I am not writing this post to be controversial. I am writing it to let other breastfeeding mums who aren’t enjoying the experience know they aren’t alone.
I fully accept all of the health benefits to breastfeeding, which is why I am still trying to make it work. What I don’t accept is the rosy image the NHS and other organisations paint of breastfeeding.
YES: it is convenient. YES: it allows Mothers to have a unique bond with their babies. YES: there are health benefits.
NO: it isn’t easy. NO: it isn’t quicker. NO: it isn’t pain free.
Sydney is now 17 days old. She is exclusively breast fed. I am averaging 2 hours of broken sleep a night. Sydney has taken to using me for comfort as well as milk, but she latches on and pulls herself off so often, I am sore. She refuses to take a dummy so I can’t soothe her with that instead. She is latched onto me for around 18 hours a day – no exaggeration!
I am not writing this post to put others off, I just want people to be aware it can be hard – especially in those early weeks. With my first baby, I was naive. I thought I’d pop Sam onto my breast, he’d feed, and that was it. I wasn’t aware it would hurt while he worked out how to latch. I was never told exactly how much time I would spend nursing, and I had no idea things like “tongue tie and shallow latch” existed, and made a difficult job even harder. Sam would scratch, kick and scream every time I tried to latch him on. I hated every second of it, and I felt like a horrible Mother because I wasn’t enjoying breastfeeding like the pamphlets, books, websites and videos said I would.
In the end, I was on the verge of depression because each feed was such a battle, so I stopped breastfeeding Sam and switched to expressing my own milk and offering formula as well. My own milk supply slowly dwindled, until I had no choice but to make Sam 100% formula fed. I felt like a different person within days of switching. Both me and Sam were happier.
Between my two babies being born, I spoke a lot about breastfeeding to various people, and found out I wasn’t alone. Lots of other Mums didn’t enjoy breastfeeding either. A lot of people seem reluctant to share their difficult breastfeeding experiences, but I genuinely believe if more Mums know they aren’t alone when feeling like this, they might continue on their breastfeeding journey for longer.
This time around, I was able to mentally prepare myself for breastfeeding. I have still had plenty of ups and downs, but we have got further this time. I am still not enjoying breastfeeding, but for now, I am sticking with it. I want to give Sydney the best start possible, so if that means a few weeks of pain and exhaustion for me, so be it. I have said to hubby that I want to breastfeed Sydney for as long as possible, but if I start getting depressed, or it impacts negatively on Sam, I will switch her to formula.
You can get help and support with breastfeeding from your midwife, Health Visitor and local breastfeeding groups too. I haven’t managed to attend any groups as of yet – taking a 13 month old and a newborn to unfamiliar places full of strangers is still overwhelming to me.
Just remember: it is your choice whether you breastfeed or formula feed. What is right for you won’t necessarily be right for everyone. If you’re not enjoying breastfeeding, talk to someone about it. You are not alone and you are not a bad Mother!