To be honest I never really gave this topic much thought before I was pregnant or even while I was pregnant.
I just thought it was natural and the only way to go. Not that I had anything against babies being formula fed, I just never really thought about it too much.
So, when I was pregnant I just told myself of course I'd breastfeed, why wouldn't I?
I've been told that it's the natural way and surely it's just the easiest way too?
I remember attending the breastfeeding class, the whole time I was thinking, why am I even here, I get it... Baby has to latch on, milk flows.
Wow was I arrogant!
I'll admit that I did wonder to myself why women formula feed when they can just breastfeed?
Once again, how arrogant!
The reality is, breastfeeding is NOT easy!!
The first few days I had absolutely no idea what was going on!
And It hurt!
But the pressure to breastfed was intense. Not so much from those close to me, but rather society in general ... And of course my biggest critic was myself. I couldn't fail at this!
For the next 6 weeks I cried every single time I had to feed.
I had cracked bleeding nipples and deep stabbing pains.
What is natural about that?!
I was in so much pain and so uncomfortable I didn't understand what I was doing wrong.
I was also so self conscious of feeding anywhere other than the safety of my own house, so it meant for those first 6 weeks I didn't leave the house for more than an hour, and anyone with a baby knows that the time it takes to get ready to go out can sometimes take three hours, so it barely seemed worth the effort! This of course made me feel trapped, isolated and borderline depressed (I have suffered major depression in the past so I know exactly what it feels like).
I reached out to some other mums asking what their experience was like with breastfeeding ... Every single one of them told me how difficult it was for them.
Straight away I felt relieved. But then so angry!
Why the hell does 'society' put so much pressure on new mums!!??
Thankfully a few women had told me that around 6 weeks, it suddenly got easier. To be honest though I wasn't sure I would last 6 weeks.
But I did, and I'm pleased to say that all of a sudden Ayla and I found our groove.
And by about week 7, there was no more pain or discomfort.
But, those first two months were the hardest months of my life!
Imagine the constant pain with feeding every two hours, and of course NO sleep.
It doesn't just end there however ... I have constant back pain, from all the weird and wonderfully awkward positions I've been in to feed, and I can't express ... Which means I can't be away from Ayla for more than 3 hours (not that I want to be, but even a trip to the hairdresser has to be timed perfectly).
Furthermore, breastfeeding in public ... It's not as accepted as most people think!
I always try to time feeds so that I'm not sitting in a busy cafe when Ayla is hungry.. But I shouldn't have to even think about that! If my baby is hungry I'm going to feed her!
The sad reality is that people still have an issue with it and it makes new mums feel so uneasy.
It's also hard to discreetly breastfeed with only one hand. Holding Ayla with my right arm means I can't grab a cloth/wrap to put over myself easily. But that's the least of my worries!
Ayla is now 5 months old and I'm still breastfeeding, but for a bunch of various reasons I'm contemplating formula. None of which are anyone else's business but mine.
For all the mums out there struggling to breastfeed, please know that you're not alone. It's certainly not as easy as the nurses say it is!
I don't know why women have such unrealistic expectations placed on them?
Maybe we are to ones blame...? Maybe we put those expectations on ourselves...
I certainly did.
But now, by being open & honest I hope other women can be to, not necessarily publicly, but just honest with yourself.
Because being a mum is a bloody hard work, and there is absolutely no shame in admitting that!