Several things during motherhood are hard, but breastfeeding is probably one of the hardest.
Some women are blessed to have a generous supply of milk, a baby who doesn’t have a problem with latching or have nipples that end up cracked. These women are lucky let me tell you that.
When I had Joshua I was so determined to breastfeed, there was no other option in my opinion. I didn’t even have one bottle at home. My reality was quickly crushed when I struggled with exclusively BF Joshua. My milk didn’t come in until day 7, which is abnormally long. When it finally did I had a really low supply. Joshua lost a lot of weight, more than the usual and I was forced to give him formula. I tried really hard but after about 6 weeks my milk slowly dried up and I gave up. I gave it a really good go but I was gutted.
When I got pregnant this time round, I was determined to give it another shot, however I said to myself I wasn’t going to give myself such a hard time if it didn’t work out. I even brought an emergency pack of formula just in case. The last time my OH had to take a mad dash to Asda at 2am!
I did loads of research and stocked up with several things that apparently would increase my supply, I also rented a hospital grade Medela symphony double breast pump.
When Olivia was born she took to feeding quite well, she didn’t wake loads, slept quite a lot and she general was quite content.
After a few days my nipples were extremely sore and soon enough became cracked. No amount of nipple cream was helping either. My milk came in around day 3/4 which was much better than last time. I wasn’t haven’t much luck with pumping – I could usually only get 1oz out of each boob at a time (if I was lucky) These women who I kept seeing on my feed that could pump 5/6oz – I was insanely jealous!!
My supply was still quite low – I sought help from a breastfeeding specialist, the infant feeding team and a private lactation specialist. Olivia had tongue tie which was affecting her latch, hence the really sore nipples.
You can read about my post on tongue tie here
Olivia had now lost quite a lot of weight, I continued to exclusively BF her regardless. I had been advised to top her up with expressed breast milk after every feed, about 2oz. The problem is I could never pump enough in between feeds. I was basically either feeding or pumping. For several days I hardly left the house.
After we got her tongue tie resolved, I kept an eye on her weight gain.
I took her to be weighed and she still wasn’t gaining any weight. 5 weeks later Olivia was still under her birth weight of 3.88kg and I was advised by several health professionals to top her up after feeds with either expressed breast milk or formula. I started to cry in the baby clinic, I really thought this time would be different, but as I looked down at Olivia who was now extremely thin, I knew I had to do what was best for her.
My supply was low and I basically was scraping the barrel. Maybe if I had given birth to a 6lb baby I might have had enough milk, but at 8lbs 9oz Olivia who was also very long wasn’t getting enough from me to gain any weight.
A bit of background info – I had a breast uplift 8 years ago after losing lots of weight and being left with empty socks for boobs and extremely low body confidence.
I sought out my surgeon very carefully as I wanted to be able to BF later in life and several companies such as Transform remove the nipple completely which would mean I couldn’t BF.
My surgeon, Dai Davies is a renowned surgeon specialising in breast reconstruction. He advised if I could BF before I would to be able after the operation.
Anyway – I could of had supply issues anyway, but this always plays on my mind.
The HV at the baby clinic explained that I should BF her first, and after both my breasts were empty offer her 2oz of either expressed BM or formula. I decided to keep with just breast during the night as she only wakes up once and my breasts were always full during the night so thought she was getting quite a bit of milk.
I continued to do this for a week and to my joy she had finally put on weight….a massive 300g! She was finally over her birth weight!!
My usual feeding/pumping routine;
6am – breastfeed
8.30am – breastfeed
9am – top up (this is usually formula)
9.30am – pump
11am – breastfeed
11.30am/12pm – top up (expressed BM)
2pm – pump
Olivia will usually nap during this time for a while so I sometimes pump twice if I’m at home)
5/6pm – breastfeed
7pm – top up (EBM or formula if I’m out and haven’t expressed)
8pm – 10pm- cluster feed (Olivia literally just likes to be on the boob all evening)
10pm – top up (usually formula)
10.30pm – pump
11pm – breastfeed
3am – breastfeed
I thought I would write a routine out for you guys, as before I started I had no idea what combination feeding really meant and I would to have loved to have read someone’s routine before hand for info.
Obviously sometimes the routine goes out the window – like today Olivia has wanted to cluster feed most the day for comfort. I also can’t pump as much if she’s clingy or I’m out for the day. Sometimes I give her top up’s in between feeds but sometimes she’s straight back to the boob after lol.
This routine has really worked for us, because Olivia put on 300g in a week and I still feel great that she is getting mostly BM.
In an ideal world I only wanted her on BM, but with a crap supply and a big baby it just wasn’t possible.
I’ll continue as long as I can, I really enjoy BF and hopefully once I’ve started to wean Olivia at around 4/5 months I’ll be able to go back to just BM as she’ll be having food also.
A few things I’ve learnt along the way about BF:
• It will hurt and this will possibly last a while, don’t give up it gets better
• Seek help – there are free breastfeeding specialists that can help you and check your baby’s latch etc
• Drink lots of water 2/3L a day
• Eat regular meals
• feed lots this increases your supply
• Pumping can also help increase your supply
• Lots of skin to skin
• Oats, garlic, spinach, fennel – all natural foods that can boost supply
• Fenugreek is a natural supplement that you can take can also boost your supply
• Invest in a good breastfeeding pillow to support your baby while you feed, this will make feeding more comfortably
• Also invest in a good breastfeeding cover for when you’re out. This is good if you are slightly shy when feeding when you’re out.
I’ll link all the items I’ve spoken about in the post below and a few other items that are useful!
Breast Pads – you’ll need these, your boobs will leak!
Manual Pump – this is great for travelling, it’s also great for catching leaking milk from your other boob while you feed.
Muslins – these extra large muslins are my fave, they are made from bamboo and they are super soft and have a range of uses
Cover – this cover is great, it has a stiffened neck line which allows you to see your baby and allow air flow
Rental Pump – I have rented the Medela double pump for £47pm. I know this is pricey but for me it’s totally worth it
Nipple Creams – sore nipples are the worst, here is a review on the best ones!
Nipple Shields – these can also be useful for short term use when you have sore nipples.
None of these are affiliate links, I just want to share what I’ve learnt with you all ❤️
My last point….if BF works for you amazing! If it doesn’t, don’t give yourself a hard time….fed is best as they say!