JESS RHEA, Calverley, Leeds, Yorkshire, UK
Originally published March 2015 and republished with the express permission of the author.
Breastfeeding was always something I’d planned on doing, yet it’s not something I’d given much thought to before Lola arrived. I had heard from others that it might not be easy and “some people just can’t do it,” but in my mind I was going to breastfeed and that was that. I wanted to give my baby the best start in life, and I believed that breastfeeding was one of the ways I could do this. I also felt it would enable a closeness that Lola and I would share. We got off to a great start. Within minutes of being born, Lola made her way to my breast and started suckling. I couldn’t believe how instinctive this was.
The first night in the hospital was a little tricky as I tried to master the art of a good feeding position, but the nurses were great and all offered me time and support to ensure that I was able to feed comfortably. We left hospital the next morning. It all seemed to be going so well, but I lacked confidence. I contacted Caroline, a peer supporter, who gave up her own time to kindly come round to our home. She watched me feed Lola and gave me some helpful information. I felt great when she left because she really gave me confidence in myself.
Dealing with the challenges
The next few months had their challenges. I wasn’t fully prepared for the demands of cluster feeding every evening, Lola’s fussiness at the breast, my fast let-down, and Lola’s sleeping all night attached to my breast. I took each day as it came and tried to deal with the different issues as they arose. One of the things I found most difficult was feeling trapped on the sofa for hours on end. I usually live my life at 100mph and stopping to sit still for long periods was alien to me. What about that huge pile of washing? Who is going to empty the dishwasher? I need to clean the bathroom! Let’s just say I gave my husband plenty of lists and he never complained about being bored. After the time I was compelled to watch “Match of the Day” for the best part of two hours when my husband left the room without warning, I issued strict instructions that he was never to leave the lounge before putting the remote control next to me.
Bedsharing was a lifesaver for nighttime breastfeeding. After a while I was able almost to sleep through feeding. Both my husband and I used slings and wraps to carry Lola, which were fabulous as she loved being close to us and we had our hands free to get those essential jobs done. Going out for walks with Lola in the sling was great exercise when I had to spend so much time sitting down. And wearing Lola helped my husband to bond with her in the early days. She spent many an hour snoozing happily on his chest.
Looking back on my mothering journey so far, I wish I’d relaxed more. Those early months with Lola are a time I shall never get back. They mark the beginning of our special attachment. As the days and months passed, everything became much easier and my confidence grew and grew. The feeds became shorter and the challenges faded, but the closeness between Lola and me remains.
Thinking about my initial goals when choosing to breastfeed, I feel I have definitely achieved those, and for that I am proud. I couldn’t have done it without the help and support of my husband, family, and friends. The La Leche League meetings I attended were very useful and thank you, Sally, for the pep talks late into the night! I shall definitely recommend LLL to any new breastfeeding mothers, whether or not they are experiencing challenges. It’s been lovely to meet such a great group of like-minded people, and the homemade flapjack is amazing!