top of page
  • Writer's pictureShani Yeend

A breastfeeding journey cut short.

Updated: Feb 21

Looking at this photo 2 years on, I'm struck with grief. I once saw my perfectly handsome son, now I see Rocky under-nourished and hungry because I didn't listen to his calls, albeit still cute though. I wrote the bulk of this post in March 2022, almost 2 years later I'm revisiting it. It still feels relevant and emotive.

To set the scene, 2 years ago I was mama to Rocky who was 12 weeks old and to my daughter Minnie who was 20 months old. February 2022,

It started out magical, Rocky nuzzling his way to the boob as soon as he arrived earth side, just as Minnie has done, little champs. Breastfeeding felt the most natural thing in the world to me and I'm grateful for the ride I had. However, things took a turn when Rocky was 12 weeks old. I’d been living under a dark and heavy rock for 6 weeks, feeling I finally have the energy to share my story. (update; it'd be 2 years before I had the energy to revisit this one). Before I continue, there is nothing special about my story. This happens to mamas everywhere, everyday. I just happen to talk about it.

It started out as a cold. I was a sleep deprived mama of 2 babies with a sniffly nose with a pesky cough. Minnie caught the cold and it transpired into full blown croup, a trip to A&E followed by conjunctivitis. Rocky got the cold and the cough and tiny babies with a cough is terrifying. 3 weeks deep I was still sick, so congested that breathing was a challenge. I was physically weak and struggling to care for Minnie and Rocky, getting out of the house was verging on impossible.

Throughout this bout of illness I was getting on average 1-3hr stretches of sleep, Rocky was entirely unsettled and I has lost his routine flow, if I'd ever had one.

A month rolled by, I was still feeling iller than ill. Then one morning the penny dropped, I hugged Rocky and realised he felt skinny. My 10lb 6 chunky boy has lost his chunk. My heart sank, I immediately sent Josh out the door who returned with formula. Rocky took the bottle and formula instantly, my poor little boy had been going hungry.

The gut wrenching guilt was intense, 2 years later it still sits with me, just on the boarders. Surely mama-hood 101 is to nourish your baby? All those unsettled days and tears Rocky shed he was trying to tell me he was hungry. I spent the following week crying into Rocky’s eyes apologising. It’s now 2 weeks of Rocky swigging back the formula milkshakes and he’s back to his squishy happy self. Fed is best birds.

A few days later Josh and my wing bird, Charlie came to save me, it was a full intervention. I'd finally reached my limit and called for help. I’d lost my voice, was sicker then sick. I was crying on the floor in my pj’s completely unable to look after my babies. The final straw was not being able to read Minnie a story. I finally took myself to the Dr who prescribed sleep. And vitamin d. That’s it. I was convinced I had a full blown bacterial infection which needed antibiotics (oh how 90's of me).

Rocky was on the bottle so Josh was able to step up to help with the night feeds. I took to the sofa to make sure I got 6 hours of proper sleep. Within 2 days I could feel my body healing birds. #sleepisthebestmedicine

Then, just as I was starting to feel human again, I was knocked back. This time it was my mental health. I felt so low I wondered if I might have PND? Or perhaps my milk supply was changing, the never ending shifting of hormones? In hindsight, it was definitely the shift of my milk supply and hormones. Even though I'd been there with Fitbirds during moments of vulnerability and know about this massive emotional outpouring due to milk hormones changes, I wasn't able to fully lean in to this acceptance.

Following a full week of getting proper sleep, my body is stronger, my energy is coming back and I am starting to feel like my old positive self again. Actually that’s a lie, mama-hood means I’m never going to feel like my old self again, it’s seriously so messed up. A beautiful messed up though.

I was completely stuck in a chain reaction which wasn’t going to shift until I jumped off the mouse wheel. Ultimately what I needed was proper sleep. I couldn't get proper sleep as Rocky was going hungry. My milk supply most likely dropped as I was stressed, ill and sleep deprived. My milk supply wasn't going to flourish until I was well. I was too tired and ill to think clearly, to see the signs of my hungry baby. And I couldn’t get better because I wasn’t getting sleep. Such. A. Vicious. Cycle.

This is a note to all humans, if we feel ourselves slipping we must do everything we can to ensure we get proper sleep. Sleep is the medicine birds. Oh and vitamin d. I'll be taking vitamin d for 6 months of the year (while living in grey UK) every year.

Of course, throughout all this madness I was inundated with support and deliveries of care packages from you all. Birds you are the best, you are our village. Thank you for all you did almost 2 years ago.

To add, in present day: February 2024, A few weeks ago we welcoming the incredible woman, Vikki Wareham from Fairy God Nurse. Vikki hosted a powerful workshop for our Bumpin' course on all things feeding your baby in those first few precious months. Although my breastfeeding journey is complete, sitting through Vikki's workshop was an emotional rollercoaster. From moments of feeling broody for another baby just to experience birth and breastfeeding again, to welling up and feeling trauma from my breastfeeding journey with Rocky. Vikki's workshop was loaded with practical knowledge on supporting your milk supply and guidance on reaching out for help. I couldn't help but think, 'what if'. 'What if I had known these things, would I have chosen a different path'? But I know, we can't ask ourselves these sort of 'what ifs'. What I do know now, is how important it is to reach out for feeding support. The last 2 years I've taken the time to reflect on my feeding journey with Rocky, sometimes it just hits me again, I can feel the guilt of 'why didn't I just read his signs'? I look back, and I remember Rocky fussing and crying on my boob. Even now, reminiscing I can feel the lump in my throat welling up. What I do know now is when Rocky was 10 days old (in the depths of winter) we all went to a besties dress-up party. At the time I felt great, even though I'd had a c-section, aka. massive open surgery just 10 days ago. When Rocky was 5 weeks old my mum came over to support us for 3 weeks (and to meet Minnie for the first time too). At the time it also felt great, leaning into the support that I never had with Minnie. Reuniting our family was the dream. But was that too much? I can't even be sure I was taking my pregnancy vitamins, let alone the winter-saving fuel I have now (high doses of vitamin d and c). The truth is I went too hard too fast. We were lucky when Minnie arrived 3 days before the first lockdown. We almost didn't see a soul for 12 weeks, Josh, Minnie and I cocooned up for 7 weeks on our own, enjoying nothing more than long walks in the fresh air. Oh that fresh air we once had in London. It was also spring, massive help. Of course I will never know for sure what changed the course of our feeding journey, but I do wonder 'what if, what if Rocky too was born in a lockdown?' That's a little extreme I get it, but as busy bird and a mama of a one year old, it didn't feel intuitive to nest. If I could repeat it again, I would slow down and try to replicate a lockdown. And plan for a spring baby, cos that's simple right? I also want to highlight, that I made an easy, empowered decision to move to formula with Rocky. Within a few weeks my milk supply was rapidly depleting, I was still not fully back to health and getting sleep just felt too good. I had never mastered pumping, even when my milk supply was overflowing with Minnie. And I wasn't in any shape to be picking up any new skills, honestly I remember trying to consider combi-feeding and my mind just exploded. So although I was mourning the dramatic end of our breastfeeding journey together, I was far more content with seeing Rocky holding on to his bottle of formula and necking it back, and yes Rocky would hold his bottle from the get go.My chunky little baby returned his chunk in the blink of an eye. Oh, and on that note of bottle feeding: Rocky definitely would throw up 90% of his formula for quite a while - if only I'd know the tips about paced feeding. Must pay more attention in school Shani.

With Minnie, our breastfeeding journey was much like that of a couple of mad monkeys in a jungle. Swigging back the milkshakes on tap. My Minnie monkey was hanging off the boob while I was teaching a class. I'd pop a boob in walking down the street while she was in the Ergo. I'd climb into the back of a moving car while Josh was flying down the M25 to slip a boob in her face to stop her from screaming. The midnight the side boob feed of dreams. I'll never forget Minnie's sweet caressing strokes of her hand on the side of my body. Then when Minnie was 11 months old, I fell pregnant with Rocky and suddenly a weird switch went, and the milkshakes tap was turned off. Minnie naturally stopped the munching, and the boob-fest ended organically. I don't recall such sweet memories of feeding with Rocky, but it turns out it doesn't matter. He's my son. He's healthy, growing like an All Black and can already count to 13, the stuff of legends. And I have this heartfelt story of us. For the mamas reading, whatever your feeding journey, be educated and be empowered with your decisions, because fed is best.

Shani x


Julie Summers

Such a great read Sharni thank you for sharing.


bottom of page