Hello beautiful readers, welcome to this month’s guest blog, one lovely new mummy’s story of her journey along the path of breastfeeding. Thank you for sharing your story Rachel…….
“I think we all deserve a trophy…
It seems that each of us mums have had a hurdle we have had to leap over, a battle we’ve had to fight or a mountain we’ve had to climb, where finally we get through it and really should be quite proud of ourselves. Maybe it was pregnancy, or just getting pregnant, or birth, or P.N.D, or inlaws, or weaning. Well for me, it was breastfeeding.
I’d read all the books, I was aware of the benefits and I was surrounded by boobtastic breastfeeding friends. I knew it wasn’t going to be a doddle and I was ready for sore nipples but I knew breastfeeding was something that I wanted to do, just because I wanted to do it. But let’s start from the beginning because to be honest, I feel like I want to buy myself a trophy!
After over an hour in surgery after a less than enjoyable birth I finally got to feed my hungry new baby boy. And to my surprise, he knew what to do. He immediately latched on and had his first suck. Wow! I loved it, I felt like a mum. Until probably 2.5 seconds later, when he suddenly didn’t have a clue what he was doing, licking away like a toddler with an ice pop, and that was pretty much the story for the first 3 months of his life. So I hand expressed those precious drops of colostrum. All was fine, I realised this was normal and was ready for a bit of perseverance (even though I felt like a bruised, battered, knackered, hormonal, terrified new mum).
Over the next few days in hospital and then at home, I managed to get the hang of the feeding (I thought). It was sore and really tricky and was one of those things I always thought I really could have done with practicing before I had a baby! I had all sorts of advice floating around my head…’nose to nipple’ Jules and Hannah had said whilst holding a doll up to a knitted boob. But getting that technique was hard, never mind that I looked like Dolly Parton, leaked all day and all night, and was still trying to get use to clipping and unclipping my nursing bra. But it really was getting very sore. In fact I would dread every feed. I started to realise the sore nipples that I was persevering with had progressed to some seriously hardcore damage. My nipples had cracks the size of the Grand Canyon across them. They were red raw, bleeding, and looked like my baby had just chewed them off. It was pretty horrifically painful. I spent many a night just weeping in pain. Basically, I didn’t have the latch right, and the damage was just getting worse every feed.
I tried to keep my spirits up because I knew I didn’t want to give up. I had nicknames to get me through. I fed more often with Baddy Boob (on the right) rather than Killer Boob (on the left). I had to clamp down on a muslin in my mouth, I allowed the odd swear word to creep out and wiggled my toes until I got used to the pain each feed. I tried nipple shields, fed in different positions, expressed, but it was all so painful and worse, a total head screw. I was glad to use the odd bottle of formula in the night to give myself a rest. Yes I used dummies, bottles and shields whilst trying to get my latch right, probably not advised but stuff that, in my eyes those people didn’t know the pain, I just needed to get through each day! I saw my friends who seemingly had no problems with it at all, and I desperately wanted to continue but I worried my boy wasn’t getting enough milk and I just didn’t know what to do to change it.
Thankfully I had amazingly supportive friends who gave me hugs, nipple shells, demonstrations etc. After one of those nights where you kind of want to send your baby back (or was that just me?!), a beloved friend came round (3 month old in tow), gave me breakfast and shoved me into her car and took me to B.A.P.S (Breastfeeding and peer support group). I will always remember the love from my friend, and the care from the ladies at B.A.P.S. I left with fresh determination. I knew if I could just make it to each Tuesday morning, to B.A.P.S, then I’d be ok.
To be honest, I didn’t see much improvement for a long time. I still felt like giving up, I still cried with pain during most feeds, I still longed for the day I could get out of the shower and wrap a towel round me without avoiding the nipple area, and for when I could put on my bra without taking in deep breaths, or put on a jumper without leaning forward to avoid nipple contact! But, I stuck at it. Not particularly because ‘breast is best’ or because I felt pressure to, but just because I wanted to. And do you know what, it got better.
It was the hardest thing I think I have ever done and it took well over 3 months before the pain began to go and I healed, but I got there. 7 months on and I am still going. I am so proud of myself. And I tell you what, it took so long to get here, I’m not stopping any time soon!!”
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Love H&J x x