Breast is only best if it works for you. And it took this mother too long to find that out…
I wanted to breastfeed, I really did. I imagined myself being one of those mothers you see on the front of post-pregnancy pamphlets. Calm, filled with sweet pheromones as she nurses her gently suckling newborn.
I had never even contemplated the fact that I might not be able to breastfeed successfully. I just assumed I wouldn’t have an issue with it.
Boy, was I wrong.
One night I went to bed, my humble B-cup breasts and I. The next morning, attached to me were a pair of D-cup, drippy, hard, throbbing pieces of flesh. Going from little bosoms to this in a matter of hours was petrifying to say the least. Although this vision delighted my husband, he was shattered by my “don’t you dare come near them” policy. My new title was suddenly “milk bar” and I had a job to do.
Our baby was ready for her first real feed. How hard could this be? I thought. I lifted her head towards my breast, when suddenly her eyes and mouth opened simultaneously: tongue thrusting, head bobbing all over the place, and as soon as contact was made, I got the shock of my life. My baby had turned into a piranha. What I can only describe as waves of violent electric shocks filled my chest. There was nothing beautiful or nurturing about it. It was so painful that I cried and cried.
This is what happened time and time again. Every. Single. Feed.
Surely this couldn't be right? It was time to bring in the big guns. Midwife after midwife came into my home, presented with my breasts and given free rein to tweak and squeeze my nipples, contort my baby's head into position and offload all their knowledge onto me as I desperately tried to follow their instructions, with no luck.
All their advice was inconsistent, each had their own theory about why I just couldn't get this right. And of course it was all my fault. I was a faulty piece of machinery with no manual. Not one of them took on board the fact my child was a full-force sucking vacuum with no remorse.
My husband, day after day, would arrived home to see me in convulsive tears rocking back and forth with our baby on the sofa as if I belonged in an institution.
I was broken. I was sad. I was angry. I resented myself, and I started to resent my daughter, because the pain I felt when she was feeding was unbearable. I was a bad mother. The guilt and stress consumed and overwhelmed me. We were on a downward spiral and our baby was dropping weight.
I wanted to throw my hands up and give up. But no-one told me there was any other option but to breastfeed my child. The moment I asked if bottle feeding would be okay, I received nothing but lectures about how "breast is best" and how with time and persistence I would be just fine. Well I wasn't fine, far from it.