I tried with both kids and I struggled, I would feed then while I cried my eyes out. My bleeding and split nipples would simply not heal. I would pump and in an attempt to ease the pain, the milk was red with blood. I expressed for 8 weeks until I realised stress and unnecessary pressure I was putting on myself was allowing me to go further into a deep depression.
My nipples were ruined, bleeding and sore & I had very little colostrum. Even hand expressing gave me next to no results and the pain was horrendous. I HATED random nurses requesting to milk me because they assumed I wasn’t ‘doing it properly’. It broke me to be sitting there in tears with absolutely no dignity.
I wish we as mothers didn’t feel so much to pressure to succeed based on what society deems ‘normal’ or ‘best’. I wish we weren’t made to feel like we failed when our breastfeeding attempts come to an end. I wish that I didn’t need to post this in an order to defend or justify my decisions but I am and I will because I am speaking for the masses, for all those Mum’s out there who had a journey similar to mine. Who sat there trying to feed with tears rolling down their cheeks, bleeding nipples and partners who may or may not have understood. Feeling too ashamed to call it quits based on the way society makes us feel.
I’ve come to the realisation that giving up on breastfeeding doesn’t make me a bad mother. Both kids are thriving and happy.
Breastfeeding is easy for some, it’s also really tough for others. Mothers who do it with ease often don’t understand how hard it can be for others, to see you feeding and wishing we could have done it.
I dreaded nosy people asking ‘are you breastfeeding?’ not only is it none of your business, it’s fucking rude. You have no idea the circumstances or struggles they’ve been through. Anywhere I went I was questioned about how my child was fed, plunket, the doctors, even total randoms. I felt hesitant to tell them he was bottle fed and I really wish that I (and others) were not made to feel this way.
I don’t post this to justify ‘why’ I stopped. I post so others in the same boat don’t go through the same experience.
I remember the feeling of absolute joy when I was able to express colostrum (aka liquid gold). My nipples were absolutely fucked already, bleeding and sore and I had problems from the moment Baxter was born and they attempted to latch him. I had very little colostrum. Even hand expressing gave me next to no results and the pain was horrendous (I would rather give birth again with no drugs). I ended up pumping and pumping to bring my milk in and also get whatever colostrum I possibly could. I HATED random nurses requesting to milk me because they assumed I wasn’t ‘doing it properly’. It broke me to be sitting there in tears with absolutely no dignity.
I had every intention of going into Lily’s birth stronger, equipped with more knowledge and power her I was still made to feel the same way. I recall pressing the buzzer at 4am and saying to the midwife with gritted teeth and tears streaming down my face “she’s starving, I’m certain she’s getting nothing from me” to which she responded, “what do you want me to do about it?”. I was already broken from lack of sleep and am extremely fast (12 minutes from arrival at the hospital) and somewhat traumatic birth. She left and I cried the rest of the night while latching lily every time she was crying for food to simply have her scream and scream from pure starvation. The next morning we had a nicer midwife who could see I was mentally breaking and said “what are you asking me for? Do you want formula? I need you to ask for it”. I cried and said “yes!”. She came back and basically read us our rights, gave us the run down of the 8 steps of breastfeeding, bla bla and then gave us a form to sign! Yes, a form. We had to sign for formula – is this a fucking joke? She gets in trouble otherwise and she even admitted to us they need to push it as much as possible. It physically makes me feel ill the pressure that is put on already emotional, fragile and sleep deprived woman who simply wants their baby to be fed.
I talk to a lot of women who have gone through similar and I truly believe that it is one of the biggest triggers of post natal depression. It was the beginning of my downward spiral.
I was told not to take formula to the hospital because they had some, what they don’t tell you is that you need to sign over your first born child and handover the blood of an albino virgin.
We all know the nutritional value of breast milk, the bond it creates and that when successful, it can do wonders for your mental health. Do you know what though, struggles aside – it’s not everybody.
As selfish as it may seem, I hated my nipples even being touched prior to children. I knew from the start I would struggle.
People say “it gets easier” and yes I am sure it does. They say “you should see a lactation consultant” and “have you had them checked for lip + tongue ties”. Well, after tongue tie corrects and various lactation consultants and the most supportive & helpful midwife ever – I still struggled. I would literally cringe and cry the moment they were crying for food because I knew what was to come.
Do what is right for you. People who had no problems with breastfeeding wouldn’t necessarily understand the struggle some others do, like me. I wanted to keep trying, I really did. Almost just to please others. I made the tough decision that I will always question and wonder if maybe I’d tried harder I could have made it work.
Reuben could see the damage it was doing, I would pump and get a minutes worth of blood first. I felt like a failure because I couldn’t do what was deemed to be the right thing for MY child.
I wish we as mothers didn’t feel so much to pressure to succeed based on what society deems ‘normal’ or ‘best’.
I wish formula wasn’t made to be such a big deal.
I wish I wasn’t made to feel the way I feel when feeding my child with a bottle (which may even contain breastmilk).
I wish that there was far more support for mothers from day one.
I wish that it was discussed more that it can be hard, that sometimes it’s not successful or it’s just not you as selfish as that may sound. Not that ‘it will get easier’ because for some people it doesn’t.
We all need to do our bit to break the cycle, to educate on the fact there is an alternative if that’s what you choose to do. It’s been made so taboo you get home with zero knowledge and then walk into the formula isle and think ‘fuck’ because you’re going into this blind. Us mothers go through enough stress and heartache, let’s try to make at least one aspect of new motherhood a little easier.
In my opinion, all Breastfeeding week has achieved is a heap more judgement than normal. Breastfeeding mother get to talk about their experience, and formula feeding mothers talk about their journey. Instead of celebrating the fact our children and healthy and fed. And here I am, adding to the mix.. Do you know what, both are hard but whatever you do is YOUR choice. It doesn’t matter which one is ‘scientifically’ best.
How I feed my child is none of your business.
Fed is best and I am fucking sick of hearing otherwise.