So if you are thinking that I spent my life before Ollie being a judgemental so-and-so. You would be 100% correct. I was a big ol’ know it all who in reality knew not much at all. Suffice to say that things have changed just a wee bit since my ginger haired munchie joined us. In my posts, I write about lessons, but I thought I might share with a couple of the lessons that I’ve learnt.
Before Ollie was born, Aaron and I had talked about breastfeeding. We were both very much in agreement that this was the option for us. I’d never really given much thought to the actual mechanics of breastfeeding, just that it would be happening. It had to happen. Full stop. The end. Fast forward to after Ollie was born.
What do I wish someone had told me about breastfeeding? Breastfeeding can actually be really difficult. It’s not always just something that mum and bub slip right into to easily. Sometimes it takes work and sometimes it just doesn’t work.
So you are in hospital with a new bub and it’s feeding time. It’s pretty easy, right? You just put your nipple in the baby’s mouth and they drink. Right? Sometimes. Not for me. When I was first trying to feed Ollie, I had midwife after midwife trying to show me the ‘best’ way to feed. Now I’m a fairly private person but post labour, that all went out the window. I had more (midwife) hands on my breasts than I could keep track of. Initially, I was quite shy but after a while it just seemed to be the done thing. A Midwife would come into my room and I’d whip out a boob without hesitation, desperate to master the art of feeding.
Unfortunately for my easily confused (sleep deprived, overwhelmed andtraumatised) brain, each way I was shown was quite different to the next. Every attempt at feeding would reduce me to tears. Not just dignified lady-like tears, but rather loud, gulping, ugly cry face (think that meme of KimKardashian that randomly circulates on social media) tears. This was the first (of many) time that I would chastise myself and say,
“Why can’t you do this? You are his mother. You are MEANT to be able to do this. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?”
I did get it eventually (many boxes of tissues later), thanks to a wonderful patient Midwife who explained it in a way that I could comprehend. She also introduced me to a wonderful piece of silicon called a nipple shield. That nipple shield saved my sanity, worked like a charm and allowed me to feed my baby.
Funny thing is, even though I was happy that I could feed Ollie thanks to the nipple shield, I still felt guilty about not being able to feed him ‘properly’. I was embarrassed that I needed the shield and that I couldn’t just feed him without it. Looking back now, that seems crazy. After all, I had a baby that was being fed and yet I still continued to beat myself up about it. Yet another example of how I wasn’t living up to my own ridiculous ideas of what I thought I should be doing. I constantly felt like a failure for the first however many months of my baby’s life. Largely due to the unrealistic expectations placed on me by ME.
On the topic of breastfeeding, it is also important to add that in my (now much more) humble opinion, how a mother chooses to feed her baby, whether it be by breast, mixed or formula feeding is nobody’s business. If you can breastfeed and choose to, okay. If you can breastfeed and choose not to, okay. If you choose to use formula for whatever reason, okay. You get where I’m going here I’m sure. Here’s the thing guys and gals, being a new Mumma is hard enough as it is without the fear of judgement because you aren’t doing as someone else has done or thinks you should do.
In hindsight, I spent far too much time feeling guilty about all of the things that I was doing wrong (according to me) and focusing on the things that I didn’t know how to do that I felt I should. When it comes to first baby’s, nobody (as far as I can tell) really has any idea what the heck they are doing. Guess what? That’s okay. Every baby is different and so is every Mumma’s relationship with their baby.