Isn’t that what everyone tells you? Its the most natural, easy thing in the world!
I spent my first five days of motherhood desperately trying to do this super easy, natural thing and do you know what, i’m calling bullshit on this one!
My little man is now nearly 5 months old and I have been exclusively breastfeeding him since birth. I genuinely do love it now but it has definitely not been easy or felt natural! I thought it would be useful to share some honest, real-life experiences from a first time mumma who has not had the easiest of times feeding my baby so that hopefully, other new mumma’s can cut themselves some slack from day one! (All words are my own and I am not a qualified breastfeeding/lactation specialist)
“I’m calling bullshit on this one!”Its the most easy, natural thing in the world!
So heres my list of things that I hope might be helpful!
- Tongue Tie – there are varying degrees of this and not all mums who’s baby has a tongue tie will feel pain. However, if your baby is feeding every hour, for 45 mins at a time and it feels like you’re being dragged along a gravel pavement, nipple first – this is NOT NORMAL! It took us 5 days to get our tongue tie snipped, and poor little man had an extremely severe tongue tie! My hubby described seeing my feeding pain as worse than watching me go through childbirth!
- We’ve all had days where we’ve wanted to stop breastfeeding – this is normal, and if you do decide to stop, this is absolutely fine! A happy mumma = a happy baby. But make sure it is your decision (with your significant other) and no-one elses!
- Comfort feeding – there will be times when your baby feeds for comfort. Again, completely normal! They’ve been in your tummy til now with warmth, on-demand food resulting in constantly full tummies and a complete sense of safety – the world is cold, bright and they have to cry to get food, sometimes, they just want to feel close to us again! Now i actually get this, I am happy to give my boy snuggles and comfort when he wants it! I know i’m going to blink and he’ll be 18 and the last thing he’ll want is comfort from his mummy!
- Support is out there – I have been so fortunate to have an amazing group of mumma’s (through NCT and Mush) to support me as well as access to the amazing support group at the children’s centre. If you need help, go get it! This is not a sign of defeat, this is all new and accepting help is the best thing to do!
- Breastfeeding is just as hard for our partners – ok, this one might be slightly controversial but hear me out. My hubby has had to watch me break down in tears, physically wincing at the pain on several occasions because all our little man wanted to do is feed and I was broken, sore, exhausted, overwhelmed and a whole array of other emotions – he would have done anything to be able to help me physically but he couldn’t – emotionally he was winning 100% in the support department, but physically he had to watch his wife and baby figure this out which was just as tough for him as it was for me! However, there is no way I would be still feeding our little man 5 months on if it wasn’t for his support!
- This too shall pass – everyone tells you that the all-night feeding parties, the sleep-feed shift patterns, the colic, the wind, the cluster-feeding, the no-sleeping will pass. At the time, you will not believe it but I promise you it is true! And it really does get easier, you then just have different phases to work through. You blink and you’re into the next ‘leap’ or ‘growth spurt’ or ‘teething phase’ – and with each leap forward, you will burst inside at the amazing developments these tiny humans are making , the personalities they are getting, the cheekiness on their happy smily little faces; but you’ll also be a little sad that your baby is not a newborn any more and they are growing way too fast and that before you know it, they’ll be 6 months old, then 9 months, then a year, then you’ll be back to work and so on and so forth. So take comfort that the difficult phases will pass, but try to live in the moment too. You made this tiny little person, you’re responsible for making them grow and develop (however you are feeding them!) and you should take comfort and pride in this.
- Motherhood is a gift – there are lots of mums who would do anything to have the problems I have had and I know this. There are women longing to be mummas or who have loved and lost their little ones. Having been in a position where we didn’t think our little man would ever be possible, I have to remember this every day. He is our little miracle and I am eternally grateful that he came into our lives.
- When you can’t breastfeed! There are also a number of mummas who have little ones and would do anything to be able to breastfeed them but for a number of reasons they can’t, or they are but with added difficulties like exclusively pumping or supplemental feeding or top-ups. Every mumma’s journey is different, and it doesn’t matter – as I said above, happy mumma = happy baby = happy family! If you want to formula feed, bottle feed or whatever you choose to do, it is your choice to make an informed decision about what is best for you. I will also be doing another blog post on bottles as this is another hot topic for our little mumma network!
- Cut yourself some slack – there is no rule book! I’m going to repeat this as the number of times I, myself, have asked friends, family, health professionals ‘Am I allowed to do this…’ – there is no rule book. Every baby is different, read the advice, seek guidance and support and make your own informed decisions as a family doing the right thing for you and your baby!
- Remember: Mumma – you’ve got this!