I have a nearly 3 year old who I breastfed until she was 16 months and a 9 month old who I am still breastfeeding.
With Eve, my first, it was literally the hardest thing I have ever done…. and this includes the time my 7 year old niece asked me to explain what a calorie is.
Eve had tongue tie and wouldn’t latch properly and I was trying to shove my big fat engorged booby nipple into her teeny tiny newborn mouth and it just wasn’t going well.
I had numerous midwives come and see me, some said she was feeding fine, others said I needed to syringe feed her … I just didn’t have a clue.
Pre-birth I had received so many leaflets about breastfeeding and what it would look like, what it would feel like, how amazing the world would be with my new baby in it.. if they’d have written “you will shit out a rainbow that smells of lavender and honeysuckle” I would have believed it.
It didn’t even cross my mind that it may not be that easy. In reality It didn’t look like the perfect photos in the leaflets and it certainly didn’t feel like “breast is best”… it hurt, it was messy, it was draining, and being a hormonal mess after birth doesn’t help, I started to feel like I was failing Eve, like I was a bad mum already for not being able to do something that should be so natural. The women in the leaflets I was given and the YouTube videos I watched were all doing it so easily so why couldn’t I?
When Eve did seem to feed well she threw most of it up exorcist style. I thought it was all my fault… oh if I could go back and retrieve my google history from those early days I would definitely question my sanity…
Eve was putting on weight but she was putting it on slowly. (I now know, after having my 2nd human and not being such a worrying Wendy, that my kids just don’t put on weight very quickly).
My health visitor told me that I had to top her up with formula, now had I not been the stubborn shit that I can be (ask my husband, he will tell you) I would have given up breastfeeding, which ultimately I really didn’t want to do. My main reason for this is that I am lazy.. I didn’t want to have to drag myself out of bed in the middle of the night to make up a formula feed, also we camp a lot and I didn’t want the faff of sterilising which again is down to my laziness.
To cut a long story short we persevered, my nipples grew back their skin, she stopped spewing as much and things eventually seemed to slot into place. But it doesn’t work that way for everyone. I’ve had friends in so much pain that they physically couldn’t feed, mastitis, latch problems, plain outright baby refusing to boob at all, fathers bringing up their baby, and friends that just don’t want to breastfeed.. and that is ok!
It can be draining physically and it can be draining emotionally. I completely understand “breast is best” but breast can only be best if you don’t lose yourself along the way.
Some people can’t, some people don’t want to, and that’s for nobody else to comment on. Feed them whatever you want (within reason obv!) and feed them wherever you want, this parenting stuff is hard enough without all the judging. As long as the baby is EATING can’t we just celebrate that?!
They all end up eating things they find on the floor anyway rather than your lovingly home cooked spaghetti bolognese that you spent ages cooking and turned down fish and chips for because it’s healthier. I’m not bitter about it though .. honestly.
A Guest Blog from Vicky Brown
Vicky is currently on maternity leave with her 2nd (feral) child. She loves to draw and has been meaning to brush her hair since 2006. You can follow Vicky on Instagram.