Every mum to be dreams of breastfeeding her child and imagines it as a unique and precious moment between her and her newborn. Nobody can take it away from them. It’s theirs and only theirs and it’s hard to describe it in words.
This week we are celebrating World Breastfeeding Week between the 1st and the 7th of August so i honor of #WBW2018 I thought about sharing my experience.
While pregnant I attended the Antenatal Classes and also the Breastfeeding classes so I can learn about motherhood as much as I can before the baby came. I can’t praise enough my teachers, those amazing midwives who prepared me mentally about what was to come. The antenatal classes opened my eyes towards birth and how I want it to be and they made me understand the labour process.
Before attending breastfeeding classes I was already set on doing it for as long as possible not knowing exactly what it actually involves. While attending the classes I was informed that breast is best and it should be a positive experience between mum and baby, that it helps a lot with bonding and creates this unbreakable relationship between the two. I was showed different breastfeeding positions and informed about latching (had no idea what that was) but also how to avoid the painful and sore nipples. All mums I knew were complaining about it and although I wanted to breastfeed I have to admit that I was scared. The horror stories were just as bad as the giving birth ones but somehow I was not scared of that.
After I had my daughter I was able to feed her in the first hour of her life and although I was exhausted from labour, I can say that it all felt like magic. I had my newborn in my arms and being able to breastfeed made me somehow feel strong.
I breastfed exclusively for six weeks. The first two were natural and beautiful and I was still determined to do it for as long as possible and a minimum of six months. As my hormones raged and I became sleep deprived I started to get more and more emotional. My daughter was literally glued to my breast twenty four hours. I tried giving her a dummy so I can have a small break and be able to do what people call normal activities – eat, go toilet, have a shower or just walk around the house on my own but I had zero result. Her dummy was my breast. My health visitor appointments were very frequent and they all ended the same: “you are doing an amazing job and your child is so healthy and strong because you breastfeed her. Keep doing it”
Hearing that I was doing a good job was motivating me to go on although my mental health was slowly deteriorating. I had no idea why I started feeling like a failure in spite of all encouragements, I was emotional and crying on daily basis and no matter how happy and fulfilled my life was, I couldn’t totally enjoy it. Being sleep deprived and having a baby attached to my breast every second of my life was not something I imagined. I wanted my child so much and when my dream came true I was overwhelmed with joy. I enjoyed my pregnancy and my labour and I thought I will enjoy feeding her as well. But it was not true. I started to find the breastfeeding process very difficult. I had no idea when my breast was empty in spite of everyone telling me I will definitely know. My child was feeding constantly and I had no idea if she was full or not. I refused taking her in my bed so every night I was waking up at least four time to breastfeed. Everytime, my little one would latch easily, suck a bit and fall asleep. I would hold her on top of me while my breasts were leaking and getting heavy and painful again. I would close my eyes and wake in panic just to find her fast asleep in my arms.
It soon became frustrating and mentally painful.
I can tell you breastfeeding is not for everyone. After six weeks we decided on switching to formula. I was depressed, I was feeling miserable and so dirty as there were moments I would not be able to say when was the last time I had shower. I was not feeding myself properly as every time I felt hungry my child would scream and I was abandoning my food so I can tend to her. I wasn’t able to go pee in peace as every time I wanted to, again she will start screaming.
It became clear to me that I was suffering from postnatal depression and breastfeeding my daughter was just draining me and instead of making me feel positive it was doing the opposite: it was making me feel like a failure.
Not every mum can breastfeed. Not every mum can do it forever. Choosing what is best for you and your child should not be a subject for the entire world to dissect. You and only you know what you go through every day of your life and therefore it should be your choice. Don’t let monsters in your head make you feel like they made me feel. If breast is not best anymore, just switch to formula. A fed baby is a happy baby.
In present society, mothers are being pressured from the moment they get pregnant. It’s the looking fit and glowing while expecting. It’s the never ending challenge between natural birth and C-section (it’s not a choice and a birth plan is never going perfect) and then is followed by the never ending war between breastfeeding and formula feeding.
If you breastfeed, mix feed or formula feed. DOES NOT MATTER
What matters most is what feels best for you and your child.
So, HAPPY WORLD BREASTFEEDING WEEK from a mum who only made it to six weeks but has a magnificent two year old who is healthy, happy and developed an unbreakable bond with me.