Article by Marianne Valiente, founder of Feed Me Mummy
If like me, you had a terrible time breastfeeding your first baby, a few questions on your mind when thinking about a second baby will probably be; will it be the same second time round? Will I have the same problems? Do I even bother trying again?
I always wanted to breastfeed when I had a baby and thought it would be easy. I’d read it might hurt a bit for the first few weeks but then it would get easier. For me, this never happened. My baby struggled to latch-on and it just went downhill from there. I had pretty much every breastfeeding problem you could have – a baby with tongue-tie, bleeding cracked nipples, thrush in my breasts, an abscess in each breast which took various courses of antibiotics and many trips to the breast clinic to sort out. I don’t think I actually had mastitis which was one good thing I suppose! I didn’t suffer in silence, I got a lot of help from midwives, health visitors, a breastfeeding expert, my GP, but nobody could stop the pain.
Everyone kept telling me it would get better, but I waited and waited and it didn’t. I cried at nearly every feed, trying to eek out the time in-between them. This, along with the guilt of potentially stopping breastfeeding and the anti-formula vibes I was getting from some people, made me very unhappy and not really able to fully enjoy this important time. After 3 months of hoping it would get better, I made the very difficult decision to stop. My baby didn’t seem to mind, but the guilt stayed with me for a long time.
So when I came round to having another baby, the one thing that was constantly on my mind was what was going to happen with the breastfeeding second time round? I made the decision very early on that I would give it a try and ride it out for a few weeks. However, if it was going to go the same way as it did first time round, I had other things to think about this time. I had a toddler to consider, the last thing I wanted to do was to be crying in front of my toddler whilst feeding the baby – what kind of message would this pass to my little boy – he would think that the baby was hurting mummy. I promised myself that I would not be made to feel guilty about formula feeding and I would think about what was best for me and my family.
So when my little girl was born, I tried again. From the first time I fed her it felt different. She latched on really well and didn’t fuss. My nipples did hurt, but they didn’t bleed. Nipple cream was well used and after a few weeks of toe-curling latch-ons, they started hurting less and less and eventually it was actually lovely. I’d never thought I would be able to say breastfeeding was lovely, but it was.
Even though breastfeeding was going well I still felt quite nervous about breastfeeding in public, and when looking for breastfeeding clothes, I wanted something that would cover me in all the right places with minimum exposure. I couldn’t find anything that worked for me plus everything was so expensive so I set about experimenting and the Feed Me Mummy breastfeeding vest was born. A simple design, to wear under your normal clothes to help with discreet breastfeeding. I felt more confident feeding in public when wearing the vest, so I wanted to pass this on to other mums.
I fed my second baby until she was nearly one and although I feel sad that I couldn’t do the same for my first, I know I did my best. Obviously, whilst I can’t promise it’ll be the same for you, at least I can offer some hope that it is possible to have a positive breastfeeding experience after a not so good one.
by Marianne Valiente, founder of Feed Me Mummy.
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