I honestly thought breastfeeding would be a piece of cake (If you’ve read my previous blog about my c-section you’ll know this is where we insert ha...ha). I thought that I’d just have these voluptuous milk cartons on my chest that would feed my son all day and everything would be perfect. Okay precious, okay.
So fast forward to the day of my labour and being fresh out of the theatre after my c-section, I found myself being asked to breastfeed and I honestly don’t think I’ve been so shocked in my life. Hello, I’ve just given birth? Can I rest for a minute please? But no they wanted to see me do it ASAP. Now I know I’m in a hospital with trained professionals but whipping out my breasts and trying to perform is not something I do on a normal day so this was intense. I didn’t understand why they didn’t get that. Of course the midwives were lovely but 4-5 business days to recover would have been preferred. But I didn’t have that. Ironically I didn’t have milk either. Well not really. I also didn’t know how to hold him properly. My little man was 8 pounds 6 so considered a “big baby” but he felt like the most delicate little thing and they wanted me to ram my bosom in his mouth. At this point (and still until today) my breast was bigger than his head and yet I was supposed to gracefully feed him in front of everyone. I felt a bit like a show pony. I hated it.
I had 4 different midwives come and show me techniques but I just wasn’t getting it. I kept holding him “wrong” then getting frustrated with myself. Eventually I think some of the midwives got frustrated with me too. I could hear them telling me to hold him a certain way but my arms just weren’t forming into the positions properly. As the day went on and the pain started to kick in, it began to feel almost impossible. They checked his blood sugars and said they were low and gave him some really sweet liquid and then brought me a bottle of SMA so that he could feed. I felt like I had let him down. I wanted to breastfeed solely and here we are on day one with breastmilk substitute.
The next day we had visitors and a remark was made that I obviously didn’t want to breastfeed because they had seen the bottle milk. I didn’t say anything but I was really upset by that, especially as it had come from a woman with children herself. Family aren’t always the most emotionally supportive and that’s just facts. African family members? That’s a post on its own. I remember feeling really judged. The night before I had really tried to get him to latch on but I couldn’t. I was in so much pain and pretty much cried with him throughout, almost like a little chorus of wailing, and then fell asleep. We had to ask the midwives for another bottle which they gave us, begrudgingly.
So that day was more of the same, different midwives checking me and checking him and asking if I’d fed yet. “No sis, do YOU want to try ?” I kept thinking. I hated the pressure. I thought I would be able to ease my way into things. But then again I wanted to breastfeed only so they were right, I would have to start straight away. But still please lol, it was A LOT. During the day they said that they would give me 2 bottles but that was it. They weren’t going to give me anymore. I‘m not going to lie it felt harsh. I was already upset that I couldn’t breastfeed and now I’m being policed about it too. I wasn’t exactly over the moon that I needed to ask in the first place but my baby needed food.
It got to about 11pm when it was time for his next feed and we had no bottles. I frantically began messaging family and friends to see if someone could go to Asda or Tesco and get me milk. I honestly couldn’t believe it had come to that. We went and begged for milk from the midwives and in the end they gave us one final bottle of SMA. My brother came about 20 mins later with a pack of 8 and I finally felt at ease. No pressure of asking the midwives and I knew I had enough to last me as I was going home the next day.
So I get home now and I’m adjusting to my new baby but to be honest the pain I’m in it all just feels extremely intense. However, my milk has come in and It’s actually quite exciting. My lovely cousin Kirsty got me this great breast pump and I hardly had to do any work. I’d pump whilst watching Winter Love Island and breastfeed throughout the day. Smashing it. Or so I thought.
Things started to change as my life became more difficult. There were a lot of things I didn’t have any control over happening and I felt myself slipping into sadness because of it. Family politics with a new baby is honestly the worst. I think the stress of it all took a toll on my body. What was a flourishing stream suddenly stopped flowing as freely. This was probably at about 6 weeks but I wanted to breastfeed for a year. I still want to. Don’t get me wrong it was definitely annoying having to wear nipple pads and always being soaked with milk but my son genuinely prefers breastmilk and is always so peaceful after it. He was mix feeding with both bottle (we changed to aptamil hence the pic, he much prefers it over SMA) and breast but I was just happy I could give him milk too. Now do I think breast is best for every baby ... NO. I think what’s best for baby is what works for mummy too. Babies really do feed off our energy. But in this case for my son I needed to be able to breas Kiko tfeed and my milk supply was depleting.
It’s still there, just not as much as before. So now I’m on a journey to increase my supply. My sis Gbemi told me about having oats and a new cookie called Boobbix Lactation cookies which I’ll review after a month just in case anyone else wants to try. I do still breastfeed but I definitely can’t pump the volume I used to and I really want to get back to that.
I know a lot of women struggle with breastfeeding and I honestly just want to say
It really is okay. Above everything, what’s best for our children is a happy and healthy mother who makes the best decisions for her child. Not breast is best, not bottle but mummy. Mummy is best. Prioritising you and not letting the judgements of others make you feel less than is best. When we operate in fear or sadness, our outcome tends to reek of it. If you haven’t been able to breastfeed, honestly the person who matters the most - your child, is not judging you for it. All they want is to be fed. There are 100000 books with 100000 tips but no-one knows your baby like you. Trust your intuition.
You’ve got this mama!