Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
Alexandra O’Leary, Sittingbourne, Kent, UK
Alexandra had a difficult start to breastfeeding and had to make a leap of faith.
My waters broke early at 36 weeks and six days. Sixty hours later my little girl, Jemima, was born following induction via mid-forceps [an obstetric operation in which forceps are applied to the baby’s head when it has reached the midplane of the mother’s pelvis].
I’d always wanted to breastfeed but my baby wouldn’t latch on at all. I painstakingly expressed colostrum by hand and she was syringe-fed.
With Jemima getting hungrier and hungrier, breastfeeding attempts descended into heated tussles between my daughter and me. It was harrowing. I felt very low.
I expressed colostrum like mad but Jemima developed jaundice and required light treatment and formula top-ups. I felt like a terrible mother as my baby was now ill and I’d starved her—it was my fault.
I felt like a terrible mother as my baby was now ill and I’d starved her—it was my fault.
On day three my milk did come in but my breasts were dreadfully engorged. My nipple was pulled flat due to the hardness of the breast and the pain was excruciating. I sat in the bath and cried.
Eventually one of my breasts softened from my relentless expressing and I managed to latch my daughter on with a nipple shield and she fed! I cried and my partner cried too. She was a different baby from that moment—she had my milk at last.
I was terrified of exclusively breastfeeding. I didn’t trust it. I phoned my mum who gave me great advice, “Your baby is healthy now and she will tell you when she’s hungry.”
Breastfeeding: a leap of faith is required
We got through that first night, scared but daring ourselves to take this leap of faith. It really is a leap of faith you have to make and, as is often the case, taking it paid off because my daughter is now exclusively breastfed. At eight weeks, I can truly say that I love feeding her. Breastfeeding is no longer an enemy to be fought with, but is becoming a dear trusted friend.