08 Nov

A poem about being an “idealistic” breastfeeding counsellor

I had a positive birth and a healthy, full term baby
Then I didn’t know what to do
On the few occasions when he latched on, it really hurt
I still don’t know why.

I started expressing on day two
I can’t remember when I stopped
I went to the breastfeeding clinic twice and called all the helplines
The midwives and the health visitors told me he had a good latch
One of the helplines suggested I use nipple shields so I did
Then he latched on, but it still really hurt.

I cried at nearly every feed for about 12 weeks.
I cried when he didn’t gain enough weight
I cried when he wouldn’t take a bottle of formula
I cried when he woke up to feed in the night
I cried when he wouldn’t nap during the day
I cried when my mother told me I had made a rod for my own back
I cried when he cried.

I cried less and less, week by week.
Breastfeeding became peaceful, but still demanding
Breastfeeding felt good
Breastfeeding soothed him immediately
Breastfeeding was the only time when he was still.

I cried when he decided he didn’t need to breastfeed anymore.

[p.s. At least once a week someone calls me for support with a whole range of feeding issues. How can anyone think I’m idealistic about how easy it is to breastfeed?]