The Ups and Downs Of Breastfeeding
One mum gives us her views on how she got on...
I’ve breastfed two babies now, one to a certain degree of success and one to a certain degree of failure. I’ve seen friends succeed and fail at what is deemed as ‘the most natural thing’ but if it’s so natural then why is it so tricky? I subscribe to the ‘go with the flow’ model of parenting and with breastfeeding I was erring on the side of really wanting it to succeed. With my first baby, I assumed, breastfeeding being so natural, that this equated to it being easy. I was wrong. I fed her for four weeks and during those weeks, due to cracked nipples that refused to heal, I screamed in pain, my toes curled in agony and when one feed finished I was already dreading the next. I swayed between disappointment that I wasn’t able to do the most natural thing for my child and fear that I wasn’t doing a good enough job. Four weeks in enough was enough. I couldn’t handle the pain anymore and I felt I was missing out on enjoying my new baby as I was beginning to view her as a cause of extreme discomfort over anything else. We switched to bottles, encountered silent reflux, but ultimately our house was filled with smiles more regularly than it had been.
With my second lady I was wiser. I took a class in CUMH and this, for me, was the key to success. It was down-to-earth and practical; we got tips on how long a baby may feed for, how to identify when a baby is sucking for comfort, how to keep them from dozing off during a feed, how to get the latch correct and how to avoid problems like cracked nipples. My second experience with breastfeeding turned out to be a pleasure – it was a lovely way to bond and devote time to this new baby when the demands of a toddler can sometimes detract. This time round though, between the running and racing, I very simply didn’t drink enough water and my supply ran out after about 6 weeks. I was frustrated, a little disappointed but I didn’t dwell, there’s no point or no time with two ladies to mind.
I’m not flippant towards breastfeeding, but I think it’s a topic that causes a lot of anxiety in new mothers and that needs to be recognised. I desperately hunted for reassurance the first time around that stopping breastfeeding wasn’t going to make me a bad mother. So I’m saying to anyone looking for that same reassurance now that not succeeding at breastfeeding, for whatever reason, won’t make you a bad mother. I applaud women who manage to make breastfeeding relaxing and easy for months on end. But that’s not how it works out for us all despite our best efforts. And there’s nothing wrong with this either. We all know the benefits of breastfeeding but feeding bottles isn’t evil.
Whatever school of parenting you subscribe to, we all want the best for our babies and we all do the best for our babies.
And if I can leave you with one little tip – use nipple cream right from the start – believe me when I say prevention is better than cure!
Written by Eimear Hutchinson. Eimear is a mum of two small ladies and wife to the one man. She blogs from Cork about DIY, style, beauty, travel and life with small girls. Find her at www.thetwodarlings.com