It's Feeding Time.

Monday, 25 December 2017

So guys. Breastfeeding. Yep. The seemingly natural act of feeding your child that has actually ended up being quite a controversial topic. And perhaps, surprisingly, it's something that a whole lot of women have an issue with - myself included.

See, boobs are funny things. They come in all different shapes and sizes. They aren't symmetrical. Some of us love them, the rest of us don't. And then there are nipples and again - they can be wonky, inverted, uneven, off centre. Some women produce a lot of milk (even too much) and some can't really produce any. There are ladies out there that have never had one problem with breastfeeding, and others who have cried through every feed for weeks and weeks with bloody and cracked nipples, desperate to stick with it so they can feed their wee ones the "right" way.

For me, it hasn't been easy. We did learn about how to correctly latch in our antentatal classes but it's quite different practising on a doll vs doing it with a real life, squirming baby. There are also different techniques that may or not work for you, and unfortunately for me - I seemed to have a "bung boob" where, no matter how much the midwives helped me, I just could not avoid pain. And funnily enough, most of us have one! That's the boob that either baby doesn't really like (they totally have a preference) or is maybe a bit more sensitive, harder to latch on to.

I was suffering with crazy nipple pain on my left side, especially during the "latch" and every time I had to go to feed him I was hit by crazy anxiety because I knew how much it was going to hurt, but also that I didn't have a choice but to feed him. Luckily I didn't have too much cracking, and he seemed to be feeding well (which is basically the only thing that motivated me to keep going) but it just felt like someone was cutting my nipple off. And then rubbing it with sandpaper while he fed for half an hour. Seriously. And when he began cluster feeding, I absolutely dreaded having to keep swapping sides - one feed every three hours was enough but he was feeding constantly for hours and it's not like I could say no!

None of us could really figure out what was going on and I think we were at a point where it was like, well, if the actual feeding isn't unbearable then maybe I should stick it out and hope that eventually my nipple would get used to the pain and toughen up a bit. But mentally, I couldn't handle it. The fact that I ended up in tears most nights, so upset that I was going to have to go through the pain, worrying that he wasn't getting enough milk and feeling like a shitty Mum made me realise that actually no, I don't have to put up with this. So I got in touch with Cathy from Holistic Baby. She took our antenatal classes and is also a lactation consultant and my goodness, what a difference she made! Straight away she knew exactly what I was doing wrong. She made us sit and watch the same video she'd shown us in class, and demonstrated each step. And then, low and behold, Jackson latched properly and probably had the best feed ever! He was happy, my boobs were empty and I felt like I could tackle anything!

But you know, this just goes to show how much pressure we put on ourselves, as women, to do things as we think we're meant to. Obviously breastfeeding is cheaper, easier (if you can get it right) and a lot less fuss but I think we need to be kinder to ourselves if it's not working. Despite it being the natural way to feed your baby, sometimes it's just not meant to be and that's okay! It makes me sad to think of these poor new mums who are sitting there, struggling through every feed because they feel ashamed or pressured to stick with it, when there are alternatives out there that will lead to a better experience as a mum, and a better bond with them and their baby.

Even I started looking at alternatives because I just wanted to make sure Jackson was being fed properly and I was so desperate to find a solution for all of us. So while I'm lucky that it seems to have come right, I still believe that fed is best - regardless of how you go about it. And seriously, if you're having issues, get a second opinion and reach out to a lactation consultant. The act of breastfeeding is so different to what you'd actually think, but once you have that one on one time with someone who genuinely wants to make your journey a comfortable and easy one, you'll feel 100% better! And even if it doesn't help, you'll know you've done anything and probably find it easier to accept that it might just not be right for you and your baby.

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