Breastfeeding – a natural way to feed your baby.
Natural – something that comes easily to you .
Two things assumed by mothers before attempting to nurse a baby. Neither is necessarily true. Breastfeeding is HARD!!! For something supposedly so “natural”, it takes a lot of learning and a lot of work.
Second time round for me but this time it’s working… most days.
I tried to breastfeed our first little girl but there were so many issues that went against us. For starters, my milk “didn’t come in”, or so I was told. Obviously, and I know now, I could have kept her at my breast to get that milk in but being completely ignorant to it all, I listened to the nurses and ended up giving her a bottle of formula. Instant nipple confusion. I then ended up being very sick and had to pump and dump (very sad face) because I was on way too much medication. Then there was the pain, and the blood, and did I mention the pain? One month in and millions of tears later, I reluctantly decided to stop. Cue the guilt and depression.
Fast forward to now, we have our second little beauty who is three and a half months old and loving the boob. She has had one bottle of formula to date which was given at an extremely weak moment. And no, I don’t regret giving her that formula. Did I at the time? Absolutely. But not now. Has it been a difficult journey? Exceptionally. But we’re doing it. Yay!!
The biggest help I’ve had this time around is support. I have had so much support; from friends, family, my public health nurse, the midwives at my hospital, the list is endless. The support has been amazing. Not to mention my breastfeeding buddy: a girl I met, while pregnant, at a breastfeeding information morning. I don’t think she’ll ever know how much she has helped me by just being there for my random vents, my tough days and the better times. Thanks to that information morning, I now have an awesome new friend. I also need to throw in here that she is a complete super mammy. She honestly amazes me with her strength every single day.
Determination has been a huge factor in getting me through this time too. While I was pregnant I thought, ‘if it doesn’t work this time, it doesn’t work. I’m not going to beat myself up over it. I’m not going to feel guilty. I’m going to remind myself that I tried my best and that’s all I could do.’ And yes, I reminded myself of this every single day. However, once this munchskin was born, determination kicked in. I knew I wanted to make it work this time.
I started to hand express some milk into syringes at 36 weeks, which I highly recommend to every pregnant woman who plans to breastfeed. Even if it doesn’t workout in those first couple of days, your baby will get that good old colostrum. I ended up not even using it but it was there if I had needed it and it came in handy for treating my toddler when she was sick a little while later. Serious miracle juice.
There are a couple of moments in my life that I can honestly say I’ve been proud of myself – graduating from college (without going to rehab (lol I joke… kinda)), traveling, and now breastfeeding. I may sound big headed or conceded but I don’t care. I’m three and a half months in. I have cried and bled, given up and started over, been horribly engorged and had nipple thrush. I have resented my baby for hurting me and resented myself for ever thinking I could try breastfeeding again. I have fought with my husband over the silliest of things simply because I’ve been exhausted and in pain and I’ve loved him more than ever for his constant support and encouragement. I’ve hated every time I’ve had to breastfeed and loved every second of looking into my babies eyes as she feeds. But I’ve done it. I’ve done it for three and a half months and I’m still doing it and I’m so bloody proud of myself and my baby.
The main reason I’m writing this blog post is because I brought my baby for her three month photo shoot today (yeah, it’s a thing) and we had some breastfeeding pictures taken. I honestly cannot stop looking at photos my hubby took as I fed our daughter for the photographer. I love them. Maybe to others, they’re simply pictures of a mother feeding her daughter. To me, they are much more than that. To me, they tell a huge story; a story of commitment, hard work, fear, doubt and love. To me, they say, ‘Yay, you’re doing it!!’ To me they scream of pride. Pride for what I’ve accomplished this far and what I am adamantly continuing to accomplish. It hasn’t been an easy journey but definitely one I have learned a lot about myself from and one which has given me strength I never knew I had. It’s a journey I will always be proud of.