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Experiences that are worlds apart - Amiena

This is a story of how I went from formula feeding and a C-section with my first baby, to a vaginal delivery and breastfeeding my second baby.

The decision to breastfeed or formula-feed is a very personal and often a very difficult decision to make in the fast-paced world we live in. My journey as a mother took me from formula feeding my first child to successfully breastfeeding my second.

When I became a mother for the first time, I chose to formula-feed my baby. At that time, I was unsure about breastfeeding due to a lack of knowledge and support. Formula feeding seemed like the easier option - I mean anyone could feed her. As time passed, I began to educate myself about breastfeeding. I learnt about the benefits for both the baby and the mother, including the bonding experience it creates between mother and child; which is why I wanted to breastfeed my second child. 

For the first baby, I was not educated on birthing experiences or breastfeeding. When I went into labour, I followed the common practice of rushing to the hospital when my water broke. After a night with a monitor restricting movement (I laid on my back for those 11 hours in hospital) my gynaecologist informed me I was 2 cm dilated. An hour later, with no further dilation, I had a C-section and birthed a beautiful baby girl.

When my first baby was just over one year old, I fell pregnant with my second. This time, motivated to breastfeed and have a vaginal delivery, I researched and found that exercise during pregnancy, eating dates, and drinking raspberry leaf tea could be helpful to achieve this kind of delivery. I learned that immediate hospital admission during labour could increase the chances of a second C-section. When the day came, I went into labour at midnight. I began monitoring contractions. As they intensified, I moved around to ease the pain. We left for the hospital when I felt the contractions were close in time.

Upon arriving at the hospital, I insisted on monitoring the baby's well-being without restricting my movement. I walked, lay on my side, and used seated positions to aid dilation. The nurse checked and found I was 5 cm dilated, but my water hadn't broken. My gynaecologist arrived, broke my water, and suggested an epidural. An hour later, feeling the need to push, I didn’t make it for the epidural and was 10 cm dilated. Then our baby girl was born.

After the vaginal birth, even with tearing, I could immediately get up and I could pick up my older daughter. Contrastingly, with my C-section, it took time to move at all and caused discomfort. This time, our baby girl was put onto me immediately for breastfeeding, unlike the C-section where they took her away for monitoring and checks first and then only brought her to me after I was done with observation.

With my first daughter, breastfeeding was excruciating, and I struggled with pain and latch issues. Since I couldn’t navigate further, I eventually gave up and switched to formula. For my second birth, I prioritised the first 20 minutes post-birth in hopes of encouraging breastfeeding success. These 20 minutes are known to be important as babies tend to be more alert during this time, which promotes breastfeeding success. It has also been shown that placing the baby on the mother's chest immediately after birth has many benefits to promote breastfeeding success. Skin-to-skin helps regulate the baby's body temperature, heart rate, and breathing, and it can also lead to better breastfeeding outcomes. Skin-to-skin contact stimulates the release of oxytocin, a hormone that facilitates bonding and milk production. It also helps the baby's natural instinct to breastfeed, leading to earlier initiation of breastfeeding. Research also indicates that large amounts of oxytocin are released during vaginal delivery, encouraging breastfeeding.

Successfully breastfeeding my second baby was a completely different experience. It was challenging at first; I often struggled with buy-in from family because everyone had concerns about milk supply and whether I was managing. I also struggled with latching and engorgement. I had difficulty with the fact that I could not just leave my baby with anyone because she was breastfed. However, this time it was easier because I was knowledgeable, I knew who to ask for assistance and to trust my gut. 

Breastfeeding my second child was not just about nourishing her but it was a journey of empowerment which has shaped me as a mother. Understanding both experiences, I believe in the importance of personal choice, empowerment, and knowing your options. 


Amiena Badroodien


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