Saturday, 5 December 2009

breast is beast

There's been a new wave of mommies that have joined the weekly groups Eloise and I go to. Their babies are barely a month old and seeing the tiny limbs and sleepy eyes (on both child and mother) brings back memories. I know Eloise is only 20 weeks old, but the difference is so immense between 4 weeks and 20 weeks that we might as well be talking years.

With this new influx of newborns we've all been retelling our birth stories and there seems to be one thing that we all agree on. We were lied to. We were lied to by every mid-wife, gynecologist, health-visitor and pediatrician going. They all told us, if you breast-feed correctly it will not hurt. Completely pain free they said.

Bull Shit.

In the hospital, Eloise only hours old, we attempted breastfeeding for the first time. Tickling her nose and lips with my nipple, encouraging her to latch on. Making sure she's parallel to my body, her mouth wide open, her lips curled round like a fish. I did everything I was told to do - everything the books and classes told me to do. And it hurt. A LOT.

So I pressed the little buzzer button and a fresh faced mid-wife came in who looked like she was all of 12 years of age. I told her that breastfeeding really hurt. She said it shouldn't. She said if I was doing it right then it should not hurt. She checked if Eloise was properly latched on. Yup. You're doing everything right. Looks good from here. Well clearly miss pre-teen who was closer in age to someone who gets their nutrients from a boob than someone who is in a position to feed a baby with their boob had no clue what she was saying. She was just regurgitating what everyone else in the profession has been telling us. It is a big pack of lies.

Let me just set the record straight: Feeding a baby from your breast is really quite painful. Add the insane cocktail of emotions that is bouncing around in your tired body and there will most likely be a point in the first few days where your baby cries to be fed and you will feel a weight of fear drop in the pit of your stomach and tears will come to your eyes. And you will think you are a horrible mother because the last thing you want to do is nurse your poor defenseless hungry child.

Now it does get better, and I'm very very glad I stuck with nursing. I think after 15 or so days the pain when Eloise latched on was pretty much gone. Now I don't feel a thing when Eloise eats (except when she hits or scratches me mid-meal of course). And being able to nourish and comfort my baby with her own tailor-made cocktail of boob juice is wonderful. *
But had I known that the first few weeks of nursing would be painful I would have been prepared as opposed to doubting my ability to care for my child.

I suppose they don't say anything because they are afraid that if we know how painful breastfeeding can be we'll decide to go straight to formula. Well, we are all aware of how painful childbirth is and yet we all decided to get ourselves into that little pickle.

* For the record I'm not a fan of how heavy handed the health services have been with the 'breast is best" campaign. All it is doing is creating a world of guilt for women who cannot or choose not to breast feed. As if formula is some sort of evil juice. As if mothers need more guilt in their lives.

1 comment:

  1. Yes! I'm so glad to read this! I remember biting my knuckle to keep myself from crying while breastfeeing my daughter in the early days. But, like you said, it DOES get better and after awhile it really doesn't hurt at all. If we could just prepare new moms for that initial pain then they'd have one less thing to worry about. Not to mention that they might actually *trust* you when you tell them to stick it out because eventually it really won't hurt at all. Great post! I love how honest you are about motherhood!