Last updated on Jun 25th, 2015 at 12:08 pm
So, you’ve just given birth to your first baby and the post birth and bonding glow floats around you like a cloud. Your baby is perfect and your world is complete.
On the first day, the baby snuggles in your arms and breastfeeding seems like a breeze
And hey, it is a breeze until day three when your milk actually arrives. Mine arrived in two separate milk trucks, one in each breast. They were so huge that when I got out of bed that morning I nearly fell over because I was so top heavy.
I remember thinking how wonderful nature is and what a good mother I must be to have produced enough milk to feed an army.
Right: that was before I tried to suffocate my poor baby by trying to force a colossal breast into his mouth.
The only thing I didn’t have in common with a cow at that point was my nipples. They were not elongated and supple: they were flat. Imagine trying to stuff a balloon into the hole of a lifesaver sweet… It was never going to happen.
Bugger, what now?
“Practise”, said the nurse.
“Use a suction thingy to pull your nipples out”, said someone else.
“No, wait. Nipple caps”, said a friend.
What marvellous ideas! Not.
All that happened was that I ended up with cracked, bleeding nipples and extremely sore breasts
Bugger, what now?
“Use lanolin”, said the nurse.
“Use baby bum cream”, said someone else.
“Cabbage leaves”, said a friend.
Ok so the lanolin helped, but my goodness… frozen cabbage leaves were incredible!
The relief when tucking a rock solid, iced leaf into your feeding bra was amazing.
There was just one thing. They melt really fast against the heat of your breasts, especially in the middle of summer, so heaven help you if you fall asleep for a while. I woke up to a rank smell that made me dry heave, and had my hubby looking at me like I’d just fallen off the back of a garbage truck.
Ok. That was it. I stood in the shower and sobbed like my poor, starving baby. My hair was filthy; I was in agony from the Caesarean section. I had the worst “period” of my life, my breasts were spraying milk all over the place, AND, I smelt like the city dump.
What happened to the image I had in my head of sitting quietly in my rocking chair, baby blissfully nursing at my bosoms, smelling like baby shampoo and powder?
Breastfeeding was not to be
It turns out that my baby had a tongue tie (the medical term for this annoying condition is Ankyloglossia). That’s when that little thingy under your tongue (the frenulum) is very short.
This results in the baby not being able to push their tongue out of their mouth, and this means, that no matter how hard you try, they cannot latch onto a breast.
Pity I only discovered this when my son was three weeks old. This information was imparted to me by my son’s paediatrician when I rocked up in his rooms looking like a wild forest woman, demanding to know what was wrong with my breasts.
I ended up expressing for a few weeks until my milk dried up and then switched to formula exclusively.
Breast may be best. But it isn’t always physically possible
Children grow up every day having survived without breast milk. The stress it results in is, in my opinion, worse than the lack of breast milk.
A happy, coping, or nearly coping mom, means a happy baby. And you can still sit in your rocking chair and hold your baby close. My son and I had, and still have, a beautiful bond, in spite of me not breastfeeding him. I’m just glad that he doesn’t remember the near suffocation incidents he experienced during his first few weeks!