There appears to be a plethora of talk going on about breastfeeding at the moment.
The "issues" with it for mother, baby and the general public.
Some of it's bordering on ridiculous, other comments are funny yet crass (show us ya tits sexy!).
I thought I'd share my experience thus far with breast feeding.
My first attempt at feeding Orlando happened about 2 hours after he was born. The midwife had been milling around the room, tidying things up, making sure I was getting feeling back in my leg, checking on Orlando. She asked me if I was ready to feed and I remember being SO nervous about it but saying yes.
So the midwife helped my numb leg and I sit up in bed properly with more pillows giving me the right support. Then she went to the hospital issue baby bassinet and brought my little man to me. In the meantime I managed to get my breast out. Apart from that I had no idea what to do.
It's probably important that I point out a minor indiscretion. You see, Hamish and I, well, we didn't attend our last parenting class. The breastfeeding class. I know, I know. It was such a gorgeous sunny day we got fish and chips and took the dog to the park for a picnic. We are terrible.
"I'll be fine" I said....
Famous last words.
So with our completely lack of breastfeeding knowledge here I was with my rather large breast and my rather tiny baby attempting a feed. The midwife rubbed my nipple against his mouth. Nothing. Nothing at all.
"I'm not interested in what you're offering me Mamma, you can put that thing away."
Again with the up and down stroking across his little pursed lips. Nothing. A silent protest at our inability to make it to the last parenting class perhaps?
So the midwife told me she was going to try and milk some colostrum out of my breast. For those of you who don't know colostrum is like the Dom Perignon of the breastfeeding world. The number one, super high in nutrients, best of the breast. To my surprise it was a honey colour (probably would have learnt that in the class Merowyn). The midwife managed to get a drop or two out. Hooray!
Now it wasn't easy street getting that drop or two out. It HURT. Pinch and squeeze, you have to be quite ruthless. Nevertheless, the midwife milked the drops out onto a spoon and then tried to give them to Orlando.
Again with the "hell no, I'm not drinking that!"
In the end she forced his mouth open gently and managed to get the two drops in. I could feel his mind huffing and puffing at the audacity of being forced to eat.
My midwife reassured me once again that it would all be ok and I would get the hang of it. I honestly felt like a failure though, I'd failed at probably the single most important thing a mother can do - feeding your child.
So this went on for the next 24 hours. Attempting to get Orlando to feed. Him refusing, FLAT refusing and me having to express these tiny drops of colostrum which had to be forced into him.
It was painful for he and I and so, so frustrating.
Then the jaundice started appearing.
My poor little man, our sweet little darling was going a rather fluro shade of yellow.
Because he hadn't fed properly in the first 24 hours he hadn't been able to flush out the excess bilirubin in his blood. I was at my wits end, how was I meant to get the bilirubin out of him if he wouldn't feed?!
My amazing midwife came into the room and discussed with us Orlando's lack of feeding and how important it was to flush the bilirubin out. It was decided that I would hand express and then pump and give him what I'd pumped plus a formula top up.
This triple feeding system was tiring. It took somewhere between 1.5 - 2 hours to do the whole feed in total. Including nappy changes which came thick and fast. That was the good thing, he had excellent output so we knew his system was getting flushed.
During this time an angel came our way, in the form of the lactation nurse. Oh. My. Stars.
I was having so much difficulty getting him to attach to my breast, it was so much harder than I ever imagined. In my head I'd thought I was going to be one of those mothers that just had it come naturally. It wasn't going to be that way though.
The lactation nurse showed me how to hold my breast "like a juicy burger" and with some stimulation against Orlando's lips they opened then I would literally shove him onto my nipple.
The first few times he didn't do anything. Then he finally caved and gave me a couple of sucks. The process started over again, burger, tease, shove, suck, suck. Finally he was doing what he was meant to.
I was elated, Hamish was elated. Orlando, well, I guess he was elated.
The first few sucks, I've got to admit, for at least the first few weeks were painful. Almost stinging. But after those initial sucks it didn't hurt.
So we persisted with the triple feeding, the exhausting, painful triple feeding. Orlando rewarded us by throwing up his milk and formula very, very often. But we kept going.
In short after his time under the Miami Lights and with the triple feeding he got better.
We didn't have a breast pump and had to top up feed with pumped milk when we got home. So we literally went and bought the pump, steriliser, warmer, bottles, teets and milk bags the day we came home.
I think that introducing the bottle so early has meant we've had no problems along the way. He takes it very easily now. The top up feeding has long finished but I try to express daily and have a supply available. It means Hamish can have a go feeding him (and I can have a break) when he gets home from work.
It also means I can feed him when I'm out and not have to breastfeed in public. I just don't feel comfortable breastfeeding in public. Yes, I've done it. Once at the child and maternal centre and once at our friend's restaurant (we were seated in a sectioned off area). It's just not something I feel comfortable doing. At the same time I feel guilty pulling out a bottle.
I swear you're dammed if you do you're dammed if you don't. People will be armchair critics no matter what you do. OH! She's using a BOTTLE! OH! She's BREASTFEEDING IN PUBLIC! It's crazy the unspoken/spoken pressure there is on mammas who are just trying to make sure their baby is being fed.
So I just do what I need to do now. Yes, that includes formula sometimes. We bought the formula when we left hospital incase we needed it and we use it, honestly I'd say 4 times a week. Again, it means Hamish can feed and it's a lot easier to take formula when we go out than breast milk which is so fragile.
There I go again, justifying how I feed my baby. But it works for us and we are a happy little unit for it. Instead of me stressing about getting my breast out and using a cover or what not I just use a bottle. Instead of Hamish never having a part of feeding Orlando we use formula occasionally and express milk as well.
It was hard enough getting Orlando to feed in the first place. I'm all for smooth sailing now (if we can try for it!). I hope all the new mums out there don't feel pressure like I have/do it's ridiculous and so unnecessary. Do what you feel is right - you rule your roost!
Here's to happy full tummy babies no matter how it's done.