September 1, 2015
Mum knows ‘breast’
Like many new mums to be, I had a plan. I had a plan for how I’d spend my last few weeks before delivery and it was going to be a wonderfully relaxing time. I had a plan for how the delivery would go, how I would be stoic in the face of adversity. And I had a plan for breastfeeding.
My child was going to be exclusively breast fed for five months and then I would wean down to quickly fall pregnant again because, at 37, I was a late bloomer!
I prided myself on being level headed, but on Christmas Day I went into labour, three weeks early. There was no relaxing break, no labour playlist, no aromatherapy, no birth plan and there was certainly no stoicism. The bouncing back has yet to come and the breastfeeding … well, that didn’t go to plan. For six weeks I gritted my teeth, curled my toes, took regular painkillers, tried to soothe a relentlessly crying baby and it wasn’t uncommon to shed a tear in anticipation of the upcoming breastfeed. It was torture. My nipples were cracked and burning and I was exhausted. I had to keep going though as that is what mums did!
Had I failed her? Had I not tried hard enough? Of course not.”
At our six week check with my obstetrician and midwife, little Harper wasn’t thriving. Had I failed her? Of course not.
Breastfeeding is natural and ‘breast is best’, but what people fail to elaborate on is breastfeeding is hard.
There’s mastitis, cracked nipples, thrush, poor milk supply, oversupply, fast let down, slow let down, poor latching, tongue tie, and the list goes on. Sure there’s a solution for each of these aspects and often they work but if they don’t it can leave a mum emotionally and physically drained, meaning precious bonding can be overshadowed.
My midwife, Jayne, suggested topping up with formula and we would work together to source the issues and said I could stop breastfeeding if I needed to. I needed this permission and felt a weight lifted. My priority was to ensure Harper was healthy and thriving and that needed a calm and happy mum. I went on to breastfeed, top up and express. I was still taking painkillers, milk producing stimulants and using nipple creams and gel breast pads (which I highly recommend). Harper started to thrive and she started to sleep.
Speak to your GP, your midwife, your local breastfeeding consultant. There’s a lot than can be remedied. But remember to always put your baby’s and your wellbeing above all else.