People tell you that breast feeding is the most natural thing in the world, what they don’t tell you is how hard it is to get started. Feeding the little one has been the most stressful thing about having a baby. There has been lots of crying (and not just the boy), tearing out of hair, stress and Mummy feeling like she is a failure.
Nothing about breast feeding has felt natural to me, it has been a struggle from day one. I have found it painful despite being told it shouldn’t be, I’ve had my latch checked and am told it is fine but yet it is still painful. Several midwives have told me that despite what the literature says in their experience people with red hair and fair skin often find it more painful than others…great! I have ended up with one cracked nipple (exceedingly painful) so have had to use a shield on one side. The shield might help the pain and allow it to heal but it has made the latching harder and I’m sure the little one gets less on that side. I’m totally paranoid about damaging the other side now as well.
To top it all off the little one is not gaining weight, he lost some in the first week which is normal, put some back on and now he has lost some of it again. He has spent the last few days very unsettled so has probably used up all his energy grizzling instead of putting on weight. So despite my best efforts we are now having to top him up with some formula in the short term to make sure he starts gaining. All this has not really helped my mental state one little bit.
Now I am pragmatic about it, at the end of the day I will do what’s best for the little one and at the moment that means some formula on top of breast feeding. We are not giving up on the feeding just giving him a little extra. My midwife has given me a recipe for something called tiger milk (a strange concoction containing yeast, yoghurt and milk) to help increase my flow and I am also taking a herbal supplement that is supposed to help with this, the aim being to get him back onto just breast feeding as soon as possible. I’m also seeing a lactation consultant to keep working on my latch and try and stop any more damage or pain. I guess what I find hard is all the literature that makes breast feeding seem like the easiest thing in the world yet my experience (and the experience of quite a lot of people I have talked to) has been that it is incredibly hard. It is no wonder that people feel so bad when it doesn’t go as expected. I am hopeful we will get there in the end and if we don’t I know we will have tried.