So, one of the things I feel hugely passionate about when it comes to motherhood is breastfeeding. It’s still seen as such a controversial subject, which is actually crazy because it truly is the most natural and beautiful things in the world. Well it is in my opinion… but we’ll get on to that side of things in a minute!
Holly is now 7 weeks old and breastfeeding well. This week she weighed 11lb 4oz which I think is a pretty good weight at her age. And even more importantly is the bond it creates; I adore feeding her and having her look at me whilst she nurses. It’s so special. But I’m not going to sugarcoat everything – it’s been bloody hard work! There’s been pain, tears and a week of having my tits out when Holly was first born because I was so sore I simply couldn’t have anything touch my chest.
If you read my breastfeeding story with Josh you’ll know he had tongue tie and it was agony. Within about 3 days of having Holly I knew that we had the same problem again. I recognised that toe curling pain and was full of dread at the thought of going through days of agony again. The reason for the pain that comes with tongue tie all comes down to the babies latch; because the tongue isn’t free to move as it should due to the tie, the baby has it’s gums on your nipple in an attempt to latch and very quickly this begins to feel indescribably painful! There were times I could have happily gone through contractions again rather than suffer that pain Because I recognised it so early I felt confident that we’d get it fixed quickly, as we did with Josh. Sadly this time luck wasn’t on my side! At the hospital where Holly was born there is only ONE doctor who can carry out the tongue tie snip procedure (and it’s not even his proper role; he’s a surgeon and carries out the tongue tie snips over one lunch break a week)! So we got referred to the Norfolk and Norwich to see if they could carry it out. My hospital (the wonderful James Paget, where we were unbelievably well looked after and supported during both births) pushed so hard to get the Norfolk and Norwich to help us but it got to a point where calls weren’t even being returned to organise an appointment!
One day the midwives came out to a yet again topless me (I kid you not, I didn’t wear a top the first week of Hollys life because it was easier and less painful) and were pretty stunned at the sight of my poor blistered and bloody nipples and tried again to get hold of the N&N. This time they got through, emphasised my pain and said we really needed to get Hollys tongue tie fixed ASAP. The response…. “if the mother is still breastfeeding then it’s not urgent is it – it’s not a priority”. I was gutted. I felt like I was being punished for doing what I believe is best for my daughter by breastfeeding even through that horrific discomfort! What did they want me to do – give up and then maybe they’d consider helping! It’s absurd.
In the end we got told we could have an appointment a fortnight later. We declined. l I couldn’t face another two weeks of that pain and I wasn’t having my breastfeeding with Holly affected by my pain and the fact I was dreading every single feed. As I’ve said, I find nursing a huge bonding experience and I didn’t want that affected by me having any negative feelings. So we made the decision to go private; we were seen within 24 hours and since then we have had no more problems. The procedure was very quick, Holly did one little squawk simply because someone was poking around her mouth (there are no nerve endings where the snip is done so she felt no pain) and went straight on the boob happily as soon as it was done. I must credit Sarah Oakely, the lactation specialist we went to see for this; she was supportive, informative and kind and if you are in the Anglia region and ever suffer with a baby with tongue tie I cannot recommend enough seeing her.
The thing that’s such a shame is that a lot of women don’t know about tongue tie. It isn’t routinely checked in every hospital and if a Mum was in the pain I was in when I was first feeding Holly with no knowledge of it and thinking this was normal for breastfeeding, then you can see why they would quit breastfeeding. Even though I am personally very pro breastfeeding, I can see there is a huge amount of pressure put on women to breastfeed. It is thrust upon you from all corners throughout pregnancy and that can be incredibly daunting for new Mums and Mums to be. There can be a very pretty picture painted of breastfeeding and because it is a very natural thing, a lot of people think that means it will come easily, but the reality is that establishing feeding is incredibly hard work. The challenges such as tongue tie can come as a horribly unexpected shock for new Mums and that can be hard to accept. I have no idea how but I’d love to do something to help raise a bit of awareness for new Mums and support them. I feel fortunate that I knew about tongue tie and I knew how to get it fixed and the relief I’d get but there are so many out there who wouldn’t know about these things.
Along with the physical challenges of breastfeeding and what can be an emotional impact, you also have to deal with lots of peoples opinions. A lot of unasked for opinions, strong opinions and unsupportive opinions. This week I came across a complete Z lister on social media informing the world of her thoughts on breastfeeding; she ranted on that she hates it, that those who breastfeed are saggy titted and judgemental and encouraged her followers to reach for a bottle instead rather than giving nursing a chance. Now before I put across my opinion, I have to start by saying I would never ever judge a Mum for bottle feeding. Each Mum knows what is best for her and her child and if that is the choice you make I respect that. Just as I hope others respect me for breastfeeding. I am a huge supporter of Mums in general and encouraging that support for one another. So to come across someone who has tens of thousands of followers blatantly slating breastfeeding and tarring every one of us that does breastfeed with the same brush infuriated me, and even more worryingly is its damaging. Because sadly this idiot (sorry but she is) is an influence on her many followers (how someone so negative has such a huge following is beyond me) and whether she meant to or not, she single handedly pitted Mums against each other. Being a Mum is hard enough, regardless of your choices for feeding, without us judging each other.
I don’t like the terms thrown around such as “breastfeeding brigade”; it’s so negative. Why can’t I state that I am proud to breastfeed my daughter without being labelled in such a negative way. Why do I almost feel like I can’t say what I want to about breastfeeding for fear of being slated and tarred with these labels yet someone who bottle feeds can deem those that nurse as “breastfeeding police”. More importantly why can’t we just support each other and each others choices. We should be empowering each other and feeling good of any choices we make. We shouldn’t be called “saggy tits” by some muppet online (FYI My boobs are epic when I’m breastfeeding – I bloody love them). How is that encouraging and supporting each other – where is the sisterhood?!
Whatever your thoughts or experiences of breastfeeding are, all I’d say is don’t shame one another. Don’t shame those who bottle feed and don’t shame those who breastfeed. We don’t need to be pitted against one another. We’re all doing our best for our babies and that’s far more important than getting caught up in wars that shouldn’t even exist.
And if you do plan to breastfeed please make sure you get all the support you deserve. Breastfeeding isn’t always easy but from my personal experience it is an amazing and unique bonding experience with your baby; push for all the support you deserve and if anyone ever wants some advice or to talk about it then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I am no professional expert but I am passionate, real and as I’ve said, a huge supporter of fellow Mamas. Whatever choice you make, do what is right for you. Listen to your motherly instinct and follow it because it is you who knows best when it comes to what is best for you.
Lots of Love