When I decided that I wanted to breastfeed exclusively, I had no illusions that it was going to be easy because of my previous ‘experience’ with my son… the experience which lasted all of two weeks. This time around, I was armed and ready with lots of information and [rather expensive] tubes of nipple cream, which I started applying a few days before she was born. I did my research and prepared myself as best I could.
My milk came in on the third day and I was sure that we were in for smooth ride. Fast forward to day five and I was ready to give up my nipples for good and stop breastfeeding. My boobs were sooooo sore, so hard and huge [for an honourable member of the A-cup committee]. I did lots of googling, texted friends, phoned a lactation consultant and also visited a nursing sister. I’ve always believed in having options and trust me, options are good to have when your boobs are about to erupt from engorgement.
I have tried everything I can to breastfeed my baby girl as much as possible. On some of the most frustrating days, I reflected on some of the issues we don’t talk about when it comes to breastfeeding. We’re told we must breastfeed and that’s it. Many mothers and medical practitioners present and talk about breastfeeding like it’s the easiest thing in the world…
Like it’s not insanely painful in the first few weeks…
Like you’re doing your child a disservice when you top up with formula…
Like it’s not heartbreaking when your baby is kicking their tiny feet or crying frantically, because your supply isn’t satisfactory.
Just try telling an African Gogo (granny) that you’re not breastfeeding, it will be one of your greatest regrets!!!
Breastfeeding struggles are just not spoken about. In my view, breastfeeding isn’t something that comes easily and naturally to every mother and the last thing we should be doing is putting pressure and laying judgment on one another. It’s one of those subjects mothers should just not squabble over – offer positive support and encouragement to the next mom, or say nothing at all.
Breastmilk is undoubtedly the BEST food that you can provide for your baby, its benefits can and never will be taken away and I am by no means underplaying them. I am pro-breastfeeding and whole-heartedly wish I could breastfeed exclusively, but it has been a struggle for the most part and the process has come with many disheartening and stressful moments, with both of my children and I’m certain this has been the experience of many other mothers too.
It’s been five weeks and I’m still going. Fortunately, my baby girl loves her food, in whatever form it comes in. Currently, my boobies are being used more for inbetween snacks and comfort purposes, than for hours of sustenance and I’m okay with that, because I love the way she looks into my eyes and gurgles with gratitude when she’s filling up on a few drops of the good stuff. I will soldier-on until I run dry.
To the mom that’s having a hard time with the dynamics of breastfeeding, you’re not alone – so many of us struggle. When your heart is in the right place and you keep doing the best you can, it doesn’t matter if you’re breast or formula-feeding, or mixing for that matter. You are still the best mom for your little one ❤️. I would love to hear what your experience was.
Modern Zulu Mom
Thanks for this topic Thando. I attended 4 antenatal classes, and the nurses made it clear to us that breastfeeding was no child’s play. For some reason I took this for granted. My baby arrived and she latched on immediately, and I was told I had “perfect breastfeeding boobs”. She fed well, and I produced sufficient milk. My baby was underweight at birth and during my stay at the hospital, the nurses would top her up with 20 mls of formula, using a cup. They said I needed to do this until she was 3 kg’s. I returned home, and continued breastfeeding and topping up with formula. I thoroughly enjoyed breastfeeding and I produced a fair amount of breastmilk. Then I was given advice by an elder in the family to give the formula using a bottle instead of the cup, so that “the baby could get used to the bottle” before my return to work. The nurses made it clear to me that babies get confused between nipples and teats, hence the cup feeds. Within a few days, my child refused to latch on my breast as she was now confused between the nipple and teat. I was highly emotional and this made things worse because my baby would sense that I was anxious. I then purchased a breastpump, and was able to express and fill up the bottle. Again, nobody told me that I needed to ensure that I express as often as I could to make sure that I produce sufficient milk – as demand increased the supply. I was very sad when my milk dried up after two months of my baby’s birth. I tried jungle juice mixture, I bought Fenugreek (pills that assist in the promotion of breast milk – I googled this). I eventually gave up, and now my baby is on formula. As a first time mom, I had no clue just how tough breastfeeding could be. Like you say, society makes it seem as if it’s the easiest thing to do and we get judged when people hear that you’re not breastfeeding.
Wow, thanks for sharing Kim. I’m sure that many mommies will relate to your experience. So much more goes into it than we realise – second time around I thought it would be easier but it’s not.
I’ve been on Fenugreek for a week now and have also tried two different breastpumps
You did all you could and let that be your peace Mama.
I was soooooo lucky i never had any problems with breastfeeding instead i had so much milk and i really wanted to donate some.
Thanks for sharing Thando. For me breastfeeding was the most stressful part of this journey. My mom and aunt prepared me while pregnant as they also struggled with their kids (me included) but the superwoman in me had the illusion that It should be a walk in the park because I felt I had prepared (read) enough to master this thing. Fast forward to baby’s arrival and she did not latch on properly. Nipples cracked so bad that when she was crying while feeding, I was crying with her.
I also hope with next baby, this process is easier but we’ll see.
Tjo! moms I’ve had a breeze with both my kids and I love breast feeding more than anything in this world. Afew weeks ago I shared why I love it on my blog.
I really don’t like breastfeeding. I am still doing it nonetheless, but I just don’t enjoy the feeling especially when he just wont let go of the breast
I had a similar experience. It must be this “honourable A-cup committee” lol! But seriously, we need more of these stories told – to prepare future mommies that it MIGHT not be the “walk in the park” that they expect, as well as to avoid mommies that are struggling with supply feeling like failures.