Apprehensive About Breastfeeding Again
This weeks Breast Mates Guest Poster is the lovely Wendy of Whimsical Wife and Baby Whimsical wanted to share her breastfeeding experiences with her two previous babies.She’s pregnant with baby number 3 due next month.Please show some support and words of encouragement.
Well what can I say? Baby number 3 is due in a few weeks and I’m sincerely hoping that I’ll show a little more aptitude towards breastfeeding than I did with baby one and baby two. If there’s one thing I know for sure it’s that breastfeeding certainly isn’t a natural skill, it isn’t instinctive and for a lot of women myself included it’s a subject of great guilt and torment.
When I had my daughter, seven years ago, I was completely surprised not only to be pregnant, but with the birth, she was three weeks early, one day into my maternity leave and it started with my waters breaking with her being born just over an hour later it was all so fast and I felt utterly bewildered and shocked. My daughter was given to me, I was told by the midwife to feed her and I didn’t know how. The midwife was busy, the midwifery unit was busy, so I was told to have a quick shower and I’d be helped to do it on the postnatal ward.
Once I got onto the ward little over 30 minutes later, they were busy too, I kept on trying to feed her, but she was very sleepy and just didn’t seem interested, she slept mainly and did that scary thing newborns do of coughing up and choking on fluid.It’s a strange to admit but I was frightened of her, I was scared of doing things wrong, I was scared of her choking and I was very tearful.
I tried again unsuccessfully to feed her several times in the night, the midwives were too busy to show me, they just kept saying “put her to your breast they know what to do” and so I tried and tried until my nipples were just so sore and I still don’t think she’d had anything, I don’t actually think there was any milk there for her to have.
I was desperate to go home by morning, I thought I’d be able to relax more at home and work out how to do it. I was told I wasn’t allowed home until she’d fed and so they wanted me to feed her a bottle so that they could discharge me.I did, she took some, not very much at all and then they discharged me.
I was visited twice maybe three times at home over the next 10 days, neither midwife gave me any proper support or spent any time showing me how to position her at the breast, how to feed her and I just felt heartbroken, the first few days after having a baby are very emotional and things which aren’t all that important seem to take on mammoth proportions, I cried for hours over the fact that by giving her a bottle she would grow up to be unintelligent and never have a university career (rational??? NO!) I felt overwhelming guilt that I’d given her a bottle, she’d been sick each time I gave her one, I tried again at about 5 days post birth to feed her by breast but again, she couldn’t feed, I had no milk…. and so I cried some more.
Two years later I gave birth to my son, it was a different hospital and I was much more confident in my ability to try to feed him and my ability to not fall apart if I couldn’t. The support during my pregnancy had been so much better and I was looking forwards to having him and looking forward to breastfeeding him.The birth was very different he was two weeks overdue, hours of labour and an emergency caesarean section. I was helped to feed him in the recovery unit, they positioned him for me, he fed straight away, it was uncomfortable and hurt, but I was so pleased I’d been able to do it I didn’t care.
The time I was in hospital I fed him pretty much the whole time, the midwives always helping me to position him. Then when I went home two days after his birth I found it so much harder.My daughter was extremely jealous of him, I’ve never seen such an extreme reaction by a child! It was horrendous she hated him, she was heartbroken, I felt guilty, guilty for having him, guilty for loving him, upset that I’d spent time away from her and upset that I couldn’t play with her and pick her up for huge cuddles the way I had only a few days ago.My cesarean hurt.
I wasn’t as confident at breastfeeding once I got home, I couldn’t quite get him positioned correctly and I seemed to need to be almost entirely naked just to get him in a comfortable position, he wanted to feed almost constantly, he was a big baby and hungry all the time and therefore I spent literally hours a day sat naked from the waist up attempting to feed him. He fed so many times and for so long I ended up getting blisters on my nipples, they were so sore and they bled, breastfeeding became very painful and the midwife suggested I used nipple protectors which did help a little, but it still felt very painful. When I asked the midwife about the near constant feeding she said “it was important I allowed the baby exclusive access to my breasts 24 hours a day” she was completely blinded to the possibility that this wasn’t feasible with a two year old… And so she had no advice to give for helping me to get into any sort of routine. I continued with breastfeeding him for 3 weeks, after which I was too exhausted to carry on, my daughter was viciously jealous of her new brother and I just couldn’t leave the house as I couldn’t master discrete breastfeeding! How ridiculous is that? It felt ridiculous, I felt ridiculous saying it out loud, I felt ridiculous not being able to do it and so the health visitor suggested he would be better off on a bottle as maybe my milk wasn’t thick enough to satisfy him and bottle feeding would allow us to return to a more normal way of life.
So with baby three soon to be born and two miserably failed attempts at breastfeeding, how do I feel this time?
Surprisingly I feel more confident than ever, I’ve got great support from friends one of whom is just fabulous at breastfeeding herself and advises others on breastfeeding techniques, she is more than happy to offer tips, advice and help. I feel I have a better relationship with the midwives on my care team this time. I feel more confident at requesting help, trying new ways, and more confident in my own ability to be able to manage without becoming overwhelmed!
So who knows? Maybe it’ll be third time lucky.
Thank you so much for your post Wendy, it’s a very heart warming post.Good luck on your new baby and I hope you get the support this time that you needed first and second time round.If you like to to be a Breast Mates Guest poster please contact me on the PLUS 2.4 fan page or on Twitter.ing