Breastfeeding: The good, the bad and the ugly.
The reality is it’s a mixture of all three and some parts take more centre stage than others.
This blog post is based purely on my own experiences of breastfeeding my own two children and may not resonate with everyone. Your experience of breastfeeding may well have been totally different.
I wanted to use this platform to share my journey with breastfeeding. The many difficulties and challenges it brings are not often well documented I have found.
This post was written to give an insight into the reality of what breastfeeding was like for me. Having spoken to many of my mummy friends I heard a lot of similar tales and yet NEVER read about it anywhere else.
Let’s start with the GOOD: It’s FREE!
It’s great stuff for your baby as it’s full of amazing components that can change depending on what your baby needs. Check out the colour of it if you ever pump – it will be different guaranteed from day to day especially if your baby is poorly.
It helps to burn off more post natal calories I’m led to believe.
There’s no bottle preparing, washing or sterilising so it’s less faffing and you need no equipment.
It’s on tap when you need it, where you need it.
It generally SOLVES EVERYTHING!! Every time 🙂
There is less risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer I am told if you breastfeed.
It reduces brittle bone disease in the mother.
It can reduce the risk of post natal depression.
It reduces the likelihood of SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome) but new research also says so can a dummy.
The likelihood of childhood cancers is significantly reduced if the baby was breastfed.
It reduces the risk of childhood obesity.
It also reduces the risk of heart disease in later life.
Medically, financially, physically, emotionally, psychologically and socially many mothers benefit from being able to breastfeed. But the huge elephant in the room is not many people talk about the bad or ugly side to breastfeeding.
It’s bloody hard work.
It can lead to thrush, mastitis and lots of other unlovely things you wish you never knew about.
It’s time consuming.
You dare not move in case you disrupt the milk flow or your baby being calm and peaceful.
You stay as still as possible for long periods of time resulting in bad backs, poor posture and general aches and pains because of the above.
You never know if you have enough milk.
You are always second guessing or doubting yourself – especially if you’re a first time mum.
You are permanently feeding, or so it appears. Cluster feeding becomes your new night in daily.
You are the sole provider of food. If you’re not feeding, you’re pumping milk out instead.
It takes ages!
You feel like a cow.
You don’t care who sees your boobs anymore as long as it stops your baby crying!
You squirt your friend/furniture with excess milk when your baby starts getting interested in the world around them. This is often highly embarrassing and gives you an extra mop up job to do.
Initially you have to wear breast pads all the time to avoid “leakage” from your nipples through your clothing as your “supply” builds up.
Months down the line when you stop needing those breast pads and forget why you needed them anyway, your body tricks you by having “let down’s” of milk from the other boob whilst baby is feeding. This often occurs in public, miles from home and leaves you with “wet patches” on your clothes.
The sleep deprivation is TORTURE.
After painting that lovely insightful picture here comes the UGLY stuff:
Cracked, sore, chaffed, blistered nipples.
Pain like no other.
Off the rhictor scale out of 10 pain with latching.
Let downs of milk.
Pumping to get a break from feeding to only be sat pumping instead of feeding and getting NO break what so ever.
Night’s off to sleep – needing to get up and pump anyway as you are leaking so much milk.
Pouring your liquid gold pumped breast milk down the drain when your baby refuses to take it from a bottle :-(.
Should continue/ want to stop battle.
How long to feed for? questions constantly going round your head.
Feeding in PUBLIC.
Feeding in front of family members.
The pressure to GET IT RIGHT.
The pressure to quieten the screaming baby, often resorts to boob in mouth when really did the baby just need a cuddle?
With breastfeeding, who knows as you’re so sleep deprived most of the time, your rationale brain seems to get up and walk off leaving you in the midst of crying, shrieking, shrill noise chaos.
The conclusion for me after having had two babies is: I’m not cut out for babies 24/7.
The lessons I have learnt about breast feeding:
It’s ok to do it.
It’s ok not to do it.
But the PRESSURE to try, succeed and see your baby thrive pushed me through four WEEKS of agony and pain like no other ever experienced. Even worse than abdominal surgery with a chest infection!
Feeling guilty if you do, but equally guilty if you don’t.
Forget about ever sleeping again for seven hours solid until about 2 years in.
Get an excellent breast feeding support worker early doors that ACTUALLY supports you, helps with alternate feeding positions, latching and general advise.
Seek extra support and help if needed such as breast feeding cafes, individual experts, online groups, etc.
Perseverance and patience are needed in HUGE DOLLOPS.
Deciding when to stop is never easy.
And there we have the Breastfeeding: the good, the bad and the ugly from my journey.
Does any of this resonate with you?
Marie Fell is the founder of The Pilates Physio UK who now lives and works in Luxembourg. She is a qualified physiotherapist with over 12 years NHS experience in a wide array of specialisms and three years experience running her own business. Her passion lies in Posture, Pilates and the Pelvic floor! She is an enthusiastic pelvic health activist and uses her blog to highlight areas of pelvic health that are lacking to others.
She is passionate about improving post natal care for all ladies through education. Her mission is to empower, inspire and educate others to move freely and keep healthy and teaching Pilates with a clinician’s hat on allows her the best of both worlds.
Great post! I’m currently still breastfeeding my 14 month old and completely agree with all of your reflections. It was so, so hard at first – with the bleeding nipples and mum guilt at crying in pain whilst feeding your tiny bundle that you love so much, but hating every second. Anyway, I’m now desperate to stop the feeding regime that it was so difficult to start in the first place…but he just seems to enjoy it so much and how do I get him to sleep without the boobs! Arghhhh.
Thank you Sophie I’m so pleased it isn’t just me that felt so torn when breastfeeding. I completely felt the exact same way as what you have written. I did a naughty and told my little 14 month old Santa had taken the breast milk away and instead she could have cows milk in a bottle. She had taken milk from a bottle before so the transition went ok. She didn’t like cows milk though so she now has baby soja milk only at bedtimes. There’s always something. Good luck with your journey. Marie ?