“Just do one more. Just one more feed, and then decide if you want to give up or not.”
It was 2pm and I was at the end of yet another phone call with my friend Donna. I was struggling to breastfeed my second child, and it was just so painful. I felt like I couldn’t manage it even one more time.
Each feed I’d grimace as my little boy tried to latch on and for 45 excruciating minutes I’d try not to cry. After each feed, as I tended to my cracked, sore and bleeding nipples, I’d tell myself that I couldn’t face it again. I’d have to stop breastfeeding him. I felt heartbroken.
So I’d call Donna. She wasn’t a breastfeeding expert – just another mum and trusted friend who had struggled to breastfeed and done her best to get through it. Each time I rang her she’d help me get through one more feed. And another, and then another.
Just as an FYI, this post is sponsored by Pigeon baby products. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100 per cent authentic and written in their own words.
“A very few first-time-mothers do master the new skills easily but most are surprised how much effort is usually involved in getting their unique combination of baby and boobs comfortably in sync in the early days and weeks after the birth,” Lois says.
“Does anyone get their driver’s licence after one or two driving lessons? It takes time and practice to become competent and confident, and for it to become enjoyable. Breastfeeding is the same and the rewards of succeeding are profoundly satisfying. New mums need to give themselves some time, and a good instructor helps a lot.”
And I did have good instructors. I had experts at the hospital to help me out, a lactation consultant who visited me at home and amazing friends like Donna. I had all the ingredients to become good at breastfeeding. I just needed to cut myself some slack.
Because it wasn’t my fault I had ridiculously small nipples that all three of my children struggled to latch onto. I didn’t know that attempts at latching on could cause painful damage I’d be nursing for weeks. I had no idea what mastitis felt like.
In the lead up to my second son’s birth, I had stocked up on all the same products I’d used when trying to breastfeed my first child. I’d used nipple shields, nipple cream, a breast pump and the best breast pads on the market – ones that didn’t inflict further damage on my already tender breasts. I felt game ready. This time would be different.
I dreamed of easily breastfeeding my son and spending the time staring at his beautiful little face instead of grimacing. And guess what? My dream came true. It took weeks and weeks and weeks, but I got there. I had my third child just 16 months later and she was easy to breastfeed in comparison, thanks to the fact my boobs had already been ‘broken in’.
By the time I was finished feeding her, I was kind of sad it was all over.
Wattis says mother-to-mother support (like I had from my friend Donna) is invaluable when it comes to dealing with breastfeeding struggles.
“It can often make the difference between pushing on or giving up when women are really struggling with breastfeeding.”
That is so true. Because sometimes we just need another mum to remind us that there is no shame in finding breastfeeding difficult. There is no shame in dreading the next feed or crying out from pain.
There is no shame in asking for help from lactation professionals. And there is also no shame in expressing and using a bottle, or formula feeding your child, as I chose to do the first time around. And it’s something all mums should remember.
What was your breastfeeding experience like?
These celebs have kindly shared their breastfeeding experiences too…
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