As I slid, by slid I mean crashed into my 30's, a lot of my friends were now parents, Facebook was inundated with scan and newborn pictures (sorry I became one of those people - actually I'm not sorry) I kept hearing the same 'myth'; during pregnancy your partners boobs will look like a vintage pinup drawing, however, under no circumstances will you be allowed to touch them and can only view them from a distance like a piece of art - that leaks.
I shrugged it off, Tash wasn't like that, this definitely won't apply to me!
Like some kind of Cinderella style magic they seemed to just appear, one morning as my sleepy eyes opened after my regular 10 hour sleep there they were, looking back at me. Now usually I'm way too sleepy in the morning, but this was different, it would be rude not to welcome our new visitors
My hand was slapped away. Wait, what? I must have misheard, I tried again "GET OFF!" And at that point I knew, the myth was true, the boob ban I had heard about was in full force. And as quick as that, they disappeared under supportive layers of clothing never to be seen or nuselled again. If I accidentally brushed past them I was greeted with an "ouch, they're sore" however, even that was considered to have been a good day and a gentle reminder that one day we'd be reunited.
Tash was told early on by a doctor that she would never breastfeed, so for us, the decision was removed, however midwives were telling us otherwise. Was this the pushy pro breastfeeding midwives you hear about, or were they right? Either way this prompted me to start buying bottles, sterilisers and warmers like a crazy person (along with everything else you think you might need - those bloody lists again). Just in case the midwives were right, combined with the fact they let me play with rubber boobs on the stand, I invested in an electric breast pump from the Baby Show 'because you never know' - I use this line in IKEA as well when justifying buying yet more bloody tea lights I just don't need or will ever use.
We had packed formula and bottles in our hospital bag for the hours after the birth based on the GP's previous advice. But the minute Raffy was placed on Tash's chest, he latched straight away without a second thought and stayed there for over an hour. Breastfeeding it was then......
It felt like Christmas, the ban seemed to have been lifted (and obviously the safe arrival of my son). I was allowed to see them again, but, the way I interacted with them was different. The norm was now rubbing cream into the cracks, preparing warm water and cotton wool to dab away the blood and whilst she was feeding off one with precision I was on pad replacement duty on the other - they looked they were permanently crying.
Special occasions, naked corridor runs and laughing her into bed was now a distant memory, with latching and pumping now the most exciting replacement. Both of those things quite an unusual task.
If you've ever seen a fighter plane refuelling mid air - that's the same as trying to guide a nipple into a newborns mouth. Helping to guide his head, trying to get the timing just right. 'Laying correctly, check, lined up, check, mouth open, check GO GO GO!' Let's not discuss the difficulty in trying to get it back out of his mouth if he isn't on properly, it's like trying to remove a Wellington boot that's too small. (As I write this I've had an idea, a nipple shoe horn, surely it would work?) Latching can be frustrating for the women. A little hit and miss and a steep learning curve. Not quite getting it right resulting in yet more pain. I have a new level of respect for all you ladies that have persevered with breast feeding, it's not easy.
I was particularly excited about using our new breast pump and often told Tash I was looking forward to milking her and had visions of me using a little stool and pale with her on all fours, she never seemed as enthusiastic as me. I pressed all the buttons like an excitable child with a new toy. It lit up and whirred into action, her nipple disappearing into the suction cup, Tash winced, I turned it up, she winced again, still nothing, so I turned it up again. At this point it looked like it was going to suck her nipple clean off leaving a nipple-less boob like Barbie. Then the milk started flowing like liquid gold. My reaction was that of Benjamin Franklin discovering Electricity or Tom Hanks celebrating making fire in Castaway. I had successfully milked a human being!
After an intense three weeks of warming, cooling, milking and latching we decided to move over to formula. Raffy is a hungry baby and breastmilk just wasn't hitting the spot. The move to formula meant I could now help with the night feeds as I always found it frustrating not being able to help during the night as I watched Tash become more and more exhausted. I'd get up, change him, then have to wake her almost as soon as she had dozed off, she was tired and not getting the rest she needed which then resulted in her getting more poorly as she wasn't recovering quick enough, not to mention her tolerance for my quick witt and childish humour became zero.
This is probably one of the main topics that before the arrival you get the most opinions on and can feel the most pressure and judgement. But just do what is right for you, of course listen to the opinions, but do what makes you happy and you feel most comfortable with. I still believe there is no right or wrong way.
What I will say, is that if you run out of milk, breast milk is a great replacement for that 'was hot but now cold' 3am cup of tea.
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