Ah breastfeeding! That wonderful, life giving, nurturing, bonding experience that can be the biggest mind f*ck you are likely ever to experience in your life.
While there is so much focus on pregnancy and giving birth, breastfeeding can often be the thing that absolutely throws you for six as a new mum.
Sure, it’s the most natural thing in the world to feed your child from your body, it’s wonderful for them, for you, for your bond – but don’t let anybody fool you, it’s also one of the hardest, most demanding, emotional and at times isolating things you will ever do – as wonderful as it is.
And no matter who is doing it, from supermodels to us every day mums, we’re all in it together when it comes to the sore cracked nipples, trying to get the latch, the supply worries – not enough or too much, breastfeeding in public, leaking nipples, engorged boobs, mastitis… need we go on.
Here’s 8 things we know that all breastfeeding mamas will relate to:
1. Your boobs no longer belong to you (or at least temporarily anyway).
Right now they are purely functional and you will suddenly find yourself being poked and prodded and grabbed by nurses and midwives who want to show you the “perfect latch” by yanking you in all sorts of directions and a little gummy shark who just wants to be fed by any means necessary.
2. Stop saying LATCH.
If I never hear the word latch again it will be too soon. Those midwives (god love them) all really think they’ve got the best way of doing it – one usually completely different to the one who was just showing you five minutes ago.
3. The pain, oh the pain.
Even if you’re doing it right, in those early days it bloody hurts. Your once soft supple nipples who’ve lived a pretty easy life up until now are suddenly being sucked on for dear life near 24/7 and so they’re going to go into shock mode. They will be sore, tender and very likely cracked. Take care of them mumma – lots of TLC between feeds and they will adapt.
4. Engorgement party
Yeah sorry that’s a lie, there’s nothing fun or celebratory about engorgement – well I guess it means you’ve got milk in there which is good but still the reality is it hurts, they leak – you’ll find yourself waking up soaked in milk – you suddenly look like an after photo in a plastic surgery magazine but not in a good way.
5. Mastitis. The mother of all evil.
The word on the street is that mastitis is more painful than childbirth – and anyone whose had it can attest to this. It is believed around 20 per cent of mums will experience mastitis – but 100% of us live in fear of it.
6. The not-so-subtle hum of the breast pump
Is there a worse sound than that of a breast-pump? It literally sounds like a cow dying, and I mean it’s fitting because you feel like a cow being milked – but how has no one invented a silent one yet? (Here’s looking at you Dyson) Anyone who has pumped for any length of time will know how tiresome and tedious it is, especially when you’re doing it in the dead of the night and it either wakes the baby – or you can’t hear your old Sex and the City re-runs over it. LET ALONE if you need to do it in public or at the office.
7. Breastfeeding in public.
Some people are all for it and have the confidence to pull it off seamlessly, some just whip their boob out and don’t care who sees, and then some people struggle trying to do it under a feeding-friendly top or tangled between layers of muslin wraps (either way it’s the mothers choice how she wants to do it and not some judgy twat sitting next to them in a coffee shop). But navigating the world of feeding on the go can be tough – but unless you love your house and never want to leave it’s four walls, at some point your going to be somewhere and your baby is going to scream bloody murder until you get the boob in it’s mouth.
8. Heading out sans baby.
NO really, it can be done. But almost every breastfeeding mum has a story here. Whether their boobs got so full of milk they ripped their top, they heard another baby crying and threw their own wet t-shirt competition or had to rush to a bathroom to express some milk to ease the pain only to accidentally squirt milk all over the toilet cubicle.
There’s an old saying about child birth that says you leave your dignity at the door – and breastfeeding is no different. Nothing teaches you to not give a shit like standing in front of a complete stranger only to realise you’ve forgotten to put your boob away after a feed.
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