It has been over seven months of breastfeeding my little fig and I couldn’t be prouder. In this post I have divided my breastfeeding journey into topics and explain my experience since before little MJ was even born.
I always knew I wanted to breastfeed my baby. I remember during my ante natal classes how there was an entire class dedicated to breastfeeding and I thought how bizarre. Do we really need a class on how to breastfeed? It had never crossed my mind that this is something we would need help with. In that class we were asked to place the baby in the position we thought was best to breastfeed them in. And guess what? We all got it wrong. We were all shocked that we had got it wrong. The first thought that came into my mind was: oh my gosh I’m not going to now how to feed my baby, how can I be such a bad mother already when my baby is still inside me? All these terrible thoughts kept running through my mind. I kept thinking how I wouldn’t know what to do and how I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my dream of breastfeeding my child.
When a midwife came in to help me breastfeed as soon as MJ was born, I had tears in my eyes because she wasn’t latching on. I was thankful enough that it was just a momentary thing and she did then seem to latch on quite well. But those thoughts I had at the time of the ante natal class seem to have popped up in my head again and I instantly thought I wasn’t going to be able to breastfeed her. When she did first latch on, I remember looking at João with my eyes wide open like oh my gosh this is such a strange feeling, but god it’s such a good strange. We then went to our room where I called the midwife twice during the night so that she could make sure I was breastfeeding correctly. I was so adamant on doing it properly and confidently that I only left the hospital on the Saturday when MJ was born on Thursday night. I wanted all the extra guidance and advice I could get to make sure I wouldn’t be under feeding my baby. During my time in hospital, I had to feed her on two different occasions through syringes as she wasn’t latching on well again. I took about 10 syringes back home with me in case she would stop latching again and then I’d panic as to how I’d be able to feed her.
My first week breastfeeding was tough. My nipples were cracked and my left nipple was not only cracked but also bleeding which led to creating scabs. It was painful. My mum tried to make me feel better and would joke around and say that it was revenge, because I had done the same to her. Straight after I had been born, I was checked if I had teeth because I’d made my mum bleed from her nipples straight away. The feeling on my left breast was so painful that I had to express from it for a few days instead of feeding because I couldn’t handle her latching on. I then bought nipple shields and I cannot thank the person who created these enough. Oh my gosh it was a god send to be able to still breastfeed my daughter and have the painful aspect of it nearly entirely gone. I remember commenting with a friend of mine that I would hope to breastfeed her until she is at least one year old and that I would always use nipple shields and no one could stop me from doing so. The health visitor had said that I would need to use them for about a week and then go without them again. I ended up using them for two weeks only and slowly got her back on the nipple without causing me so much pain.
As I mentioned in a previous blog post it really is quite a horrible thing to go through. What you read on google is true. My breasts were extremely engorged which led to me feel very cold and shiverish. I had to ask João to cover me with blankets even though it was about 26 degrees because I was just so cold. It also led to getting a fever and having all of this at the same time was just too stressful to deal with. I didn’t have a breast pump yet and begged João to run out and buy one. It was something I had on my to buy list but didn’t want to get it until I knew I would be able to breastfeed. He rushed out to get one and as soon as he was back I sterilised it and pumped out as much milk as possible. I had also taken a paracetamol to help with the fever and placed warm cloths over my breasts because they were so sore. I didn’t think I would ever get it as I was breastfeeding on a regular basis, but it can still happen ladies.
Because MJ was a very small baby (born at 2.6kg) I really wanted to make sure she was gaining weight well and that she wouldn’t ever be under fed. I bought a baby log book, where I logged everytime she would feed for four months. Yes it does sound crazy, but it gave me my own peace of mind. I could see days where she would’ve fed more or less and know when I would then need to feed her more to compensate for a day where she fed less. The truth is she is a small baby but jumped a percentile in her weight within two months and has been gaining weight well ever since. I stopped logging at four months as I was confident she was doing well.
There is such a social pressure to breastfeed, but it’s not something I have necessarily felt affected by in terms of the demand of having to breastfeed. What I feel most affected by and I have seen other mothers talk about it too is the way mothers who do breastfeed are made to feel ‘bad’ for doing so. It’s a strange feeling to describe. I am made to feel bad because I can whip out my breast whenever I need to, to feed or comfort my baby. I’m made to feel bad if I need to feed my baby in public whether it be on the tube, bus, a coffee shop or even a restaurant. I have never been ashamed of publicly breastfeeding nor have I ever felt intimidated by a look anybody gives me whilst doing so. My baby is hungry so I feed her. I have never let it stop me, ever, but it doesn’t mean that deep down I don’t feel ‘bad’ about it. If I was bottle feeding, I wouldn’t be receiving those looks from anybody. How can doing something that is part of mother nature, be natural to the human body affect people that I don’t even know. I never have my breast fully exposed unless in a comfortable environment that permits it (when in baby classes). And I still wonder, why am I made to feel bad for doing something that I love to do and that is natural to the human body?
Breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful experiences during motherhood and I ache for those mothers that are unable to do so. I have never questioned a mother that does not breastfeed as I believe it to be a sensitive topic and a personal experience and choice for each mother. We never know what a mother has been through, therefore, unless she wishes to open up to you then that’s ok but we should never ever judge.
But I shouldn’t be made to feel bad for something that I can and wish to provide my daughter with. It has been seven months of breastfeeding and she still wants and needs my milk and my comfort like never before. Yes, it is tiring but since when has becoming a mother ever not tiring, whether you breast or bottle feed. I hope I can continue to breastfeed her until she is a year old and all I want to say to end this post is FED IS BEST.