same. Multiple members of experienced staff tried with little success and baby ended up dehydrated and advised by doctors to give formula whilst we wait for my milk to come in. 

This was the lowest point for me. Why was I unable to do the ‘most natural’ thing I thought mothers did. Was it because I was a first time mum? Or that my baby was early? Was it the C section we had do have due to a dangerous breech? Or was it the lack of face to face breastfeeding classes due to covid?

I had been referred to infant feeding specialists and frenulotomy clinics, who told me she didn’t have a tongue tie and that it was my technique that was at fault. Which only succeeded in making me feel more like a failure. I went home feeling deflated. The days passed and I was still expressing. I noticed one day whilst my beautiful baby slept with her little mouth open- that her top lip was stuck down to her gum line. When I lifted it up I noticed a lip tie, and an extensive one at that! 

This was a breakthrough for me! How could all the health professionals have missed this?! It wasn’t ‘my technique’ that was causing the painful shallow latch and poor milk extraction. It was in fact, that baby’s top lip couldn’t flange out correctly and obtain a deep latch needed for feeding.
Since this discovery, I have been referred to a different and better feeding specialist for support. Unfortunately, the NHS cannot cut lip ties like they do tongue ties due to long term implications so I was just provided support and advice. 

During this time I discovered two extremely helpful groups on Facebook full of women in the same position as me (of which I will link below). This was the most helpful as I no longer felt alone. There was solidarity in the fact I knew other mums were up all hours in the night (when their baby and partners were asleep) pumping. The advice I’ve been given through this group has helped me with so many issues, from blocked ducks and sore nipples to correct storing of breast milk. Over the weeks I’ve began to go easier on myself and take it one pump at a time. And here we are 15 weeks later, exclusively pumping. 

To all the mums out there struggling with feeding and breastfeeding, you are not alone. And you’re bloody brilliant!

Here are the links to these invaluable groups on facebook:

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  1. Basic Necessities for Pumping – MummaMay

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