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.

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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?

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