Sometimes my body amazes me. In spite of my poor treatment of it (I think the last time I consistently and meaningfully exercised was before Immy was born) and my habit of filling it with rubbish more often than I like to admit, it has grown and nurtured two healthy babies.
I am one of those crazy types who loves being pregnant. In fact, my pregnancies are probably the only time that I have truly loved my body for what it is. When I am pregnant I no longer see the jutting hip bones or fried egg chest of my teenage years or worry about the dimply and wrinkled skin that seemingly appeared overnight sometime dung the last decade. Instead my steadily expanding stomach, the niggles and discomfort, even the sleeplessness and sickness, serve to remind me of the awesomeness of the human body.
I am thankful that my body has allowed me to bond so closely with each of my daughters, both as they grew inside me and afterwards as I breastfed them. Having experienced baby loss myself and having seen so many beloved friends struggle with getting pregnant, staying pregnant or breastfeeding their little ones, I took neither of these privileges for granted.
Before Immy was born I truly wasn’t sure what to expect when it came to so many aspects of parenting but top of the list was breastfeeding. Whilst I wholeheartedly hoped it would work out for us I tried not to have any expectations, instead waiting to see how we both managed. As it turned out, Immy latched on like a pro and took a long time to let go 🙂 Apart from a little nipple tenderness in the first few days (feeding her for too long, a midwife once scolded me), breastfeeding was easy for us. Immy went on to feed until she was almost two (albeit with a few weaning false starts!)
While our experience left me with high hopes for breastfeeding with AJ, I told myself again to just wait and see and it has definitely been a different experience this time around. What I have found most surprising of all has been how differently my own body has responded. Whilst I appreciated that as individuals each of my girls would respond to breastfeeding individually, I had absolutely no idea that my own body’s responses to breastfeeding would be so different each time.
Each time I have had an abundant supply of milk. Immy would pull off if the flow was too fast and after a few weeks my supply settled down in response to her needs. The only hiccup was about a week’s worth of colic symptoms thanks to built up gas and wind (and isn’t 4am such a fabulous time to be trying to comfort a distressed baby!) On the other hand, AJ has had a lot more difficulty coping. Unless I intervene, the poor little mite tries to chug through the flow rather than pulling off which leads to all sorts of problems with wind and sees feeding punctuated with multiple burping sessions. I cannot tell you how much I wish that I did not have to continually thump her on the back during a time that should be soft and close and relaxing.
This time around breastfeeding has seen me Googling breastfeeding positions and You-tubing burping techniques. I have listened to my baby cry as she has waited for me to pump before I can feed her. I have walked around with freezing cold cabbage leaves in my bra thanks to blocked ducts and multiple cases of mastitis which I largely attribute to some of the different feeding positions I have tried. Nothing really made any difference. Nothing except time, which certainly hasn’t solved the problem but it has helped. At almost four months my supply has lessened as it has adapted to her needs but my flow is still very fast at the beginning of each feed, and most especially with my let-down.
Before Immy was born I remember reading that the let-down reflex could be uncomfortable but I never felt a thing. In contrast, with AJ there have been times when I have had to clench my teeth to stop myself shouting out loud, the let-down is so intense and painful. And I often feel it more than once in the same breast during the course of a feed. As time has gone by, it has become less painful but there remains an obvious intensity that is enough to effect AJ. It certainly makes the quick top-up to sleep a whole lot less successful (that thumping on the back again) and sometimes I feel like my own body is betraying me as I will it not to let-down as my small one drifts off to sleep. It never works.
AJ’s continued colic-like symptoms combined with a number of other indications of discomfort now have us on a journey to see whether in fact it is just my abundant supply and fast flow that are causing her irritation. Under the supervision of her doctor, we are examining other factors such as silent reflux and food intolerances. Thankfully each day seems a little easier and one step closer to the gentle, relaxed breastfeeding relationship I dream of. My hope is that AJ will continue to breastfeed for a good, long time.
Just like her sister did.
Anybody else love being pregnant? Have you noticed differences in how your body (and your baby) has responded to breastfeeding each time?
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