Hi guy’s, I was browsing on facebook today and came across a friend’s post which reminded me of how hard our breastfeeding journey was. From feeling a ridiculous amount of pressure to do it in the first place to being openly stared at and judged when IU was out and about. Then of course there’s the moment’s when I answered the door to the postman with a boob hanging out, I reckon the poor man was scarred for life. Eye bleach anyone?
I was 18 when I gave birth to my first baby and I had no idea what I was doing. I’d been in labour for 3 days and ended up with a forced epidural and a fairly traumatic forceps delivery resulting a post partum haemorrhage all topped off with a 3rd degree tear. I’d been told all through my pregnancy by ‘friends’ and a few family members that breastfeeding was disgusting and they didn’t understand why anyone would ever want to put a baby on their boobs. They’re not for baby they’re for sex. Of course being young and easily swayed I didn’t even try to breastfeed. It didn’t help that I was a single mum and to be honest even if I had been with baby’s dad he wasn’t exactly the type to reccomend breastfeeding either.
Not long after having baby number 1 I got together with my husband, we’d been friends during my pregnancy and we both liked each other but I was having a hard time and having him as just a friend with no other added pressures was a huge comfort to me. We got together about 6 week’s after I had baby number 1 and apparantly the pill doesn’t work for me as I was pregnant again when my first baby was just 8 months old. Thankfully even though it was a huge shock my husband was surprisingly happy about it, it took me a while to adjust to the fact that at 19 I was pregnant with baby number 2 but we got there in the end. My husband was and still is a huge believer in ‘breast being best’ and even though I was still unsure because of the attitude’s of those pesky ‘friends’ and family members I decided to give it a go. He was his baby too so surely he should have a say in how he was fed right? Thankfully baby number 2 took to feeding well, he latched straight away after birth and it was a fairly easy journey in the whole latching and production areas, unfortunatelly I developed pretty severe post natal depression and couldn’t even leave the hyouse let alone look after 2 children properly so that breastfeeding journey ended at 7 months when baby had taken well enough to food and wasn’t as bothered about the boob for me to not feel guilty about stopping.
Baby number 3 came along when I was 22, we conceived about 4 months after we were married and we were both over the moon. This time I felt pretty confident about breastfeeding as baby number 2 had taken to it so easily obviously baby number 3 would be the same, how wrong was I! Baby number 3 had a very small mouth and we found latching extremely difficult, I was constantly in pain and had bleeding nipples by week 2. She comfort fed and wouldn’t take a pacifier so all I could do was feed through it. I spent week’s and week’s crying through every feed but I was too stubborn to give up, I didn’t want to look like a bad mum. I struggled through and pretended everything was ok. Finally we got the latch right but I think that was due to her growing and her mjouth being bigger rather than anything else but what made this breastfeeding journey really hard was the fact that every time she latched I had this rush of sadness wash over me and I felt devastated during every feed. I loved my daughter but that feeling was there for every single feed for the 13 month’s of our breastfeeding journey and it really tainted the whole experience, yes she was growing and I knew I was doing the best for her but for me I had a really hard time. Post natal depression came back with a vengeance and these feelings just compounded everything. It was only after I’d weaned her that I learned about Dysphoric milk ejection reflex known as D-MER, this is exactly what I went through. The most natural thing in the world had made me feel horrendous. I feel like if I’d known it was a real thing I could have talked myself through it and not felt as bad but it’s not a very well known thing and everyone looked at me like I had 3 head’s when I tried to explain!
Baby number 4 was a complete surprise, yet again she came along 2 years after number 2 and once again I slipped into depression only this time it started pre natally and carried on afterwards. I was terrified to breastfeed again. All I could remember were the crushing feelings I’d had when feeding my last baby and I was so scared it would happen again. My fear’s came true when she was born. I was too stubborn not to breastfeed so I persevered, thankfully her latch was ok but all those feelings of despair at every feed came back and even though I managed to feed her til she was 18 months old I hated every second of it. The guilt I felt for feeling like this was unreal even though I knew why it was happening it didn’t help at all.
Not long after finishing breastfeeding numer 4 I fell pregnant with number 5. I was devastated. I felt like I knew what was coming and I just couldn’t get my head around the fact I had to do it all again. My depression during this pregnancy was horrendous. I could barely cope day to day and ended up in hospital as I was so ill from exhaustion and just not coping. I spent 3 months in and out (mostly in) hospital. I slept my days away and just couldn’t cope with the reality of what was coming. Her birth was exdtremely traumatic, my waters broke a week early and were filled with meconium (later dr’s told me it looked like she’d been in distress for a long time which had contributed to how poorly I’d been towards the end of my pregnancy) and as the labour progressed her heartrate dissapeared, I ended up with an emergency c-section. It turned outthe cord had been wrapped round her neck and knotted. I woke up around an hour after she’d been born, she’d been taken to my husband who had then brought her to me to be fed. I could barely look at her and I certainly didn’t want to feed her. I felt like I’d let her down. My body had made her suffer before she was even born. I fed her because I felt like I had to, I found it hard to bond with her and the midwives kept reminding me that the bond would come if I kept up with the feeding. I was in hospital for a week after having her, the midwives thought it was best I rested there instead of going home but even after a week of mainly just time with her I still wasn’t feeling much of a bond with her. I persevered and once again I suffered with D-MER. It took month’s to bond with her and I feel so guilty about how I felt but I did continue the feeding until she was about 18 months old. I felt like because of the way I felt I had to keep feeding so I was at least doing something good for her. Looking back maybe I should have stopped feeding her earlier, maybe if I had the depression wouldn’t have lasted for so long. Then again maybe it would have and if I’d stopped feeling I would have felt horribly selfish?
They don’t tell you that it hurts to the point of tears a lot of the time, they don’t tell you that growth spurts mean cluster feeding for hours on end with a 5 minute break after the first 4 hours after which baby will scream like he hasn’t been fed in a month and you’ll then have to feed him again whilst resisting the urge to launch him out the nearest window. They don’t tell you that on day 3 you’ll wake up with boobs like balloons with everything stretched so tight you’re in agony and the poor baby can’t latch on, they don’t tell you that some bf babies poop every feed and that some only poop once a week. They don’t tell you that said poop will be neon yellow and shoot out at about 60 miles an hour staining your sofa’s and every outfit baby has. They don’t tell you that you’ll be so exhausted that some nights you won’t hear your baby cry. They don’t tell you just how hard and absolutely exhausting it all is.
My mental health seriously suffered due to breastfeeding but I’m fairly sure that it would have been just as bad if I’d stopped breastfeeding too as I would have made myself feel so damn guilty. We won’t be having any more babies. I don’t think I could cope with any of the guilt surrounding everything again. I do have a good bond with all of my children now but the bond isn’t any better with the breastfed children than my first who was exclusively bottle fed from day one. I don’t regret feeding any of them but it was never an easy journey for us and I thought it was important to share the ups and downs as it’s still such a talked about subject and most people either think it’s bf or go home or think the whole things disgusting. My opinion is yes breast is fantastic but only if it’s right for you and isn’t completely messing you up. I also think bottles are great some mums have had seriously damaging experiences which make breastfeeding something they could just never do, some mums are on life saving medications that make it dangerous to safely breastfeed their baby, some mum’s physically can’t and some mum’s just don’t want to which is perfectly fine as well! Either way as long as your baby is fed does it matter how?