An Unlikely Breastfeeding Story
I Felt Under A Lot Of Pressure Over Breastfeeding.
When my first baby was born I thought I would be surrounded by medical experts who would be informative on all options, not just breastfeeding. Instead, I received comments that made me feel like no matter what, even if the world ends tomorrow, I should always breastfeed my baby.
My milk took forever to come in, possibly due to stress. When it did arrive, I felt like a human with two giant dangly cow udders from my chest. Although overwhelmed with the amount of milk I had during the first days, finally, I could feed my baby!
Putting washing out one day, as I leant down my partner was laughing in the back doorway at something. He was laughing at me. My new milk balloons had made their way out of my maternity bra and I had been watering the grass for a good 10 seconds.
The Sad Part
I couldn’t feed my baby. Well, according to nurses. I fed my first born like there was no tomorrow, but he was always hungry. I just didn’t understand what the problem was, he seemed to latch on okay, drink forever – but I never felt empty.
I went to lactation nurses who insisted I was not latching properly, but I would be able to latch fine in the clinic. No fault to them, they couldn’t have possibly known what the problem was. During the process of seeking help, I felt, even more, pressure.
I was told not to give up. I had the milk, I just had to learn the skill of breastfeeding.
I felt so defeated. I spent many late nights feeding, on the verge of tears. I would make 20mls of Formula just to stop my baby from trying to devour his little hands. He didn’t scream a lot, but he was clearly in a constant state of hunger.
It took forever for him to finish a bottle and despite being told it was me, I just didn’t understand. I had been trying so hard. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I feed my own son? Even bottle feeding seems difficult.
Then Suddenly Everything Changed
Weeks passed and I seemed to hang in there by a thread. Then something happened. Everything changed. A nurse picked up my sons VERY mild facial palsy when he cried after his immunisations. Even more weeks down the track my son was diagnosed with a large tumour inside his head.
When my son closed his mouth it wasn’t visible to the human eye, the nerve function was so weak in the left side he couldn’t tighten it to form a vacuum. I’m sure I don’t have to explain how both bottle and breastfeeding works – it requires sealing the area off for continuous flow.
This also explained the slight reflux, my baby had been constantly sucking in a very subtle amount of air during feeding time. The crazy thing is despite all of the stress I was going through, the feeding difficulties – I STILL had a lot of pressure to breastfeed. Especially once Chemotherapy commenced.
Then my saviour came, our new oncologist in Brisbane told me I was crazy. To stop. Stop right now. He could see that I had turned myself inside out over this. I had even convinced myself my baby would have a better chance of survival if I breastfed during Chemotherapy.
Breast Might Be Best, But What If She Can’t?
While I 100% agree if you can breastfeed – do it. The experience the first time around made me very observant when I went on to have more children. The attitude towards women who do not breastfeed is very poor and even asking a woman “Are you breastfeeding?” – seems like a very personal question to me.
Don’t always assume a woman CHOOSES not to breastfeed. There are a number of factors which can get in the way. MY story is an unlikely one, but I didn’t deserve some of the ignorant things said to me during that time.
I’d also like to add, In the event that there is a choice, that’s also none of your damn business.
This Story Has Been Quoted at Kidspot & The Daily Mail