Breast is a test

November 3, 2015

I never, ever thought that I would breastfeed my kids as I was not brought up in a home/ culture that deemed it the “done thing”. I remember asking my Mam when I was a kid if I had been breastfed and I was very relieved to hear that, no, I’d had formula. Damn though, I could be an astrophysicist now with a killer immune system. 2015-11-03 12.49.23My next encounter with bf was when visiting my friend Michelle in Italy when her baby was a few months old. She was the first of my friends to get married and have a baby and I almost fainted when I saw her take an engorged, blue-veined boob from it’s ugly harness and put it in the baby’s mouth. I didn’t know where to look and it felt like I was intruding on a hugely private moment. I was also supremely pissed off that my drinking buddy was still not able to get wasted with me, totally selfish on her part. Now I had to wait months till I had the old Michelle back; I wasn’t to know that when a friend has a baby that you never get them back as they once were. I took out my duty free and got her husband drunk and we played Yahtzee loudly and got shushed frequently. I was ignorant and I didn’t understand and for what it’s worth, I’m sorry.

A few months after meeting my now husband we were sitting outside and chatting at a quiet bar in Kusadasi when the subject of breastfeeding came up ( I must’ve exhausted the bowel-topic). I wrinkled my nose in disgust and said “you won’t catch me doing that”. He looked genuinely shocked and asked what I thought the purpose of breasts were. I sniggered and gave a lot of reasons that can’t be typed here as I may make you blush/feel nauseous. Realising that I was losing the argument I bristled and tried what I thought was a feminist viewpoint. I argued that my body was not my own for 9 months and was I to suffer further, unable to take Solpadeine on a whim or drink or have the odd fag? He gave up in the face of my ridiculous indignation and had also possibly scared himself talking too soon about having kids with an unstable, Irish female. However, the seed had been sown… not literally.. that took another 4 years!

From the moment I planned my pregnancy, I became an insane nurturer, guzzling folic acid and prenatal vitamins and feeling an urge to wrap myself in organic/non-toxic cotton wool for the next 9 months. I didn’t touch alcohol (bar a couple of glasses of red wine/guinness at social events for the iron content naturally), gave up smoking and read baby books voraciously.

BreastfeedingpositionsWhen he was put in my arms and the midwife asked how I was planning on feeding him, I said breast of course! I put him to my nipple and… nothing. I tried every position, football hold and all.. nothing. An expert was sent to me from the upper echelons of Holles Street and even she gave up. My baby was hungry now and I was beginning to sweat. One of the nurses rubbed some formula on my nipple to make it more appealing. My hormones were raging and I was starting to get mad at this stubborn little baby. I could actually hear the baby in the next bed suckling and I tried to push my nipple into his mouth and it all felt wrong and slightly abusive.

2015-11-03 12.47.15I got home and the public health nurse would come daily to weigh him and shake her head saying he’s lost more weight and I was frantic. I asked if I should give him a top-up and I think I had my fingers crossed with hope behind my back. She dragged her heels and almost before she could reply I had Ossie at Tesco buying Aptamil. It turns out he wasn’t that great at sucking from bottles either and then I got myself in a panic reading about nipple confusion.

I continued trying even though my nipples were cracked and bleeding at this stage. I pumped to keep the flow going and often it resembled a strawberry milkshake. I was also fighting a bad kidney infection and I was bedridden and broken.

Two weeks later when I was feeling better and my million fanny stitches had dissolved I decided to give breast-feeding another go. I gently guided Conall to my nipple and… he sucked; I cried and cried happy tears. I had spent my life giving up when things got hard and for once I persevered and it paid off. The feeling is incomparable, him suckling sleepily, every so often maintaining eye-contact and sometimes massaging my boob with his tiny fingers as if to increase the flow. Sometimes I would fall asleep with him guzzling away and have strange dreams where I couldn’t understand why my nips felt so weird. I continued combine-feeding him and it made the weaning at 7 months so much easier. I was lucky to have the full support of my partner, although my mother would turn her eyes up or seize on any sickness Conall had to say “look, look he’s not immune”. It’s ok Mam, I know it always came from a place of guilt and I don’t blame you for not breastfeeding me but I do blame formula companies for normalising bottles.

2015-11-03 12.50.36I was slightly awkward when feeding Conall publicly and would opt for the bottle option. Although I did manage to send a picture of Conall in the hospital on my breast with my areola on display to my entire inbox and the replies were mostly “is that your nip?” and not “congrats on your new baby!” Also my poor Dad once pointed at my top with his eyes lowered to the ground and when I looked down I had two massive wet circles at my boobs. Another time I was out for a walk and hadn’t fed or pumped for awhile and as I pushed the buggy, I could feel my boobs straining against the confines of my summer top. My cousin, Jen was with me and gasped at their size which was a surprise considering her own knockers aren’t that shabby. The moment was immortalised when a car beeped at me and some guys made lewd gestures.. I think Jen may have yelled “she’s lactating, assholes!”

My second son latched beautifully, as did my 3rd and I didn’t even require lanolin. I fed both of them exclusively for 9/10 months and had become a pro at feeding in public. I’d use a muslin cloth so as not to “offend anyone” but if it dropped I couldn’t care less and was prepared for someone to comment… they never did. My first and foremost concern was my baby’s well-being . I only had problems when I tried to introduce a bottle or when they grew teeth. Koray bit me a few times and it almost forced me to fling him, the pain is unimaginable.When it comes to stopping, there is so much emotion and guilt, it’s awful trying to give your baby a bottle as they nuzzle for your breast  but there comes a time when you need that solpadeine/ night out and are sick of waking up with a sodden breast pad in your armpit and a soaked bra/t-shirt. It is also fantastic to sleep bra-less and have your boobs back for other purposes.

giphy (25)Give it a go, you’ll be surprised. It is so handy to leave the house with just a pack of wipes and a couple of nappies; no steriliser, bottles, formula..you’ll save a fortune. You can also sit and eat cake as the baby literally sucks the fat out of you and NO PERIODS!  You will have porn boobs (the classy kind). What’s not to like?  It is a test but if you put in a minimum of effort, you’ll pass and maybe raise that astrophysicist with the super-human immune system!

 

Disclaimer: I’m aware that some people can’t feed for medical reasons and that’s cool, I’m asking the others to give it a go… it’s my slogan.. Leslie Knope style.

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14 Comments

  • Reply Julie Downes November 3, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    That brought back some memories – I loved breastfeeding my two. Took a good 6 weeks to get to grips the first time, next time only about a week so I was pretty lucky really. I was pretty self conscious about feeding in public with my first but with my second I didn’t care if anyone saw anything. Funny how it changes from the first time. #abitofeverything

    • Reply Aisling November 4, 2015 at 6:56 pm

      We become more and more comfortable with the workings of our bodies the more kids we have.. I have a complete potty mouth now!

  • Reply Vix November 3, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    I gave it a go with my second and we got to 7 months when he decided he’d had enough. It was SUCH an achievement after my first born was absolutely awful at breastfeeding and we stopped at 8 weeks where I just couldn’t take the hideous mess any longer!
    I’m so glad I have experienced a good breastfeeding relationship after a difficult first one.
    Vix x
    #abitofeverything

    • Reply Aisling November 4, 2015 at 6:55 pm

      It never ceases to amaze me how kids from the same gene pool can be so different, I’m glad you had a nice experience x

  • Reply John Adams November 4, 2015 at 6:00 am

    Alas I have no wish for porn boobs! I fear with my two kids the story was remarkably similar….only my wife simply didn’t lactate and so they were almost exclusively formula fed. Wasn’t what we wanted, but it’s how things went and I got to do almost as many feeds as my wife. #twinlytuesday

  • Reply This Mum's Life November 4, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    This is a really great post! It’s refreshingly well balanced, and even though its pro breast, it’s light hearted, funny, non-breastapo in nature. I tried and failed with my first, and felt like a terrible failure because of it. Then I tried, succeeded, but hated it with my second! I kept going for four months because I felt I should, but if I have a third, I’d probably do it for a week or two, then switch to bottles. Or expressed in bottles, which I’d also be quite happy to do. I just don’t like breast feeding, and that is something that I feel you banished from being classed as a decent mother, if you say in public nowadays!
    #abitofeverything

    • Reply Aisling November 4, 2015 at 6:53 pm

      Hi, Thanks a million… giving the colustrum (hope that’s spelt ok) is great in itself. There’s enough pressure on new mams and I might extend this article to include the cons of feeding… I tried to be rational about a subject prone to hysteria x

  • Reply Áine November 5, 2015 at 9:57 am

    You know I didn’t and I expected my pal back too for an aul few scoops but in fairness it’s not just breastfeeding that prevents that!! Also note I didn’t breastfeed for same reason as you said body was a vessel for 9 months and I had 4 brothers I think that makes sense…..

    • Reply Aisling November 5, 2015 at 11:58 am

      Different strokes chicks! May we also add that your boobs just were never as magnificent as mine 😉

  • Reply Tracey Abrahams November 6, 2015 at 6:01 am

    I was one of those awful bottle feeders. With my first boy I was bullied by my midwife into breast feeding even though he initially lost weight, then failed to put any on for the 6 weeks I stuck at it. I eventually moved over to bottle and he thrived. I was made to feel as if I was doing something very bad though.
    With my second baby, I breast fed him overnight at the hospital then straight onto bottles as soon as I got home. I lied to the midwife. Yes, I can admit that here now, but the pressure she put me under to be a ‘proper’ mum (her words) made me do that.
    I feel that us bottle mums are very much judged and stigmatised these days by large sections of society. Selfish, bad mothers is how bottle feeders are labeled as.
    I think your post is a great lighthearted story of your journey towards being a breast advocate, but I am still not a fan of the breast is best campaign.
    Thank you very much for sharing you post, I hope my slightly grumpy comment wont put you off linking again (im usually a bundle of joy 😉 ) Tracey xx #abitofeverything

    • Reply Aisling November 6, 2015 at 10:08 am

      Not at all…the breast is best people piss me off too! You did what was right for you and your baby.. I rewrote this article for eumon.ie and it will be published tomorrow. When I thought more on it, I hadn’t added all of the negatives and I wanted to show the reality. BF pushed me into depression as I was the sole feeder and exhausted with 2 under 2 and my oldest struggling with an autism diagnosis. I think middle ground should be met… tell people about combine feeding, let them have a drink or two, doesn’t harm anyone and stop judging others. Thanks so much for your comment and you weren’t grumpy at all. Big hugs xxx

  • Reply Aoife January 12, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    I initially read this article in November when my baby was 3 weeks old, now at 11 weeks and breastfeeding exclusively I can relate so well (especially today as I feel exhausted with a headcold) ! Its a tough task, especially the night-time feedings and it is so refreshing to read the lighter side of bf. Thank you Aisling.

    • Reply Aisling January 12, 2016 at 9:09 pm

      Thanks Aoife.. it’s bloody hard work and I’m glad it’s behind me but equally glad I persisted. Enjoy your little baby, it passes quickly and new trials arise..good luck! I have a chest infection this week…not fun times. x

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