This beautiful mama is the most passionate breastfeeding woman I have ever met!
Rebecca’s Double Band Round Stone Ring is absolutely divine…Breastmilk and pearl shimmer (my favourite mix) with hair from her beautiful daughters.
Her story is below and wow!!!
I desperately wanted to breastfeed. It was one of those non-negotiable things I had in mind when I thought of myself as a parent. I had done lectures and in-services and online e-courses at the hospital as a nurse, I had read so much information on the ABA’s website and my husband and I did their Breastfeeding Education Class when we were pregnant. I felt so prepared…theoretically.
(Charlotte’s Breast Crawl)
My birth was pretty amazing. (link Charlotte’s birth story: http://distilledhappiness.com/wp/2017/07/04/born-light-love-charlottes-birth-story/ ) We had a peaceful homebirth at my parents’ home and everything went really smoothly. When she was born we let her try and latch in the pool a couple times but it hurt when she latched and it was a bit tricky. After those attempts I was left with a couple bruises. When I got out of the pool after the placenta was born we let her do a breast crawl as that was what every Lactation Consultant and ABA class had always encouraged. She struggled and was getting very tired (she was a bit little for gestational age). So my midwife helped me try and latch her. It was painful still but she was drinking. I had no idea what it was meant to feel like and just assumed this was pretty normal. She was born at 9am in the morning and I fed her again during the day. But that night I was so exhausted and my nipples hurt so much I decided to syringe feed her the colostrum I had expressed in the last couple weeks of my pregnancy. I would syringe the colostrum into her mouth as she sucked on my finger. Then I would hand express my breasts after every feed.
Over the next few days, the pain became more and more awful as the damage she was causing every feed compounded. In just a few days my nipples were cracked, blistered and incredibly sore. I was in tears every time she started to stir just thinking that I would have to feed her again. After a week I needed my husband to hold my hand as I cried and curled my toes as my breath would catch in my throat every time her tiny mouth latched on.
My midwife had come over several times offering me advice and helping me adjust her latch. The frustrating part was that we could get her to take a nice deep, painless latch but no sooner would she take that big mouthful and she would pull her little head back and go back to a painful shallow latch. I saw the Lactation Consultants at the local hospital but they weren’t able to make much of a difference. My midwife also suggested getting her checked for a tongue tie, but there was only one GP in Toowoomba that did revisions. At just 2 weeks old we took our baby girl for an assessment and weretold she had a posterior tongue tie. The GP then snipped in four places under her tongue while her daddy held her and I cried. She came back to my arms and started to feed. I didn’t notice any change. We tried doing the stretches the Doctor had vaguely described but we weren’t really sure what we were doing.
A couple weeks later and there was no change. I resigned myself to a painful breastfeeding life. Charlotte was gaining beautifully so she was just fine. And I had worked out a routine of position changes (Cradle hold, lying down, football) so that I rotated the damage on my nipples and a callus had started to form.
We moved to Darwin when she was 5 weeks old. At about 8 or 9 weeks old, Charlotte had grown and her mouth was big enough to take enough of my nipple despite her shallow latch to cause only discomfort rather than pain. And so on we went. Feeding to sleep, feeding a hundred times a night and a thousand times during the day. This kid was (still is) a boobie monster.
It wasn’t until we started solids that we suspected an issue. We wanted to do Baby Led Weaning (BLW) but Charlotte couldn’t progress past soft food like banana or avocado. She would gag and vomit on anything more than tiny mouthfuls even at 12 months old. I had let it go for months thinking she was just learning how to eat and this might be normal. But eventually I decided to get her reviewed by a speech pathologist. They confirmed that she was in fact severely restricted with a posterior tongue tie and couldn’t move the food around in her mouth at all and was instead pushing and mashing everything on the roof of her mouth to try and eat it.
At 15 months we took her to Enhanced Dentistry in Brisbane to have her assessed and revised. Charlotte had her tongue, lip and buccals lasered. Again, I stood in a room crying hard in my husband’s arms as I listened helplessly to my baby cry in the room next door. It was over in a matter of seconds and she was brought to me sobbing. Immediately on the boobie she calmed and recovered. 2 weeks of stretches and it was like night and day with how she was able to eat. She went from gagging, spewing and no chewing to rolling food around from one cheek to the other, chewing and rolling her mouthfuls into a bolus and swallowing!!
Breastfeeding a toddler is hard work (link to my blog: http://distilledhappiness.com/wp/2017/07/04/truth-about-breastfeeding-a-toddler/). There were times I desperately wished she would wean. She was on me incessantly! Every time I sat down she wanted to feed. I loved how much comfort she was able to get from me but it was exhausting.Unfortunately, I felt I was so far down the rabbit hole that there was no way out. I was going to ride this feeding rollercoaster until she decided to stop because I had no idea how to wean her. She was 15 months old when we started trying for another baby and at 19 months I found out we had conceived. Early pregnancy meant I was beyond exhausted, nauseous, and the nipple pain was excruciating when she was feeding. I hated it. When I got a let down it felt like knives burning down my breasts. This understandably kicked off some pretty awful nursing aversion. All I can say is thankfully at 10 or 11 weeks pregnant, my milk dried up and most of the pain went away, feeding was no longer horrible but not as pleasant as it had been.
It was at about 20 months we decided to try and night wean Charlotte as she was still waking to feed 4-5 times a night. I really wanted it to be a gentle process and was willing to let it be a to and fro dance, two steps forward, one step back kind of tango. If ever there was a night she really needed the boobie I would let her have it. So I decided to try and stop the overnight feeds first. BIG MISTAKE. She woke, I said no and offered cuddles instead…she lost her tiny mind and started screaming. Quick, boob! No one has time for that drama overnight when all I want is sleep. New tactic. I thought maybe a better option was to try and stop her feeding to sleep at night first then progress to the overnight feeds.
One night after dinner I sat down with Charlotte and told her that, “Tonight we will have a bath and after, when we read books you can have some boobie but when we go to bed Mummy will just give you cuddles until you fall asleep.” That night we did exactly that and when we went to bed she went to start feeding again but I reminded her that no, she had her boobie when we read the books and now it was just cuddles. She cranky (not hysterical) cried and tossed around for a while, all while I hummed and stroked her hair and back, then loudly did some deep breathing. 5 minutes later she was asleep! Next night, same thing but she grizzled a bit less. Night 3 she cried a bit harder and I was just about to whip out the boobie as I felt she was getting too upset but she just rolled over and went to sleep. And that was it. After about 5 nights there was not even a whinge out of her, this was the new routine and she had stopped feeding to sleep. After another few days her daddy put her to bed for the first time since she was a newborn!!! It was an incredible moment for me.
Her overnight waking dropped off to just 2-3 times and after about a month of not feeding to sleep I thought she was probably ready to stop feeding overnight as well. I sat her down again after dinner and had another conversation that when she woke up at night she could have a drink of water and some cuddles but no boobie until the sun was up. Very similar to stopping her feeding to sleep, the first couple nights there was a little bit of protest but no crying and by the end of the week she’d almost stopped waking up altogether. She had was only waking at 4am and if I refused that feed she would wake up for the day and immediately ask for breakfast. She was obviously genuinely hungry at that time and I figured one feed at 4am was an incredible improvement from 4-5 wake ups a night so I was happy to keep feeding her at 4am. After a couple months she dropped that feed too. I continued to dry nurse her throughout my pregnancy and she naturally dropped feeding right back to just nursing to sleep during the day with some gentle mummy encouragement.
(Abigail’s First Feed)
I was feeding Charlotte to sleep for her day nap when I went into labour. I finished feeding her and after she popped off I just lied with her in my arms, feeling her weight, her soft breath on my chest, her sweet eyelashes resting on her cheeks. I soaked her all in knowing this would be it, our last moment together just the two of us. Our second daughter Abigail was also born at home (link to Abby’s birth story: http://distilledhappiness.com/wp/2018/08/16/empowered-earthside-arrival-abigails-birth-story-part-2/ ). Another incredibly powerful birth. We got out of the pool not long after she was born and after my placenta was birthed we tried a breast crawl with Abigail. She aced it and attached beautifully. I shaped my breast as she opened her mouth but otherwise I tried not to intervene. There was no pain! So different to my first experience with Charlotte. I was beaming from ear to ear. The little champion fed for an hour. When she finally came off I did have a small blister on the tip of my nipple. A 20min break and it was on to the next boob! Another hour feed, still painless but another blister.
The next morning was a Monday and I called an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) as soon as I could. We made an appointment to have Abby checked over at 3pm that day. 19hours after Abby was born, we had her assessed and found she did have some posterior restriction though the IBCLC suggested it may simply be tight muscles rather than a tongue tie. She gave us some exercises to do and suggested we see a chiropractor to have body work done to release her. I had booked an appointment for a couple days later where our incredible Chiro did some cranial work and gently released her jaw, tongue and neck. We had another appointment made a few days after that and it was amazing how effective the treatments were. She stopped doing damage after that first adjustment and she was less windy and more settled as well. Less than 2 weeks after her birth, I was painlessly breastfeeding and the damage initially done to my nipples had healed.
My milk came in at day 3 (I think) and my breasts were soengorged, hard and sore. I asked Charlotte if she would like to come and have a feed, my first tandem attempt! It was quite hilarious, she hadn’t had any boobie since that last feed when I went into labour; and when she latched on she stopped, looked at me quite shocked, and shook her head asking for “no milk please”. Little darling had gotten so used to dry nursing she didn’t like that there was milk back. I didn’t push it, though I must admit I was a little sad that I had tolerated all that aversion, pain and time dry nursing my toddler only to have her reject the breast when the milk came back. Later that morning, I expressed some milk with my Haakaa pump so try and relieve some of the discomfort. I poured it into a sippy cup and gave it to Charlotte. I told her it was milk from mummy. Her face lit up and she went back to being as veracious as ever.
I couldn’t keep up with her demands though and I didn’t want to. I was happy for her to continue feeding once a day but she wanted to go back to full-time nursing. The meltdowns were huge and some days I would nurse her two or three times but mostly I tried to keep it to one feed a day. We’re 4 months into our tandem boob life and some days I wish I had just left it and let Charlotte wean the day my milk returned but 90% of the time I’m really happy we’re continuing. Most days now I can feed them both and get them down for their midday nap together. Charlotte still treasures her boobie snuggles with me and I love being able to have this connection time with her. Sometimes she still asks a couple times a day for more but there’s no meltdowns now when I reinforce the limit of once a day.
I found timing her feed very effective for managing my aversion. She gets 10 minutes before I count down 3…2…1 and she pops off and falls asleep. Breast feeding is a relationship between both mother and baby. It must work for both. Abby feeds on demand and I am willing to let Charlottefeed to term (goodness knows where that will be as there’s certainly no sign of her stopping any time soon), but I must have my own boundaries too.
You can follow Rebecca over at her business Distilled Happiness
Rebecca highly recommends having a look at Beer and Bubs
How amazing is this journey xxxx
Thank you beautiful woman for sharing it with me and everyone