The Truth About Breastfeeding

When I was pregnant I was disgusted at the amount of people that asked if I was going to breastfeed my baby. I thought it was such a personal thing and it wasn’t anyone’s business what I would decide. To be honest, the thought of breastfeeding was so weird to me. I was sure that I would end up bottle feeding. It wasn’t until I found out the benefits that I decided to stick with breastfeeding. Don’t get me wrong – I am all about the ‘fed is best’ and you do you, but for those of you that decide to breastfeed, you’re about to find out just how hard it can be.

First came the cracked nipples. What the hell kind of witchery is this… A fresh new baby is born and chucked straight onto your boob. You have no clue what your doing, and neither do they. You don’t know if it’s meant to hurt or not and then bam, cracked nipples appear. Little grand canyons of pain. If your one of the average population that has experienced cracked nipples, you would understand my pain. 8 months on and I am still not sure that my cracks have completely healed!!

So not only does it hurt when you’re feeding, it also hurts when your not feeding. For the first few weeks your nipples are red, sore and so damn sensitive that you would sucker punch anyone in the face that accidentally brushed up against you.

Then I discovered I had thrush. Yep, thrush on my nipples. You know when you get thrush when you get out of the shower and it hurts to even wrap a towel around your boobs. They’re so sensitive that you can’t even look at them without wincing in pain. You grit your teeth during feeds and try your best not to throw the baby across the room from the pain.

Vasospasms. Shooting pain through the boob and nipple. What the actual hell. Yes, hell – that’s what this feels like. I’m not even going to say any more about this.

I finally caved and went to see a lactation consultant. Tongue tie? High palate? Thrush in babies mouth? After 4 months of feeding I discovered my bub had a ‘long, skinny palate’ and there was literally nothing I could do to relieve the pain except for trying to perfect the goddamn latch and grit my teeth until her mouth grew bigger. Perfecting the latch is not easy. There’s so many techniques out there and oh boy do you find some good stuff on Google.

My biggest piece of advice – ditch Google and all the advice. Just keep trying different ways and eventually you will find a way that feels best for you. The ‘flip-nipple’ and the standard big open mouth techniques did nothing for me. Turned out the best thing that worked was to just let my baby do her thing!

I can honestly say that breastfeeding was painful for me for the first 5 months. It wasn’t until then that I actually started enjoying my ‘bonding’ time with my daughter. Then she grew teeth and decided that I was her new favourite chew toy.

Somehow I managed to keep going through all the pain and obstacles. She is now 8 months old. My supply has dropped considerably since going back to work and we are now mix feeding and she only breastfeeds at night. Last night she just about tore my nipple clean off. It was then that I decided that I will be giving up breastfeeding once and for all.

I know some people judge about women being ‘selfish’ for not breastfeeding or giving up. But I think that any woman that has given it a shot is very brave and should be proud of themselves. I am so proud of myself for getting this far and honestly, that’s all that matters.

Unannounced Visitors, Google + Mothers Group

Well it’s been a hot minute since I posted. What can I say – Motherhood is BUSY. Now where did I leave off last time…

Coming home from hospital. I walked through the door to my fur babies greeting me. They looked so different. My dog looked older and my fluffy little ‘baby’ cat looked so much bigger compared to my new little squished alien in my arms. I felt like I been gone for a year but it had only been 6 days.

I was so excited to go and snuggle up in my own bed with my brand new baby in her new bassinet next to me and not have to worry about nurses waking me up every 5 minutes. If only that were the case. Not long after we arrived home the visits started.

Most of my friends were understanding and didn’t arrange a visit until a week or so later. It was my partners family that never got the memo. First his mother would show up to ‘help’. Now let me tell you that I really did appreciate the gesture – if it were genuine – but this woman was just a royal pain in my ass. Unfortunately she still is. She would always seem to turn up at the worst of times, right when I was due to feed her. No matter how many times we asked her to let us know before she was coming – she would ALWAYS turn up unannounced.

When your a new mother who, prior to giving birth, was a total prude with being nude in front of anyone, it was hard enough getting used to having your boobs out all the time with people around. What made it even harder was that I was still having a lot of trouble breastfeeding and every feed was excruciating. I didn’t want anyone seeing me in pain whilst feeding my child. I didn’t want them to witness tears rolling down my face and take that the wrong way and think I was depressed. I wasn’t – it just f**king hurt! But the mother-in-law always made a big deal out of me being unhappy and that she would take my daughter off my hands for a while so I could get some rest. I didn’t want to rest – I wanted to spend time with my new daughter and I wanted us to be left alone to get to know each other without the constant interruptions.

It wasn’t just the mother-in-law. One by one my partners family arrived nearly every day. After a week my partner had to go back to work, and quite frankly I was glad because I thought that the visits would finally stop. Most of them did, but not the mother-in-law. She would turn up multiple times a day to ‘take my daughter off my hands.’ Little did I know that this would only be the start of the monster-in-law issues but that’s a whole other story…

When the visitors finally left and I was left alone with my baby, I would be exhausted from trying to entertain my unwanted guests. Then the googling started. Whenever my daughter cried and I couldn’t figure out what she wanted I would google. From there I just entered a wormhole of the right and wrongs of looking after a baby. Apparently everything I ever knew was wrong. I self-prescribed my daughter with every baby condition under the sun. I was trying everything to make her happy and I would keep changing my method every time that didn’t work. I felt like I must have been the worst mother ever because I didn’t know how to stop her crying sometimes.

2 weeks later and the midwives at the hospital had signed me up for mothers group. I’m not sure if this is just a Australian thing but for anyone that doesn’t know – it’s just our local hospital setting up a time for recent new mothers to meet up and help each other out. I was terrified of going and I very nearly didn’t. I was so worried about being judged for not having my sh*t together and for having a baby that cried once every while. When I finally worked up the courage to go, I did my absolute best to get myself looking presentable. I somehow managed to have a shower, wash my hair, put on some makeup, get dressed in some reasonable sort of outfit and do my hair. I would pretend that I knew what I was doing and I would pretend that I had my sh*t together.

As I walked through the doors at mothers group it was a major reality check. I was the only one wearing makeup. I was the only one that did my hair in anything but a messy bun. And I looked to be the only one that had had any sleep the night before.

All the girls in my mothers group were so open and honest. Half of them didn’t have a clue what they were doing. Some of the stories and methods of looking after babies made me cringe. I couldn’t help but keep thinking ‘but that’s not what everyone on the internet says’. Nearly everyone’s baby had a go at crying the place down, except for mine. My precious little angel slept the whole damn time. It was then that I realised that I am a good mum. I am the best mum I could be.

From then on, I never looked at google again. I trusted my instincts. I did what I felt was best.

Mothers group was an absolute savior for me. 8 months on – I still catch up with the girls and they know all my cringey secrets and mistakes. But they don’t care, because half of them have 10x worse stories then mine. And I don’t care, because I know that we all just want to be the best mums to our babies that we can.

If any of you out there are contemplating going to a mothers group – TRUST ME and just do it! No new mother is perfect, we are all doing the best we can.