5 Things I Hated and 5 Things I Loved About Breastfeeding

*The original version of this was posted on the Huffington Post Parents blog section
A was born at the end of 2014, for those of you who regularly read this blog, you’ll know she was born with tongue-tie, which meant breastfeeding started off very badly. However after having her tongue-tie clipped (twice!), I continued feeding her for 19 months and 2 weeks, I can tell you that on day 2, when my nipples started bleeding and I fed her in absolute agony, I would never have believed that would happen. I had a love-hate relationship with breastfeeding and here’s why:

5 Things I Hated About Breastfeeding:
1.Tongue-tie bloody tongue-tie -, it was so painful and stressful, it ruined the first month with my baby. It’s simply a nightmare and I’d recommend getting it fixed ASAP if it happens to your baby. I wrote the story here
2.The time it takes at the beginning, especially if you have a “comfort” feeder, you can basically spend your life feeding. Newborns love boobs and so you better get used to your sofa and using one hand. Don’t even get me started on growth spurts…
3.The fact that you’re basically the only person, who can feed your baby and the stress this implies if you leave them too long. Because of the tongue tie A had a bottle every day for the first 3 weeks but then I made the mistake of stopping and she wouldn’t drink from a bottle for the next 10 months! Once I left her for a few hours and my mum had to spoon feed her milk!
4.You have to wear tops that can be opened or lifted up AT ALL TIMES. Goodbye good old bodycon dresses that obviously you used to wear on a regular basis!
5.It ruined my boobs, I lost 3 cup sizes, my boobs were “my thing”, I no longer have “a thing”

However, as with most things in life, it’s not all bad! On the contrary, in my humble opinion and experience, the good outweighs the bad and I have no regrets. There is indeed a silver lining in everything…

5 Things I Loved About Breastfeeding
1.Tongue tie may have been very painful but thanks to my blog post about it, all sorts of opportunities came my way – including speaking about it on national TV.
2.I loved the fact that you have to stop and feed, it did stop me from running around like a mad person and made me slow down and share special calm moments with my daughter
3.Breastfeeding was the one thing that would CALM my baby, PUT HER TO SLEEP anywhere!

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Post boob nap

Comfort her and generally have a magical effect on her. It would have been a hundred times harder to get her to sleep on planes, trains, stop a tantrum and generally calm things down when there was a crisis! Also killed a lot of time during said plane and train rides.
4.She loved it, it made her happy, and it made me happy knowing I was doing something healthy for her (to make up for all the TV and biscuits she’s been consuming!)
5.It sure burned a ton of calories over 19 months, yes my boobs are gone but so are quite a few lumps and bumps and for that I will forever be grateful.

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The last time I fed her

For any of you, who breastfed, what did you enjoy about it? What were the bad bits? I would love to know!

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Tongue Tie Bloody Tongue Tie or How to Ruin the First Weeks With Your Baby

When baby A was born last November, things were not quite right and I knew it after only a few hours. She didn’t latch properly in the delivery room, when she finally did latch it was very painful and just got worse and worse. In hospital I asked every midwife I saw if they could help me with breastfeeding. Some were more helpful than others, they all showed me the same position: the rugby hold (apparently the best position when you have big boobs…) and said it was normal to hurt at the beginning. Funny that, our NCT class on breastfeeding told us the opposite! They teacher talked about laid back breastfeeding and it all seemed so natural and easy.

A never seemed satisfied on the first day, she wanted to breastfeed for hours (red flag number 1), would fall asleep feeding (red flag number 2), would scream when taken off the breast and not sleep (red flag number 3), my nipples were starting to really hurt (red flag number 4). The first night after feeding her nonstop from 1 to 3 AM, in desperation I went to ask the midwives for help. One of them (the only one) looked in her mouth but couldn’t see anything (if only she had looked a bit harder or was better trained, the first month with our baby would have been a whole different story) so she told me I could give her a bottle if I wanted and so the chaos of mixed feeding began at 3AM in the dark on a hospital bed with me crying because I didn’t know what to do and felt like I had failed after less than 24 hours of being a mum.

Here is a picture of her asleep mid-feed in the hospital:

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The next day, I asked a breastfeeding consultant to have a look at the latch, apparently it was the ‘perfect latch”, the fact it was excruciating didn’t seem to matter. That evening when we were finally discharged at 8.30PM, we left with one baby and one bottle of Cow and Gate, we were too scared to leave without the milk. How would we manage that night? Needless to say we didn’t manage very well and went straight to the shops the next day to buy some more milk because I wasn’t making any. I didn’t make any for a week. My stitches got badly infected which didn’t help, I was exhausted and totally sleep deprived which didn’t help, I was stressed and upset which didn’t help, we were supplementing with formula which didn’t help…

Midwives came and didn’t think anything was wrong, despite bleeding and cracked nipples. I will never forget seeing her mouth covered in blood after feeding, I knew this was not right. My mum, who was staying with us was confused as well, she never had these issues so spent a lot of time googling and mentioned there was a thing called “posterior tongue tie”, which is harder to diagnose so the midwife in the hospital could have missed it.

Every time I would put A to the breast, I would scream and cry and so she developed a reflex to tense her shoulders, it looked like she was hiding or scared of me, it would take her 6 weeks to get out of the habit, needless to say remembering this breaks my heart.

And so, one week after she was born, after a week of utter chaos: “is she hungry?”, “is she tired?”, “has she had enough?”, I called a lactation consultant to come over. Sometimes you have to throw money at a problem.  Within a few minutes she diagnosed tongue tie and everything made sense. She offered to snip it there and there but I was scared, I wanted a second opinion, one of the biggest regrets of motherhood I have.

Talking of regrets, mum I want to apologise for something. You saw I was having issues and said ” I am more than happy to show you how I used to breastfeed”, meaning show me another position that this stupid rugby hold. In my sleep deprived crazy state, for some reason, I thought you meant you wanted to put A to your breast and show me, which of course you didn’t so I said no. I’m sorry, I should have listened to you and let you show me the cradle hold. Every single midwife in hospital had showed me the rugby hold position so I thought that’s what I had to do. I have some unexplained unreasonable respect for authority and didn’t question them. I did wonder how I was ever going to feed in that position in public and why nobody else was feeding like that but when you haven’t slept for days and are in pain, you lose the plot basically.

After a month of pain, stress, sleepless night and chaos (feeding, pumping, formula and repeat), on December 23rd 2014 her tongue tie was snipped and …. I couldn’t feel a difference. The disappointment was pretty big but my nipples were in such a bad state and so cracked that until they healed it still hurt me to feed her. It took about 10 days to become pain free, just in time for a growth spurt and extreme feeding that I would not have survived had she still been tongue tied. We would go back to the tongue tie clinic to have it done AGAIN 3 months later but that was just unlucky and the pain was never as bad the second time.

3 days after it was snipped, she was excited to discover her tongue could move!

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On the nights when I used to sit up in bed crying and saying to myself ” I hate breastfeeding”, the only thing that kept me going was knowing something was wrong and there was a solution. How I kept on feeding every day for that month until the clinic I don’t know but I sure am happy I did. I knew I could regret moving over to formula but I would never regret exclusively breastfeeding.

Bella-Roo, I did it for you and wouldn’t be able to go through that much pain for anybody else

For more information, please see:
http://tonguetieuk.org/links-and-resources/

Also trying to link to Honest mum’s #brilliantblogposts
<a href=”http://Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com“>Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com