For now I will begin with the story that put me on the path to starting my own blog. My own journey to becoming a mother and my love affair with breastfeeding.
I always love hearing stories of triumph and will to beat the odds and succeed at this womanly art. At every hurdle there is help at hand, in the shape of a tin of formula and a bottle. Want a good nights sleep…formula. Faster weight gain…formula. Mastitis…formula. Pain…formula. It goes on and on. Even well meaning, so called supporters of breastfeeding are all to fast to sabotage mothers hard work. Even one bottle of formula has the potential to start a slippery slope of decreased milk production.
The key for me was education. I spent hours reading everything I could get my hands on. I searched for information about every twinge I felt, the length of a feed, the space between feeds, breast pumps, nipple shields, blocked ducts, cabbage leaves, thrush remedies, homeopathic remedies…the list of google searches was endless. The result, I was prepared for the struggle of my own breastfeeding experience and I knew not to give up, on my body, or my little guys ‘virgin gut’. More on that later though.
In the main my pregnancy was straightforward (read more here). My own mother had c-sections with my sister (transverse) and I (breech) so for me, it was section all the way, even before I was pregnant, it was all I knew. Epidural, tidy scar and the clincher… a steely bladder when I need one. The reality was a lot different, for which I am truly grateful.
I started pregnancy yoga early, at 14 weeks. On day one our yogi, Linda, pointed at her groin and emphatically told us that birthing was a primal thing! I imagined the grunting and groaning and sweating and swearing that I would not be doing.
Pah “I just don’t see me ever getting primal” I declared from my lotus position in my leopard ensemble, waving my manicured hands and flicking my freshly washed and straightened hair.
How wrong I was!
With the training of my wonderful yogi and the support of my class of fellow warrior women, my fantastic husband and my lovely mum, I labored hard and was privileged and blessed to have a very primal (deafeningly loud), drug free, intervention free and beautiful birth. From the spontaneous rupture of my waters in the midwifes face to the delayed cord clamping and natural placenta birth my every request was met.
Back home things started well. When the midwife made her first home visit, she asked if this was my second baby? We looked so comfortable nursing happily in our comfy chair that she assumed I had done it before. When I mentioned the pain I was experiencing at latch she said it would improve with time and that I was doing everything right.
At each feeding the pain worsened, I would grit my teeth, literally curl up my toes, and stiffen my whole body. Even with tears in my eyes, no professional could give me a reason for the pain. Health visitors, lactation consultants, counsellors and advisors… it took nearly six weeks to self diagnose ductal thrush causing the deep tissue stabbing pain and direct those professionals in its treatment and for the symptoms to make themselves visible to the ‘professionals’.
I toyed with the medication I was prescribed. Tablets for me, cream for my boobs and gel for the little guy. I cried every time I had to administer him with the gel in his mouth. I put off taking every tablet I should have swallowed and ultimately I prolonged the whole episode. It took some stern advice from a fellow lactavist to really knuckle down and beat this thrush from my pounding breast. The house smelled of vinegar for weeks, the washing machine never really recovered from three weeks of non stop boil washes.
Was it worth the effort…you bet. I remember sitting in the kitchen nursing my little guy and tentatively asking my mum, “I don’t think this is hurting as much as usual.’ Almost ten weeks of pain that sometimes made even a car journey excruciatingly painful, slowly came to an end.
Only one lady (I like to call her the breast whisperer) got up close and personal with my boobs. She found the most likely cause of the thrush, as is so often the cause with breastfeeding problems, was our latch, To every other health care professional and to myself the latch looked fine, but the pain told a different story.
She watched his sucks intensely, listened to his swallows closely, tried to find his rhythm and pattern of feeding. She bought him in to land like a plane onto my boobs, released his latch and repeated from a different angle. Undignified, yes. But I finally experienced what it should feel like to latch the little guy on correctly at the start of a feed.
It is because of her help that our feeding became enjoyable, and even more than that, became something that I am proud to have continued for so long. Writing this, I should stop by and say thanks to her, I really should let her know the impact she has had on our lives.
If you are in the swing of breast feeding, you feel passionately about it or you just have more milk than you know what to do with…have you ever considered donating to a milk bank. Read more about my milk donation journey and learn how to go about donating your own milk here.