National breastfeeding week actually ended over a week ago, but in true mum style, I missed it/ forgot about it / was too busy removing squashed banana off everything.
However since I am 8-9 months into it I wanted to share my experience in case it helps at least one person.
Firstly, despite my pre-conceptions, breastfeeding was NOT easy at first.
In fact since my mum seemed to only speak of it being the most natural and easy thing,
I gave no thought to the possibility of it being anything otherwise.
Bit of a shock as I stifled screams of pain when my nipples started cracking!
At first I felt like a failure. So if any of you are feeling this- stop right now! You are NOT a failure, it just requires patience, as with learning any new technique.
My experience was this: I somehow (being 5ft2” and very petite) grew myself a 10lb7 baby! He came out 17 days late and was hangry. Yes I meant hangry. His first feed in the initial moments Earth side was actually really successful. He latched properly and drained me of every drop of colostrum!
But after an emergency C sec I had to stay in hospital on a packed ward which was hellish and I wanted to be at home. I think given my stress plus slight trauma from the last 3 days meant my milk did not come in. And my poor new baby spent the next 3 days sucking desperately on my nipples or screaming. That was a really rough ride for an exhausted mother after major surgery.
The moment we got home, I relaxed and my milk burst through in the gallons (a fair Katie Price impression) but of course by then, my nipples already resembled chewed up pieces of raw meat.
I have to say, I almost gave up. It was not the beautiful and natural experience I’d been imagining all those months. If it wasn’t for my sheer determination, I don’t think I’d have made it to that precious moment when he finally worked out how to latch properly.
So. Was it worth it? For me, 100% yes! I have loved bonding through the feeds and the milky cuddles. I’m also glad that there was no sterilising at 3am. I could essentially stay in bed through all the night feeds, which I’m sure helped with tiredness.
But, something I don’t feel is ever talked about is how much of a sacrifice breastfeeding is for a mother.
It means every feed, every night wake, every bedtime is on you. Remember that night out or day to yourself you were looking forward to? Not really possible!
Then of course you’ve lost the bump but still can’t continue to dress like “you” because you’ve gotta be able to whap the bap out with ease and frequency.
You end up feeding in some odd places too. That first time in public or in front of a guy mate or father in law can be quite daunting!
But despite having my fully rehearsed speech prepared for “that person” who tries to give me shit about breastfeeding in public (lord have mercy on them) this has never happened and actually I think society is far more relaxed about it than before.
There are many strong pros and cons and I fully understand why breastfeeding is not an option for some.
So to anyone struggling with it or wondering whether to boob or not to boob, the best advice I can give is:
- It is your decision; never, ever feel ashamed for your choices. Screw anyone who tries to make you feel bad, seriously get them out of your new motherly space.
- It may be hard to initially get going. So make sure you find the support you need (I couldn’t find any in my area which made things even more scary, but they do exist)
- Learn what a proper latch looks like before the birth!
- If you’re not sure which way, the best thing is to try! Once on to the bottle it may be very hard to switch to boob, but the other way means that even if you choose not to in the end, you may forever cherish those first moments.
- Lanolin did absolutely nothing to heal my nips… but breastmilk did! Just dap your milk all over the sore area and watch it’s magical effect in awe.
- Don’t be scared about feeding in public, most people are extremely helpful and your baby will only sense your nerves and tend to make it harder for you!
- You will feel hunger like you’ve never felt before! Present me was so grateful to past me for baking while I was pregnant and filling the freezer with banana bread.
- Factor in everything. Do you want to share feeding/bedtimes etc? Will you need to leave them in the care of someone else? Do you miss wine, like really miss wine?
I hope my story helps.