These days all the books, advice and healthcare professionals hammer home the outstanding benefits of breastfeeding. I know people have always been aware of the benefits, but there was a period when many women were heading to the formula in preference of the boob and for whatever reason there really does now seem to be a huge drive to persuade women to breastfeed instead. In most situations I've encountered so far lots of provisions and support have been put in place to help achieve this. Luckily, I have always wanted to breastfeed and have needed no persuasion.
|After a morning feed in bed|
There is an abundance of helpful books, websites, support groups, drop-in centres and leaflets on how to become a successful 'boob-feeder', but I believe not enough is said on quite how challenging, tiring and distressing that journey can be. I genuinely think that in comparison to many others I have had a relatively easy and straightforward introduction into breastfeeding to date and yet I have still found it ten times harder and more emotionally draining than I ever thought possible.
|A happy Pippa after lunch|
Before Pippa was born I felt like I'd done all the reading-up and researching possible on how to achieve the best 'latch' and tips on differentiating between day and night feeds. This has certainly put me in good stead for the real thing and I did feel quite prepared when it came to the first feed. But what the literature and YouTube videos didn't tell me was that your baby may not have read the book! It's all very well knowing how to position yourself and your baby; how to encourage them to start feeding and how to tell when they're swallowing properly, but this isn't much use if your baby is fighting you and seemingly pushing you away in disgust whenever you try and start feeding. Likewise, one of the biggest struggles I've encountered is dealing with extreme 'milk coma's'......Pippa routinely feeds for 15-20 minutes and then comes off and promptly passes out! I could then leave her to sleep but I know that she'd only wake up 20 minutes later clamouring for more. If I want to avoid constant feeding with no real chunks of 'time off' then I have to employ various tricks to wake her up and get back on the boob!
|Milk coma induced 'button mushroom' impression!|
But my biggest issue has been by far...........the pain!! Every bit of advice tells you that breastfeeding can be uncomfortable....don't believe them. It is painful. There's no denying it! Luckily, once your nipples are used to it (sorry boys, again!) that particularly sharp and piercing element reduces and for me, 90% of the pain is associated with just the first minute or so of a feed. And the engorgement when your milk comes in......woaahhhh....that's bizarre! Poor Husband....they were probably the most impressive they've ever looked or are likely to look again, but it would have been a quick route to divorce had he tried to touch.
|Half-way break.....virtually impossible to wake!|
Now, feeding is going well. I get a lot more pain when she latches-on on one side over the other and they're still very tender between feeds but I think it is slowly improving. I have been told it doesn't last forever too. But the post-feed cuddles, the extreme satisfaction of seeing Pippa's milk-coma face and watching the transition from screaming, red-faced monster to contented, satiated darling within seconds makes every stabbing, burning, pulling and cracked moment worth it!
|Ready for seconds!|