Breastfeeding is hard
I don’t care what anyone says, but breastfeeding is hard!
You can read all the books you want, watch as many clips as is possible, and attend classes in preparation, but I don’t think anything can prepare you for how hard it is.
You can be doing really well, and feel you’re getting everything right, baby can be putting on weight really well. And BAM! It hurts. Baby screams. Baby won’t feed. Baby won’t stop feeding.
It’s worse when this all happens in the middle of the night. You are exhausted. Those post-pregnancy hormones have well and truly kicked in. And you feel like you’ve failed. Like you can’t even do the most natural thing in the world – feeding your baby.
The baby is crying, and you’re crying. You just want the baby to sleep so that you can get some sleep, before the next feed. and if you’re anything like me, you don’t like crying in front of other people – and this includes your husband, so you try to hide it, which just makes things worse.
In the end, you give in, and wake your other half, asking them to please, just take the baby. You need sleep, evening if it’s only for 5 minutes. Please!
We managed until day 12 before the above happened to me. Our darling Isla had been either feeding or screaming for over 6 hours. Nothing we did would settle her. And dear God did my nipples hurt!
In the end, after speaking to the Midwife, Chris drove us up to the birth centre. We spent some time with a lovely student midwife, who calmed me down, gave me reassurance that I was doing nothing wrong, that my gorgeous girly (who had decided to fall asleep on the car journey over there) was not ill, but sometimes babies just cry. She observed me breastfeeding, and gave me a few pointers. We left there feeling so much better about things, and then got a vaguely good nights sleep. After this night, things seemed to improve a lot.
My mum texted me a few days afterwards. Her best friend was a midwife and they were both members of the NCT, and huge supporters of breastfeeding. In fact my mum was a breastfeeding counsellor for years. So mum’s text said
“Fiona says I have to give you huge congratulations in light of how well you are doing with breastfeeding. I’m so pleased that it seems to be going so well. You must have felt under a bit of pressure”
I guess I never really thought about it before, but I think I did (and probably still do) feel a lot of pressure to do well at breastfeeding. There have been so many times where I’ve felt like giving up. sod it, she can just have formula milk, and then at least Chris can share the feeds, and I can get more sleep, rather than being woken up every 3 hours, sometimes more often, so that she can feed. But I feel like I can’t quit, because I would… I don’t know, let people down, disappoint people, feel like a total failure, that I didn’t try hard enough, and gave up too easily.
The girls from my NCT group all have a WhatsApp group going, so we constantly provide each other with support if we’re struggling, ask each other for advise, and share stories of what silly antics our babies have been up to recently. I am so thankful for this group, as it can keep you (vaguely) sane during the late night/early hours of the morning when you’re really struggling.
I read somewhere that you should never give up breastfeeding on your worst day. I also read in a book I was given (Happy baby, happy family by Sarah Beeson MBE – a health visitor) that “every day you breastfeed is a massive achievement, so just take it one day at a time”
For now we seem to be doing OK though, so we will keep on going. I think it helps that Isla is now sleeping for longer…though this does sometimes pose problems for me – Chris’ comment this morning was “Hahahahaha, it looks like someone has taken a balloon pump to just your left boob!!! Hahahahaha” Thanks for the support there, love!
Does any of this sound familiar to you? Anyone else find that breastfeeding is hard? Has anyone else had any breastfeeding problems? Any wonderful tips and tricks you have?