I shared my breastfeeding story last December, when Sebastian was just coming up to six months old. It took me that long to come to terms with how we were feeding him and how disappointed I was to not be exclusively breastfeeding. After writing that, I kind of thought that would be it; our routine was established and nothing much would change. Well if there’s one thing I’ve learned from becoming a parent it’s that as soon as you think you’ve got it sussed, it all changes. So it was with breastfeeding.
Adios nipple shields
Around this time, Sebastian started grabbing at anything and everything – babies use all their senses to explore, including touch and taste. So he started grabbing the nipple shields and pulling them off then getting frustrated. I thought he was getting cross because he couldn’t then latch back on, but actually I let him just try to latch on without them and he managed.
I thought it was a fluke but I persisted and he latched every time. It was a bit sore at first as my nipples toughened up again, but it was such a relief to be shot of the shields and made feeding so much easier and quicker. Before, using shields, a feed could take up to 40 minutes and I couldn’t hear Sebastian swallowing very regularly. Without them, feeds shortened to 15-20 minutes with Sebastian swallowing after every suckle. What a result!
Nine months in and we’ve not used shields since. Sebastian decided when he was ready to get rid of them and I don’t believe he would have managed to latch on if I’d tried to force him to before he was ready.
Just after turning six months, Sebastian sprouted two tiny teeth. His first two were on the bottom and didn’t create much of a problem for feeding, although I suddenly became more wary about feeding. Shortly after, his middle top two teeth popped out, and as soon as they came, they messed with his latch. For a good few days, he didn’t seem to be able to latch on without digging those teeth in and I had a permanent dent in my nipple. Luckily it never broke the skin so there was no chance of blood or infection, but it was still very uncomfortable.
I sometimes wonder whether Sebastian had a lip tie as he never folds his top lip back when feeding. From what I’ve read online, they’re not a problem and will likely break when your child falls over or bashes their face when they’re a bit older. And for us, there’s been no lasting damage because Sebastian soon corrected his latch with a bit more practice.
After Sebastian ditched the shields, he got used to feeding much more quickly and getting more milk. Then, the difference between the milk production of my boobs became more obvious. And with the arrival of his teeth, feeding became a little hairy.
My right boob has always been smaller and produced less milk than my left, so I’m assuming the milk flow is slower on that side. When Sebastian was feeding from the right he would soon get frustrated and start twisting around, pulling my nipple and my skin with him and pinching me with those newly erupted teeth. It was getting to the point when I was considering packing in feeding altogether as both nipples were getting bitten, but instead I decided to abandon the right boob and just feed from the left and I’m so glad I did!
Yes my boobs will probably be skewwhiff forever, but I’ve always found feeding on that side more comfortable so now every feed is comfortable.
Turns out Sebastian has inherited one of my traits and he is incredibly nosy. He just has to have a look at what’s going on whenever he hears a noise or something catches his eye. Even in a quiet, dark room he will find something to look at unless he’s starving hungry. So he started popping on and popping off all the time.
It certainly tests your reactions when out and about! Although I have no problem with feeding in public, I do cover myself up if he’s leaning everywhere and exposing me to the room. Unfortunately that usually just makes him wonder what’s going on and try to grab my hand or lean backwards to see me. He’s got a cheeky little grin when he makes eye contact too.
Wrangling a bigger baby
Sebastian is obviously a lot longer and bigger now than he was, meaning I definitely need both hands to hold him in a comfortable position for feeds. We’ve always fed in cradle hold and still do. I wonder about trying other positions but I don’t like to rock the boat too much if something is working well.
Change in frequency
Finally, the biggest change to adapt to was the drop in breastfeeds once Sebastian started eating solid food. He LOVES his food and when we first started him on meals, he seemed to have very little desire to breast or bottle feed for a couple of days. It was a stressful time as we knew he wasn’t getting enough fluid and his nappies weren’t as wet. I chatted to the health visitor about it and because his weight had gone up, she wasn’t worried. It did indeed right itself after a few days and then he started drinking more, but it occasionally still feels like a battle getting enough fluids into him, especially as he is NOT a fan of drinking water!
I did get a bit emotional thinking that breastfeeding was over and I wasn’t ready for it to be, but I’m still breastfeeding Sebastian several times a day (and night!) and the power of the magic boobs (or should that be boob singular now?!) to settle and comfort him is still going strong.
Nine months in and I’m still loving the cuddles and the bond that breastfeeding brings. I know Sebastian is still getting the nutrients he needs from my milk, from his food and from the formula top ups he still has. He’s thriving and growing and that’s all I can ask for.
So what’s next? I hope to still be feeding him at 12 months, but as I said before, you can never be sure what’s around the corner!