Our closed Facebook group Breastfeeders in Australia, is where breastfeeders come together to share their stories and support each other.
After a recent bad day, Jessica Smale shared her words of wisdom with the group. She’s kindly given us permission to share her story and photo here too.
‘So I am doing this post because despite how I felt, I know some of you beautiful mums have been in the same (or similar) boat yourselves and we all have to stick together in this amazing, but challenging journey. Bear with me, it’s long!
My son is 5 weeks old and is breastfed. For the past 6 days or so he has been really fussy when it comes to feeding and I have no idea why. We have gone through his first “leap”, so it shouldn’t be that. He ALWAYS fusses on the right breast, which has always been an issue, as my nipple won’t always stay erect for him. My brother jokingly believes that my right breast must have vanilla milk and my left one chocolate milk, hence the preference!!
Well on Sunday I broke. The first time since having my little man, I felt like a real failure. He wouldn’t feed off my right breast, which was very full and tender by this point. No matter what I tried, he just screamed. To the point he was holding his breath. My god, that is awful!
So I fed from the left and knew that yet again, I would have to express my right side to avoid mastitis and just general discomfort, which I did. That was until I realised the breast pump had stopped working properly. Yeah, that added some fuel to the fire!
My little man was still fussing on the left side, but not as badly, which gave me some comfort.
When it came to nappy change my heart sank – his wee was quite yellow instead of the usual clear and the poo we found wasn’t his usual explosive yellow, but these sticky flakes that were more glue-like than poo-like. So straight away my mind went into that dark little corner where all your doubt lives, to tell me Toby wasn’t getting enough from me because he was dehydrated and not pooing normally. That same doubt told me that if things don’t improve I might have to do formula just so he doesn’t starve. Overall, I felt like a real failure as a mother and a woman.
So I gave myself a moment. Hubby took little man away and let me just cry. He told me I am doing an amazing job, because Toby is looking great. That I am not a failure, I am amazing. That he loves me and will help me get past this. This all came from a man who has never dealth with a breastfeeding partner (he has a child from a previous relationship) and once made a comment about giving up early on when we were very sleep deprived and going through a bad night. Thank god his views have now changed!
Anyway, I didn’t believe him. Not straight away. It wasn’t until later that afternoon – a few hours after my meltdown – that I believed it. The reason why? Because Toby decided it was time for some vanilla milk and had a massive feed. WITHOUT TOO MUCH FUSS! I felt like Christmas had come.
The rest of our night consisted of happier feeds on both sides, more normal nappies and a full baby, who for the first time EVER slept for nealy 6 straight hours overnight and most of yesterday too.
So I have learnt a couple valuable lessons in all of this. 1) my son is clearly going through a growth spurt – hence the fussiness & massive sleeps. None of which are my fault or reflect on me as a mother and 2) there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it is impossible to see, like mine was. I just have to do whatever is best for me and bubs. So if that means expressing my right breast milk and chucking it into the freezer, then so be it.
Yesterday Toby spent most of the day sleeping and only fed about 6 times, but I know this is ok for him, otherwise he would have told me.
If any other beautiful mum has a day / week / month like I’ve had, please feel free to reach out, because you are never alone!’
If you have concerns about your milk supply, you should get in touch with your trusted health practitioner, or better still, get in touch with the Australian Breastfeeding Association on 1800 686 268