To The Mother Who Couldn't Breastfeed
To the mother who couldn’t breastfeed.
I find it hard to take myself back to those moments, where tears stung my eyes from the physical pain of feeding and the pain of feeling like I was failing, the most brutal pain of all. The cracks showed throughout me as I shook at the thought of him being hungry again.
I tried everything, I tried countless consultations, I spent my nights googling, messaging mothers I barely knew, I needed to know I wasn’t a failure, I needed to do this for him, because it was best.
Except it wasn’t, yes breastmilk was. But I was getting texts telling me to “enjoy every minute”, replying through tears saying “it’s simply amazing”, dabbing away blood and sending my husband off to buy a cabbage at midnight.
I don’t have many photos of me with my first breastfeeding, because I was a fluster of breast pumps, ice packs, nipple shields, fumbling hands, deep breaths, toe curls and eyes straight forward, going to another place.
I never knew just how much this would affect me and it did, for months of trying and months after.
Because people told me I didn’t try long enough, that it was the latch, that breastfeeding was natural.
I felt like if it were so natural, what was wrong with me? The spiral downwards begun.
No one can tell you to stop. No one can tell you to keep going. While they can encourage you to do either, only you know your limitations. When the encouraging suddenly feels the opposite, listen to that feeling.
I went on to feed my second but not without its hurdles. It wasn’t that I pushed through something I didn’t before, despite it being ‘natural’ it still didn’t come naturally to us, but it worked and I’m glad it did. I never believed I could be so in love with something that had previously caused me so much pain.
So here is what I want to tell you,
That whatever you decide you have nothing to prove, you prove yourself every day as a new mother.
Both methods of feeding are beautiful and so are the bonds that come with it.
Your mental health must come first.
You did not fail.
Your heart will heal, give it time.
You’re not alone.
Your baby will thrive, they have you x