Zoe’s Breastfeeding Journey – My premature baby , exclusively expressing and breastfeeding!

Being Prepared

My breast feeding journey with Leo and Rosie have taken 2 complete different directions! With Rosie, she was your typical, textbook newborn. Within minutes of being born, she latched on and had an amazing 1st feed. Leo however didn’t. Being born slightly prematurely, he didn’t know how to latch. In this blog I’m going to talk you through our journeys so far! I have always had a positive attitude to ‘fed is best’ when it comes to babies, I had brought loads of bottles, breast pumps, a steriliser, nipple shields… you name it! I was prepared for a breast fed or a formula fed baby! What I wasn’t expecting was an exclusively expressed breast fed baby! I didn’t even know that was a ‘thing’! During antenatal appointments, midwives never talked about exclusively expressing milk, they talked about formula feeding and breast feeding. Thankfully during our 3 week hospital stay with Leo, the midwives supported and educated me about expressing!

Things did not go as expected….

Being diagnosed with preeclampsia at 34/35 weeks pregnant with Leo was a super scary time for me. I couldn’t wait for him to arrive, but getting my head around the fact that I will be a mum to a teeny baby any day, weeks early was horrible. I just wanted to put the breaks on, but my placenta was failing so he needed to come early! The midwives warned me of the complications that could of occurred with his temperature, breathing etc, but they never warned me about feeding complications! Whilst in hospital Leo wasn’t able to latch properly, partly due to him having such bad jaundice he was under lights for a week. Every time I’d take him out to feed him, I’d be battling to try and feed him for an hour. His jaundice levels where getting worse and his temperature kept dropping. A midwife came over and offered me a bottle of donated breast milk. She sat and fed Leo this tiny bottle of milk with a special premature teat and he drank it straight away! (I’ve kept the teat and bottle, obviously cleaned in his memory box!) From that moment I knew what was best for my baby.

Expressing for my baby

I sat for hours and hours expressing milk for him, storing them in the hospital fridge. A couple of nights before he was discharged, I ordered an electric breast pump online as I only had a manual one at home. When we where discharged, I went home and pumped, pumped, pumped! I used to walk around the house, tidying up with a double breast pump strapped into a special bra! I felt like daisy the milking cow! Gosh knows what my postman must have thought when I had to poke just my head around the door to get my parcels! Within a few weeks, we noticed something wasn’t right. He started getting awful eczema and he was losing weight, rather than gaining it. At around 5 months Leo was referred for allergy testing. At this point, I was on a dairy, egg and gluten free diet (can you imagine having a frozen dairy, egg & gluten free 21st birthday cake from Tesco when your used to the real deal?!). At 7 months he was finally diagnosed with a Milk & Soya allergy and an action plan for introducing Egg. I knew I couldn’t cut this out of my diet for much longer. I needed to stay healthy. We where given a prescription for a ‘free from’ formula. Within a couple of weeks, he was the happiest baby! Although our breast feeding journey was short lived and very hard work, I’m glad we tried.

My Second Baby

When Rosie was born, like I said in my introduction, she latched on straight away! She has been a booby monster ever since! I still do occasionally express milk for Rosie, but not having to sterilise 10 bottles and a breast pump everyday has been a dream! Like every breast feeding mother, getting used to ‘whipping your boob out’ in public or in front of family can be a little awkward. I found feeding in front of family members the hardest, I don’t know why! They have all been incredibly supportive! 6 months down the line, I’m a lot more relaxed. If she needs feeding in the middle of Aldi, I’ll feed her! If she needs feeding whilst out for lunch, I’ll feed her! I know some people can be unpleasant and find breastfeeding in public unacceptable (although it’s a completely natural thing…but that’s an on going argument in society) but luckily I’ve never had any negativity! I think I’d just squirt them with milk if I did get any grief! However I am always conscious of my surrounding and like to ‘cover up’. Normally, I just pop a muslin cloth under my bra strap and over Rosie’s head! I’ve also purchased a beautiful nursing jumper from Stylish Mum, which opens up each side for easy, discrete access! This was also my ‘coming home’ outfit when Rosie was born in March! Now winter is approaching, I’ll be wearing it a lot!

Breast feeding Rosie has been such a beautiful journey, but it’s not always easy. The nights seem to be longer, my boobs seem to be a little more uncomfy and with teething in full swing…well you can imagine the discomfort of a bitten nipple! I have lost count of the amount of times I’ve sworn I’d be buying formula in the morning if she wakes me up 1 more time….but I haven’t. 1 sleepless night…more like 150 sleepless nights will never take away the amazing bond that I have built with my daughter and will continue to grow. Plus, it’s saved me in a fortune not buying formula! No matter how you feed your baby, you’re doing a good job. I salute those who spend hours cleaning and sterilising bottles for their babies formula. I salute those mums who spend hours each day and night expressing milk as if they where on a dairy farm and I salute those breast feeding mums who have their nipple bitten at 3AM whilst your partner is sound asleep next to you…! If we all support each other, formula, breast or expressed, we will continue to NORMALISE NORMAL. A FED BABY IS A HAPPY BABY.

You can follow Zoe on her mother journey at www.instagram.com/life.with.the.hjs

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