Before I had Cillian all I kept on hearing was the horror stories of birth and how breast is best, what a great experience breastfeeding is, it is such a special bond between mother and child, a fantastic way to lose the baby weight (a great benefit in my opinion), it is so convenient and cheap, women should take back the right to breastfeed in public, and so on. Well that was bs, everyone fucking hates breastfeeding. Ok maybe not everyone and hate is a big word but a lot of people seem to strongly dislike it, current audience included.
Maybe it was my own naiveté to the act of breastfeeding but did I have a reality check once I started. My doctor and doula had warned me not to worry if I wasn’t great at it right away, that there would be time when I got home from the hospital to master it. My mom was honest in telling me that I was a formula baby as was she, but it seemed that everywhere I looked actresses, models, women were fighting for the right to normalize breastfeeding because it is so amazing and we should as a society feel proud. My friends also all seemed to be stars at breastfeeding, the key word here is seemed.
Well it turns out Cillian and I both had our own shortcomings when it came to breastfeeding, he wasn’t great at latching on – something about having a disorganized tongue and my nipples as it turns out were not made for breastfeeding. So between the two of us, it was the deaf leading the blind. Also breastfeeding HURTS, I know they say if it hurts you’re doing it wrong. Well even if your right nipple didn’t get injured like mine the first day of breastfeeding, the dryness and sharp pain is toe curling. Whoever said it was like cutting glass I would assume is correct, however I don’t want to know how they were able to make that accurate comparison.
Back to my stubborn streak, I refused to give up. I met with four lactation consultants so I could become a breastfeeding groupie. They all gave me a piece of advice that helped:
- I don’t know about you but I thought there was only one way to hold a baby when you were breastfeeding, turns out that was wrong and the way that worked best for Cillian and I was the football hold.
- The nipple shield – my personal guardian angel. Not only does it take the pain away because their is protection between you and JAWS but it also helps focus the flow.
- Get comfortable when breastfeeding and learn how to use things like breastfeeding pillows properly.
- If all else fails supplementing with formula is ok.
After some trial and error and the introduction to the nipple shield Cillian and I were on track. I mean I was awkward because a) its me and and b) a nipple shield is not the most delicate contraption to put on while trying to cover up. I know that I shouldn’t feel like I need to cover up and ra ra to women’s rights, but personally for me I was not yet comfortable taking out my boobs and feeding my child in the middle of a coffee shop or the beer gardens – although I am sure that isn’t the first time a pair of boobs were on display there. I pumped, as well as put him on the boob. I was lucky that Cillian did not get nipple confusion and was able to go from the boob to the bottle no problem.
So yay, here we are breastfeeding, the worst is behind us… wrong. My boobs as it turns out were more for show that functionality and I do not produce enough milk. I tried every trick google and the books told me to do, I took every herbal remedy I could find and still more show than glory. I was prescribed some medicine from my doctor which helped but still throughout his first few months of life, Cillian has received both breast milk and formula and as I write this I have pretty much dried up 4 months in.
In my typical fashion I was very honest about my experience with friends and it turns out most of them had similar experiences or their own personal battles with breastfeeding. I have had women tell me that they would choose to go through labour again vs. breastfeeding. I was wrong in my assumption that everyone else seemed (theres that word again) to be great at it and enjoyed it.
This post is not to detract from women who are breastfeeding because as a concept I think it is fantastic, for women that do enjoy it more power to them – I wish I was one. But to talk about my experience and my assumptions on the breastfeeding culture before I had a baby and after. That it turns out, at least in my network of friends I was a majority in my experiences and to offer some tips that did help me.