Breastfeeding – It Isn’t a Choice For Me

Another post written & posted from my phone while Charly feeds (poetically) – so if you read it before I see it on the laptop & can edit it, apologies for spelling & terrible autocorrect errors I have missed.

It turns out that doing what I feel is best for Charly isn’t really a choice at all. A lot of people have told me how brave I am for sticking to breastfeeding through seemingly endless pains and problems, but I don’t feel brave because it hasn’t felt like a choice.

There has been one occasion where I considered moving to formula & it was purely selfish – when the lump in my breast caused what looked & felt like a red slap mark on the side of my breast & the fever drained the very last of my energy when mastitis started on midnight on Saturday.

As I sobbed while feeding my baby girl, Brett asked helplessly if there was anything he could do & then he asked what it felt like: “Like Charly is trying to suck a burning litchi, with its spiky skin on, through a threads-width tube in a bruised feeling breast & out my nipple.”

The pain of feeding was excruciating, but even worse was the fever that hit the next day after I started the antibiotics. I get bad fevers, I always have done; borderline hallucinating, chills, sweats, headaches & extreme muscle & joint aches – at 2am on Sunday night while feeding a screaming baby from an inflamed breast – then. Then I really considered it.

The fever broke about an hour later after taking 2 miprodols & the pain in the lump began easing Monday night. The migraine-like headache has not yet passed & my body is broken exhausted. Thank goodness for my mother being here the past 2 days, the blessing of a backup set of arms to settle your child when your body has betrayed you completely cannot be under-emphasised.

And as soon as the fever broke, the consideration of moving away from breastfeeding evaporated.

I have had a rough time of it: I had torn & bloodied nipples in the first week; my milk came in almost a full week late; Charly wouldn’t latch at first & then latched badly til her 1 week checkup where the clinic sister taught me to try a different position where she latched instantly; after a full month of excruciating nipple pain (that I thought was normal for the first 6 weeks as everybody said it was really hard at first) we discovered we had thrush; after 2 weeks of that I discovered I had blocked milk ducts due to overproduction (likely from the mood stabilizer I was given to bring in the milk & then to treat the baby blues); which brings us to Sunday when I found the lump & 8 weeks exactly after the birth of my baby I was diagnosed with mastitis – a serious inflammation in the breast caused by bacteria or a blocked duct.

I know it would have been a very different story if Charly wasn’t thriving, but she is. She is right at the top of the weight curve, gaining 40g a day & getting everything she needs. And so, I have never considered changing over.

I know I don’t have to move to formula; I could express & bottle feed. I even bought the fancy Medela Calma bottle that prevents nipple confusion & requires her to suck as if she was on the breast to stop her from preferring the bottle due to ease of use.

There are 2 reasons I haven’t expressed to allow myself some relief & let Brett or my mom feed her. Firstly, I’m selfish. This is something I can do that nobody else can: nothing can replace the emotional bond I feel with my baby when she is latched onto me; it is our special quiet time where we look into each other’s eyes and know we belong to each other forever. And secondly, I am terrified of the breast pump. Yep, that simple; but it really is mostly the first one.

Even as I write this I realise it sounds like a choice I am making, but only as I write am I thinking it out. I really just feel like as long as Charly is healthy & getting everything she needs, I don’t have a choice. I don’t resent it, I don’t even think about it – it is just the way it is. The same way in which I have to change her nappies or wind her or wake at night to feed her, breastfeeding in my life is just another thing I do for my child.

It is not brave or heroic, I’m not even a “breast is best” type & feel no need to encourage others to breastfeed or have any negative feeling whatsoever towards formula feeding. It is simply what I do with my baby because it is proven by her health & weight gain to be what’s best for her. And in most cases, I really believe that being a mom is about sacrificing for your child, so even if feeding always hurts me, unless it starts negatively affecting her, I’ll keep feeding her til at least 6 months.

I am planning on expressing as well though to allow me some freedom. I will never feed in public because as I described my experience of feeding – it is a very private quiet thing between Charly and I. So I will need the option of the bottle when I start venturing out more. For now going out anywhere is a battle, carefully timed out according to her feeding schedules, that change every night when I switch from waking her to feed her to her waking me to feed her.

That is our story. I hope there are far more positive happy stories out there & I have no doubt there are or there wouldn’t be armies of breastfeeding mommies out there fighting to educate women on the benefits of it.

Speaking of stories, I have not forgotten Part 2 of the c-section post, I work on it a little every day. With all of this & my grandfather’s passing, it may be a little delayed. That’s all for this evening lovelies; I am off to try steal an extra hour of sleep before Charly’s next feed. Much love to you all & once more thank you to all of you who have given advice and sent love through this horrid time. XxxX

Comments

  1. says

    Hey, I’m so sorry you are in pain and battling. Maybe if you want try and contact la leche league or a lactation consultant for help? I battled so much the first 3 months and did a bit of formula as well. But my mom kept pestering me (she is a lactation consultant) so eventually I moved over to breastfeeding completely. It is still hard at times when I just want my space but he hardly gets sick and I know its good for him. I really hope your boobs heal – I used nipple sheilds as well. Oh and I pumped for the first month because he couldn’t latch! I survived! I think it is something you do for the child more than anything…

  2. Melanie says

    You truelly are brave. I regret starting to topup with formula after 1 week as I know now, I was just not educated enough. I knew breeatmilk was all my twins needed, but I didnt know how often to feed. I fed them too little and they didnt gain. In fact they lost some more weight. Now I know better and I am trying to feed as much as possible even though I am back at work already. I’ve been pumping out whenever I can, but that is quite exhausting. Not nearly as fast as just feeding directly.

    Good luck with the feeding. This post really just inspired me to try even harder to get my twins back on just breastmilk. Doesnt matter how hard it is and how early I have to wake up to fit in an extra pump session.

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