sex

I really hated breastfeeding. And that's okay.

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.

" I resented myself, and I started to resent my daughter, because the pain I felt when she was feeding was unbearable."

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

I was a no-good dairy cow with crappy milk, and all I had to show for my efforts was a damp maternity bra and a screaming newborn.

"The bottles were bought, the formula measured. Out baby was finally thriving and gaining weight."

I tried pumping. That was almost as painful. There are no words to describe the devastation of pumping for an hour and a half, only to produce 21ml of milk that didn't even feed our child properly.

I remember the moment I lost it. Half naked, in the lounge room at 2am. Too exhausted to pump. My husband sat opposite, literally milking me like I was some sort of farmyard animal as I sobbed in utter humiliation. This was not working. There had to be another way.

The next day, my mother-in-law visited. A woman who doesn't tip-toe around the truth, she simply said to me "if you don't like breastfeeding, that's okay, don't do it!" Finally! The permission I needed to stop torturing myself (and my daughter.) I was filled with so many emotions: relief, guilt, nerves and hope.

I am a person who believes everything happens for a reason. That week I would soon find out that I had to have a curette. I was given antibiotics which weren't suitable to take for breastfeeding and this became my final "get out of jail free" card.

The bottles were bought, the formula measured. Our baby was finally thriving and gaining weight. Although I could see her content and happy, my guilt lingered for many months. I felt so ashamed, I never joined a mothers' group and at times lied that I was still breastfeeding to avoid the shame.

I now know this: breast is NOT best if your child isn't thriving. Breast is NOT best if it's turning you into a crazy person. Breast is NOT best if you're petrified and your body isn't cooperating. Breast is NOT best for every mother and child if it doesn't work.

I know that if there is a next time, I will do what is best for my child. If that means going on to formula, then so be it. Three years later, my head is now held high, and I can say I really REALLY hated breastfeeding. And that's okay.

What was your first experience of breast-feeding like?

Here are 18 things we wish we'd known about breastfeeding. CLICK THROUGH the gallery and if you're on a mobile, the words are below the image.

How did you feel about breastfeeding?

Want more? Try this:

Why I won't cut the (monitor) cord.

This mum found a beautiful way to answer her preschooler's question.

00:00 / ???