24 June 2012

My first brush with breastfeeding was in our antenatal class. I had been told my husband’s presence was not necessary and indeed, he was the only guy in the room. How ridiculous: research shows that successful breastfeeding is almost impossible without a supportive partner and how can he be supportive if he has no knowledge of the process?

Anyway, this was 6 years ago so we hope antenatal classes have progressed since. That night he and I watched the most appalling video on breastfeeding. Straight out of Sweden circa 1970s the opening shot was a mom swishing down some slope, into a cabin and whipping out her boob. No really, I felt like I was watching a really bad adult flick. My mind switched off after that, especially as hubby and I had now caught the giggles and were suppressing teenage-like snorts in the back row.

When the time came to actually feed Dylan, I was nowhere close to being as informed as I should have been. The nurses in the hospital did the classic squeeze-boob-hard thing and then exclaimed I had no milk. Of course, why would they do otherwise when I really didn’t have milk – I know now I actually needed my baby to suckle to make the milk, because feeding formula to newborns in the hospital is a lot less hard work than coaching and helping angsty new moms.

I persevered and eventually one nurse helped me latch Dyl so I finally sort-of got the hang of it. But my nipples hurt for 2 weeks at least. Everything I read said it was due to incorrect latching but he was latched well. I soon figured that, like exercising, breastfeeding was going to hurt in places you didn’t know existed until you got used to it. Come on: wet your nipples and stick them on the end of your vacuum cleaner every hour or two and tell me it doesn’t hurt!

I did finally find my groove and just as I settled into my new Zen-mom mode, I had to start solids. Back then the thinking was 6 months and not a day before. So I religiously waited for my hungry, refluxy boy to turn 6 months before I gave him his first taste of real food.

He is what we call a “picky eater” (his preferred foods – three – are not healthy). I am convinced it’s largely because we waited so long and then only fed him the same food for days on end before progressing onto the next. Couple this with sensory issues and a mom who tries to force feed and in walks a “bad eater”.

I’m hoping it’s not for life but I have let go the fight. Breastfeeding Evan was a totally different, much easier experience and I started her on solids just after 4 months. She eats anything and everything and I have to wonder if there isn’t a link?

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