My Breastfeeding Experiences: Of Failure and Success

Right from the start, I knew I wanted to breastfeed my children. It was just a given, something that I knew I would do because… Well, it’s just something you do, isn’t it? My mother had always been very vocal about breastfeeding, so breastfeeding seemed like the natural thing to do. Besides, have you seen the cost of formula milk? Ouch.

Failure

weegirlnewbornWee Girl’s birth was not a particularly simple one. She was back-to-back, and my labour stalled, meaning that I had to transfer from the lovely sparkly midwife-led-unit so that I could be induced.

The birth resulted in a third-degree tear and a visit to surgery, which is much worse than it sounds — before I was wheeled off, I got to meet my new little purple person, and marvel at how stunningly silky and soft the top of her head was. And give her the first breast feed of her life and mine.

There was no pain. Not at first. That kicked in about three days later, after I had returned home and was struggling to cope with sleep deprivation and the sudden cataclysmic upheaval in my life.

weegirl2Suddenly the feeds were starting to hurt. And I mean HURT. It was, and remains, the most excrutiatingly painful thing I’ve ever felt in my life, and since then I’ve experienced childbirth with no painrelief other than gas and air.

I remember my mother daring to suggest: ‘Why don’t you try feeding lying down?’ and my response- ‘BECAUSE IT FUCKING HURTS!’ screamed back at the top of my lungs.

By the third week, I’d had enough. At night — when the resolve of a new parent is at its weakest — I snapped and demanded that we give her a bottle of formula. I told myself it was just this once, just a one-off, but let’s face it, who was I kidding? I might have given her the odd breastfeed, but for the most part, our breastfeeding journey was over.

Success

littlemanLittle Man’s birth was different. We were able to stay in the midwife-led unit this time (in a different hospital), although I hadn’t planned on doing so, assuming that I would have a similar experience. I had a private room afterwards, no crying babies to wake me up other than my own.

And Little Man? Took to the breast with alacrity. There was some pain, but it was fleeting and easily bearable. The agonising pain which I’d experienced with Wee Girl, and was petrified would repeat itself, never materialised.

I’m still breastfeeding him fifteen months later. It’s absolutely true that, if it works for you, breastfeeding is the easiest way to feed a baby. No faffing about with bottles, or powdered milk, or stressing about the right way to make up a bottle and if you’re going to inadvertantly poison your child before you even get the chance to wean them.

Boobs out, nipple in gob. Nom nom nom. Done. And it’s a fabulour excuse for sitting down and watching a lot of TV. Oh, can’t possibly get up and get myself a slice of cake. I’m breastfeeding. Could you put the kettle on, please? I’m breastfeeding. Yes, I know that book is right there on the floor by my feet, but I can’t reach down and get it. I’m breastfeeding. (And massively lazy, let’s face it.)

littleman2And again, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Those moments where he stops munching to grin cheekily up at me. Or the way he pats my boob while he’s feeding, as though to congratulate it for being so damned delicious? Those moments are golden.

And finally:

And only now that I have two very different experiences of breastfeeding am I starting to wonder why this is? I have begun to suspect that verbal dyspraxia may be at the heart of Wee Girl’s inability to talk, and I wonder if this is also the reason behind the difficulty we had with her latch.

So now I ask myself: was the agony I experienced with Wee Girl the first sign of her autism?

I will never know.

What I do know is that I made the right decision at the time. Switching to formula gave me the chance to rest and recover and I’m not kidding: it really did fecking hurt.

Adventures of a Novice Mum
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About allpastmidnight

Hi, I'm Alison, I am a mid-thirties mum to two children, Little Man and Wee Girl. Wee Girl is pre-verbal and has autism, while Little Man is the sort of happy chatty little guy who gets into everything and sings at the top of his lungs β€” until the moment he makes eye contact with a stranger and he goes silent. I am cynical, sweary, and a bit disorganised, and I blog about parenting, ASD, food and just about anything else I can think of. Feel free to follow me on any of my social media. I can also be contacted by email at allpastmidnight [at] outlook [dot] com.
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6 Responses to My Breastfeeding Experiences: Of Failure and Success

  1. I’m with you on being grateful I can breastfeed; formula milk is stupidly expensive, breastfeeding is easier (if possible!) and it’s the best excuse to eat lots of cake. If only I could persuade my husband to bake it for me… x

    p.s. winced at the pain parts (including third degree… ouch!) but this post made me chuckle πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, Emily. Yeah, the cost of formula milk really adds up. I try not to think of how much we spent on it for my daughter. As for the tear, weirdly, that never even registered with me at the time. I put that down to the number of drugs they gave me afterwards. πŸ™‚

  2. Julie S. says:

    It is so amazing how each baby and each experience is different. This gives me hope that maybe I’ll have an easier time with it (and maybe even better supply) with a future child than with this one.

  3. ‘Ouch’ and ‘ouch’ … my word! Oh that feeding pain that feels worse than the worst physical pain a first-time mum has ever experienced. I concluded that the pain I experienced in what I’ve simply termed, ‘breastfeeding hell’ probably seemed worse because it lasted way longer than labour pains and it was the gateway to meeting my child’s very basic need. Difficult, hey.

    It’s lovely though, to read that your 2nd experience was fab, with minimal pain. When breastfeeding goes well, you even feel the bliss from the screen of a blog post. You can actually sit back and enjoy the fact that it’s ‘free’ (though very costly in other ways). And the ‘lazy’ thing, I can relate too.

    Oh, and the patting of the boob thing … lovely to know it happens to other mummas too.

    There’s so much we’ll never know about why the road of breastfeeding loveliness was so rough sometimes, but we know that we did our best we could with what we had at different points. And guess what?

    Thanks so much for linking up to #BreastfeedingandI; sorry for my lack of prompt reply to your tweet … I’m glad you figured out how to join in. Please join in again. πŸ™‚

  4. Pingback: Breastfeeding and I Linky 6 - Adventures of a Novice Mum

  5. Pingback: Why I’m Glad When Anti-Breastfeeding Stories Hit the Headlines | All Past Midnight

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