Breastfeeding - Success or Surrender?
If only I knew then what I know now. Bet you've all said that before?
How stressful and depressing not being able to breastfeed my new baby like we are 'supposed' to for more than a month.
Yes there are so many health benefits for a new baby such as the colostrum (first milk before normal milk) that has disease fighting agents, vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Then there is the amazing health benefits of breastfeeding such as it's already on hand, free and healthy for the baby if the mother is eating correctly.
Like every new mum having their first child you are bombarded with information on being pregnant and labour but not much after that (besides family and friends advice).
I was handed baby and given assistance to breastfeed my little man for the first time. What a weird and amazing feeling. By day two I struggled with breastfeeding, attaching, soreness, cracking etc. With the help of a lovely nurse I was introduced to nipple protectors. What a marvellous thing and yay feeding was more relaxing.
Once we got home in our familiar environment, we began formula as well as breastfeeding so daddy could help and bond before returning to work.
I felt like I was always either breastfeeding (as cute as he looked feeding) or expressing, I was getting agitated, tired and stressed. Is bubs getting enough food, am I feeding to much, not enough, am I eating right for him, aurgh. The soreness and cracking was getting worse and I didn't seem to be expressing enough, how stressful and sad. (Now, I would probably breastfeed and top with formula in same feed if feeding went the same way.)
Moderate to excessive exercise too soon can slow the production of milk, doing too much housework can slow production of milk. Looking back I did move too much too soon. I'm not good at sitting still. I also learnt too little too late there are foods that can help production of milk, for example oatmeal, salmon, spinach, carrots, fennel seeds and well pretty much a healthy non processed diet.
I found with everything that comes with a new baby, as well as not breastfeeding as easy as I was 'supposed' to, I was getting sad, feeling like I'm failing, all while adjusting to new lifestyle and sleep patterns.
I know now that I needed to relax, recover, accept my body and its new changes and my new lifestyle. I needed to take 9 months to recover as it took baby 9 months to grow.
What I did do to help the changes and stress was gentle walking to help prevent or reduce the effects of postnatal depression, I also forced myself to mix with other adults such as mummy group, educators and visiting family and friends. This really helped. Yes most women experience postnatal depression (even if they don't recognise it in themselves). Talking about it helps.
Don't let breastfeeding get you down, Australia’s Health 2012 statistics showed that although most babies (96%) in Australia in 2010 were initially breastfed:
only 39% were exclusively breastfed to around 4 months; and
only 15% were breastfed to the recommended 6 months.
Don't stress it, do your best, because baby always picks up on stress. If you or someone you know is finding motherhood stressful, seek help (friends, family, Beyond Blue, Shapechanger etc) and get help to help youself so you can be the best you can be for bubs.
Some helpful sites: