If I said to you that breastfeeding was the most wonderful and easiest thing I’ve ever done, I would be lying. In fact it was one of the most difficult and borderline traumatic experiences of my entire life.
Let me give you some context. My son was born via C-section and rushed to NICU with water on his lungs. I hadn’t seen him for two days and he had been feeding off a drip or IV the entire time. Add a frazzled mother with swollen breasts and an incompetent nurse who had never had a baby herself and you have a recipe for disaster.
So there I was with a baby that I hardly knew and a nurse heaving over me telling me to squish my breast into a sandwich and shove it into a child’s mouth that refused to latch no matter how many damn times I sandwiched my tits to death! Nothing! Nothing! Nothing! And then instead of helping me Nurse Helpful gave me a look of disgust like I can’t even breastfeed right.
Hours and hours passed and he still hadn’t fed. I felt hopeless and useless. What kind of a mother am I? Am I a real mother if I can’t nourish my child? I remember sitting in that hospital bed, lights dimmed and teary eyed. Trying to shove, shove, shove this sandwich breast into my son’s mouth.
Then it was like a guardian angel was sent my way. A nurse (sorry I can’t remember your name) saw me in my sad state and told me to stop and try football hold. Football hold? So I did and it worked! Yay! My son was finally latching and it was great to keep him off my scar while it healed. Thank God!
As soon as I was well enough, I went straight to our local baby store and purchased a breast pump (Why did I do that?). So two grand spent; I left quite happy with a breast pump that was the same brand as the little one’s bottles. I read the instructions carefully and decided to give it a try. I sat there and sat there, pump in hand and about 1cm of milk in the bottle. What the hell? I thought I was doing something wrong so I searched for videos and demonstrations on YouTube and all these women were doing the same thing I was doing, but ended the video before showing how much milk they actually got out of the breast pump. I sat for a further 30 minutes before he started crying, then the crying turned to violent wailing until I abandoned the pump all together. I had this dream of having a fridge full of bottles of freshly pumped milk, but that wasn’t what happened. I tried pumping again a few times after this encounter, but ended up ‘milking’ my contents into the bottles by hand. I had bottles full of milk in a third of a time that it took me to get 1cm of milk out of the breast pump. I don’t even know where the pump is right now, to be honest.
But that wasn’t where my breastfeeding woes ended. He was insatiable; I struggled to keep my milk supply up. I tried everything from vitamins to brewer’s yeast tablets to Jungle Juice. Nothing really seemed to increase my milk supply so when he turned eight months old I conceded and started formula and breastfeeding him. It really helped up my milk supply and I found that he slept for longer periods, probably because he was full.
It was very difficult to find the right formula for him. Some formulas gave him the runs, others caused a rash and eventually we settled on a brand.
We had happily reached his first birthday and I was breastfeeding him, but following his cues as to when he wanted to nurse. This was met with much disdain from family members. I was constantly asked “Are you still breastfeeding?” with a tone of repulsion. This was said so much that I decided to stop breastfeeding all together, which was the biggest motherhood regret I’ve had so far. He wasn’t ready and I wasn’t ready to stop, but I was so scared of being judged.
These are the things I’ve learnt from my breastfeeding journey:
- I should have investigated or learnt all the different types of holds for breastfeeding.
- Drink lots of water to up the milk supply.
- Prepare freezer meals to pop into the oven.
- Mixed feeding is okay, I’m not a failure for choosing to do so.
- Don’t be scared to ask for help.
- Don’t let others stop you on your breastfeeding journey. My boobs! My problem!
Thanks for reading my second A – Z Challenge post.
I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know what you think.
Join me on Monday, when I discuss Colic.
Love and Blessings,