Ashamed, guilty and embarrassed – is how I felt when I stopped breastfeeding Myla. The challenges I endured eventually won me over. I managed to breastfeed her for a little over two months if that, then decided that I could no longer continue; it became too distressing.
During pregnancy It was solidified in my mind that I would breastfeed Myla; I felt as though it was a privilege that I could do something so beautiful (alongside pregnancy and birth), It seemed to be the most natural, purifying and miracle like way to feed a baby; to me anyway. Already viewing breastfeeding in such a magical way, being told by many I must breastfeed her only emphasised the feeling of wanting to.
After a traumatising labour/birth (you’ll know from my birth stories) I felt like I’d failed at childbirth and was pretty much set up to fail at breastfeeding too. Having no time to recover, process and accept my birthing experience, I had to dive straight into breastfeeding. Though, when she had just been born she wasn’t in urgency of much food and I had low milk supply, so her first feed was minimal and hand expressed.
Eager to commence my breastfeeding journey, I began practising once Myla was ready. I wanted to be sure I had her latching on correctly before leaving the hospital as I’d no longer have a midwife close by to ask for guidance. My midwife was impressed with how well she thought I was doing and said “you look like you’ve done this before”. I’m sure it was my maternal side fully engaged and maybe all the YouTube videos I’d watched coming into action. Once my latch had been established and approved by midwives, I was so desperate to go home I told them I felt well enough to leave. I couldn’t get up from the bed without it taking me 10 minutes, who was I kidding. Anyway they let us go, happy days it was! it was such a beautiful hot summers day too – just the perfect day to bring our baby home.
And so it began.
I began experiencing all the things no one ever included in their ‘you must breastfeed’ speeches – only the beautiful things were shared with me. It was slow yet progressive. My nipples became sore but bearable, I was applying Lansinoh cream after every feed, completely convinced I had everything under control. Little did I know. Cuts, bleeding and unbearable stinging began to develop, rapidly at that. Feeding times were no longer about comfort and bonding for the two of us, it quickly became something I wanted to put off for as long as possible. Long gone were the days I’d feed and stare at her in complete disbelief of her existence. Her feeding consisted of me biting my lips together, holding tight onto a pillow and squeezing my eyes closed as I cried for dear life. An addition to this is she was feeding approximately every 1 or 2 hours, day and night, you do the math.
A knot in my throat would evolve every time someone told me to keep breastfeeding after I’ve shared the struggle I was experiencing – I knew beast milk was the best for her and I wanted to breastfeed so much because it is beautiful yet equally difficult! I tried hand and electric pumping and I tried alternating between bottle and breastfeeding. I just couldn’t cope. I couldn’t walk properly, my stitches were still delicate and painful, I was emotionally erupt and breastfeeding was all just too much. I still feel slightly guilty for not breastfeeding for longer but I also know it was the best decision for us at the time.
Parenthood is full of decision making, sometimes hard ones, sometimes not so hard ones but always deciding what’s best for both parents and baby is absolutely paramount.