What’s Breast for Baby?

Breastfeeding.

This one word can drum up such a heated debate amongst men and women of all ages and generations. As with most things baby related, everyone has a fervent point of view on the subject! And quite rightly so don’t you think?

Right then. Here’s goes. Look away now if I’m likely to offend you with my point of view but you see it’s a topic very close to people’s hearts  (see what I did there?) and so is bound to ruffle a few feathers.

Breastfeeding sucks (sorry I couldn’t help it)! I mean both literally and figuratively: it sucks. It really really does.

Women however, are under immense pressure to breastfeed in today’s society. If you don’t breastfeed it’s almost as if you are an outcast, doomed never to be part of the the elusive ‘Baby Club’. Strangers look at you with scorn and derision as you produce bottle instead of  breast at social functions and random people ‘tut-tut’ you, as you empty your formula into the bottle for your baby’s feed. Mothers that you’ve never met before draw in a sharp breath when you say that you are no longer breastfeeding, or that you’re ‘giving a bottle at night’. Woweee! You’d think you’d committed a crime against humanity!

I have breastfed both of my babies and let me tell you that it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life!  I was adamant that I was going to breastfeed and that I would give my child ‘the best start in life’. Of course I understood that my body was going to produce the best food for my child and that I, in my new role of ‘Mother’, was going to be able to feed and nourish my offspring.

I went to the relevant ante-natal classes with a lovely Midwife, who extolled the virtues of breast milk and all of the ways that it helps both mummy and baby bond after the birth. Quite exciting really. A bit magical if you think about it.

Then…..

birth: horrendous

husband: frightened

me: shell-shocked

baby: starving

nurses: constant

doctors: painful

sleep: non-existent

depression: absolutely!

You see within the first few hours of my son’s life, the text books and midwives’ advice had gone out of the window. It was MATERNAL MAYHEM!!

Breastfeeding is difficult! Very difficult!

If you are tired – you don’t produce much milk.

If you are stressed – you don’t produce much milk.

If you have post-natal depression – you don’t produce much milk.

If you are all of the above then – you don’t produce much milk.

In my experience I’ve found that not having much milk and breastfeeding a hungry baby leads to all sorts of delightful ailments. For example: cracked nipples. Nice.

To be honest ‘cracked nipples’ didn’t sound too bad to me when they were mentioned in the books. So they crack a bit. I could deal with that.

Ummmm, what it really means is a lot more gross and a lot more painful than I could’ve imagined. It’s safe to say that the milk was often pink and didn’t really help me to ‘bond’ with anyone!

Engorgement! Ha! Sounds quite nice really I suppose. I can quite imagine gorging myself on some yummy chocolate eclairs….but alas…no. It’s more like someone twisting a hot knife in the side of your boob and scraping downwards really. Then shoving the heated blade in from the front of your nipple and leaning on it. In a nutshell.

Leaking breasts… you walk around smelling like a lump of mouldy cheese and there are wet patches on your t-shirt where the milk has soaked through. Not the best look.

IMG_0454

Nipples. Who knew they could look like that anyway?

In fact, who knew boobs could look like that? Ouch!

So, after eight weeks of feeding my second son, I’m done with breastfeeding. He is officially weaned off and a happy podgy contented little soul.

Which leads me to think about the women who can’t let go…..what’s that all about?

time-magazine-breastfeeding-cover-time-mag

7 thoughts on “What’s Breast for Baby?

  1. Hello, I was pointed her by homesick and heatstruck, and am glad to have found your blog! Totally agree on the Maternal Milk Mafia; other people always know what’s best for your baby. I did my own thing with my kids and what other mums do is their own decision. Mothering’s all about listening to your own instinct and it’s nobody else’s business! I breastfed mine to saturation point for as long as they wanted as it worked out smoothly, didn’t cost anything, was always ready and at the right temperature, didn’t involve having to get out of bed at night, gave me the opportunity to eat non stop and very good for winding up Frenchwomen in public 🙂

  2. I totally agree… the pressure for breast feeding is intense. I breast fed my first and became obsessed, no formula…its powder, how can that feed my baby? Then after almost going into therapy from the sleepless nights and feeding on demand, I gave in and fed my baby formula…oh the devastation, how could I do such a thing? And all of a sudden I got my life back. Daddy could feed, in fact anyone could feed him, he began sleeping better and so did I. So with my second, I decided to start breastfeeding, but would move to formula as soon as it started to get too much….and what does my second decided to do….NOT TAKE THE BOTTLE……AAARRRGGHHH!
    So here I am stuck with breastfeeding. Its not a bad thing, but if only I had given the bottle from the start, I would have my life back and me boobs back…..
    Girls, do whats best for you, we all grew up on formula, and we didn’t turn out so bad….well some of us

    • I totally agree! And isn’t always women that are the worst? Why do we need the Milk Police? Leave us alone!
      You need your life back. Sod’s law – of course your baby won’t take the bottle now…of course! keep trying!!
      xx

  3. I’ve never breastfed since I don’t have kids yet. I plan to try to breastfeed, but if it doesn’t work out, then it doesn’t work out. Sometimes that’s how it goes. I do wonder if breastfeeding is just easier for some women than others. Like maybe some women are lucky enough not to experience most of the unpleasantness that can come with breastfeeding, just like some women have an easier time giving birth than others. I think the women who are judgy about not breastfeeding or not doing it long enough or whatever are the ones who have either never done it themselves or who didn’t experience any of the pain and grossness that other women experience. Because if you’ve gone through that yourself and know first hand how horrible it is, how could you fault another woman for not wanting to do it longer than absolutely necessary?

    • Absolutely. I also found that an awful lot of men were instrumental in pushing the breastfeeding for many friends of mine. There is a thick layer of guilt spread over this subject and it’s quite often hard to make your own mind up. With your second you’re a lot more decisive let me tell you!

  4. Right, to the author of this thread, how bloody irresponsible are you. You are entitled to your opinion but this account of breast feeding is not the norm. I am sorry for your experience but you obviously did not get the right support. I encourage and continue to encourage women to breast feed, if they don’t want to that is absolutely ok, if they struggle then I will help them make a decision that is right for them.
    Fact. Breast feeding should feel uncomfortable for a few days even toe curling but should improve during the feed, if it doesn’t consider attachment, position or possibly tongue tie. Support is crucial and I will happily give support to anyone who needs it. I will support you as best I can, all I ask you to do is not take this account of breast feeding as a typical example. Breast feeding your child can be a beautiful experience but if it isn’t or it doesn’t go well, you I am sure will still be doing the best for your child xx

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