real life

"My mental health is more important than trying to breastfeed a baby."

When they placed Indie on my chest, I knew I was ready to start breastfeeding. I had been so determined throughout my pregnancy, I had read everything and asked for advice and help. I made sure I didn’t buy any formula. I looked at people’s photos and read forums daily. I was sure I had it in the bag.

The first couple of days were fantastic. She latched perfectly. And I would love how close she was to me.

However the ripped skin started and the pain of the first few minutes started. I used Medela Purelan religiously and then I started using nipple shields by day three which made it much easier. I wish I used them earlier on. With no milk still in sight, Indie lived off my breast taking as much colostrum as she could. Left to right, right to left.

Then night of day two came and all visitors had gone home. I was laying there and just crying. I was in so much pain and there was a newborn who needed me and I couldn’t even give her what she needed yet. The midwife came in a took Indie for a few hours and I sobbed myself to sleep. I pretty much resembled a hungry newborn.

"The first couple of days were fantastic. She latched perfectly. And I would love how close she was to me." Image supplied.

I woke the next morning feeling much better and we started the day fresh. Indie was still trying to get my milk in but she was going great with getting colostrum. We went home on Friday day three and everything was great. She was perfect Friday night. Saturday was spent lounging around feeding Indie, painful but not excruciating.

It wasn’t until I went to have a shower Saturday afternoon I noticed I had red lumps all over my breasts. I tried to massage them out in the shower. I tried to express using my Medela pump and nothing worked. Saturday night was my worst night. Indie was on my boob all night. I was in agony. Nolan would watch on as he saw me crying trying to feed a newborn.

I can’t even imagine how this must have felt for him. To watch someone you love so much in this amount of pain doing something they had set their hopes on so high just not be able to would be heart breaking. Nolan would give Indie the dummy to try and settle her as I tried to rest. The fevers kicked in. The nausea kicked in. I knew I had mastitis.

"Indie was still trying to get my milk in but she was going great with getting colostrum. " Image supplied.

Indie wouldn’t settle and she just cried louder and louder which made me cry more and more. I sat in the lounge room digging my nails into my thighs as she latched on trying to substitute the pain anything to get some form of relief.

I just sat there thinking how can people do this. I have a huge amount of support and help and some people have none. I was at the point where I didn’t want Indie near me. Not because I didn’t love her but because it hurt me knowing I wanted to stop this feeding, I wanted to stop Indie crying, I wanted to stop crying.

My mental health is more important than trying to breastfeed a baby. Yes, breast is best. But I truly believe if you are feeding a baby and you are in agony and start to feel really down and useless, it’s time to weigh up your options. Nothing anyone can say about me for giving up breastfeeding won’t be worse than what I have already said and called myself. Trust me.

Useless.

Unnatural.

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Unloving.

Failure.

Pathetic.

Loser.

"My mental health is more important than trying to breastfeed a baby." Image supplied.

All of these names I would call myself within a short amount of time. All of these unhealthy things I was calling myself. I had set myself goals and I couldn’t even pass day five! By Sunday morning Nolan had gone to Coles and bought our first can of formula.

I second guessed my decision religiously. Over and over again. I had Nolan’s support. And to be honest, his was the only opinion that mattered to me. Her first bottle lasted five minutes. She took it amazingly. She was quiet. The relief that took over me was overwhelming. I finally had a settled baby. I swear my nipples were cheer-leading her on.

Throughout the day she was taking more than the recommended amount every three hours. By 7:30pm I was really ill. I didn’t know if I was going to pass out or just die. We called the home doctors (13SICK AUSTRALIA only) and they were here within 30 minutes. I had antibiotics prescribed and I sure did have a nasty case of mastitis in both breasts. Nolan was on the road trying to find the nearest chemist he could find and filled out my script.

Here I am now. Indie is a week old and feeding off formula like a champ. My head is clearer and I feel much more alive. My breasts are drying up and hurting. Those rock solid babies need to go. My house smells like boiled cabbage. Now the pain of the mastitis has gone and it’s just the aching boobs, and I have now noticed I have a sore spot on my c-section. So off to the doctors we go.

"Indie is a week old and feeding off formula like a champ." Image supplied.

I’m full of love but exhausted from being so ill. The c-section pain isn’t even a bother it’s the mastitis and the sore spot. If I didn’t have any of this I would be feeling 100%.

I can’t describe how disheartening it was to stop breastfeeding. Words can’t describe the agony I was in. I tried feeding through it. I tried pumping. And maybe I’m just not a strong enough person to continue through the pain and I just gave up too easy...

I know that I'm not alone when I say it didn’t come naturally to me. I know I'm not alone when I say that yes my baby is bottle fed and feel somewhat guilty.

The thing that concerns me more is that on Saturday night/Sunday morning I had my husband's support. I had someone who comforted me. I had someone to talk too. I had someone to express my concerns and my worries with. I had someone to take Indie away from me when I was feeling completely overwhelmed.

I only hope the women who are alone with their newborn and feel alone seek help. Call someone, call the midwives. Don’t allow yourself to be consumed by horrible thoughts because you can’t breastfeed or it didn’t go the way you planned. Life goes on and as they always say – happy mum, happy baby.

Did you have trouble breastfeeding? How did you manage?

This post originally appeared on themodernmumma.com.

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