Sunday, 7 October 2012

One nipple or two with that?

Now I aint gonna lie: breast feeding was my Vietnam. Ok, maybe that was potty training my son. But it was up there in my least favourite things to do - ever, list. First time around my son completely rejected my right breast - the only man in my life ever to do so. Nothing would persuade him towards my saucer like nipple - and who could blame him? The other one he refused to leave - I felt that not only he had sucked the golden colostrum from me, but also my life. After 9 long days where I fought with a hand breast pump (it won) and my conscience, I finally gave up.

When Sproglette arrived I was determined - this time round I was going to be an earth mother. Even when the home visiting midwife recoiled in horror at the size of my mammeries when my milk flooded in, I was undeterred. She looked at my tiny baby and then muttered something about being careful that my cups that were running over, did not in fact smother my child. Yes, they were THAT big. She then leaned close to me and asked when I was getting a breast pump. Horrific memories flooded back of the hand pump - so I knew this time I needed the electric kind.
"I think my friend is bringing me one on Wednesday" I smiled. She winced. "Wednesday? As in next week? But today... today is Friday..." she whispered. "A huh." I nodded, proud of my decision to procure a pump, feeling slightly smug. Then she clutched my arm and gravely gazed into my eyes.

 "You need a pump NOW. Tonight."

A neighbour's Husband duly turned up with said pump - and he and my Husband proceeded to drink two bottles of wine in the dining room while I sat there buzzing away in the lounge feeling decidedly bovine. I expressed two full bottles that evening - with much pride. My breasts sighed and deflated in relief. Only at the point when Husband asked if I could 'turn that thing down a bit' did I get grumpy.

Now I'll spare you the details of sore nipples and waking up in the night to find breast pads stuck to my stomach and face - but I will give some advice: From my very limited experience, breast feeding takes time to establish - and even if you don't do it - you could always express. Hand pumps are for women who are already 'established' and electric ones make the whole shebang much easier - such as this one. In fact I wish I'd had a double pump - it would have made everything much quicker.
The other thing anyone breast feeding shouldn't be without (it was the elixir in my case and all the women I know who were much more successful at breast feeding than me):  Lansinoh. It is beyond soothing and smells lovely and clean.

I wish I'd known about their great website as well - just reading on it for this post - I couldn't believe how jam packed with advice it was. MUCH more helpful than the militant midwives I encountered when Sproglet was born. When I look back I felt so much pressure from them to breast feed, that when it didn't work out - I felt such a failure. I wish I'd read up more on al the things available to help me - maybe I'd have stuck at it longer. Things like this . SO much better than sitting with hot face clothes dropping down my chest, or cold cabbage leaves.

No matter what you decide to do ladies, know this. Whether or not you breast feed is entirely up to you and has no bearing on how great a mother you are. Ignore stroppy midwives, don't feel pressure by your friends or the creepy woman down the road who is still whipping out a nipple for her 5 year old and do what feels right for you. One day your boobs will be your own again - maybe not the same shape they once were, but yours again none the less!


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