My feeding journey was a straightforward and overwhelmingly positive experience... UNTIL maternity leave ended.
I was fortunate enough to have my mother, who was a midwife of 30 years, by my side throughout my pregnancies and for both of my births.
I was also part of the Midwifery Group Practice at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital; an incredible program which assigns a midwife to your family and provides one on one care both pre- and post-birth at home and in hospital. The support from both my own mother, and her colleagues at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital through the MGP, was truly a game-changer for my birth experience and subsequent breastfeeding journey.
I had always wanted to try to breastfeed, and to be honest, I hadn’t put much thought into an alternative. I had straightforward births with both my boys and was able to return home four hours after giving birth with the care and support of my midwives, mother and partner.
I remember day two after my first baby was born, my milk had come in and my nipples were cracked and bleeding. Breastfeeding was excruciatingly painful; my baby was hungry, and I was in tears.
My mother came over to offer some support and ended up going through a series of latching techniques with us - we were doing it all wrong! Having the immediate education and support she was able to give as a professional with many years of experience in the field (and Lansinoh!!) got us back on track. Having such supportive midwives around me, I truly put my trust in the village and followed their lead on latching and breast care. I was the student, and they were my teachers.
Breastfeeding came very naturally to me after this point, so I had very little use for formula…. UNTIL… maternity leave ended, and so did my breastfeeding journey.
I remember that five-and-a-half-month mark when it dawned on me that I needed to stop breastfeeding.
I resented having to go back to work and what that meant for me and by baby. My baby had never really had a bottle so inevitably refused to take formula. I remember two weeks before I had to go back to work, saying to my husband “I am leaving the house for the day and not coming back until he takes a bottle”.
Inevitably he got the message and I returned to work. I tried expressing at work and continuing to do night feeds, but it become too stressful for us both.
I loved breastfeeding and feel incredibly lucky that it was such a positive experience for me and my babies, but I also know that without the level of support and education that I received in the first crucial few days and weeks of their lives, that it could have been a very different story.
Added to which, formula gave me the freedom to return back to work and for my babies to continue to thrive – so I value how important a resource it is for women to have access to.