Last week I was chatting to a friend at work who is still breastfeeding her baby. It was during this conversation and exchange of stories that I realised just how unprepared I actually was. I read books, attended a class and figured it couldn’t be that hard.
Oh but how I was wrong, I was not ready. In the days following the birth of Hudson I felt like I was in a choose your own adventure book and I had chosen wrong! Granted, he was in the special care nursery as he was prem so this added a bit of extra work and pumping. However, nothing about it was like the pamphlets.
I had ‘leakage issues’ from about 20 weeks, I thought this was what breastfeeding may be like and would perhaps prepare me…..ha! Silly girl.
A day or so after I had Hudson, a little ‘Mary Poppins esque’ lactation consultant skipped into my room and advised she would help me with feeding. She asked asked if my milk was in (I thought the colostrum was what she meant) responded yes and said I was fine. She obviously didn’t trust me 100% because next minute she was pulling out my breasts and ‘milking’ me herself #awkward. However, after the c-section I really didn’t care and figured she was there to help.
That evening my milk came in, not a little bit. It was like a king tide. My breasts were rock hard, lumpy, I was hot and my skin was clammy. I woke up the next morning elbow deep in breastpads, smelt of hot milk and in a world of pain. Needless to say I paid a visit to the lactation consultant. She assured me all was well but I had a lot of milk. To quote her she said I could ‘feed a village’.
I really learnt some things about breastfeeding:
- It can hurt. Your nipples get chapped and red. Your baby will show no mercy and sometimes when they latch your toes will curl.
- Just like economics. Supply and demand plays a big part. At the beginning the temptation to pump is there to relieve the hard boobs symdrome. However, your body will think it’s feeding more than one baby or your baby is having a growth spurt so will create more milk.
- Don’t wait too long to feed. The hard boobs will return making it hard for bub to latch. I found myself in the first day crying as my milkbags were so full. Hudson couldn’t latch and the pump wouldn’t even help. I was beside myself. My husband and I were trying to manually express like that wierd scene from Bad Neighbours. All just so I could get some relief and avoid mastitis.
- For some silly reason I thought there was just going to be milk coming from one hole in a neat little stream. I had no idea that there are multiple holes pointing all different directions and they will squirt everywhere.
- There is this strange tingling feeling known as ‘let down’. I never knew about this? This is the part where the milk comes out. It will happen when your baby is feeding and when your baby cries. Oh and as an added treat, it can also happen when random babies cry??? It’s literally like you’re ready to feed anything that’s crying (this is where breast pads come in handy).
Nothing prepared me for breastfeeding. I can’t say it was something that I really enjoyed, but I did it for a little while. As I said my experience was different. Hudson was prem and got tired very quick. Scarlett was in a hip brace from 6 weeks for hip dysplasia, so that was also awkward for feeding. I switched to formula at around 8 -10 weeks with both of my children.
Do what works for you and your baby and never judge another woman’s decision.