My own breastfeeding journey did not start well. I had a very fast labour and birth which ended up with my body in shock. I looked at my baby like a stranger and was left alone to bond.
He latched on pretty easily and I thought I had this breastfeeding thing down, I’d watched a video after all, I’d been trained.
A week of exhausting feeding later, my baby was constantly hungry and crying and I must admit I was a broken woman. I could hardly walk to the nearest lamp post and yet I was expected to be on call 24 hours a day for a baby who could not be satisfied.
No rest, no recovery, just a constantly crying baby I couldn’t work out. And yet I know I’m not alone in struggling with something that should have been natural.
Being admitted to hospital with 12% loss in body weight was rock bottom. I’d been a mother for a week and I had failed him miserably. The latch I’d thought was ok wasn’t ok. My baby was tongue tied and couldn’t latch properly. No-one had noticed, until he lost too much.
On arrival at the hospital the midwife ordered him onto formula immediately. “This baby is starving” she announced. My ‘gold top’ milk was no longer acceptable.
I tried so hard after our stay in hospital to pump milk but only got 20ml total from both breasts, 10ml each boob is not enough to feed a baby. I combination fed for a few more weeks but since I also found holding him so awkward as my baby realised he could get what needed from the bottle the less he wanted my breast and I started to dry up completely. I had zero confidence that my body could provide for my son and my confidence in myself was the lowest it could possibly be.
I can honestly say it was the lowest point of my life up to that point, and this was meant to be the most joyful?
On National Breastfeeding Week I wanted to write about how we can change the conversation around how we treat new mothers. I tried so hard to feed my baby with breastmilk and failed and yet I felt I had little to zero control over what happened to me and my baby. My hope is that parents can be better informed and prepared for what is to come.
I rang the breastfeeding specialist only to be told they were on holiday and no one was covering while they were away. Totally unsupported, broken, the system caused me to be the lowest when I should have been the most supported.
It still hurts my heart to this day that I didn’t have that gorgeous bonding time with my baby in those early weeks. Honestly I was deluded that is would be easy. All I remember is upset and pain all round. If only I had known more tips from experienced mothers, maybe it would have been different?
As you can tell, it wasn’t a positive experience in my life and I’m thankful that feeding my second baby was a better experience. What I do know is that I can give new mums such empathy and love and support, I send nothing but good vibes to these women, we are trying our hardest with little to no experience and very little support in some cases. I also know I can’t feel sad about it forever, whats done is done and it’s time to move on.
Thankfully the rise of the Insta mum and bloggers telling it like it is brings with it fresh thinking and fresh support. I wish I had been stronger to stand up for what I wanted to happen. I wish the likes of Mother Pukka and Selfish Mother had been around in my time, especially since the FMLY Store is located half an hour away from me, I would have been there feeding my baby around likeminded and supportive women. It may be too late for me, and it’s not too late for you.
Find a tribe of likeminded mothers (individuals or in a group) who can support you in your motherhood journey, and as always be kind to yourself. Take care of you first, one cannot pour from an empty cup. Happy mama, happy baby.