Day 37: What they don’t tell you about breastfeeding, it’s emotional

So here’s the weird bit about breastfeeding. I think in our society we’re so used to being in control that when something sneaks up on us – we really are surprised, especially if it’s an emotional reaction or chemical change. Hence my day 10 meltdown. The unexpected thing with breastfeeding is the complete emotional attachment I have to it.

The start of breastfeeding was very painful for me as i think it is for many, but you persist. On day 3 or 4 I found myself crying my eyes out. I was desperate to feed her more: I thought there wasn’t enough milk as she kept crying, she seemed constantly hungry. I wanted to be a good mother and provide for my child. I felt sad & inadequate. Hugely inadequate. It was a very emotional (as well as logical) response, dragged up from some pre-historic need to feed baby i guess.

Even now. I use a nipple shield, i feel guilty because i know she’s not getting as much as on the naked boob.

Expressing my milk and feeding her from a bottle. You’d think i’d be ok. You spend a silly amount of time expressing it (nothing fast about it) in the 1st place. You go through the pain (just me), hassle and the time to do it, it’s still your milk!… yet it still feels like I’m letting her down by not feeding her from the breast.

You can imagine then when i started feeding her formula! I mainly started because she was cluster feeding in the evenings and even though the milk supply was probably there my nips were killing me. I had to figure out what was best for me. If i wanted to feed her later or in the morning i couldn’t let her kill the nips during her cluster feeding sessions in the evenings. So I’ve had to learn to pace her until they get better. But OH MY GOD! I felt hugely inadequate again and just guilty that i was poisoning (yes poisoning) our baby for my own selfish reasons. Poisoning sounds like a strong word (and of course it’s ridiculous, she won’t die from drinking formula) but in comparison to the milk I am producing for her which is pure, natural and designed especially for her… Formula felt like SUCH a cop out. And the most unbelievable thing? When she was fed formula, i felt JEALOUS! I wanted her to come back to mummy because that was a sign she still loved me. As if she’s rejecting me by so easily finding a replacement for my milk. There should be no replacement for mother’s milk and I know in many ways some will claim there isn’t, but i a, still amazed by my strong reaction to it all.

And it really isn’t some mumbo jumbo I’m adhering to because the NCT lot have drilled it into me, these are actual emotional responses I’ve had. It’s all been very self sacrificial and emotional this breastfeeding. Unexpectedly so.

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