Hannah's Breastfeeding Journey

Today on the Blog, Hannah shares with us her three different breastfeeding journeys. Grab a cuppa, sit down and have a read.

Before having children, I assumed breastfeeding was this easy, pain free, beautiful journey. Ha! The things you don’t know huh?

I’ve had 3 very different experiences with my 3 children. I have breastfed, pumped, formula fed and used a lact-aid. Fed is definitely best in my world, so here’s a bit more of my journey.

Regan was born 8 weeks premature at a tiny 3lb 3oz. The perk to this was he didn’t need a lot of milk in the early days because he was so tiny, but the downside was he wasn’t strong enough to feed directly from me. For 6 weeks I pumped 7 times a day to collect enough milk to syringe feed and eventually bottle feed Regan. I made friends in the pumping room at Waikato Hospital and while it was tiring and arduous, it felt worth it. Six weeks was a long time and I give huge credit to those who exclusively pump! I did continue to pump after that time to fill up a freezer stash but that was more for my benefit than his!

Once he learned to breastfeed, we continued with that and bottles of expressed milk until he was 11 months old. At that point I got pregnant with Hadley, had hyperemesis and was extremely unwell, so feeding a little human wasn’t ideal, and we switched to formula until he was about 13 or 14 months old.

Hadley was a bigger babe, 6lb 4oz (so still not huge) but hungry! He took to feeding well but needed a lot. His sleep wasn’t great, and I always felt like I didn’t have a great supply. I know it’s said that your body produces what your baby needs, but I never felt full, didn’t leak a lot, if any, and just always felt like he was hungry. Expressing was terrible and exhausting! So by 4 months we had him mix fed - breastfeeding and topping up with formula bottles. By 8 months he was solely on formula as I just couldn’t keep up!

Madeline came along and it was just a different kettle of fish again. She was 6lb 1oz, and a tired wee babe. At the birth centre after my c section we were waking her for feeds as she wasn’t gaining enough weight, and she was struggling to stay awake. We tried a lactaid (a tube you run from a bottle to your nipple so when they suck, they’re getting a mix of breastmilk and formula from the bottle) and that helped. I tried every lactation supplement with Maddie and I do think it helped. I had oats for breakfast, drank lots of water, ate lactation cookies and lactation bars and took Milk Maker and added lactation blend to my porridge and smoothies. Maddie is now 18 months old and is still absolutely addicted to boob. She’s been my longest feeder and it’s exhausting but I’m mostly treasuring it because she’s our last babe. There’s something I really treasure about that closeness, but I also equally treasured the bottle feeding time with the boys when they were lying in my arms gazing up at me.

I’ve been incredibly lucky to not suffer from mastitis needing antibiotics. I’ve had milk blebs, I’ve had lumps, I’ve had cracked nipples from a terrible latch. My midwife was an incredible source of support and I know that I could have called on a lactation consultant if needed. I’ve used all the supplements, tried all the tricks and am very thankful for my experiences even though they’ve all been completely different.

Looking for Breastfeeding Support?

Women's Health Action aims to connect parents and whānau with breastfeeding support services across Aotearoa.

SmartStart is a great resource to find support near you, and information on a wide range of parenting topics.

PlunketLine is a free, 24/7 phone service available to all whānau and caregivers throughout New Zealand who require parenting help. Your call will be answered by a Plunket nurse who can provide advice and information on breastfeeding, your child’s health and wellbeing, and parenting issues. Free call PlunketLine on 0800 933 922.

BreastFedNZ provide simple ‘in the moment’ support and information to help women and their babies, alongside their partners and support networks, achieve their breastfeeding goals from birth to weaning.

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