I wanted to write about how I've found breastfeeding because I had a completely different idea of how it was going to be.
Before having James I went to a couple of classes and read up about breastfeeding to prepare myself but I don't feel anything prepared me for how it actually was in the first few weeks.
I think the classes I went to didn't talk too much about the drawbacks of breastfeeding because they're worried it will put people off, but by not being told all the facts, I spent the first few weeks upset, overwhelmed and found it difficult to bond with my son!
The only downside to breastfeeding that I was really told about was that it may hurt in the beginning, which it did. My nipples had scabs on (sorry that sounds really disgusting) from a couple of days in and every time I fed James for the first week I was in a lot of discomfort, to the point that sometimes I would cry.
However, the pain was not the worst part for me. That passed by about a week or two. And if I had have used Lanisol from the minute I'd given birth, I don't think it would have been as bad.
The hardest part for me was how depressed I felt every time I fed James. I didn't feel this amazing bond that had been described to me, I just felt trapped! And this continued until about a month in.
I was so miserable and felt pressured to do it because I had been told it's what's best for him. It was especially hard when he cluster fed for hours at a time, sometimes well into the night. I was exhausted and a couple of times fell asleep for a moment while feeding - which is obviously very dangerous. At those points I desperately wanted to give him formula so that he would be satisfied and I could rest. But I was scared to after all the information I had been given by the NHS (lowering your milk supply, allergies, stomach upsets) and the cartons of formula and formula brand websites terrified me with warnings all over them!
At first I thought it was perhaps to do with the baby blues, but when I expressed some milk and fed it to James in a bottle I felt so happy while feeding him. Of course I loved my little boy from the minute he was born, but while I watched him feed from a bottle I felt an overwhelming surge of love for him that was difficult to feel when breastfeeding.
I'm not sure whether it was a hormonal imbalance that caused it or a mixture of sleep deprivation and stress but it left me feeling like something was wrong with me. Looking back I think breastfeeding can be really lonely and it's a task that you have to accomplish by yourself. Of course people can help and they can give advice, but at the end of it all, it's just you and your baby. As James spent so long feeding I didn't get out much and I barely had any time by myself...I know now that I should have pushed myself to go out, feed him in public, not feel scared that people will stare when I breastfed! I should have gone to local baby classes from early on and spoken to other mums, because since I have I've felt so much stronger.
At six months in, I now don't care about feeding in public...if someone has a problem with it, I just think it's their problem not mine! And I've never had anyone say anything overly negative to me when feeding. It's so easy and hassle free to go out, it's only when he started eating solids that I've had to think about taking food out with us.
The time I get to spend feeding him is now so precious and special to me! It's a time that nobody else gets to spend with him and although that may sound selfish - I love it! I'm so glad I never gave up and pushed through the bad times.
To any mums trying to get through those early days...If you want to breastfeed you just have to push yourself. It's not easy but you can do it and there are so many amazing benefits to both yours and your babies health! And by the way, it really does make you drop weight so easily, particularly if you get out and about with the pram. I'm now 7 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight...and I eat a lot of chocolate at the moment :)
I'm not sure how well I've written this, but I wanted to write a true account of what it is like. Not to scare anyone, but more to prepare or console a new mother who may be struggling. At the beginning it seems like it's going to be bad for ages, but if you keep busy it will fly by...go out and meet other mums. Go for coffee. Speak to your local GP about free classes.
It's hard, but in the end it is so worth it!! I now don't want to have to stop...the thought of stopping makes me sad and depressed.
I wish I'd had more breastfeeding mamas to talk to in the beginning because I know it would have helped...so if you need someone to speak to you can leave me a comment below or contact me by email or Instagram (I'm always on there at the moment).
Oh and on a final note. If you can't manage it...don't beat yourself up! As everyone says, a happy and healthy mum is far more important. If it's making you miserable don't feel pressured. Only continue if you really want to and do it for you and your baby not anybody else! Like I said I wanted to give up a lot and I know how awful it is when you're feeling so crappy.