Posted on March 23, 2011

Breastfeeding By Kelly

breastfeeding/ Guest post
Todays breastfeeding guest post is from Kelly at Thank you Kelly for sharing your experiences with us – I have to say I think you did brilliantly to continue to breastfeed for 14 weeks with both of your girls :O)
I know that’s not a terribly PC thing to say. I imagine the Mumsnetters are mounting a lynch mob whilst I type, but I should get this out straight away: I hated breastfeeding.
 I hated it. I am grateful that I will never ever do it again.
The lady who taught our NCT breastfeeding class was a woman with so little breasts, we all joked that they were inverted. She held up a plastic doll in the feeding position and that was pretty much it. We got to practice with the plastic dolls, which was absolutely no benefit at all when you are sitting in a hospital room at three o’clock in the morning, exhausted because you haven’t slept for the past two days of labour. In fact you haven’t slept for the last three months of pregnancy. And your baby is screaming their head off and you have no idea what the issue is: you’re holding her like the woman showed you, she’s sucking and yet nothing is happening.
That was me the first night home. I ended up giving her formula, after which she slept blissfully. It was the same at every feed. I topped her up with formula and waited the three days for my milk to come in, like all the books (and the NCT woman) said. Except it didn’t. It took five days. And when I fed her then the pain was so utterly, bone-gnawingly, hideously, awful I genuinely thought I was going to die. I sat in the car on my way home from an NCT meet with my five day old baby and sobbed my heart out whilst the radio blared and she sucked my soul out through my raw nipples.
I came home to my mum and sobbed that I could never do this, that I was just going to have to be a shit parent and formula feed. It used to be recommended after all. But being the sane, un-hormonal, experienced mother, she said all the right things, fed the formula and dispatched me upstairs to a breast pump and a nap.
And that was the way it went for a good few days. Mum would feed the baby expressed milk from a bottle, topped up with formula if needs be, whilst I sat upstairs and did my best impression of a cow. I tried regularly to latch her on at every feed. Pain aside, I realised that I had a fundamental issue: all the books said that, when feeding, you needed to get all of the nipple and most of the Areola into the baby’s mouth. My boob was bigger than my 6lb baby’s head. The nipple was just about going in, never mind the rest. I had slipped through the midwifery net as she was always asleep post-feed when they visited and I wasn’t about to go back to plastic-doll NCT lady, so I called the hospital and went in to see the Breastfeeding consultant.
In retrospect I have no idea whether the hour I spent with her actually taught me something, or whether it just gave me the confidence. It could have been that, at 13 days, the baby was suddenly big enough to handle my enormous boobs, but after that hour, we were flying. She fed regularly and well. Neither she nor I cried. It was bliss.
But I hated every single moment of it. I hated feeling like a cow, wearing ugly underwear, being the one who always had to get up in the middle of the night. I hated having to feed in public, even when sheathed with the world’s largest muslin. I hated feeling so completely unattractive to my husband and to myself.
I know how incredibly selfish this sounds. Again in retrospect, I am sure that my loathing of breastfeeding and PND are connected. When the baby started sleeping through the night at 3 months and screamed for food during the day, I started dropping feeds in favour of formula. Every time I dropped a feed, someone noticed how much happier I was or commented on how much brighter I seemed. I know it’s not scientific. I wish, with all my heart, that I was more like Muddling Along, or so many of the other mothers who seem to me to love breastfeeding; to have enjoyed it.  I can see how it is a special time for mother and baby to bond. I wish that I had felt that way. And though I am very glad I persevered and fed both of my girls for 14 weeks, I am equally glad I will never need to do it again.
*sits back and waits for angry Mumsnetters to come after her with stones*

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  • Reply Anonymous March 23, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Well done for sharing your honest account. I breastfed my son for 13 months. I struggled unbelievably but persevered as I was so exhausted after a long labour and emergency section, followed by no sleep for pretty much 5 days on the ward. He fed, it hurt, I had mastitis twice, I cried. He fed every 2 hours every day and night and I quickly sank into despair and PND. I knew I was exhausted so tried a bottle (waiting for 8 weeks like I'd been told). He rejected it and never did take a bottle. There is no doubt I was given the wrong advice. I understand health workers are controlled by targets and the current agenda, but I was desperateand Noone could share it with me. Second time round I fed again, for 3 months, combined with a bottle from 2 weeks and got the odd sleep and 'hour off' here and there – and it felt great. I feel SO strongly that to ram home the breast is best message is wrong. We r individuals, babies are individuals and we need to be supported in our own choices. Well done you!! Xxx

  • Reply The undomesticated scientist March 23, 2011 at 10:38 am

    I have to say i think its fab that you stuck at it for 14weeks. loads of people would have quit much earlier. People have to do what is right for them, baby is far better of having a calm and happy mummy than a totally stressed one. (i have to agree with the ugly undies and cow feelings! i expressed when i was back at work and had a sign for the offfice door that said moo on it!)

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