Welcome back to our 'Milkbar Mamas' series where we speak to women all over Australia about how breastfeeding unfolded for them because nothing #normalisesbreastfeeding more than writing, speaking and sharing all things boobin' related.
From first time mamas to exclusive pumpers, those battling over and under supply, tongue ties, mastitis and everything in between, we are SO excited to share their words and experiences with you. We hope these stories will inspire, give you some tips for your own breastfeeding experience and help those walking a similar path to feel less alone.
Chadé's Story: Birth and breastfeeding during COVID
There are a bunch of challenges that we accept when it comes to pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. Up until 2020 however, a pandemic which would literally shut down the world, was not one of them! COVID has changed to way we live, work, socialise, travel, and, for women who fell pregnant, gave birth and became mothers, how that journey unfolded. For Chadé, COVID had a huge impact on her experience and how the last 13 months as a new mum have unfolded.
Pregnancy in the time of COVID
While pregnancy is a time usually shared with your partner, Chadé had the opposite experience for her 9 months. "My husband was stuck in the UK due to COVID and could not get to Australia," she recalls. "He missed my entire pregnancy as well as the birth of our son." The combination of uncertainty around if/when her husband would be allowed to return home and missing her key support person was hugely stressful for Chadé and was followed by a long, hard birth. "Birth was traumatic and difficult," says Chadé."And breastfeeding was really tough."
Breastfeeding ain't easy
Chadé was keen to breastfeed after birth but quickly found that it wasn't as straight forward as it sometimes looks. "You think it will be so simple and easy but it’s such a tough and emotional process," she says. "All you want is baby to latch properly but it takes time for the little puzzle pieces to fit."
Chadé faced a number of breastfeeding challenges, made more difficult by the absence of her husband. "My son struggled to latch properly after birth though eventually we got there but then he rejected the breast at 6 weeks." This came as a huge shock and led Chadé down the path of exclusive pumping.
The pump diaries
After her son refused the breast, Chadé was faced with the decision as to whether she should move to exclusive pumping or wean or together. Thanks to a powerful desire to keep breastfeeding, Chadé decided to keep trying. "I made the decision to exclusively pump for a few months," she recalls. After 5 months of pumping and numerous rounds of mastitis, her son decided that actually, he DID like breastfeeding and he returned to the breast exclusively. "It was incredibly difficult," says Chadé, "but with the support of my mum and hubby, I persisted through huge amounts of tears. I also saw a lactation consultant as well and allowed my little boy to start taking the lead."
An end to isolation (and a happy boobie baby!)
When her son turned six months old, Chadé and her husband were reunited at last and breastfeeding continued to go from strength to strength. "I feel like I have super powers," says Chadé. "If ever he is hungry, sad, needing comfort or just some time with Mama, he goes onto the boob and is happy once again." At 13 months old, Chadé feels as if her and her son have hit their stride and breastfeeding is now easy and enjoyable. Her advice to new mums who may be struggling in the early days and weeks? "It takes time for you and your bubba to work out breastfeeding! You are two little puzzle pieces trying to fit together. Take the pressure off and give it time. Also find yourself a lactation consultant to support you from day one!"