Monday, 4 May 2015

The Booby Trap

They always tell you all the wonderful things about breastfeeding. You hear about how it is the best for your baby, how great it is for your immune system, how it will help you to bond with your baby. You hear how it will help you shed pregnancy weight, leaving you skinny with big boobies. While I have found all those things to be very true and love having had a chance to give my son such a great start in life I just wish someone had warned me that this would be so difficult. 

This article is not intended to discourage any mothers from breastfeeding, but rather just to prepare them for what is in store. Warning, the contents that follow are not for sensitive viewers.

breastfeeding bite funny

THE PAIN

Oh, the pain. They forget to tell you that this will be an incredibly sore ride. The first few days are sheer agony. Have you ever had a pimple that became so sore that you just want to squeeze it to relieve pressure? Well imagine your boobs as two hard gigantic pimples, screaming to be squeezed. That is what engorged breasts feel like. Your nipples become rough, painful and blistery as baby figures out how to latch. Your poor nipples may even bleed at first, a lot. Then you get told that you need to let baby feed through this sore and scabby mess. Oh and you are prone to mastitis, which makes you sick and fevery on top of the pain (which you can only take Panado for, as baby will absorb and react to anything stronger). All fun and games. 

Fast forward a few months. The initial pain has subsided and your nipples, now coated in an invisible titanium coat of armor are now  tough as nails do not bleed anymore. Your baby will now be discovering the magical world around them and will be eager to explore. The tough part is over now, right? Wrong. For you, this means they will no longer just lie down sucking angelically. They will be twisting and turning every time they see or hear anything new, all with jaws clenched tightly, yanking your poor nipples in every direction. Your nipples will develop balloon-like stretchy abilities from this constant tugging. They will experiment with new positions and nursing while jumping up and down or upside down will become the norm. Once they are crawling and walking, the positions become even more creative. While this may be cute to some, inevitably these gymnastics also mean pain for mommy.

At some point, baby will decide that maybe the milk will come out faster if he squeezes mommies breasts really hard at every feed, or juices them by rolling them with his skull an naturally assumes that mommy will enjoy this show of affection.

Then they start teething and your nipples become a chew toy. Finally, they get sharp new blade-like teeth and every feed will be a game of Russian Roulette. If you scream in agony when bitten, baby will think this is hilarious and do it again and again and you will be right back to the sore, bleeding nipple stage. Apparently it is also fun to use nipples as a chew toy (at present Squish favours the suck-chew position, where he sucks while clenching down the entire time).
breastfeeding

THE HUNGER

You have never experienced hunger until you have breastfed. Breastfeeding works up an insatiable appetite in the human female species. Despite being small and petite, I can out-eat my husband anytime these days and waking up for a midnight snack is no longer an extraordinary event. (I guess I should not complain as eating all the chocolate and dessert in sight and not picking up weight is awesome, but I fear that one of these days dear hubby may evict me from our house as a result of enormous grocery bills).

THE EXHAUSTION

Firstly, you have a little creature literally sucking away all your nutrients. If you do not have a perfectly balanced diet (which lets face it, few mothers have time for) you are likely to be tired out by the mere act of breastfeeding around the clock. Add to this chronic sleep deprivation and the fact that exclusively breastfed babies do not sleep through the night and you have a recipe for a tired, cranky, perpetual zombie.

THE ISOLATION

Breastfeeding takes up many, many hours. This may result in you not having time for your other children or husband, let alone your extended circle of family and friends. If you live in a society where nursing in public is still seen as tabboo, when out in public or even when you have guests over, you may find yourself chosing between offending people and  hiding away behind closed doors and missing out on life events. Not all babies take to bottles straight away or feed according to a set schedule. This means that, while your baby is exclusively breastfed, everything you do revolves around breastfeeding- how you dress (most clothing staples are off limits for lack of accessibility to the essential assets), where you go and how long you go for. There is no break ever- since you cannot just detach your breast from your body, you cannot just leave baby with a babysitter for a couple of hours.

THE HUMILIATION

Every breastfeeding mother experiences that awkward moment where she is out somewhere and lands up with a gigantic puddle of milk on her top. It is a rite of passage and it will be on the day she forgets to wear breast pads (which are scratchy, hot and annoying by the way... oh and they cost a small fortune). 

Then, when baby gets older and develops the co-ordination to whip your breast out in public for you or even ask for them by name, the real trouble begins.

IT IS HARD TO LET GO

I only planned to breastfeed for six months, but almost a year later, we are still going strong. I had two failed attempts at weaning, but just felt too sorry for my son, who just loves his boobies so. We tried the gentle methods recommended by La Leche League (do not offer or refuse, distraction, substitutions, shorter feeds) with no success and then even tried putting a series of bitter items on my breasts, all without success. I have read horror stories about sudden weaning so will not go that route but in all honesty, I am ready for this journey to end now and I hope that soon he is too.

Would I do it again? Yes, I probably would. We all know about the health benefits of breastfeeding and they are young for such a short time. The liquid gold is the ultimate mothering tool for comfort, to instantly soothe any cry or to effortlessly caress a baby to sleep. The benefits for baby both physically and emotionally are beyond measure and  there are ways to deal with all of the hurdles that come with breastfeeding and plenty of support out there, from breastfeeding support groups to lactation consultants. I just wish it was not so, so, so tough.
  
DISCLAIMER: IMAGES IN THIS PARTICULAR BLOG POST ARE NOT MY OWN. ALL CREDITS GO TO THE RELEVANT OWNERS OF THESE IMAGES.