My breastfeeding struggles

This is a breast vs bottle debate FREE zone. I will be talking about breastfeeding because that’s how I’m feeding my baby, you can do what works for you.

Breastfeeding is hard. Much like my leather nipples are now. We are designed to do this but it’s not easy. It is for some, but for others it takes a lot of practice to get right. I’m still persevering because I want Freya to be breastfed but I never anticipated it would be this hard. I went on an NCT course in pregnancy and in the breastfeeding sessions they made it sound so easy and like it’ll just happen. Well let me tell you it takes hard work and I almost gave up a few times.

Positions

img_0032Rugby ball, cradle, lying down, I’ve tried every which way and each feed she changes how she wants to be fed. I suppose it’s like me sometimes wishing I could eat at wagamamas on a proper chair instead of a bench. And not so close to the person next to me that I get sprayed with their ramen as they suck up a noodle.

I am very jealous of anyone who can feed lying down in bed! I tried it one night and my boobs aren’t really voluptuous enough so she was tugging to reach my nipple at times and I was way too tired to move and in the morning my chest looked like it had been beaten. My top had blood stains on it. The midwife said I could keep feeding despite my bloody nipples which leads me onto my next point.

Feed dread

You may get this if you’re struggling with feeding. It’s a bit like that feeling you get on a Sunday night when you realise you have to go to work the next day.
You clock watch, you know a feed is coming and your nipples recoil in horror at the prospect of being used as a chew toy for the next hour.
Ive gotten over that feeling now because it doesn’t hurt anymore but it lasted for a good 2 weeks.

Engorged

Everyone talks about waking up one day with massive rock hard boobs. Amazing I thought. As a modest breasted lady the prospect of big baps made me positively giddy. However the boob fairy didn’t arrive during the night as promised. Probably out getting smashed with the tooth fairy. So she ended up visiting frequently and gradually so I didn’t notice until I saw myself in a mirror one day feeding and Freya looked like she was nuzzling a football.

img_0042Let down reflex

This isn’t how you react to someone disappointing you. Apparently it’s when your body is releasing the hormone oxytocin during feeding which stimulates the muscles to release milk. How you feel the “let down” varies from person to person but as with a lot of things associated with breastfeeding, you may feel nothing at all … like me. I’m mentioning this for those of you who worry you’re not feeling the same sensations as your new mummy friends…that’s ok.

Dummies

“I’ll never give my baby a dummy” – Catherine, aged 21-33, no children

“Can you please go to mothercare and buy some dummies before I lose my mind” – Catherine, aged 33, 4 day old child

I imagine I will have a lot of these moments. Despite every google article saying to wait until breastfeeding is established before giving baby a dummy, I rebelled and did whatever the hell I wanted with my baby and I’m glad I did! That was the best £3 we’ve ever spent.

My baby was sucking everything in sight constantly, from my nipples to my husbands pinky to her whole fist.
Midwives said she sucks for comfort so whether she’s sucking her thumb or a dummy makes no real difference.

As she’s getting the hang of feeding and generally used to the outside world we are finding she uses it less and less but without it in those early days, I would’ve either gone mad or lost a nipple.

Night feeds

img_0043This is where breastfeeding is a bitch. Unless you express, only you can give milk and you will be shattered and look suspiciously like Donald trump in drag when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the night.

In the early days when you’re feeding on demand and baby wakes up every 90 mins-2 hours (if you’re lucky)…it’s showtime. It’s exhausting. It’s lonely. It’s time to make use of iPlayer, ITV Hub and 4od. How people did this before iPads is beyond me. Let alone when there only used to be 4 tv channels #firstworldproblems.

In the first 2 weeks I felt really lonely at night, I dreaded nighttimes drawing in (and still do a bit). Everything seems easier in the light of day, nighttime is daunting.

As lonely as it can be sitting up and seeing every hour pass from 11pm-6am, you’re not alone.
If like me you went to NCT classes and have a group of new mummy friends I recommend starting a Whatsapp group. We did and it’s helpful for a lot of things, one being support in the twilight hours. You can pretty much guarantee someone else from the group will be awake and changing an explosive nappy before a feed just like you.

So if like me you’re struggling with feeding there’s a lot of support out there. Whilst the NCT course didn’t address how hard feeding can be, they do offer great clinics where you can take your baby and someone will sit with you and help you. It’s really helped me. Your local midwives can also help and your post natal ward. Don’t suffer in silence. I’ve spent many nights in tears while Freya headbutts my breasts and screams but I didn’t hide it. It’s so important to talk about the hard stuff as well as the good. A lot of people feel guilty about saying anything negative about motherhood, truth is this stage is hard and until baby smiles or reacts you can feel like a bit of a milking machine.

Don’t feel like a failure if you’re struggling with breastfeeding. Talk to people, get help and do what works for you!