The trials and tribulations of breastfeeding
Before having Buzz I knew that I’d like to make a good attempt at the whole breastfeeding malarkey. After all, it’s rammed down our throats that ‘Breast is best’, so in my quest to be the bestest-ever-mummy-in-the-stratosphere I went for a breastfeeding class (previously talked about and no, I didn’t need to show the teacher everything – this was my main concern). It all sounded so easy – get the baby into the right position, tease him so that he opens his mouth nice and wide and then, with your boob shaped like a burger (sounds weird, but makes sense when you see it), wait for the optimum moment and draw the baby in with maximum breast in his mouth. Easy peasey! What’s so difficult about all of that?! Well… A lot! What the books don’t tell you is that neither of you know what you’re actually doing, or that there’s no way for either of you to communicate what you’d like the other one to do. Seriously, you’d think those little bubbas could be given a crash course on the topic before coming out of utero – it would make everything so much easier! One of you cries in the face of the other with starvation, while the other cries with frustration – leaving you to wonder where the magical bond that breastfeeding supposedly brings is hiding out. And that was another pre-Buzz-selling-point to me! The connection I was told it would bring between my child and I. If someone had reminded me of this enchanting promise a few weeks in I’d have laughed in their face. It’s hard to associate something that makes you yelp in pain, curl your toes in apprehension and cry with despair as something that’ll generate an overwhelming sense of love and unity.
And, of course, you’re shattered. In those early days you’re so knackered that you find yourself delirious on multiple occasions. I can’t tell you how many times I woke up with my hands frantically searching for Buzz, thinking I’d fallen asleep mid-feed – only to eventually spot him peacefully asleep in his crib where I’d placed him a short while earlier. Sleep deprivation is so disorientating.
When you’re feeding a newborn baby every two to three hours (counted from the start of one feed to the beginning of the next) you can’t help but feel like a walking milk machine (or a human cow), especially when feeding can take a couple of hours in itself – meaning you have an hour off before the whole saga starts again. It’s relentless. It took more patience than I was aware I possessed to get through the first couple of months. And then, as if by magic, it just clicked into place one day. It was as if we both suddenly knew what we were doing – the feeds became super quick and a sense of teamwork fell upon us. Hurrah.
I can’t tell you how many times I almost gave up. I didn’t have a smooth ride with breastfeeding – I wore nipple shields (never felt so attractive) and got a lovely lactation consultant over to try and help me and Buzz on our merry-breast-way. I was determined and stubborn about the whole thing – I hoped we’d get it right eventually. And we did.
The kindest thing a midwife said to me about breastfeeding was that it took a good two weeks to establish… I was told this when I was a week in and feeling pants about the whole thing. It took more than that little week for me (in fact it was more like eight weeks), but her admission that it wasn’t something that everyone took to instantly gave me some hope. Remember, I’ve already blogged about my woes in the first month of motherhood, and breastfeeding was certainly one of the things I’d started beating myself up over, so her words offered me such relief. I needed to blast away my expectations and remind myself that Buzz and I were on our own little journey of discovery – with no right and wrongs.
Now Buzz has started sleeping through the night from 7pm-6am (heavenly) he’s cut out his night feeds altogether (for ages I still expressed his 10pm feed each night and now have a freezer fully stocked of emergency milk – I guess I went a little overboard! Ha!). His daytime feeds are down to 25 minutes long and are something that happens so quickly and effortlessly that it’s usually over before I’ve had a chance to check my twitter, revel in the latest gossip online or caught up on the latest episodes of Big Brother or Real Desperate Housewives of New Jersey. We both know what we’re doing now – we’re a little tag team in a milk relay…
There is obviously another fear-inducing-scenario within this whole topic though, and that is feeding in public… I’m sad to say I just don’t feel comfortable doing it. Yep, I certainly won’t be taking a breastfeeding selfie anytime soon. I feel paranoid, sweat profusely and become a nervous wreck. It’s not good. In fact, there was one day early on when I told myself I was going to give Buzz his next feed in a coffee shop – I was feeling adventurous. Moments later I got recognised. Needless to say my boobies stayed hidden away in my bra when I got to the coffee shop and ordered a takeaway.
But let’s not forget my Eurostar achievement I blogged about on the way to Disneyland Paris. A disgruntled Buzz wouldn’t take his bottle of expressed milk (he spat it in my face while screaming his head off), so I had no choice but to feed him from source. I felt extremely proud of myself afterwards, though I stand in awe of women who are confident enough to do it wherever they please. Obviously, there are also loads of clothes out there with quick boobie access for discreet feeding – www.mamaslittlesecret.co.uk, for instance, has some great tops that don’t leave you feeling exposed. Maybe one day I’ll get over my fears, but my little set up works for us, and that’s all that matters.
Like last time, I hope my confession gives comfort to mums who are struggling out there. As with everything in life there’s not a one-size-fits all with regards to breastfeeding and what works for some won’t work for others. Likewise, you’ll find your own fears and trials are different to those around you. I know I persevered – but it’s down to the individual to choose what they want to do. I know how exhausted, vulnerable and unhappy the whole debacle can make a new mum… but NOTHING can compare to the love and joy a HAPPY mum can bring to her baby. Yep, go for happiness. Let’s not underestimate feeding your baby love instead of losing yourself under a cloud of resentment and frustration. So go forth with your breast or bottle with pride. You’re taking on the greatest task of your life – nurturing a human. Let’s not let a little spilt milk overshadow the epicness of that achievement.
On a separate note, I just want to say that I love my endlessly supportive family. Tom’s been away for a few days so Buzz and I took a little trip to Essex for the weekend. Sea air, vegetarian food (yep, still going strong) and lots of laughter… BLISS!
Have a great week you lovely lot.