We speak with Jenny Fielding who gives her candid account of breastfeeding. The mother of three shares how her breastfeeding experience was different with each child, and what happened when the whole family caught COVID-19. Did it affect her milk supply or breastfeeding journey? Read on to find out.
As a busy mum of three, Jenny is no stranger to juggling life as a parent alongside her job. As a Women’s Health Physiotherapist at Joint Dynamics Evolve, she looks after other mamas on a daily basis. With a 3 year old, a 2 year old and a 7 month old (two COVID-19 babies in the mix!), it’s fair to say that she can take on a challenge! So when it came to breastfeeding three babies, how did she find the experience?
I Always Imagined I Would Breastfeed But I Didn’t Really Give It Much Thought…
…until my first was born. Then i realised how hard it can be! He was tongue tied and unable to latch so I exclusively pumped for the first 8 weeks or fed using a supplemental nursing system (SNS). I was fortunate to have a good milk supply so this worked for me, but I was pleased when he was able to latch. Unfortunately he had dairy intolerance so my diet was very restricted and around six months I transitioned him to an allergy formula. With my subsequent children breastfeeding was much easier.
My Breastfeeding Story Wasn’t Alway Smooth Sailing
My first baby was a very tricky feeder as outlined above. But he was equally challenging with a bottle so SNS worked well for us. We were lucky to have the support for that option from fantastic staff at Queen Mary Hospital, and then from Mums The Word and Urban Hatch. With subsequent babies the feeding journey was much smoother.
“I actually had over supply which sounds like a great problem to have! But resulted in refluxy newborns and they have rarely wanted to feed for comfort which I have missed!”
With my second baby I felt quite “touched out” with feeding and isolated as this was in the height of covid. It affected some of my bonding journey. I was lucky to know this is common and normal though, and I chatted openly about it with colleagues, Kathryn Gale (Psychologist) and my husband which really helped processing.
My youngest is now 7 months old and has been a great feeder. I am sure it is a combination of me being more relaxed and knowledgeable and some luck!
I am very fortunate to work in an exceptionally supportive work environment at Joint Dynamics and can pump during meetings which has allowed me to continue feeding. I now combi feed which works for me and removes the pressure on pumping and has allowed me to enjoy the feeding journey.
Catching COVID-19 While Breastfeeding
We all had covid, including our youngest who was only 7 weeks old at the time. I felt very grateful to be able to breastfeed in the hope that my antibodies helped his recovery. I tried to feed the toddlers breastmilk hot chocolates with the same idea in mind – but they flat out rejected it! I was lucky COVID didn’t seem to impact my supply.
Breastfeeding: Anytime, Anywhere?
Absolutely. Getting out the house with one, two or three kids is hard enough. Let alone adding the pressure of having to work around an unpredictable newborn feeding schedule! I regularly feed on the go, on the mtr, in the carrier, at the pool etc.
“I’m often shocked by the reactions of others. Particularly when I was asked to cover up at a Government soft play. I was with my other kids, so politely refused to move to the nursing room given that I was supervising them.”
I pump openly at work, or at home with friends over. I am passionate about normalising the feeding journey. Including the challenges, in a bid to make women feel more comfortable to continue their lives whilst also breastfeeding. I hope employers out there can be more supportive as I know that the experience I have at work is sadly rare in Hong Kong.
The Number One Thing Pregnant Or New Mums Should Know About Breastfeeding Is:
Attend a breastfeeding workshop, antenatal class, or breastfeeding seminar during your pregnancy.
Remember that everyones journey is different and its never as easy as it looks. Get help, early and often. Remember that no question is stupid. Do what is right for you, your baby, your family and your situation.
My Three Breastfeeding Tips Are:
Get your latch checked early and repeatedly.
Get your baby’s mouth, tongue, neck turning and palette checked by an infant osteopath.
Move your body in opposite directions to those you sit in feeding. For example, stretch over a foam roller, stretch your pecs, lie flat on your back with your arms over head, twist your spine (the Evolve spine twist is our fave!). Learn how to feed in comfortable positions (e.g. side lie feeding) so you can rest, too.
Also, don’t put pressure on yourself to breastfeed if it isn’t right for your family. Ask yourself which of your adult friends was breastfed or formula fed and I bet you have no idea! You are doing an amazing job of being an amazing mum, remember that.