I hope some of your readers can identify with my story:
My darling son was born on the 11th December, very swiftly and almost seven weeks early. Fortunately his health was perfect and he was a good size however we had a very important task to achieve before he could come home, we had to ensure that he could successfully breastfeed without losing weight. After many long hours at the hospital and quite a few tears along the way, on New Years Day it seemed he had finally got the hang of breastfeeding and we were able to bring our gorgeous baby home.
He was not the best sucker and my nipples were progressively getting sorer, although I kept persisting with it telling myself that it will all fall into place soon. I enlisted the help of a lactation consultant to finetune my positioning and she felt that some of the pain was due to thrush (as my little boy had had some antibiotics when he was first born) so I proceeded to treat both myself and my boy for thrush (I never even knew there was such a thing as thursh of the nipples before now!)
Three weeks on and the pain seemed to be even worse, every time I fed my son I tensed up as it hurt so much and I was starting to feel very depressed about the whole situation. The pain during breastfeeding (and also in between feeds) was affecting my ability to bond with my son and enjoy this time together. But the alternative option of bottle-feeding felt like failure to me, there is so much pressure to breastfeed.
A tearful visit to a very kind GP was the start of more positive times for me, she firstly talked to me about the fact that bottle-feeding was not the end of the world and that a happy mum meant a happy baby. Secondly she took a swab test to ensure that I did have thrush…turns out I actually had a bacterial infection and that I needed antibiotics to help it clear up. Finally some relief, the pain started to go away and I was not dreading every feed. A final visit to the lactation consultant at my local Plunket Family Centre to ensure I had my positioning right and after a very difficult three months, breastfeeding was working for us!!!!
It took three months to get to this stage and I am so proud of myself for sticking it out, I enjoy breastfeeding and am happy that I could give my son the best possible start to life. He is now almost 8 months and I plan to keep breastfeeding him until he is one year old. I can totally empathise with those who do not make it this far and those who choose right from the start that breastfeeding is not for them. It is so important to feel happy and confident in your choice and do what is best for both you and your baby.
It is also important to admit to yourself and your support network when things are not quite working out, I kept bottling it up inside until I would breakdown. The more you talk about it to other mums, they will often share the difficulties they had too.