How Sian overcame her biggest breastfeeding challenges
"Breastfeeding has been the most challenging thing I've ever been through, physically, mentally and emotionally. I felt bliss... then I reached my absolute lowest in self doubt and self worth... then I discovered In Shape Mummy. I thought I'd tried everything, but this helped save my Breastfeeding journey. I am now 4 months Breastfeeding, AND bottle feeding. Here's my story 💜
Before I had Carter, I couldn't have cared less about whether I breastfed my baby or bottle fed my baby. But the first time my beautiful baby boy latched on, I felt complete. It was the most incredible feeling. I was providing for my son.
It was a rough start having a premature baby that was tube fed at first, and having to express to build my supply, but Carter eventually was able to breastfeed. I never knew how much I wanted it to work until he latched on. It was beautiful.
After 3 months of being tied to the lounge, and Carter feeding hours on end, it turns out he was feeding himself tired, not actually getting what he needed from me therefore wasn't putting on any weight. But I was! Hello self doubt. "I'm not enough". "I'm his mum I should be able to provide for him but I can't". "What am I doing wrong". "Why can't I do this". "I'm getting so fat!". I had countless Lactation consultants, Nurses, and NICU Doctors trying to help me.
In the end, we HAD to introduce some formula top ups to increase Carter's weight. His health was more important than my wanting to exclusively breastfeed. So the new process to get Carter stronger was 20 minutes on 1 boob, then a formula top up. I then had to express for half an hour whilst Carter lay on the floor watching me.
It was working! It was hard, but it was working. He gained 700g in 1 week! Which beat the 170g in 4 weeks before that.
So he should be strong enough to keep Breastfeeding now right? 😊 .... Well yeah, he was. But he started rejecting my boob. He started preferring the bottle, which was easier for him so why wouldn't he.
I was heartbroken! Guttered. Devastated. I thought all this effort, all the hoping to exclusively breastfeed, all the hours expressing to keep my supply up, for my baby to be bottle fed in the end anyway?
I was practically grieving our Breastfeeding journey. I thought it was over. I made myself sick, literally. Before each feed, I'd work myself up so much about Carter maybe rejecting me, that I'd have to race to the toilet. I just wanted Carter to tell me what he wanted. I wished he could tell me "It's OK Mum. I'm happy with the bottle. I won't think any less of you".
I'd been battling Mastitis as well, and finished 2 rounds of antibiotics. Thinking there must be something wrong with my boobs, I went back to my GP hoping something was wrong I guess? But there wasn't.
I found In Shape Mummy online by this stage, and thought "well why not!? I may as well try".
Then one morning, Carter woke up early screaming. I couldn't bring myself to get out of bed and get him a bottle. I rolled over, got him out of his bassinet and laid him next to me and offered my boob. He latched on, put his hand on my chest and looked up at me with his beautiful blue eyes and started drinking.
Wow, are these shakes working!? He's drinking! Oh my goodness wow! I felt hope for the first time in a while. I said to my husband, "I can't give this up. I just can't". But am I being selfish in persisting? Am I forcing Carter to keep going? Is this what he wants or is he really happy with the bottle? Again I wish he could just tell me. I'd do anything to make him happy. I was not OK. I wasn't leaving the house. I rejected seeing people because I was worried about what people would think when they saw I'd gained some weight. I was worried about people knowing how I felt. I felt embarrassed like I had something to prove to myself but I just didn't know what. I felt like I'd failed.
Something HAD to change. I decided just to let my body decide what was best. I stopped expressing, in the hope that Carter would feed from me enough to keep some supply for him for when he felt like my boob. But if not, if I dried up, then it wasn't meant to be. It took a lot for me to give myself permission to think that this was OK.
I was also drinking 2 In Shape Mummy shakes a day for 2 days by this stage and it was the best decision I made. A huge weight had lifted off my shoulders not having to express any more, or catch milk... because I accepted that formula was OK. Doing this alone obviously helped my supply, but these shakes clearly helped my supply increase!
Carter started wanting my boob again 💜 oh my goodness, hooray! We didn't give up. We got there in the end! We still bottle feed twice a day, but breastfeed the rest.
I'm so so grateful for where we are now, that I didn't give up on myself, and that Carter gave me a chance to be better. I feel that I'm the best Mum that I can be. It was an emotional roller coaster, but I'm stronger for it.
I've also lost 4kg in the short time I've started these shakes! Words cannot describe the thankyous that are necessary, to those that helped me through this extremely dark time. From my incredible husband holding me while I cried myself to sleep, to my mum holding Carter while I sobbed getting his bottle ready after he didn't want my boob, to my girlfriends bringing me a coffee on their days off, and to each person that reached out to me to make sure I was OK.. And In Shape Mummy shakes, THANK YOU! Lisa was extremely supportive as well when I reached out for help. I'm so grateful 💜
However you're feeding your baby, you're incredible because no matter what, you're their absolute world. I hope all you gorgeous Mummy's know that. Because I didn't for a little while there. But I do now. But if you're drowning in your Breastfeeding journey, give these shakes a go! Don't give up just yet. They work! I never knew what women went through when it came to feeding their babies. My version of it has been hard.
I ask that if you're struggling, REACH OUT FOR HELP. Don't go through it alone. You're incredibly strong, stronger than you know, and even stronger to reach out, speak up and say "I'm not OK".
Because what I've learned is that there is an army of women willing to help, willing to listen, and share their stories also. Sian 😃"
Shevi is a qualified nutritionist with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and food sciences. As a new mum herself, she is passionate about postnatal-related nutrition. Shevi has worked alongside some of the most famous leaders and celebrities in the fitness industry throughout Australia and the UK.
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