Updated: Nov 9, 2018
Lydia's story will touch you, the challenges that this mum overcame to breastfeed her baby is nothing short of remarkable. Holistic Lactation Consulting hope you enjoy the first of many inspiring breastfeeding stories.
Hi I'm Lydia and this is my breastfeeding story. My journey has not been easy. I would go as far to say that I have faced just about every breastfeeding challenge possible, alongside other things. I am currently breastfeeding my beautiful 19 month old daughter and this is one of the greatest achievements of my life. I am so incredibly proud to say that she has been 100% breastfed. My story is long but I want to share it with all the details, in the hope that it will inspire and help other mother's to feed their babies with all of the goodness, protection and comfort that breast milk provides and to find strength within to keep going when it gets hard. Before my daughter was born I knew that I was going to breastfeed, despite having sensitive nipples that I didn’t like to be touched. I knew that I would go to any length possible to make sure she was exclusively breasted and for as long as she wanted. I was passionate about mothering through breastfeeding and I was going to do it. Her birth was traumatic to say the least. Labour was long and complicated and she was born via forceps. She suffered awful head and jaw trauma, also receiving a cut from the forceps (under her left eye which has left her with a permanent scar). I suffered an episiotomy that extended to a 3b tear. after her birth I sustained horrendous injuries that would make my journey into motherhood far more difficult.
Our first breastfeeding challenge was that my baby girl was unable to latch due to her head and jaw trauma. For the first 3 days I hand expressed colostrum into tiny syringes to feed her. After this I was unable to feed her without the use of a nipple shield. A few days after coming home I noticed a massive infection in my episiotomy wound. Half of the stitches had completely broken open from the pressure and I was in excruciating pain. I rushed into Emergency at the hospital with a 5 day old baby. Surgeons confirmed that I would need to have a full repair surgery, with the first available date being 5 and a half weeks later. I was placed on a long course of antibiotics and sent home with a huge gaping open wound.
Breastfeeding continued to get even harder. Due to my open wound I was not allowed to stand for more than a few minutes at a time and the remaining internal stitches were digging into my nerve endings which made sitting and lying down almost unbearable. Finding a position to feed was extremely difficult and nothing was comfortable. I had to have 2 - 3 salt baths a day to keep the wound as clean as possible. We both had home chiro visits however we still needed to use nipple shields for every single feed as she still couldn’t latch. I encouraged feeding without the shield as much as possible without any success. My girl was then diagnosed with upper lip and tongue ties. Feeding took up to 1.5 hrs for each feed and I suffered horrendous engorgement during this time which was incredibly painful along with very sore nipples. My poor girl suffered awful wind pain that I couldn’t help her with and the antibiotics didn’t help with her stomach troubles. My repair surgery was done and a few days later I had with the most devastating result. This surgery had also failed and broken open with another massive infection and I was back in hospital for another 10 days and on more antibiotics. My specialist surgeon confirmed that my episiotomy had extended to a 3C tear and I was left incontinent front and back. I was unable to have any further surgery and would need to let my gaping open wound heal naturally. I had to have 2 – 3 salt baths a day again for weeks along with having wound nurse’s dress my open wound at home every day. My girl did not want to be put down during this time. I had to breastfeed her kneeling in the bath while dipping my wound in the water. This was extremely difficult and tiring. At 15.5 weeks we had the ties lasered. (We didn’t do it earlier due to my injuries and travelling in a car was unbearable). Directly after the release she latched beautifully and we finally turned a corner with our feeding. This was very exciting. Prior to and after the tie release, I had significant and excruciating nipple and breast pain, not just while feeding. Hot, burning, stabbing pain. I became engorged time and time again with huge blocked ducts and blocked pores. It would take hours to unblock the ducts with vibration massage and hot showers and I had to resort to popping the milk pores with a sterile needle for most feeds. During this time I had seeked help from lactation consultants and also had numerous sessions of ultrasound therapy but still was not given a diagnosis. I had many bouts of mastitis. At just under 6 months I was finally diagnosed with nipple thrush from my long course of antibiotics. My daughter never had any visible thrush in her mouth. Once my thrush was treated we were truly on the road to an enjoyable breastfeeding journey and I have not suffered thrush again. Breastfeeding has not been painful in any way since. I have the worlds biggest “milk monster”. She absolutely loves her milky. She wants it a million times a day, including all through the night and often. I have a frequent night waker and she has always been this way. I have chosen to continue feeding her for many reasons. The antibodies are incredible for her immune system, it gives her enormous comfort when upset, it strengthens our beautiful bond and just a few weeks ago we found another blessing for it. My sweet girl suffered a horrible case of gastro with vomiting and diarrhoea for 6 days. She was unable to hold down any food during this time. Breast milk kept her hydrated and out of hospital.
Breastfeeding is a choice and it’s the most natural thing for a mother and child. It’s what nature intended. I hear many women say they couldn’t breastfeed through the same challenges I had. They often assume that because I’m still feeding that my journey was easy. It was anything but that and more difficult than most women will encounter. Having my baby and choosing to breastfeed is one of the hardest physical and emotional things I have ever done. There have been many tears and pain through my journey but I was never going to give up. These challenges do not need to mean the end of breastfeeding. They can be worked through and it does get easier. Stick with it ladies. I promise you it is well worth the effort and your baby will reap all the amazing benefits. The power of breast milk and feeding is undeniable. It is not just for nourishment. It is for comfort and touch. We use breastfeeding in all of its wonderful ways including feeding to sleep which is the most natural thing in the world for a baby and it shouldn’t be denied. Use it to your advantage. I am so proud of myself and my daughter. We have made it through and beaten most of our challenges together and continue to deal with others. My episiotomy wound finally healed at just under 6 months after birth. I have huge amounts of painful scar tissue, it looks a mess down below and I have remained incontinent with a very weak and damaged pelvic floor. I will likely need another surgery in the back end to repair the damage but life with my daughter is the best thing I could ever ask for and my journey has made me an even stronger person and shown me that if you put your mind to something and you are passionate and persevere through, you can do anything. Remain with a positive attitude and perspective because negativity is a waste of time and it helps nothing. Although it has not been easy, I have truly loved breastfeeding my precious girl. It amazes me that my incredible body helped her to grow into such a beautiful, smart and healthy little person. The strength and power of a mother's love inspires me and I am so grateful for having this wonderful experience and opportunity.