By Abigail Ede, Guest Writer
Endless happiness, delicious moments and a heartfelt, overwhelming connection.
This is what breastfeeding became for me – but it did not start this way!
In reality, the first 3-4 weeks of nursing were arduous and painful.
So much so, I actually dreaded feeding time.
I would find myself delaying feeding my daughter just for a few minutes.
I would wince just thinking of that first sharp pinching grasp for milk.
I would be in tears as she latched.
The lactation nurses at the hospital were great, but it didn’t help the feelings I was having.
The pain was so bad initially that I chose to feed my daughter from a syringe just to have some respite. I bought nipple cream in bulk and spent huge sums of money on silver contraptions that promised to heal my bleeding nipples.
I fantasised about using formula.
It will get better, just persevere!” people would say, but in the moment, it was hard to see how.
It was even harder to understand why something that was supposed to be natural was hurting me.
I knew friends were using lactation consultants for support, but I decided to persist on my own.
That first pinch took weeks to fade into memory but after that excruciating first month, things got easier.
I relaxed into it more, found positions that suited me better, used Silverettes relentlessly (best breastfeeding buy!) and learned to control my oversupply by hand expressing before a feed.
The pain lessened.
Breastfeeding became everything I had hoped.
My daughter would put her little hand on my chest and look up at me and my heart would swell.
But I underestimated what it would take to get there.
I think it is important for healthcare providers not just to pump (no pun intended) out the message ‘Breast Is Best’ – but to be honest that breastfeeding can be tricky.
It’s important for women to know that just because it is natural, that doesn’t mean it will be easy. It can hurt and it’s a learned skill for both of you.
It’s a case of putting together a jigsaw puzzle.
When all of the pieces fit together – the latch, milk supply, optimal positioning – the experience and memories are incredible.
It might take a little help or a little research but you can do it.
Abigail Ede is a full-time mum to a 20-month-old daughter (with another baby on the way) and trained primary school teacher. A true Welsh-speaking Welsh girl, I married my Australian/Sri Lankan husband this year and we live in Hong Kong.