I've been waiting for a day when breastfeeding has become a doddle to write this post, but I fear that day will never come. It's massively well known that breastfeeding is super good for baby, and when deciding how to feed Rose there was no question for me that breastfeeding was the way we'd go. Luckily I know people who'd struggled to breastfeed so I was prepared for it to be tough, otherwise I'd only have had the handful of NHS leaflets to go on which, although practical, fail to mention the world of pain I experienced.
For some reason it's a huge secret, but guess what....breastfeeding hurts. It really really hurts. In the first weeks it takes ages to latch her on right, so while my nipples were taking their time to toughen up I kept getting blisters on them. I cannot describe how painful it is to let a baby feed from a cracked red raw nipple. I nearly cried every time I latched her on. And then there's the days when one breast gets too full of milk and becomes "engorged". This happened quite a lot of times and each time it took days for it to sort itself out. If anything this was even more painful than my broken nip's. I'm squirming just thinking about it. It is starting to finally get easier after nearly 7 weeks, but almost every night I still go to bed saying that I give up because by that time she's always worn out my nipples and I gimace as I peel off my bra. I long for the day when I'll be able to get out of the shower and wrap a towel around myself without screaming and feeling like I've sand-papered my nipples.
I'm proud that I've lasted so long. For some of the last 7 weeks she's been feeding contantly, sometimes for hours at a time, and on the worst days I've been in just as much agony when she's off me as when she's on. We're only just at the point where we can leave the house for an hour or two, because she really was feeding relentlessly. 6 or 7 weeks doesn't sound that long, but when you think I've averaged about 10 feeds a day, that's a LOT of feeds, a lot of hours spent in pain and feeling like a crappy mum.
I feel bad whinging about this, but there's so much positive stuff said about breast being best, and a belief that it'll be a magical bond between mother and baby, that I think it's important to be honest and realistic. I feel a magical mother-baby bond with her anyway, I don't think that it'd be any different if I'd chosen to bottle feed her. We've just started introducing one bottle a day so that I can get a couple of hours break, and because my milk seems to have finally properly come in if she cries during that time then the milk leaks out!
I'm really glad that I chose to breastfeed, but I'm also really really glad that the last 7 weeks are over. I felt a huge pressure to do it and I just wish that people realised how hard it is so that I didn't feel so upset when I've thought about giving up. Rose is growing really well and I'm proud that I've done that, well done boobs.