Louise’s Breastfeeding story

louise's story

My breastfeeding journey started when I was 17, my son was born premature in 2006 and spent time in special care, I was advised to express milk for him to be tube fed. The only advice I recall being given was to have a picture of my baby with me as I pumped to help the milk flow. At 8 days old I tried to feed him but he was so small he struggled to latch. I was told that breast shields may help, not knowing what they were and being too shy to ask, I used a bottle teat instead.

I fed my son for a couple of months, but stopped due to slow weight gain and being recommended formula. Knowing what I know now, I’d have tried to increase my own supply before stopping so abruptly.

My daughter was born in November 2020 days before a lockdown was announced, her birth was traumatic and we really struggled with feeding. She had issues with her palate and lips so latching was really hard and incredibly painful. I didn’t know where to find help so my HV recommended expressing and bottle feeding. I did for a few weeks but had an ill-fitting pump which caused nipple damage and I decided to stop. After a few months I decided I wanted to breastfeed again so I researched how to relactate. It was very difficult but I felt so proud of myself when my daughter had a bottle of just my milk again. I expressed for a while but then realised she had CMPA and she was given a specialist formula.

I had (and still do have) a lot of grief around my feeding journey with my daughter.

My third child, another son, was born in March 2023. Again we had a difficult start – bad latch, cracked nipples, thrush, mastitis three times – but I was absolutely determined this time to breastfeed. I found every bit of help I could, IBCLCs, breastfeeding support groups, home visits by peer supporters and even cranial osteopathy. It took around 9 weeks for feeding to become semi-comfortable (like my daughter, he has palate issues which makes feeding uncomfortable for me).

Despite all the difficulties, my son has thrived, going up two centiles and being so settled and content. I am so proud of us for learning together, figuring out what our problems were and finding ways to make them less of an issue. He is my last baby and it makes me so happy that I’m finally having the feeding journey I’ve always wanted.