My First Story and Helpful Words
Date Posted:1 February 2015
Having a baby is one of the most rewarding but stressful experiences, with so many emotions. So much to learn but also too much conflicting information. One sentence spoken to me, changed my whole parenting experience, still to this day.
Just a little over 3 years ago we had our first born, Cooper, by caesarean section. When we found out he was breech and would probably have to have a caesar, I tried everything to try and get him to turn. Reiki, going on bumpy drives, all of the bending over exercises and positions I could find and having the doctors try and turn him. Eventually I resigned myself to the fact that the caesar was going to happen and accepted it as this was the best option for his safe arrival.
The operation went well and as soon as I was wheeled out of theatre and met my baby properly, he latched on straight away and started feeding. I knew I wanted to try breastfeeding but, as many first time mothers may have been, I didn't really know what I thought about it. It was a strange thought, but would give it a go. I was lucky, and surprised at how little I tried or even thought of it as it was just natural and beautiful (apart from the painful nipple sores I started to get after a couple of days, but a little bit of natural ointment and away we go!). The midwives congratulated me with how little effort was required and for Cooper's good latch, which made me feel confident and fulfilled.
Although everything seemed to be going well, Cooper was a little baby (born 2.775kg) so I was soon bombarded with so many suggestions on feeding more, expressing, formula top ups and given a hospital express machine to use (these are so big and loud they are quite annoying), that I went from feeling proud and confident to being unconfident and confused very quickly.
We arrived home four days after Cooper's birth, and my caesar recovery was the worst experience of my life. I started to struggle with thoughts that I wasn't a normal mother as I never actually “gave birth” to my son, and getting depressed from the overwhelming dictations given to me. Mostly bed ridden for two weeks from so much pain and feeling sick from pain killers that I wouldn't usually take, I decided to just use paracetamol as I'd rather be in pain but with my baby than bed ridden and feeling sick. And with my husband going back to work I really had no choice. They say “sleep when the baby sleeps”... Is that before or after I spend 45 minutes burping the baby, expressing, cleaning bottles, eat, maybe have a shower and...hold on, baby is awake! I struggled with this concept and wondered how on earth do people find time to sleep when their baby sleeps (and Cooper was a great sleeper).
I became so tired and stressed that when a close friend visited me, I told her about all of the do's and don't's making my experience daunting and confusing. Her response was one that has stayed with since: “listen to what everyone has to say, but only take on what is right for you and forget about all the rest”, and “never apologise for a messy house, you're a mum”. I looked at her, thinking about how unconfident I felt at that moment compared to in the hospital, breastfeeding my baby, before all of those opinions were given. Such simple words, but one's that my crazy 1st time mum and baby brain would never have thought of itself.
Suddenly I felt a huge sense of relief as I let everything go and decided that I was just going to do what I thought was right for us, and relax. I still expressed, but only if I had time or if I wanted to check my milk supply or increase it. I kept formula on hand, just in case we had a bad night and cluster feeding took all of my supply (an easy top up sometimes settled Cooper well).
But mostly, I was just being a mum how I wanted to be and just breastfed, naturally, confidently and proudly. People had opinions and made judgements on my choices, even people who had never even had a baby before, but I knew that my son was happy and healthy and I was doing what I chose to do and what worked for us.
I am not an expert, but I am a proud mother of two very beautiful children who has learnt so much along my pregnancy and breastfeeding journeys. I completely support breastfeeding, and recommend all mothers to try it and source help if you find it difficult for any reason or just need some assistance, such as the Australian Breastfeeding Association or your local Health Nurse. However, I also understand and accept that there are many reasons why one may use alternative methods. Every mum and baby is different, everyone's beliefs and desires are different, everyone's experience is different.
So in addition to my friend's advice to me, what has helped me in my journey is understanding everyone's differences and accepting them for this, using all of the information to learn what is right for you, and believe in yourself, because you are a great mum and you are doing a great job!
This story has been summarised, as there is so much that happens on a new mums journey, and so many ups and downs that go with it. Please feel free to share any of your stories or comment.
Free knowledge like1 July 2015Free knowledge like this doesn't just help, it promote deamcrocy. Thank you.