Call me massively naive, it’s o.k I know I am, but I always thought breastfeeding would be pretty straightforward. Baby comes out and innately knows what to do, you lift it up, plant it on a nip and away it goes. I honestly had no idea it could be so tricky and the source of so much emotional blackmail.
While pregnant I found the NCT breastfeeding class made me really quite angry. I took exception to being lectured at by a woman holding a knitted tit and was slightly horrified when she refused to accept that maybe, just maybe, there might be a reason why someone didn’t want to breastfeed. Oh and also the suggestion that you’d be killing your child by exposing it undefended to deadly diseases if you didn’t.
Cut to when the baby has arrived and the first thing the night shift midwife dumps on my bedside table (alongside the drugs – woo) are a couple of tiny purple syringes. About 10 hours later she comes back to tell me what to do with them and the rest of my day is spent squeezing tiny drops of collostrum into them. I know it’s sad but I actually quite enjoyed the process and was pretty proud to have produced a bunch of full syringes before being told I had to have given them to the baby within 2 hours.
So the first couple of days were spent expressing and feeding with no sign of milk while also trying to encourage the baby to clamp on. Sam’s particular issue was that when he did attach he fed for maybe a minute and then promptly fell asleep. I went to the hospital feeding workshop and numerous midwifes told me to keep trying. The baby was latched on right but still wasn’t getting much colostrum/early milk and I was sore (it hurts! Get lanolin). The relief I felt when a wonderful doctor finally let me off the hook telling me to top up with a little cup of formula was huge, I could have hugged her.
The pressure to breastfeed is huge and while I agree that it’s a wonderful thing to do sometimes for whatever reason you can’t or don’t want to and that’s your decision not anyone else’s, don’t let the pressure get to you. I still mix feed, it means I get some sleep and if you knew what I’m like without sleep you’d agree that’s best for everyone.