It’s the breastfeeding journey that I hope none of you ever have to go through. If you are currently pregnant or have just had a baby, don’t be alarmed. Breastfeeding comes easy for some, harder than others. Most of the time we find our way through it and somehow even through difficult times, we draw some lessons from it.
My breastfeeding journey resulted in a string of lessons. One of those is to not to doubt yourself and if your intuition is screaming at you, you should listen. The worst case scenario of trusting your gut instincts is being wrong, that’s something you can deal with.
My Name Is Kate Shelby, I’m A Blogger At Australian Mum & This Is My Breastfeeding Journey
I spent almost a week waiting for my milk to come in properly. I remember it clearly, waking up with a giant pair of boobs, booming with milk. Thank god, it had been a tough few days and although I was told colostrum would feed my baby, he didn’t seem fulfilled.
I couldn’t wait to properly feed my baby. But within a few days, it all seemed so difficult. He would feed constantly but never seem satisfied. I never felt empty. I spent time with lactation nurses who would show me to latch properly, go home and nothing would change.
I had so much milk it was uncomfortable. Finally, in an act of self-defeat I tried expressing and bottle feeding. That didn’t go much better, my baby seemed really uncomfortable after around 20mls. What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I feed my baby?
I was Told Not To Give Up. I Had The Milk, I Just Had To Learn The Art Of Breastfeeding.
I spent a lot of nights up late in tears because I could tell my baby was hungry, he would suck madly on his little fingers and cry when nothing came out. I had the voice of my anti-formula partner, Lactation nurses and doctors whizzing around my head. I just wanted to give up but I felt so accountable as if I was harming my baby if I stopped.
Then Came A Breakthrough…
My son was immunized at 8 weeks old. This was the first time I witnessed the wrath of a screaming baby. Despite having troubles feeding his discomfort was always quiet in comparison to the loud screaming of needle pain.
The nurses gathered round and one explained to me that he had a slight facial palsy. It was subtle, but I could definitely see it. Facial Palsy is when one side of the face has slight paralysis, it doesn’t move the same during certain facial expression.
This meant he couldn’t tighten his mouth over a bottle or breast properly to form a vacuum. I’m sure I don’t have to explain how both bottle and breastfeeding works – it requires sealing the area off for continuous flow.
This also explained the slight reflux, my baby had been constantly sucking in a very subtle amount of air during feeding time. How did my baby get facial palsy? Why do I still feel terrible about not being able to breastfeed?
Society Is Why I Feel Terrible About Not Being Able To Breastfeed.
Not once was I given other options by the medical profession. The same profession who flagged me with a mental health alert as I started to suffer extreme depression through sleep deprivation and the feeling of utter failure. I was pushed to keep on going with no regard to what might be best for me, which is also best for baby.
I Couldn’t Breastfeed Because My Son Had Cancer.
Weeks later my son was diagnosed with a life-threatening tumor. Chemotherapy commenced and once again, I was told not to give up breastfeeding by a different set of nurses and doctors. Can you imagine feeling like you are contributing to the possible death of your child because “Breast Is Best”?
I both breastfed and used formula. Feeding tired my son out because he had to work so hard, with my help to feed properly because of his facial palsy. When he started solids, things were just as difficult as the facial palsy affected half of his mouth, it made foods difficult to swallow.
Breast Might Be Best, But What If She Can’t?
While I 100% agree if you can breastfeed – do it. The experience the first time around made me very observant when I went on to have more children. The attitude towards women who do not breastfeed is very poor and even asking a woman “Are you breastfeeding?” – seems like a very personal question to me.
Don’t always assume a woman CHOOSES not to breastfeed. There are a number of factors which can get in the way. MY story is an unlikely one, but I didn’t deserve some of the ignorant things said to me during that time.