We were fortunate to have a very gentle natural birth, which meant breastfeeding started off great for us. The first time Rehutai latched on was such an incredible moment, and felt so natural. He had a good latch, and I had a good supply, and the first few days went so well. However, the day we were leaving the birthing unit he became unable to latch and was really unsettled from the frustration and hunger, I guess. I had become really engorged when my milk came in, but also had a lot of water retention. With lots of help from the wonderful midwives we ended up being able to get him latched using a nipple shield and were able to head home.
Using a nipple shield really threw me, I’m not sure why but I felt very whakamā about it, I think because it wasn’t the beautiful breastfeeding experience I was expecting, and I had never really heard of other people using them (I now know how common they actually are!).
In the first few days at home I got quite bad mastitis in both breasts. Over the next 10 months I had quite a few challenges with mastitis returning, lots of blocked ducts, quite a large supply of milk, nipple blanching and feeding aversions.
And throughout this time I have had so much support available, I’ve had help from my midwives, breastfeeding community, lactation consultants, La Leche League (ringing them at all times of the day, and going along to their groups), and mum groups. We are so lucky here in Christchurch with all the support that is available for us and it’s important that we know we can go into these spaces for advice and support.
Rehutai and I are almost 20 months into our breastfeeding journey now. I am so grateful that I have been able to feed him for this long, particularly now he’s older and it really has become a nurturing thing for him when he’s sick or hurt and then what feels like all night every night! I also feel very proud of myself and of him for being able to get to this place.