The pressure to breastfeed is unnecessarily overwhelming for mums. The midwives were fantastic through my labour,but were quite matter of fact about breast feeding, and I couldn’t get through to them that something was wrong.
My son didn’t ever want to stop feeding and my nipples were sore and beginning to crack. I rang for the nurse and was told to keep feeding and my baby would unlatch when he was ready, so I did just that. 25 year old me lay on the hospital bed, tired, alone, sore and with no idea what I was doing. 3 hours later I had to peel him off as I was in agony. I was bleeding, confused and I began to cry. The nurse came over and said “oh, he’s not drinking he’s using it as a comforter. Never mind, give us a buzz for the next feed and we’ll help. Don’t give up, we’ll get there in the end!” …Next feed? A comforter? Keep going? My nipples were falling off and I was meant to do this again in a couple of hours?!? I began to dread feeding time. It wasn’t fun but I so desperately wanted him to have breast milk and bond with him as so many other mothers do. Frustrated and tired I started to question it all: Do other mums actually enjoy this? Why didn’t it feel natural to me? Would I be happier bottle feeding?
Looking back now I should have listened to my gut feeling but the nurses and health visitors told me reasons why it would work and how important it was to continue. I persevered for another 8 weeks.
I finally put my foot down when I realised I wasn’t producing anywhere near enough milk and I was still in pain. I wrestled my demons and moved on. But it wasn’t just that, I felt uncomfortable and awkward breastfeeding generally but also in public, I know it’s natural and I know women all over the world are proud of it but it obviously wasn’t meant to be.
With my second pregnancy, I was dead set on breastfeeding again. It was in the fore front of my mind and I actually couldn’t wait, but becoming a parent taught me to be more flexible, to have dreams and aspirations as a parent but to change and adapt when things don’t work out, and they didn’t…
When my second child was born I found out that she had severe tongue tie but also was lactose intolerant. It was at that moment I realised that parenting is not about what you want for your child but what you can give and give happily.
I think formula milk saved me from going over the edge during those first couple of years with both my kids. If I had another baby I would still try to breastfeed again, but this time, I won’t sweat it. Each child is a different adventure, and there are so many pit stops before they feather out and leave the nest.
I’m writing this because I know me and my own breasts, I always have. I knew at the time that breastfeeding wasn’t right and I wish there was more awareness and support for those who can’t breastfeed or really don’t want to. I’m glad I tried but equally glad I went to formula in the end. My children have passed that stage in their life and I have to boast they both are ruddy awesome. They are bright, curious, crazy and most importantly, they are happy.
So, give breastfeeding a go, or don’t. If you’re struggling and it’s getting you down then perhaps step back and look at the bigger picture, consider if it’s healthy for you to keep going until it works or to just move on.
My decision was mine and mine only, as should any mother’s be. It’s important to do what you feel is right. These early stages of parenting are hard but beautiful and breast feeding is only a fraction of it . You know your own body, listen to it. After all, mother’s know best.