- This is written for mothers who aren’t having the easiest breastfeeding journey and to mothers who are planning on breastfeeding.
When we enter mum world we all plan to breastfeed, what we don’t plan is how long we will breastfeed for as we all hope for the best and that we can. In the world of breastfeeding, we look up to the mother’s who are or have been successful at feeding into Toddlerhood and Childhood and think gosh I hope I can make it that long, but how did they make it that long when I’m a few weeks in and hate it and want to quit already?
3 and a half years into breastfeeding 6 months of that is Tandem Nursing. NEVER did I imagine to make it past a few weeks let alone end up breastfeeding 2 kids at once. I personally didn’t even know it was possible to breastfeed 1 for this long, let alone 2 of 2 different ages.
If you’re in the beginning of your journey, people will tell you it gets easier and for some it does, but for others it doesn’t. I am one of the others that it hasn’t got any easier. Over the last 3 years what I have come to terms with being easier is how I have perceive breastfeeding. How I perceived it should be and what I expect from it.
On the 7th day of beginning my breastfeeding journey, I was hit with mastitis. I didn’t know what it was or how to deal with it. My son ended up on formula for 3 day’s. Another problem I created for myself unknowingly. After I introduced my son to a bottle because I had no idea you are supposed to feed, feed, feed, through it. I was then hit with low supply as well as a baby who refused breast at the end of the 3 days when I put him back to the boob.
I rushed to my local peadatrician as he cried every time I latched. “Oh no! Have I lost my milk”. I was ever so fortunate and thankful for the advice I was given, some babies can go from breast to bottle and back again without a issue, but for my son it was a issue and my pead saved my breastfeeding relationship with his very insightful way of explaining bottle V breast. He explained by introducing a bottle my baby was then getting “easy milk” and when returned to the breast they have to work for a let down, working for it creates frustration for them and they can begin to pull on and off, crying and this can confuse a mother making her think she has low supply, exactly what I was experiencing. I asked him “What do I do?” He say’s “Do not offer the bottle again” (Again this is my experience and if you want to try bottle and breast don’t take this as gospel).
I went home and sat 6 hours with my son as he cried on and off. I force fed myself high fat foods to bring on milk production and I did lots of skin to skin. After the 6 hours my son FINALLY getting a good let down, he fell asleep. When he woke 1.5 hours later. It was back to normal, he fed as usual. After that, any time I doubted my supply, I ate high fat foods and let him feed for as long as he would have it, even if it meant hours at a time. I would let him sleep on my breast and suck the entire nap. Through it I got a great supply. I always wanted to pump and donate but my body never responded to a pump.
As the months went by sleep deprivation took its toll, when my son was 9 week’s old I crashed and burned hard. Running on a few hours of broken sleep. The mum fog was strong. I cried to my partner telling him how difficult it was. He turned on me and told me to quit if it’s too hard. He didn’t get it. I talked to other mum’s in my circle and tried to seek support from them, again I was told the same. Quit if it’s too hard. It shouldn’t be this hard.
fast forward 3 and half years. I am still breastfeeding, and it’s STILL hard. I still get touched out, I’m still deep in the Mum fog from sleeping in hourly blocks of a night, I still most days “want my body back”, I still fantasize about bottle feeding and how much easier it would be to be able to palm off some night feeds, or get some help from the grandparents and how sometimes I wish I didn’t care about what I know so I could put them on a formula and leave them with their dad so I could just fuck off to the shops on my own for a few hours to feel the *Snap Crackle & Pop as my brain winds down after thinking non stop, listening non stop.
So after 3 years and feeling so shitty about breastfeeding about 60% of the time. How did I make it this long?
As the weeks, months went by I realised it was how I perceive breastfeeding is what’s made me make this far.
How I perceive it is, this is the way it’s meant to be. It’s meant to be hard, but do we only perceive it as hard because a option was created that gave us the ability to quit when the going gets tough? Knowing there’s another option that gives us the ability to escape, is that what makes us want to escape, knowing we can? Like if there were stairs and escalators right by side each other and you’re exhausted from walking. Why would you take the stairs? Our brains naturally want to make it easier for ourselves when we are exhausted and it’s ok to quit when it gets tough. If 100 people ran cross country who had never trained cross country before, how many do you think would make it across the finish line? I can tell you now I wouldn’t. I hate running. And some mothers hate breastfeeding. I don’t blame them either. It’s a massive commitment to take on the sole feeding responsibility. Mothers in our time don’t have family in a hut next door who can just “pop on in” and breastfeed the baby while we take a rest. Nope. We live in a time where it’s a paid job to watch, feed and play with our children but we are excepted to do it, as well as be a domesticated goddess and have a show room house with dinner on the table by 6.
To ad up all the problems, with my son I breastfed through 5 rounds of mastitis in the first 6 months. With my daughter it was 7 times in the first 9 weeks. She had her ties revised when she was 11 weeks old and the IBCLC there was gobsmacked I was still breastfeeding after 7 back to back rounds. It was my perception that got me through. It didn’t get easier. I know and accept that Mastitis can happen, you feed through it. It absolutely sucks but you feed through it. It’s a shitty problem you can have when you breastfeed. So here we are after 3 and a half years of wanting to quit at least a few times a day. We’re still going and you can too. You don’t have to love it always, you just have to accept, this is how it is 💜
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