Little story time by Henna
I’m an obstetrician myself so finding out I was pregnant was a mixture of happiness, relief and fear! Naturally, throughout my pregnancy I thought of every bad outcome scenario I’d come across at work. I was hit pretty hard with hyperemesis and it pretty much lasted my entire pregnancy. I worked till 39 weeks of pregnancy and was eventually induced because of raised blood pressure and ended up with an emergency caesarean section. I have to say when I look back at all of those 9 months of vomiting, the labour and even the Caesarean section.. nothing was going to prepare me for what was to come.. my feeding journey! As soon as I was out of theatre I put her to the left breast and she latched on pretty quickly. I thought ‘this is easy’. Boy was I wrong! Once I went home I realised she wasn’t latching on to the right breast, just the left. I tried latching her on to the right breast at every feed but was unsuccessful. Then one day she suddenly latched on but it was the most painful experience! However I could hear her gulping the milk and spoke to many people, all of whom said ‘it’s normal to be that painful’. So I carried on feeding from both sides even though the right breast caused me immense pain and tears at every feed. Every health visitor, breast feeding midwife, breastfeeding cafe I went to told me the latch was fine, it would be painful and I was doing well. However after about 3 weeks I woke up one morning with the most sore and lumpy right breast.
I knew this was engorgement and probably early mastitis so watched your peach on engorged breasts and tried it all! Warm compress, expressing the breast and even the clarisonic! However within three hours I became unwell with a high temperature, fast heart rate and shivers.i realised I needed to go in to hospital. I was admitted for 3 days with severe mastitis, fevers that took 72 hours to settle, had vigorous antibiotics and many midwives who tried to help me get her to latch. But nothing helped. There was no tongue tie, no thrush, nothing they could identify that was wrong. I came home and had a mental breakdown! I had decided I’d give up breastfeeding because it was painful and stressful and every time she got hungry my tears would flow because I knew of the pain that would come, I felt inadequate for her, I felt she didn’t think I deserved to be her mother! The emotions were unreal!
My family supported me but seeing me in so much distress kept pushing me to start formula. But maybe it was silly guilt or looking into her eyes that gave me strength I persevered through the pain and one fine day suddenly the pain wasn’t so intense! I realised I wasn’t crying during the feed! She looked up at me and smiled and all the agony until then was suddenly worth it! Now four months on I still exclusively breast feed her and am so glad I pushed through it all but I have to say as an obstetrician and a mother.. the support the NHS give for breastfeeding has been inadequate. It was people like you that gave me confidence that I can do it.
My message to all the lovely mamas out there is that of course breast feeding is great and has lots of benefits but.. a happy Mama is a happy baby and FED is definitely best! I missed out on the first few weeks of her life being stressed and not enjoying her at all and wish I could rewind and change that! When I go back to work I know what I have to do! Educate every new Mama who wants to breastfeed and support them fully because although our NHS is wonderful, it lacks spreading that knowledge and giving that support. Thank you for all your advice and help!