My 6 Children and Flat Nipples

One of our customers has shared her experience of feeding her six children

She writes…

Breastfeeding my 6 children

#1: When Wade (now nearly 16) was born I just knew I was going to breastfeed, I thought it would be easy, that it was natural, and why would I want to do anything else?! When my midwife helped me to latch him the first time she said hmmm but nothing else. Over the next 6 weeks I was a crying horrid mess, even the thought of feeding Wade made me want to scream and all I wanted to do was stop….. actually at 21 I wanted someone to tell me it was ok to stop! At the time breastfeeding was in a cycle of being pushed a lot and also demand feeding. Wade slept for one 2 hour stretch, in the afternoon, the rest of the time he just napped. I had no idea and no advice on setting a routine, either for feeding or sleeping. I cried all the time and just wanted someone to help/takeover/tell me what to do.

After 6 weeks things settled down, it didn’t hurt to feed and although Wade continued to be demand fed until 5 months, he at least slept 8 hours at night, even though he still didn’t sleep during the day. At 5 months I came up with the excuse that he bit (he had 4 teeth) so that I could feel justified when people asked me why I wasn’t feeding him…. my poor maligned boy had never bit me. We moved onto formula and what bliss! The tin told me how much he needed and how often, so I was even able to get him into a day sleep routine……. I was not looking forward to any future children needing to be fed!

#2: When Wade was 18months old Tarissa was born….. I was dreading the breastfeeding…. once again it was painful to latch and feed. I stayed in hospital one night then went home, I remember holding this beautiful wee baby in my arms crying my eyes out and swearing my head off with the nastiest words ever trying to feed her, after 3 weeks of it I couldn’t cope anymore and put her on the bottle. I felt so guilty about feeling relieved.

#3: When Christian was born… you guessed it I was freaking out! Unfortunately Christian would latch on and then slip off again, continually, for me the most painful part was the latching, so I was a mess. I asked the onduty nurse if I could express for Christian, her attitude made me feel like an inferior mother and then she wouldn’t let me try giving the expressed milk to him and insisted on doing it herself. In the middle of the night I went down to the lounge and started talking with a midwife about my feeding troubles, she asked to have a look at my nipples and then told me I had flat nipples which was why I might be finding it a bit painful! If only my first midwife had said that!! I talked to her and got some great advice and made an informed decision to express and bottle feed and to give formula for a few feeds in the hospital. Cue the next morning and the horrid nurse! She was nasty and basically accused me of not caring about my child because I wasn’t feeding him. It was very hard standing up to her, she was so accusing and wouldn’t give me the formula until another nurse arrived and stood in the doorway. I left as soon as I could. At home I expressed and bottle fed Christian for 8 weeks. I would have continued for longer but with 3 children 3 and under and not much support at home I was glad that I had managed that long. It turned out that Christians palate was higher on one side than the other and this was the reason for his inabilty to stay latched.

#4: 5 years later I gave birth to Gabrielle, now knowing what the problem with feeding was I had done some research and had discovered ” nipple formers” I wore them from 6 months pregnant til the day of my planned c-section (for footling breech) Although natural birth is much more pleasant than a c-section there were advantages! I drank a ton of water…. I didn’t have to get up to use the loo and the morphine definetly helped if there was any soreness, I was unaware of it! I successfully fed Gabrielle for 5 months.

#5: 5 years later Bethany arrived, although I had used the nipple formers once again I had gotten a bit lax, all my children had been late and she decided she was in a hurry and was 2 weeks early. I had a little bit of pain but nothing like with my first 2 children. I continued to feed her for 4 months. At the time although I spoke to plunket and our doctor no one picked up she had reflux until she had been on formula for a month.

#6: 18months later Aliyah arrived. I very quickly suspected she had reflux but was told it couldn’t be diagnosed until after 6 weeks! I hung out for that time to come and Aliyah was put on infant gaviscon, although helpful it was a huge drama to use, she didn’t like taking it and getting the balance of enough, not enough, too much for her was really hard and depended on how much she had drunk, unlike a bottle I couldn’t see how much that was so had to guess. I fed Aliyah for 7 months, I did try to stop sooner but Aliyah absolutely refused a bottle. She was feeding every 3 hours day and night. Once on formula she lessened her waking at night to 2 – 3 times…. bliss!

Overall I am glad I was able to breastfeed my children as much as I did. I never enjoyed it, and felt it was in some ways a chore, but I also feel I gave my children the best I was able.