Not all boobs have a good vibe
Here’s a little story. It’s the story of the pair of boobs that would have. If they could have.
It’s the story of the owner of said boobs: a mum, a goody-two-shoes, I’m-going-to-be-the-perfect-parent mum.
It’s the story of a mum who had read every baby book going round and believed that breastfeeding her baby would be the BEST thing for her baby.
It’s the story of a mum who had the best midwifery and lactation consultant support – in and out of hospital.
It’s the story of a mum who had the very “breast” of intentions when it came to feeding her baby but instead successfully starved all three of them.
It’s the story of a mum who’s still feeling guilty for that 16, 15 and six years on.
The mum is me. And you know what? I’ve had a boob-full of the guilt.
We’re big champions here at Justb. of the boob and its magical feeding powers. They are wonderful, beautiful life-giving things.
When they they work.
When they don’t they just become another thing that mums should feel guilty about. And that’s just not on in my parenting book, which has now extended to a volume covering 16 and a half years.
This week Mia Freedman spoke up about when they don’t work and how “lactivists” can make women feel really bad about giving their babies formula. I was quietly cheering from the sidelines. Now author Tara Moss has weighed in against Mia.
TIME OUT PEOPLE.
Surely, the bigger picture here is that a baby is fed? That a baby is nourished and LOVED?
It still breaks my heart to remember back to my days of breastfeeding my eldest son, realising in hindsight that the cries that started immediately after a feed “finished” were not about colic or reflux but were actually him voicing his dismay that there was no more milk at the station.
All I wanted to do was give him nourishment and love. And I couldn’t even do that. What kind of mother was I?
I returned to part-time weekend work when he was three months old (yes, another thing to add to the mother guilt list). A girlfriend of mine who had had her first baby the month before also worked weekends. We did this so our husbands could do the babysitting.
Instead of a meal break, we’d tag each other for time in the sick bay, the only place available to pop out the breast pump and the breasts without freaking out the largely male staff. My girlfriend would go in and be out in about 10 minutes with a full bottle of nature’s own.
Me? I’d be still pumping away after 30 minutes and lucky to have harvested 50ml.
Baby number two – my “darling” daughter was a reflux baby. The reflux came on Christmas Day and didn’t end till the very first dose of medication two months later (to this day if I hear that piercing reflux scream I will walk up to a mum and ask her if she’s asked her GP about reflux … no mum and baby should have to live with it).
Before we got to the oral drops medication, the midwife suggested trying a mixture that could be put in a bottle with a little bit of boiled water and given to my daughter at the end of her boob feed. That was enough of a muck around with her feeding less on my boob to muck up my already dodgy milk supply.
Baby number three. It’s 8.5 years later. I’m more chilled out. I can do this baby thing. They don’t die from screaming. You can have a shower and leave them out of your sight. Surely this time feeding is going to be a walk in the park, even a walk in the park with my boob hanging out.
And it was. To start with.
But within six weeks, the worried looks from the midwife who was doing the weekly weigh-ins would begin. I’d seen those looks before with baby 1 and 2.
The first week they’d offer up all the things you could try to increase your milk flow, which like a model student I’d go home and tearfully do, only to return the following week with an expectant look on my face to find that there had been no weight gain.
But wait. It gets worse.
This is how crazy/hormonal/delusional/desperate to breastfeed I was: before one of these weigh-in sessions I’d even left his full-of-wee nappy on in the hope that the weight of the nappy would bring on the weight that “should” be on the scales.
That’s how much I didn’t want to stop doing the one thing everyone told me would be natural and easy.
And yet, I was fast losing sight of the MOST important thing here: my baby’s health.
At the time, I needed someone to beam me a video from my children’s future. A video that showed they would grow into amazing humans. Humans I’m proud to have played some part in bringing them into this world. Humans who are healthy and happy.
Maybe my story is similar to your story? I believe all our baby feeding stories need to be told. Not just the ones that are deemed “good” by the people who were lucky (and I do believe they were lucky) enough to be able to breastfeed.
Parenthood is such a tricky path to navigate. Guilt is ready to jump out at you around every corner.
Let’s put an end to the guilt over how we CHOOSE to or NEED to feed our babies. Let’s just feed them.
Babies like that.
PS. That man feeding a baby at the top of this post? Sorry to tease but here’s the full photo – I found it here. Your welcome
Did you have trouble feeding? Did you feel guilty about giving your baby a bottle? What’s your baby feeding story?PS. If you are having trouble feeding, talk to someone – a midwife or a counseller at the Australian Breastfeeding Association.