Recently I’ve been thinking about what it means when people say they are lucky to be able to breastfeed.  I hear it often, and even say it myself in some situations.

But it’s not true, and I’m going to make an effort to stop saying it.

If I had to make a list of the hurdles I overcame to be able to breastfeed, it would be long.  Some honourable mentions go to cracked, bleeding and infected nipples, mastitis requiring hospitalisation, IV antibiotics, G cup boobs and a very high needs, un-sleeping baby.  That’s just the REALLY bad stuff, I still had to deal with all of the “common” stuff, like physically recovering from pregnancy and birth, extreme exhaustion, erratic emotions and constant cluster feeds.

There were a lot of factors that got me through those issues – a brilliant IBCLC, an amazing husband, patient friends and family, a supportive workplace, the Kellymom website and Pinky McKay’s Sleeping Like A Baby book.

Support is makes a big difference, but only one person in my family was breastfeeding my child.  I wish it was “luck” that got me through it, because that would have been a hell of a lot easier for me!  Instead I swallowed tears of pain.  Sometimes I didn’t swallow them enough, and I sobbed openly.  I grit my teeth.  I counted to ten.  I held my boobs in my hands while my husband drove, because the engorgement and nipple pain made a simple drive down the street excruciatingly painful.  I slept in uncomfortable positions because my son wanted to sleep in my armpit.  I got neck and back pain because I was too tired to focus on my posture.  I changed my clothes ten times a day because they were soaked with the stench of sour breastmilk.  I missed out on social engagements because I had to breastfeed.  I spent hours googling breastfeeding problems because I wasn’t always confident in the advice I received.

By saying I am “lucky”, I’m buying into the idea that the ability to breastfeed is a rare one, and one that you have no control over.  That a cosmic flip of the coin is what makes the difference between breastfeeding or not.  That breastfeeding isn’t “normal” – that only “lucky” people get to do it.  If I say that I am “lucky” to breastfeed, I’m doing a disservice to my effort.  I went to great lengths to ensure I could breastfeed, and I deserve to be proud of my success.

I chose to breastfeed.  Even though it was hard, it was important to me, but I made it happen.  I did.  Not “luck”.

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2 Comments

  1. Oh gosh Lauren it’s certainly not luck, and you certainly went through the wringer. Some do get it easier – some of us don’t get the opportunity to do it for long at all but I fully agree you’ve got to push through as hard as you can for as long as you can. I can recall many hard (excruciating) times where it may have been easier to just give up – times like being called into an operating theatre between my little ones surgeries to feed and offer comfort of the breast while they decided what’s best to do next between anaesthesia. Times when my baby had to have an injection after the feed to help his liver cope, balanced with the fact that the amazing breast milk was keeping him alive with the wonderful mixture (?)it is. Its wonderful that you and others have great support networks to get them through the tough bits. All I know is even as tough as it was and all we went through I’d do it all again in a heartbeat and never recommend otherwise. Only thing I do recommend is finding a wonderful soul like you to offer advice and support at every opportunity. How lucky are all the people that find you!!!

    1. Breastfeeding always matters, but for a baby who is sick it can help even more! I’m so glad you were able to make it through too xox

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