DISCLAIMER: This entire post is about boobs, breasts and feeding a baby. Read no further if you want to continue thinking of boobs purely as sexy fun-bags designed for you and/or your partner’s personal enjoyment.
As the title suggests, I have struggled with breastfeeding from Day 1. I am not one of those earth mothers who, when faced with the sight of her little newborn, knew instantly what to do. I didn’t immediately clutch that tiny baby to my breast as she latched on perfectly and then proceed to sustain life that way for the next year of her life. The first time round I didn’t have enough milk. I made a lot of mistakes – I can see that now…because despite what people say, breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people.
This time round I employed the services of a lactation consultant and what a difference she made. She told me how long to keep the baby there at the beginning to stimulate milk flow, how to get him to open his mouth just wide enough, what angle to hold him, how often to feed and so on. And because of all this advice, I had enough milk this time. So I was feeling rather proud of myself after the first week, when Ben had put on 400g from his hospital discharge weight, all because of me and my boobs. Ha, I thought, I have mastered this thing.
Then I got mastitis. This is a blocked mik duct and could possibly be one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced. Imagine a hot burning coal on the end of your nipple (and if you’re a guy, replace it with a similarly sensitive area) and then putting a child with extremely strong jaws to pull very hard on that area for 20 minutes at a time. You can’t stop feeding because it gets worse, which means that every feed is accompanied by howling from the mother and howling from the infant, because he’s a bit concerned about all the noise. Then throw in flu-like symptoms like a headache from hell, night sweats and a raging temperature, all piled on top of about two hours sleep every night and you have an accurate summary of the joyful condition called mastitis.
So when mothers say that they are choosing not to breastfeed, I refuse to judge them one little bit. That is their prerogative and there are a multitude of reasons why Moms may choose to do this. For starters: it’s quite a weird concept. Imagine telling a man that in order to keep his new child fed he has to let the tiny thing suck on his balls for 20 minutes at a time, every three hours of the day, and that he has to do this for months on end. Yes, that is a very weird picture I’ve just painted, but I’m trying to prove a point. You can imagine that most babies would immediately be put onto formula by these Dads and for very good reason. Who wants to work around all day with their balls out on display, as they devote every inch of this part of their bodies to keeping another one alive?
I get that it’s a bonding thing, I really do. I’ve felt that tug of love as I’ve gazed down at that little face on countless occasions. And there are heaps of other bonuses too: breastfeeding is so convenient because it’s instantly available and there are no bottles to wash and sterilise, and you don’t need to boil the kettle every time – instead you just whip it out. Plus of course your milk provides all sorts of perfect nutrients that your baby needs and breastfeeding helps you lose post-baby weight (BONUS).
But still, it doesn’t mean that you and me are friends, Breastfeeding. In a few months time, I would like to actually walk around the house wearing a shirt and I would like my boobs back please – that is all.
Until then though, yours in nipple cream and breast pads,