It’s National Breastfeeding Week. I’m not really sure what that means, but as we continue along the rocky road of our feeding journey, it felt right to acknowledge it.
Before updating you on how we are doing, I want to declare again- I’m only ever telling you my own tale, my own choices, feelings and needs, based on my own experiences and perspective. You should get yourself informed about the whole picture, and then do whatever you like, whatever works for you. You will get no judgement from me, the neurotic mess telling the world about the state of her nipples…
2 weeks ago, I reflected on how I’d got myself into a really unhelpful mindset re breastfeeding. It was all or nothing- exclusive breastfeeding success, or failure. To be honest, this is my default mindset in life, a first born chasing perfection, super demanding of myself (and others, soz husband).
Hypnobirthing has taught me that adapting to the circumstances is key, that flexibility is a strength, rather than a weakness, but I had forgotten to apply this in my deeply personal quest to correct the “mistakes” I made with my first baby. (This reminds me that the more deeply we hold something in importance, the more likely we are to slip into our natural patterns, and it’s a lesson I’ll take forward into my teaching.)
This flexibility, it turns out, has preserved our BF experience, and my sanity… The evening I had written those ramblings, I decided it was time for a bottle of formula. Rory had drained the ounces I had managed to pump, I was so sore and exhausted and the thought of feeding him again was overwhelming. I wept through that first formula feed, those demons telling me that my ‘perfect’ plan was destroyed, this was the beginning of the end, I was letting my baby down, it had all been for nothing… #drama #nonsense #toldyouiamcrackers Of course every drop counts, of course this is all madness, but when you’re exhausted and hormonal and anxious, it all feels true.
We went to bed, and he slept for 4 hours. FOUR HOURS. This was like a holiday. When he woke me, I was delighted to feed him. The stretch of sleep and the break from the relentless pain and associated stress was such a tonic. So for that night, and the next few, we muddled along with a few ounces of formula in the evening, feeding from the better side and pumping from the other. I was suddenly at peace with this haphazard arrangement.
And then one day, early evening cluster feeding merged into bedtime. And so I didn’t have the baby free moments to faff about cleaning the pump and taking all the bits up to bed. Too tired to head back down, I thought I’d just feed him through that night. It turned out the break from the knife tongue (soz Rory…) had allowed some healing and it went ok.
And we’ve now had 10 days and nights of mama’s milk only. Mostly direct from the source, but still pumping when the pain peaks.
Whilst I’m really thrilled we are managing this for now, what I’m most grateful for is the mindset change I’ve been gifted. Formula has gone from being my worst enemy to my best friend. It’s stopped me from throwing myself out the window to avoid feeding my baby (it seemed appealing, on balance, at the time). It kept my baby nourished and satisfied whilst allowing me to have the physical and emotional break I needed to get back on track.
The ‘feeding crisis’ has reaffirmed for me the importance of a degree of flexibility. I don’t mean throwing our desires out the window. I’ve often spoken of my irritation at people telling pregnant mothers “lower your expectations, go with the flow, there’s nothing you can do about it anyway” in relation to birth. This is not me packing up my positive pants and heading over to “Camp Can’t”.
This is me reminding myself, and anyone who cares to read my musings, of the following:
1. Being informed is EVERYTHING. Choices made from a position of knowledge and autonomy can be lived with.
2. Being kind to ourselves is difficult, but paramount. We would do well to extend the unconditional love we offer to our babies to ourselves- we are all doing our best.
3. It’s always a team game- without the love and support of my amazing husband (if you’re reading, told you I’m not always slagging you off) I would be emotionally defeated by this entire experience. I’ve also had fantastic input from my brilliant postnatal doula and a wonderfully balanced lactation consultant. Assemble your squad.
#hypnobirthingskillsforlife #informedchoice #yourbodyyourbaby #breastfeedingmakesgivingbirthseemeasy #myjourney #nipplechat
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