Bottle to Breast

A customer recently shared her experience of breastfeeding her second baby, she had so much persistance and was able to continue breastfeeding for 20 months.

Breastfeeding my firstborn was a very normal experience for me. Aside from the challenge of managing large breasts and sore nipples in the early days all went well.

I returned to work when she was 3 months old and combined breastfeeding with expressing and bottle feeding until she was nine months old. At that point I was getting really tired and switched for formula and breastfeeding until she weaned at almost a year old.

When my son was born I really did expect things to be a bit easier. I had my nipple cream on standby, and the feeding pillows were all ready to go. From the first time he fed I found getting him latched hard work, and feeding seemed more painful than I remembered. I put it down to forgetting how hard things can be with a newborn and kept going.

By day 2 my milk had come in and my nipples looked like they had been attacked with a grinder. No joke, about two thirds of the skin was missing of each one.  No matter how hard I tried I could not get him to latch.

In the end I hand expressed and fed him the milk in a bottle. I was too tired to bother with cups or syringes, and at the point where I didn’t care anymore.  The next couple of days are a blur but in that time my midwife suggested breast shields which kind of helped.

The plan was to attempt to breastfeed then top up with a cup or syringe if needed. I spent most of my time hooked up to a breast pump or trying to latch my son. I felt terrible for neglecting my daughter so much. To be honest I was topping him up with a bottle because it was quicker and easier. By day 5 I was fed up and distraught. I made the decision to express and bottle feed rather than keep going – I wanted my life back and faced with being on my own with two kids in the following week I needed to have things under control.

By the end of the second week my hand pump had started to die and my hands were painful and cramping. But at least some sanity had returned to the household, even though I spent a fair bit of time expressing and that was frustrating things were under control. I purchased an Avent ISIS UNO electric pump – brilliant pump in my opinion. Occasionally I did try to latch my son to the breast but the pain was intense – my nipples still had not healed.

Fast forward to week five – my son was gaining weight well, but reflux was beginning to rear its ugly head. I was beginning to get fed up with being tied to a pump and having to clean and sterilize bottles on top of it. Formula was calling loudly.

Then came the most fantastic plunket nurse in the world! She could see that the feeding situation  was not as good as it could be and got me in to see a lactation consultant that day. She even came along to the appointment as she wasn’t sure what was going on. That was the best half an hour I ever spent. By the end of it my son had been diagnosed with an atypical tongue tie and oral thrush. I had thrush too, which was the cause of my non-healing nipples.

Later that same day I got a phone call from the oral surgeons nurse – they had received our referral were happy to see us that evening. After a quick trawl of the internet my mind was made up that this was the best solution was us.

After the tongue tie release was done my done my baby latched and fed better than he ever had – Yay!

From 5-8 weeks he transitioned from bottle to breast. In that time it also became apparent that dairy was aggravating his reflux so I went dairy free.

It took until he was four months old to get on top of the thrush. I can’t begin to count the different remedies I tried everything from baking soda to steroid creams. Once he was started on Losec the thrush cleared up – I’m sure it was the acid from the reflux causing the thrush.

I had planned to return to work when he was six months old, but due to his reflux and the cost of neocate (which he wouldn’t drink) and daycare it was decided that I would stay home until he was a year old. Thanks to his reflux he refused solids until he was 8 months old. So breastfeeding was his saving grace – he was over the 90th percentile for growth and weight, he comfort fed a lot due to his reflux.

When I went back to work some decision for feeding had to be made. I wasn’t prepared to express at work again – I had found that really hard the first time around. I also had a different job from when my daughter was little and expressing at work would be a huge challenge.  But yet he wouldn’t drink the Neocate formula, and didn’t eat much due to reflux, and dairy or soy based formulas weren’t an option.

He was still waking 3hourly feeds at night with reflux so I decided to reschedule his feeds and give him a couple of bottles of rice milk in the day time with a breastfeed in the morning, evening and late at night. It all worked well for awhile but full time work started to take its toll on me, especially with the sleepless nights. My employer couldn’t offer part time work so I resigned.

I continued with the rice milk bottles in the daytime and breastfed as I had been. In the end my son weaned himself at nearly 20months old. The last feed was just so memorable for me – he hadn’t fed at all in the couple of days beforehand and I was sore and engorged. He woke in the night and I decided to try and feed him as I was so sore. He latched and fed when he was finished he looked up at me with a big smile on his face and milk dribbling down his chin then cuddled into me and went to sleep.

Just beautiful!

To be honest breastfeeding him was bl**dy hard work but if it hadn’t been for his dairy and reflux issues I would probably have stopped a lot sooner. But when I look at my happy healthy son it was totally worth it.