21 Mar 2016

Let's talk about breast feeding..

I have spoken before about my struggle with breast feeding with The Toddler and the guilt I felt when I had to bottle feeding after the first few days. So this time around I was ready to be more assertive with the decision that I made about feeding. I decided I would give it a go again, but if it didn't work out than I was fine with bottle feeding too and I wouldn't allow myself to feel pressured into it.

S, how was it that the day after she was born history repeated itself? There I was sobbing uncontrollably in the very same maternity ward and feeling all those feels again? I was meant to be more confident and in control second time around - wasn't I?

But she latched on - which he never did. Straight out of surgery she was whimpering and the midwife informed me she was hungry. 'Here we go,' I rolled my eyes. At least he had given me a day before he was hungry and the drama began.

So I gingerly placed her to my chest and she just latched on and started feeding. It was amazing. I couldn't believe it could be this easy. The midwives all joked that girls are so much better at latching on than 'lazy boys.' She fed briefly and then I was rolled back to the maternity ward feeling really pleased with myself. 

As the day went on she fed some more and it was okay. However it only seemed to work well on one side and so I got quite sore. The midwives were really busy and I kept buzzing them for help and support and often it would take a while for them to arrive. Being terribly English I resented having to push the buzzer and get help every time she wanted to feed.

That night was okay as she wasn't terribly hungry and they brought me one of those perspex cots that attaches to the side of my bed and so I could just put my hand on her belly and rock her to sleep rather than feeding her every time.

The following day things got more intense and sore. She seemed to want to feed all day and she had a really strong suck. My nipple was getting more and more sore and I was starting to dread every time I heard her little hungry whimper. I couldn't go gooey over her cuteness, bask in her newborn scent and enjoy the moment as feeding was the only thing on my mind.

Around me other mothers were having the same battle and through the none-too-discreet curtains you could get a sense of their experiences. Not able to latch on. Struggling to get the sleepy baby to feed. Not able to go home until they could feed the baby. Not wanting to 'give in' but finding breast feeding such a struggle. Milk not coming in yet. 

I felt for them and wanted to break down the barriers and share with them how the struggle is real. But you know we're all English so...

By the evening the battle of supply and demand continued and I was weary and wounded. The Belgian was going to stay for the night to support me (as they changed the rules and now allowed partners to stay overnight if you wanted to.) However he got a phone call and the Calvary needed him.

My very vocal meltdown was apparently not very subtle and a midwife nipped in to see how things were going. Cue full on waterworks and feeling very silly. They were more understanding this time around and talked me through different options. They suggested feeding her with a plastic cup that she would lap up like a little cat. It was very cute.

But I felt like a failure again.

Even though I had promised myself it wouldn't be like this and I would be fine with whatever decision I made.

Shortly after The Belgian left my favourite support worker came in saying she'd been so excited when she'd seen my name on the board. So apparently there was a most needy board and I was top of the list that day. 

She sat with me for an hour and we just chatted like friends, about her kids and motherhood: the struggles, the triumphs and all the emotions linked to newborns. She was really understanding and open. She helped me to feel human again as she fed my baby with the little beaker. Half an hour later (with the help of some ear plugs) I was sleeping like a baby and I had a much better night.

In the morning I was ready to leave. I'd made peace with my decision. I was going to mixed feed  - pumping and bottles. So the baby was fed and my poor engorged breasts got a rest. I knew from friends that when they say that breast feeding doesn't hurt, it is mostly a lie, as its always tricky and especially when you aren't used to it. I also know some mums who took to it like a duck to water and found it a really positive and beautiful experience. 

I have so much respect for women who breast feed as it is so time consuming and you can feel like you are chained to your bed or sofa. With a toddler it must be twice as hard - the pumping certainly was. I know mums who have breast fed twins and this must be exhausting. So yes we should champion it, but we should also realise that it is not possible for every woman. 

Some people had barely even said hello before they were asking if I was breast feeding and how else can you respond but go through the whole saga? Men too - as if I want to discuss my boobs with you, And why should you have to justify yourself? It is your baby. Your (slightly defective) nipples. And your decision.


  1. You speak truth momma Mel! Good read. Xx

  2. I gave it a go 3 times and ended up bottle feeding. By number 4 I was able to mix feed for 6 months due to a very helpful midwife who said that the baby books couldn't possibly have it right for all mothers! No guilt required :)

  3. I gave it a go 3 times and ended up bottle feeding. By number 4 I was able to mix feed for 6 months due to a very helpful midwife who said that the baby books couldn't possibly have it right for all mothers! No guilt required :)

  4. I do not find it a wonderful experience, it still feels a little foreign to me, but I always give it ago for a few days to see how we get on. I hate the sore stage and agonising latching but have found it gets better.
    My experience with Ethan was almost as you describe, resenting him and crying my eyes out with guilt. I gave it up after 4 weeks. With Megs I did almost 5 months and as I missed out last time I hope this time I can do a few months again. I like to express for ease when out, but okay with formula too, but yes there is some weird guilt over it all and a lot of people that need to know apparently?!?! xx

  5. Hoping you find a way forward which will be beneficial to you all ... Reading your descriptions brought back memories!


I appreciate all of the comments - they fuel my blog. Thanks for visiting!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...