My breastfeeding story starts back when I was 36 weeks pregnant when my mum and midwife both asked me (at different times I may add!) if I was going to breastfeed. I told them yes, I was going to give it a go. My midwife said oh you are such a good girl, it’s very important for baby. I got the feeling from her that she gets a lot of no’s! She left it at that. No tips on how to get the baby to latch on or what you should or shouldn’t eat, how to cope with sore nipples, nothing, zilch.
My mum on the other hand is amazing and full of so much advice. She loves babies and was an excellent stay at home mum. She breastfed all my sisters, brother and I, that’s four of us. She breastfed my younger brother until he was a year old. I don’t really remember much as I was six at the time.
My baby girl is now nine weeks old and mum still keeps giving me tips on what not to eat. Don’t eat onion, spicy curry or garlic she says. Oh and don’t touch turnip ( that’s swede to everyone outside Cornwall!!) that used to give your brother terrible wind! I have found with baby girl it’s cabbage that upsets her tummy through my milk.
Anyway let’s get back on track to my first few hours and days as a breastfeeding mummy. I had an emergency c-section with baby girl so the skin to skin contact which I planned on doing had to wait until I was out of theatre and in recovery. This took longer than I wanted, and was about an hour before she was placed on my chest. My husband had held her all the time from when she was born so she wasn’t lonely. It took two midwives to help me onto my side so I could get baby girl onto my boob, while she was lying down. She was a hungry little girl and was sucking away, I honestly didn’t know whether she got any of the colostrum or not as I wasn’t sure my body was producing anything, it didn’t stop her sucking though!
For a few days she was sucking and sucking and my milk never made a show. The poor mite was starving and I was so tempted to start bottle feeding her. I couldn’t bare to see her starve any longer. She lost weight and went from 8lb 11oz to 8lb 2oz due to me not giving her what she needed. I ended up phoning my midwife in a panic nearly crying down the phone because I couldn’t feed my baby. But By day 5 something magic happened! I started dripping milk! It was here at last! I didn’t feel like such a failure or a bad mother. I’m sure by having that c-section it took slightly longer for my milk to appear. Baby girl is 9 weeks old now and still loving the boob! I’ve expressed milk off for her to have in a bottle but she’s a little reluctant yet to take it, we are still persevering each day with trying her on the bottle. Got to give my little nipples a rest!
I have to say in those first few weeks I really couldn’t think of anything worse than going down to make a bottle in the middle of the night, especially if you live in a house like ours which is a three storey townhouse so two flights of stairs down into the kitchen. All I had to do was get a boob out and bob’s your uncle!
Now I look back at those hard first few days and wonder why did I keep going with breastfeeding. My answer – if only you could see the way my 9 week old looks up at me while she is feeding with those big blue eyes. That’s why.
To answer my own question – How hard can breastfeeding be?
Extremely hard! Tingly boobs, sore cracked nipples. Not being able to lie on your tummy. Not being able to go bra less. Leaky boobs, and I’m sure I sweat milk!
This post was first published on the Meet Other Mums website where I am a regular writer.