Raising your first child as many would know is a great big journey into the unknown. There are of course pre-natal classes that are great at providing you with lots of information regarding health during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding etc and it’s fantastic that we have these resources available. However, it can feel quite overwhelming getting all of this information at a stage where you’re shitting your pants and thinking how am I even going to get through childbirth and why the hell would I need to start thinking about breastfeeding now?
The truth is, I didn’t really give breastfeeding much thought. I had heard from many mums that it wasn’t easy and me being naive thought surely childbirth is harder… Boy, I was wrong. Thankfully, like my birthing experience, I went into breastfeeding with an open mind, “que sera sera” was pretty much my motto and I was determined to give breastfeeding a go for as long as I could and if it didn’t work I was going to accept it and not get upset about it. I’m not sure if it was the circulation of post-natal hormones, but I wasn’t prepared for how upset I would be when I wasn’t able to breastfeed. But looking back I realise that I really didn’t need to be upset. I’m not less of woman or a bad mother just because I couldn’t continue breastfeeding my son. It just wasn’t going to happen for me and unfortunately I was already behind the eight ball before I even started.
There were several factors that prevented me from successfully breastfeeding and they were all out of my control. The first was missing the all important unlimited skin-to-skin contact and the first breastfeed. I was rushed to theatre almost immediately post birth, meaning my son was also immediately introduced to the bottle. I had severe postpartum haemorrhaging which delayed my milk supply from coming through and my son had a mild tongue tie that prevented him from being able to latch on and stay on.
Being determined to give breastfeeding a real go I did plenty of research, used lots of resources and tried LOTS of different things. The hospital was a great support and my advice to all new mums is don’t be afraid to use the resources that are provided to you, because you’re not alone and you don’t have to do it on your own. Breastfeeding is really hard work. A great source of information was the Australian Breastfeeding Association website they have great fact sheets and loads of helpful FAQs like where to hire a breast pump or breastfeeding classes. My local maternal and child healthcare nurses were also extremely helpful and offered great advice and tips. But a real big help for me was attending the breastfeeding clinic at the hospital. I spent a whole day with a lactation consultant to demonstrate how my son was breastfeeding. We tried lots of different tricks and I got lots of helpful hints and advice. The greatest piece of advice I received was to eat lactation cookies (see my recipe below) to help increase my milk supply and they did work! But unfortunately my son’s tongue tie, which we picked up with the maternal child healthcare nurse and lactation consultant, made it really difficult for him to even latch on.
Whilst waiting to see the paediatrician to review the tongue tie, I decided the best thing to do was to just be relaxed as I could and rather than making every feeding session traumatic for the both of us, I just offered the breast if he was feeling up for it and expressed 8 times a day. This was really tiring and challenging but I persisted for 2 months and even after snipping his tongue tie, which improved his ability to suck, his interest in feeding from the breast just wasn’t there. The bottle which he had known from the beginning was just far easier than working for it!
I won’t lie I felt really bad and ashamed that I stopped breastfeeding, but how could I continue when I got upset every time? I felt like a big let down and it was at this point I knew I had to stop, it just wasn’t working for me. It took a while for me to convince myself that I wasn’t letting anyone down and I can see now the best decision I made was to stop breastfeeding. A big weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
So to the mums out there who might be sitting there reading this, doing it tough and struggling it out, you’re doing a great job. Remember you’re not alone, use all the resources available to you and talk to someone. Everybody’s experience with breastfeeding is different and keeping your sanity is just as important for you as it is for your baby. But most of all, do what works for you and don’t feel bad about it, you’re already a star in the eyes of your baby.
Love Wifey xx
The key ingredients in this recipe for aiding milk supply are oats and brewer’s yeast. Oats contain loads of iron which is important in maintaining a healthy milk supply and immune system. Brewer’s yeast also contains loads of iron but also lots of protein and phytoestrogens which is thought to be the main reason why it works so good for increasing milk supply. If you don’t like chocolate chip you can substitute with other flavours such as pistachio and dried cranberries or almonds and incaberries.
3 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups wholemeal spelt flour
5 tbsp brewer’s yeast
3 tbsp ground flaxseed
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp shredded coconut
1 tsp chia seeds
230g dark chocolate chips
pinch of pink himalayan crystal salt
4 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
1 vanilla bean (split and seeds scraped) or alternatively you can use vanilla bean extract/paste
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a baking tray with grease proof paper.
- Mix oats, spelt flour, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, shredded coconut and chia seeds.
- In a separate bowl using an electric mixer, begin to beat the butter and coconut oil on a medium speed, then slowly add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Add in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla until throughly combined.
- On a low speed begin to add the dry mixture little by little until combined.
- Fold in the chocolate chips to the mixture using a spatula.
- Using an ice-cream scoop, scoop balls of mixture and place on the lined baking tray approximately 5cm apart and flatten the balls slightly with your fingers to make more of a disc shape but don’t completely flatten them, you want them to be fairly thick.
- Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden.
- Allow the cookies to cool and store them in an airtight container.
This recipe makes about 20 cookies.