One of my co-habiters Nat drew my attention to the fact that it is World Breastfeeding Week. She's written a great post over here about making super excellent breastmilk.
And given I am a devout breastfeeder, here's my post to join in the celebrations.
I began my breastfeeding career in May 2005. It was a rude shock to me that it did not come naturally. The nurses grabbed my *modest* bosoms and shoved them unceremoniously towards the Doctor. It wasn't happening and it was frustrating and every time I needed to feed the Doctor, my sweet little newborn, I had to be 'monitored'. Like I was on probation. Like I need a Lindsay Lohan style ankle bracelet thing to monitor my progress. They then decided I should try a nipple shield.
My oh my, if you've never had to use a nipple shield, consider yourself lucky. The luckiest person in lucky town.
Using a nipple shield was, to me, so unnatural and repulsive, but I did it to feed my baby and get these toe rags out of my sight! I also requested to see the lactation consultant before I was released from hospital. The response was, no, you can go home and come back and see her.
Not a great solution for me. So we sought a private lactation consultant - Leila Chirgwin. Leila was exactly what I needed. She was gentle, nurturing, reassuring. And she helped me better than all of those nurses combined shoving my boob into the Doctor's mouth. Leila helped us wean the Doctor off the nipple shields, and had us feeding well within a few days. With nipple shields I felt like a fembot. Without nipple shields I felt like a totally rad mama.
I got mastitis ten days after giving birth to the Doctor. I vividly remember lying in bed feeling very grey, wanting to die. I felt cranky and digusting. I couldn't lie on the sore side. I felt sick as a dog. My breast felt as though it was on fire. I went to a GP and he told me that I was 'young and just had the flu' and that I'd get over it. Despite the fact I had shown him the very red, very cranky segment of sore breast.
Coincidentally I had an appointment with the Early Childhood Nurse that afternoon and she sent me off pronto to get an appointment with any GP because I had mastitis and if I didn't go on antibiotics straight away I might wind up in hospital. So off I went with my Mum and the Doctor to visit.. the only doctor I could get into. A geriatric doctor. He promptly conduced that I needed antibiotics and we went home. Within hours of taking them I felt infinitely better.
Throughout breastfeeding I had many bouts of mastitis, but for the most part, I managed to nip them in the bud before they spiralled out of control via massage and ultrasound, and continuing to feed feed feed off the sore side. New mums go through so much, and are on such a steep learning curve, mastitis is like a double dose of rude shock.
We persevered and The Doctor and I continued breastfeeding successfully until he was 19 months. We loved it.
When Tiny came along, I knew not to expect anything to be easy, but that little sucker came out sucking, and thankfully breastfeeding was a dreamy ride with her, and rarely a bout of mastitis. We breastfeed for 22 months.
Now Tiny likes to pretend to breastfeed her dollies, and talks about 'nilckles' - which to her is milkies.
The Australian Breastfeeding Association is a fantastic organisation with loads of support on tap (pun not intended). If you ever need any help or tips or tricks with breastfeeding call their hotline, they are amazing.
1800 mum 2 mum
1800 686 2 686
I've featured this clip before on my blog, but I love it so much - especially those stretchy, stretchy nipples - it's up again. I love it.
* Please note:: I'm not critical of anyone that can't breastfeed - this isn't meant to be an anti-formula, Gisele Bundchen type rant. I just loved breastfeeding. I really struggled with it, I sought help, and it took a long time for it to click. I had a lot of grey days when it just didn't work for me. It wasn't just boom - the Lactation Consultant remedied everything, it took weeks, maybe months to master it.
* I realise nipple shields help lots of people - but for me, it wasn't a solution to my problem. I felt it was the easy way for the nurses at the hospital to get me out of their way for someone else to come in, without giving me the option to visit the lactation consultant. They have their place, but I also wasn't shown how to use them properly, so in the wee hours, when I was trying to get a nipple shield to stick and my newborn was crying, it would have been more helpful to a) show me how to use them properly so they don't keep coming off and b) let me see the damn lactation consultant instead of having to go home and come back later. At the end of the day, we're all trying to feed our babies, right?!