Breastfeeding! Gee, you surprised me.

For the love of…

Breastfeeding! Gee, you surprised me.

I had the textbook pregnancy (is there any such thing? anyway it was good), I could have ran a marathon all the way up until birth I felt so energised and well. The only thoughts I had were about a healthy baby and of course that intriguing birth experience as a first time mama. Breastfeeding didn’t even cross my mind; I assumed it was going to take its course in nature like my pregnancy had.

Like many women, I’ve been around plenty of breastfeeding mamas and a handful mentioned it was challenging but didn’t really elaborate on their struggles, or maybe I just didn’t understand because I hadn’t yet been there. Really how hard can it be? I’d read lots of literature that suggested breastfeeding performed correctly shouldn’t be painful. Sounded fairly straight forward to me.

My due date had been and gone with no sign of a baby. My Obstetrician induced me at 40 +5 and after two failed inductions (three lots of gel) over 72 hours, I had an emergency C section at 40 +8. I was in and out of theatre within half an hour with a healthy 9.1 pound beautiful girl, Raffaella Neave. Still no more thought about what was to come with breastfeeding.

Back to the maternity ward and it was time to feed Raffaella. Rookie mama error a) should have requested skin to skin and b) should have taken Raffaella to recovery. I’d automatically thought this would occur, not only because I was private and my Ob knew my views but because of the modern day emphasis around attachment. Anyhow, breast feeding seemed to roll by ok for the next few days, I was on a bulk of pain relief so I probably wouldn’t have felt any different. The second night following birth things were a bit tough as Raffaella spent most of the night unsettled with a spike in temperature, which left her dehydrated.

hospital BF
Raffaella’s first breast feed

During this time the cracked nipples started to creep in but they were bearable and the gel pads were working wonders. Each midwife gave their advice on how to latch and what is correct positioning so by the end of my hospital stay my poor boobs were as confused as I was.

Once I got home the breast pain started to creep in and I began to feel the challenge of breast feeding. Almost giving up on a number of occasions because the pain was getting less and less tolerable. My goal was to just get through each week and I found this really helped me to continue.

Although my pain threshold is decent, this was beginning to test me. I was battling numerous conditions – vasospasm, nipple thrush, milk blabs, cracked nipples, blocked ducts and mastitis – they all decided to raise their weary heads at the same time, for the next four months! The pain was excruciating at times but I watched how much weight Raffaella was gaining so I knew I couldn’t give up.

By this stage I wasn’t enjoying nursing, I probably even resented it. Hearing people talk about how beautiful breastfeeding was made me cringe, it was difficult to see beyond the pain. Don’t get me wrong, I adored my newborn girl with my whole world but breastfeeding is the absolute game changer that I never expected.

After seven rounds of antibiotics – which dried the hell out of me, major flaking lips and scabs surrounding the inside my nose, 20 different vitamins per day – day and night, no sugar, no animal fat, no wheat, no dairy (not only am I dying of pain but I can’t bloody eat any comfort food either!) and numerous old school remedies, I got through the battle of the boobs.

Four months on and I almost completely healed and felt silently proud. Silently proud that I was almost defeated by something that I never even anticipated but I persevered to knock the nasties that caused me so much pain.

I remember thinking whilst I was in the midst of my struggles, why didn’t anyone prepare me for the challenge that is breastfeeding but the truth is, I don’t think anyone can. Everyone’s experience is so different and I was always told sleep deprivation is the hardest part of motherhood but I’d have to say parenting and sleep deprivation are the easy parts.

Breastfeeding for the first four months was both tough and terrific at the same time. With the support of a private lactation consultant, a GP specialising in lactation, the Australian Breastfeeding Associations member meet up sessions and phone support service,  a champion husband who listened to me whinge about my pain and supported whatever choices I made and a strong willed little girl that continued to latch so perfectly throughout all the struggles – I made it!

I can now say breastfeeding is one of my most enjoyable parts of my motherhood journey and very convenient too. I feel the bond between my child and I during this time is like no other..x

(Lets not talk about the time a blocked duct and mastitis came back to haunt me at the six month mark, a tight bra and booty camp will do that to you ladies!)


How was your breastfeeding experience?

Anna Owens is the founder of ownsit! A mama working in Community Development and Partnerships Education. Anna is a colour crazy, creativity enthusiast who loves to design, collect shoes, eat & travel.. x

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