This is a photo of my first ever feed. What do you see (apart from the carefully placed ‘x’ to preserve my daughter’s modesty)? A loving first moment between a new mother and her baby? Yet another lactivist exposing herself and wanting to show off how great she is?
This photo doesn’t make me feel good. It makes me cringe. Not because of my greasy hair, man arms or post baby belly. Because, knowing what I know now, it is no wonder I had the difficulties I did with breastfeeding.
Save The Children have brought out a document which promotes breastmilk as a superfood, specifically colostrum. Colostrum is bloody marvellous stuff. “The most potent immune system booster known to science”. Of course it is – it comes out of a woman (feminist hippy, get back in your cage!) They have estimated that 830,000 infant deaths could be avoided if they are breastfed in the first hour of life. No pressure then. (Remember, they’re mainly talking about impoverished countries.)
I fear that with the overstretched maternity wards, funding cuts and other genius decisions that our government continues to make, this will not help breastfeeding statistics. There will just be more women, like me in the above photo, left to their own devices, struggling and being left to feel like they’ve failed if it doesn’t work out.
So, I’d like to rectify the demons of this photo. There are three major issues that need addressing and you will see I have identified them by very cleverly numbering them one to three.
#1. Clearly unaware that the baby will go where I go, I decide to sit bolt upright like a Victorian school girl. There’s a pillow behind you, moron. Lay back and relax on it.
#2. Obviously building muscle tone is good practice for babies, but getting them to work out their external abdominal obliques whilst getting their first sip of super, immune boosting, universe saving boob juice is a bit excessive. And bloody uncomfortable. Turn her tummy in towards you and hold her close, for goodness sake.
#3. Again, the baby’s head is not fixed in space, only able to have a nipple inserted in one exact position. So why are you trying to post it in like an oversized envelope in a postbox? Hold baby close and help her reach up to the teat of tantalising goodness by supporting her feet and place her nose to nip nip. Then she can open her mouth, nice and wide, to gobble as much tit as possible. (I was going to attempt to script gobbling noises but perhaps that’s a step too far.)
So there you have it. That’s it. That’s all I needed to do to probably save myself from the weeks of agony from bleeding, cracked nipples that looked like they’d been attacked by squirrels.
Let me recap:
#1. Lay back and relax.
#2. Tummy to tummy and nose to nipple.
#3. Let the baby bob it’s head around manically to find the nipple itself.
If I could go back to the pre-motherhood, care-free, personally hygienic, shaven, alcohol-swilling, pooing-in-peace, me, I would probably say this. Go find your local breastfeeding support group before the belly alien arrives. Sit with Mums that are breastfeeding (studies suggest you’ll increase your chances of successfully breastfeeding if you’ve been in the company of lactating ladies within the previous 12 months). Talk to them about their experiences to aid in you in gaining more realistic expectations of infant feeding and bathe in the heady aromas of oxytocin. And whatever you do, when your abdomen dweller does arrive, don’t make them do stomach crunches with a 45 degree-angled neck.