• Deborah Charles-Nelson

'Hit the Ground Crying'

Updated: Nov 2, 2018

It all started on the 16th of May 2018, when our beautiful son came into this world, sleeping. He came out and did not make a sound. At this point, so many thoughts came rushing to my mind, "40 weeks of morning sickness, insomnia and swelling, only to leave WITHOUT our baby?" How would I explain this to my family, friends or even work colleagues?"

"Did I push wrong?..." I had lost a lot of blood (which I later learnt was a factor in my initial problem with breastfeeding), however not a single nurse was attending to me. We had 2 doctors and about 3 nurses all surrounding my baby and frantically trying to get him to cry. At this point, my husband and I were silently praying and willing for him just to make a sound. After a couple of long and excruciating minutes (which felt like hours!) he finally whimpered, and then he cried, and so did we. Yet little did I know, the next few weeks would still be very tough for me. Whilst still in the hospital, I was told to put my baby on the breast and that he would just simply latch on, but that wasn't the case for me. Later that day, he eventually had to be given formula because he had not eaten all day – and our nurse had even suspected jaundice because he was very sleepy and not very alert. But my poor baby was just hungry! This is when the feelings of guilt started to set in.

"What kind of mother can't feed her baby?"

"Why am I finding breastfeeding so hard?" After nine months of researching breastfeeding and attending the antenatal appointments on this, I was determined to breastfeed. So I trooped on. I was constantly trying to put him on and when he eventually latched on the pain was excruciating, but I kept on and told myself "it'll only get easier" – after all, that's what I was told, right? I soon realised that I wasn't producing enough milk and was advised by one of the midwives to drink plenty of water, which I began doing, but it didn't make much of a difference. Once we left the hospital and got home, I started using my pump to express milk, as I had been told this would help increase my milk production – which it did, but very minimally for me. I then found myself changing my diet, buying lactation cookies and bars, and pumping every 2 hours in the hopes that it would improve. I also spoke to my health visitor who advised me to take a vitamin called fenugreek, but all of these helped only a little. "Why is it so hard for me?" "But it's so easy for everyone else!" The feelings of guilt magnified and I began to feel helpless. My mum would tell me, "this should be easy!" She was going based on her experience and, bless her, she didn't realise how bad it made me feel, as I was already feeling pretty low about it all. It began to get to a point where I would cry looking at how little I was producing, and then I would feel guilty if I had to give him formula. But he needed to eat. But 'breast is best' they say. I was constantly battling in my head. After 6 weeks of trying, he finally latched on, and it seemed that things were looking up. But then I found a lump on my right breast. Anxious and fearful of what I would hear, I stopped feeding off that breast and just prayed that it would go away. But it didn't, it just became more painful. When I finally went to the doctor, thankfully it only turned out to be a blocked milk duct. But it hurt like a mother******!!! About 3 weeks later, that breast got worse and I was diagnosed with mastitis – which was even more painful?? – and at this point, I had to say “it's enough”. I began to feed him formula and would only breastfeed Ethan from my 'good' breast in the morning, and before he slept at night. In a nutshell, this journey has not been easy AT ALL. But sometimes it helps knowing that it might not be easy and it's OKAY to say it's hard. You are no less of a woman, and no less of a mum! Do what is best for you and your baby, and it'll all be fine. Forget the 'norm' and work off of your own intuition. God has given you EVERYTHING you need! So march on mama, YOU'VE GOT THIS! xo