Disclaimer: I have no qualms about using formula, hell Eliza gets the occasional formula feed every now and then when I need a break, and I don't believe that it has any impact on a child's development. Not everyone can breastfeed for many different reasons, and they shouldn't be judged for that. We all do the best for our children, and any food source is better than none. For me though, I wanted to breastfeed my child until 6 months. I have no idea why I picked 6 months, just seemed like a good point to reassess everything.
Not at all what I expected.
When I was pregnant I was naive. Baby+boob=fed baby. Plus the 'breast is best' brigade shove their knowledge down your throat like there is no tomorrow. I knew it would be uncomfortable for the few few weeks, but I would get used to it and all would be dandy. I figured I could get around feeding in public by buying wraps and covers to shield us, and if all else failed, I researched feeding rooms in every place I would possibly be going. It was going to be grand.
And then reality set in. I had some fantastic nurses at my hospital who helped me every step of the way. I would push the little green button each feed and they would come and watch and tell me if I was doing it right. And by their standards I was. I felt like a pro. I even managed to feed in front of friends and family.
And then we went home and reality set in. Reality that had me in tears every time she latched on. Each feed would require a huge number of latchings, which I thought was normal. No-one ever told me otherwise, and I just continued. Then it got harder, she would only latch on for two sucks and come off. Rinse and repeat. That made feeding in public the most uncomfortable I have ever been in my life. Lots of people looking up my clacker whilst I shoved a head out of my private parts was fine. People judging me as I tried to feed my screaming child in Ikea whilst juggling a wrap was not so fine. As the final straw, I had a case of mastitis that saw me fall in a heap on the floor, considering giving up.
Sadly my stupid pride stood in my way and stopped me from quitting, and I saw a Lactation Consultant who announced that Eliza had a tongue tie which wasn't helping, and I had flat nipples which also wasn't helping. Did you know that all nipples aren't the same, and that they can be flat? No, neither did I! But help was at hand, and I started using nipple shields. I reasoned with myself that I would make it to 2 months, then four.
Nipple shields are not ideal, they can apparently decrease your milk supply, require washing and are messy (or maybe I just have a sloppy eater?). But they are a means to an end. And it means that my nipple is now three times as long as it originally was, so there are less latchings to be dealt with. That said I will still take a feeding room over public, but if need be, I will flash everyone a boob for free.
At four months now, I am ok with my choice. My supply isn't as much as it used to be, but that also could be it self regulating itself. To make sure I have enough I express each night, just in case. There will come a day when I do give up, and it will be not that far away, but for now I am content.
And that is all we can ask for in life.
This post was inspired by my friend Amy over at Thinks I Never Knew. See what she has to say about breastfeeding her second child.
PS - Think my breastfeeding my daughter is pornographic? Deal with it, boobs were a food source before they were your funbags.