Tell us about your breastfeeding journeys - have all 3 babies been different?
I managed to exclusively breastfeed Indi and Freya for 12 months each before introducing a bottle. I aim to do the same with Briony.
Indigo and Briony have both been dream feeders. I have an incredibly fast let down and both babies coped well with it. Both had an excellent latch right from the start, took comfort from the breast, digested their milk well, and made the experience of feeding a pleasure.
Freya was another story - she took 4 long months to establish breastfeeding and even then, it was never an enjoyable experience for her. She didn’t latch well, would often fuss or refuse, and she never attempted to feed to sleep or turn to the breast to calm down.
Freya had many contributing factors to her overall wellbeing (including silent reflux and colic), and I feel like, sadly, breastfeeding contributed to her unsettledness.
Having an unsettled baby was difficult for everyone in the family. Even with great support, I was barely keeping it together. I remember talking to my Plunket nurse one day and asking ‘What about those mums who don’t have a strong support network? Who is looking out for them?’
The days were long, but somehow, we managed to make it through.
When I found out I was pregnant for a third time, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But having Briony in our lives - a happy, settled baby - has been a very healing experience.
Facilitating The Fourth has also given me the chance to share these different journeys with new mums. It’s a silver lining of the experience I had with Freya because I can genuinely relate to and support other mothers who are going through a very tough, very intense time.
What are your thoughts on the support available for breastfeeding mothers?
There’s more and more support (apps, online info, community groups, expert lactation consultants) out there which is so fantastic, but we could always do with more education, support and tools up our sleeve on ways to enjoy breastfeeding our babies.
When Indi arrived, I remember being looked after at the birth centre with a lactation specialist who spent an hour helping me learn this new skill. Unfortunately I wasn’t offered that same level of support again, possibly due to staff shortages. It was a real shame because every new baby comes with its own feeding challenges.
This need for more support was one of the reasons I launched The Fourth. I wanted to create a more intimate alternative to Space-type groups where mums can meet like minded friends and learn relevant, up-to-date, time appropriate information from experts in their field.
Fav thing about breastfeeding?
The bond created between mother and child is incredibly precious.
The wee hand that strokes your skin or clings to your clothing, the instant smiles received after they finish their feed, that look they give you of complete satisfaction, the comfort they take from you, and the accessibility to be able to do it anywhere!
It’s been one of my greatest privileges as a mother - to be able to create all the necessary ‘goods’ needed to fuel my little one. It was never something I went back and forth with in my head - I was given an opportunity to do the best thing I could for my baby, and I had the time and the willingness, so I did it.
In saying this, I also love the sense of eventually having my body back! When I weaned Indigo & Freya, both around 14 months, I felt like I was finishing on a high.
Most challenging thing about breastfeeding?
Hands down, having to be ‘on tap’ and available at all times. If you’re exclusively breastfeeding then you really limit your alone time!
Also, managing a fast and full flow, dealing with cracked/bleeding nipples, and having to change your diet should you have a reflux baby or one that has allergies.
Anything you found surprising?
How painful it would be; as in toe curling, breathtaking, body clenching painful!
Learning how to breastfeed your baby, no matter if it’s your first, second or third, still takes time and patience to overcome. Surprisingly though, once that initial stage has passed, from there onwards the pain completely disappears. It’s so strange!
How did you tackle the big question of ‘what will I wear today’?!
When I had Indigo (almost 5 years ago) there weren't many options for breastfeeding clothes available.
I had a couple of tops and dresses that were my go-tos, but I was often frustrated because all I wanted to do was pull something out of the wardrobe that made me feel put together (because let’s face it - new mums often feel like a mess) and made feeding easier. The options were really limited!
This time around with Briony, I'm wearing more of my own clothing and just pulling up my top to feed. But every now and then I’ll treat myself to a nice piece that makes me feel good - like the Waffle PJs! I absolutely thrashed this beautiful set over the summer… and not even as PJs. Mostly as daywear!
Any leakage or nip slip moments you’d rather forget?
Leakage? Always! Because of my forceful letdown, I require multiple breast pad changes over a 24 hour period. And there have definitely been a few leaky occasions that I would rather forget!
Nip slips? Not so much. I never feel embarrassed to feed in public so perhaps I’ve had a few nip slips but always with the intention to feed my baby.
Weirdest place you’ve fed your babe?
Loads of places! Walking the supermarket aisles, sitting in the back or front seat of my car (parked of course), out shopping with my mum, and most recently in the storage room at a wedding reception venue.
Your top 3 feeding tips for mums-to-be?
- Be patient with yourself and your baby. Allow yourself 6 weeks minimum to get the hang of it! It’ll all be worth it in the end.
- Be prepared for some pain and get yourself some nipple shields. They were an absolute game changer for me for each baby. I swear by them!
- Trust your gut. If you sense there is an underlying issue with your baby’s ability to successfully feed then seek help (or message me!).
Get in touch with Mikyla via The Fourth. The next available course intake is early 2023 - send her a DM for more info.