Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things you can do for your baby.  Then why is it so difficult?  

 

To give up or not – when to stop breastfeeding

First, I’d like to point out the unspoken guilt that is naturally tied into stopping breastfeeding.  Look at what term we’ve ascribed to it – giving up.  When most people find out you are breastfeeding, they usually ask you when you are stopping.  Why would this be the most natural question?  What about…do you enjoy it, has it come naturally to you, or even just a statement saying good for you! 

With my first child, I desperately wanted to breastfeed.  I never thought I wouldn’t be able to.  As it turned out, I had a very painful condition called thrush which makes it very, very difficult to continue for any length of time.  I tried so many different methods to salvage a situation that had become desperate.  I went to breastfeeding drop-in clinics, spoke to counsellors, even had someone come to my house.  Unfortunately, no one picked it up until four years later when I was re-telling my experience of how horrible it was.  In the end, I had no choice – I physically could not continue.  Breastfeeding wasn’t creating a positive bonding experience with my baby which in turn was not good for my overall well-being. 

I did manage to last for three weeks, although at the time no one would give me ‘permission’ to stop.  I was beating myself up in my head constantly, feeling like a complete failure, all because nature wasn’t cooperating.  I didn’t realise at the time that this was simply not my fault.  Finally the health visitor gave me a reprieve, telling me that it was okay to make the choice to feed my baby formula as it is an alternative that I am lucky enough to have access to.      

My second experience was bliss.  I had the usual soreness but there were no major complications and everything went smoothly.   I breastfed for 8 months.

I assumed that the third one would go smoothly now that I was armed with all of this knowledge.  Sadly, it was a disaster.  First, I came down with a pretty horrific case of mastitis, which almost landed me up in hospital.  This joy was followed by a suspected absess, which thankfully was just a blocked milk duct. Then I developed thrush again, knowing what it was before any of the experts did.  The advice throughout this nightmare was continue to feed.  Keep going.  Don’t stop.  It will get better.

Thankfully, this time I didn’t listen.  I made up my own rules.  I decided to give my body a rest from breastfeeding and started bottle feeding for three days.  During these very long three days, I expressed after every bottle feed to keep up my milk supply.  And it worked!!  Once I reintroduced breastfeeding, everything was back on track.  I was thrilled!  I continued for 9 months and was so glad to have persevered.

This is my advice regarding difficulties with breastfeeding, based on my experience (please note I am not a breastfeeding counsellor or expert):

1)      If it is something you want to do, give it your absolute best attempt.  If it doesn’t work out, then it is not the end of the world.  It does not make you a bad mother for stopping.

2)      If you think that there is a chance that you will still want to breastfeed even though things are rough, don’t give it up completely.  If you express to keep your milk supply up, you can always start again.  If you don’t, you sadly won’t be able to.

3)      Get help, ask for advice, go to support groups if it’s not going well.  It could make the difference.

4)      Don’t be surprised by the amount of pressure you are putting on yourself.  There is a lot of guilt associated with breastfeeding, as instinctively mothers want to do their best for their babies.  That being said, don’t be too hard on yourself. 

5)      Use Lansinoh breastfeeding cream.  It was an absolute saviour!

Feel free to share your breastfeeding experiences with us.  There’s nothing mothers like to do more (other than tell their birth stories)!!

Bundle-O-Joy is pleased to introduce our breastfeeding bundles.  They are designed to give mothers a great start.  There is a cover for times when you’d like to be discreet, mama tea which aids in milk supply, a lovely bracelet that says ‘this side next’ to keep you from forgetting, and the amazing Lansinoh cream as mentioned above.

  

Buy one as a gift for a friend – they will not get anything else like it!