|Mama Moo Cow and a her calf|
I entered into the world of breast feeding rather naively. I assumed that, as it’s such a natural function, it would be easy. I dismissed horror stories of cracked, bleeding nipples and mastitis, thinking “that won’t happen to me – I’ll be fine.” I hadn’t even bought any nipple cream in my pre-Grape pregnancy/post-pregnancy toiletry shop. But the truth is I’m really struggling with breast feeding.
It all started off so well. As I was discharged from hospital 6 hours after having Busby I’d only been shown twice by Midwife #6 how to obtain a correct latch, and to be honest, after giving birth and not having slept for over 24 hours I wasn’t in the most coherent of mindsets to be learning such an intricate and complicated skill. But I felt happy and confident at the time; Busby’s latch was good and I assumed the pain was normal as ones breast isn’t usually so vigorously sucked and pulled (unless you’re into that kind of thing).
Fast forward to day 3, late evening; Nick and I are both in tears calling the Labour ward advice line as Busby has blood in her sick and nappy. The blood is due to my cracked and blistered bleeding nipples; at times over the past few days Busby has had blood around her mouth, which gained her the affectionate nickname “Vampire Baby”, but in all seriousness, seeing blood around your baby’s mouth is psychologically scarring. I get on the phone, and through sobs explain how both physically and emotionally painful I’m finding breast feeding. By this point I’d started dreading feeding Busby, but knew I had to because I couldn’t let my tiny baby go without. It’s a horrific feeling that dread, because you realise that you’ve started associating your baby with pain, and that’s a dark, slippery slope you don’t want to entertain. The Midwife on the advice line was amazing; she calmed me down and said she’d request for a Community Midwife to come and visit me the following day. In the meantime she suggested lathering some nipple cream on, taking ibuprofen, and buying some savoy cabbage – putting a leaf on each breast as the cabbage draws out the heat from the breast, making life a little more comfortable. Remarkably the cabbage worked; although it did make me smell rather funky!
|My Saviour: An essential for any breast feeding Mutti or Mutti-to-be|
Busby has been on the planet for 13 days now, and I’ve had almost daily visits from the Community Midwives for breast feeding support. Although there has been no consistency, as we have seen a different Midwife each time, their support and help has been invaluable. We have formulated a plan of action to both ensure Busby is being fed enough and I’m not in pain, which involves a breast pump (the Cowinator 5000 as Nick has named it) and supplementing her feeds with formula. I cried the first time we gave Busby formula – I felt like I’d failed in my duties as a Mutti, but a few days on I’m starting to realise that I need to feel happy and pain-free feeding, and she needs to be eating enough.
|“The Cowinator 5000”|
I never realised how much of a taboo bottle feeding with formula was, and how, when faced with a Midwife who doesn’t agree with it, you are met with extreme guilt and made to feel like a dreadful Mutti! One of the Community Midwives made me feel like I was feeding Busby poison when I’d explained the “plan of action” the Midwife the previous day had written for me, but according to the other Midwives she has a bit of a “formula is the devil” reputation. I was fairly surprised that bottle feeding wasn’t mentioned at all on the Labour ward, and there is definitely an underlying sense of “Breast is best” pressure, which I have most certainly felt over the past two weeks.
We’ll get there eventually; Sunday’s Midwife showed me the “rugby ball” position, which is far more comfortable and Busby seems to get a good feed for a shorter amount of time like this. In the meantime, I’m continuing to express like a prize dairy cow and could do with another four udders to keep up with Little Miss Greedy-chops!