Even before I fell pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed. As my mum was able to successfully breastfeed 3 kids I was confident I would be able to as well and that it would be an easy and natural process. At the same time I knew all about the various problems new mums can encounter and throughout my pregnancy a small voice also reminded me that it might not be as easy as I hoped. I felt I needed to reassure myself so I would not be disappointed if it didn’t work out like I’d hoped.
During my pregnancy my breasts didn’t seem change and grow as I had expected they would. So it actually came as quite a surprise to me when after my son Oskar was born the midwife plonked him on my breast, squeezed my nipple and out came the promised colostrum. Although by that stage I was very well versed on the intricate biological changes a mother’s body goes though before, during and after birth, I was nonetheless pretty impressed. I could produce milk after all! Very cool.
The first few days were a bit of a blur. A constant rotation of feeding, re-latching, feeding, sleeping, changing, feeding, re-latching, re-latching, re-latching! My new life seemed to revolve around breastfeeding – 1 hour on the breast (both sides) but only about 25 minutes or so of actual feeding. He would fall asleep and I would have to tickle under his chin to wake him. Trying to get that latch right was exhausting, his mouth seemed so little. It was all consuming, I wasn’t sure if I could keep this up for months on end. Surely it had to get easier.
After few days my milk came and with it engorgement. I should have been pleased, I had abundant supply, but I was in too much pain to care. My poor small breasts had expanded to contain all of this milk so the skin was stretched to breaking point (or so it felt like) ‘They huuurrrrt!’ I would complain to my husband at every chance. I wasn’t even able to take neurofen for the pain, which seemed so unfair. ‘They’ll settle down’ everyone said. ‘Don’t express too much or you’ll stimulate supply’ they also said. And the biggest warning of all – ‘make sure you empty each side completely or you’ll get mastitis’
My week old baby and his tiny appetite were no match for all of the milk I was able to produce so I did succumb to mastitis, 3 times in total. It was crippling, and dealing with it while looking after a newborn was hell. By the third time friends would ask why I didn’t just wean Oskar? I had been breastfeeding for 3 months and had already given him a good start in life. Why? Well I finally figured out how to avoid mastitis (probiotics were my savior) and I loved breastfeeding, even more so than I thought I would.
My life did eventually stop revolving around feeding and it became such a nice bonding experience and also wonderfully convenient. I could feed in the middle of the night or in the middle of the shopping centre at a moments notice. I thought I would worry about being really discreet but in the end I stopped caring about what others might think or say and simply focused on my baby. Now he is nearly one and while he is still breastfed I know those days are numbered. While that makes a small part of me sad, I am mostly just happy for the positive breastfeeding experience I had.
Mummy Elisha & Baby Oskar