As part of National Breastfeeding Week, I feel like it’s an appropriate time to write my first post about breastfeeding.
In my post “6 things I wish I had been told about childbirth” I touched on how i found breastfeeding within the first few days of my son’s life, but here I’ll go into more detail about all aspects of the subject (That I can remember anyway)
Let’s start off with why I chose to breastfeed. Money. Money is probably the biggest reason I chose to breastfeed. Formula is darned expensive!! I remember my midwife asking me what I wanted to attempt to do once my baby had been born, and my answer was almost instant. I was determined to try breastfeeding because it would save us a crap load of money every month, and when your wages get cut in more than half by statutory maternity pay, you gotta figure a way to save somewhere.
Now I know the outcome could have been difficult if R hadn’t been such a champ from the start. He latched on within 30 minutes of being born. The sonographer for my final scan did say he would probably be a “Good eater” because he had most of his hand in his mouth for the scan! But even the midwives were surprised by how well he went for it.
We went for skin to skin as soon as he was out, which I believe does help the baby start rooting. The midwives checked me over and left the room for about 20 mins to let us all get acquainted, and when they came back he was already latched on perfectly, and fed for 35 minutes. It’s safe to say that I was definitely relieved when he latched so well and knew we weren’t going to need to buy formula.
One thing that can drastically change a BFing relationship is the pain. I remember feeling like I couldn’t go on. I remember feeling like someone had taken a lighter to my nipples. I remember crying every time he latched. I remember clogged ducts, and trying to remove them. The back pain, the nipple pain, the let-down pain.
There were a lot of times I questioned how natural this actually is! No wonder someone invented formula! What a brill idea! Many women simply can’t take the pain, many women get the pain much worse than I had it. But I did almost quit.
I went through 3 weeks of constant clogged ducts in the same place. It would take 2 days to remove it through constant feeding and then hand expression, combined with hot compresses. And it ached all the time. I couldn’t sleep because if I so much as touched the area it would make me yelp. And I just couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to stop, but a few people encouraged me to keep going and I did, and I’m so grateful to them for making me stick at it!
The nipple pain for the first few weeks was a real doozy. I went through tubes of Lanolin, huge globs of it before and after feeds. I couldn’t shower without a bra on, because the water was too painful. I couldn’t take my bra off because fresh air was too painful!
Lanolin was my best friend, and honestly, more than anything else, or anyone else, Lanolin is the only reason I got through any of it. I don’t know what it is, I don’t care. It’s gotta be made from the tears of angels or something cause it’s just that good!
The pain is a big thing, and like I said, it’s why a lot of women don’t continue. My own mother and step mother included in that! But I feel like I also need to say, it doesn’t last forever!
Yes there are days when my boobs feel heavy and achy. Yes there are days when my nipples feel raw. And my let-down does still take my breath away most of the time, but for the most part, it’s not painful at all anymore. I barely notice it. I sleep with him feeding. I eat with him feeding. Whatever’s necessary. So please don’t be put off by my in depth moment about pain!
Baby blues. Let’s talk about the damned baby blues. Again, I am lucky, I know this.
You get warned about it, your partner, your mum, your friends. Whoever your midwife comes into contact with, they talk about the baby blues. (For good reason)
Day 3, it’s the day they say your hormones take a nose dive. It’s the day your milk is supposed to come in. When you wake up in the morning absolutely sopping wet and with boobs the size of Mount Everest. It’s a fun day. (NOT!!) The hormones. There’s a shift in the balance. They call it the Baby Blues, because you spend the day being a sopping wet mess of a human being.
I cried at everything that day. Waking up soaked with milk, cry. Enormous boobs (something I’d been wishing for since age 15), cry. Forget to actually put the kettle on, cry. Yep, that was my day. It finished with me sat on the floor of our bedroom, swaddled, happy, full baby in the crib, but me, sat on the floor crying because I thought i was a was a cow. Like on a dairy farm kinda cow. Hook me up to one of those machines they stick on their udders and feed me some grass.
Eventually my other half managed to convince me that it was just the hormones. And bless him for trying, cause it took a while, I was adamant I was not hormonal and that he was a jackass for suggesting so (As is the standard response when a man tells you that you’re just hormonal) Until he reminded me how old our son was that day.
All joking aside, I had it easy. Day three is a doozy. But it’s the point of where baby blues can very quickly turn into postnatal depression, and that’s no laughing matter.
Regardless of whether you choose to breastfeed or not, this day still exists and needs to be closely monitored by anyone around you.
My last point here as I am now verging on writing a book rather than blog post, fuck what anyone judges you for.
If you want to breastfeed, great, do it. If you don’t, then don’t. If you want to feed your baby for just 6 months, fine. If you want to feed them for 5 years, then fine too. If you want to feed your kid in a coffee shop, with no cover then go for it. If you prefer to find a quiet place or use a cover, then that’s cool too.
I found the judgement came from all sides. It came from people who don’t know me, judging me for feeding my child in public, whether i had a cover or not. I actually walked out of one chain cafe because i felt so intimidated by the management that I even had a baby with me! I hadn’t even begun to feed my son.
I also got judgement from family, telling me that he’s too attached to me, telling me that I should have some formula so that they can feed him, telling me that he wasn’t gaining enough weight on my milk, telling me that he should be on solid foods from 3 months so other people could take him for whole days and nights. And this was all without any regard for what I wanted to do, or how my son was doing with breastfeeding, no one cared about that, what they cared about was their own agenda.
There’s too much judgement when it comes to feeding a child. Society needs to remember that boobs were actually made for babies to drink from, not to be dressed up as pretty little ornaments for men to oogle at, and that a mothers decision on how to feed her child is hers, and though advice is always welcome, pushy opinions and outright rudeness is not. This goes for both sides of the coin, breastfeeding and formula feeding.
I am not against formula, I was formula fed myself as a baby. There seems to be a big stigma surrounding BFing mum’s that we hate formula, but I stick my flag in the sand on the side of Fed Is Best. It doesn’t matter if you choose it, or if it chooses you, your child is not hungry and that is the only thing that matters.
National Breastfeeding Week is running from the 26th June 2017 and is run by UNICEF. Their website has plenty of links for support, shared stories and articles about the benefits of breastfeeding.
Share your breastfeeding story here with me, or on your own platform and link it in the comments below! I’d love to read them! And don’t forget to tag them on social media with #BFfriend17