Don’t cry over milk guilt…

“You have to open your mouth wider to attach yourself properly to the breast,” Learner Dad said to Li’l Fatty in his best imitation of a posh English woman.
He was channelling one of the lactation ladies from the hospital.
While it was a joke to him now, those in the Breast is Best Brigade almost copped their own mouthful from Learner Dad in the days after Li’l Fatty was born.
His relationship with them started out fine.
I mean, they told him to help me begin expressing before Li’l Fatty’s arrival, as they suspected there could be feeding complications.
This task Learner Dad took on with great gusto, more than willing to be involved in anything to do with the breast, even if for purely practical purposes.
He was relieved of his role though, when he began telling people about it at the dinner table.
Expressing in hospital was a far more arduous task.
Despite a vault full of my colostrum, the lactation lady came after me about 10 hours after Li’l Fatty was born.
I’d just been to see him at the neonatal unit and a combination of strong drugs and strong emotions saw me hyperventilating on the way back to my room.
When the lactation lady found me, I was literally in transit and unable to breathe.
“You need to start expressing dear,” she said.
Clearly I was in her schedule for this exact moment and she wasn’t going to change it.
While Learner Dad and the midwife each grabbed one of my arms to put me back to bed, she grabbed one of my nipples.
“It’s ok, it’s ok,” I gasped, as a mortified Learner Dad opened his mouth to give her a piece of his mind.
I didn’t want to ostracise anyone who was caring for our baby.
And if Li’l Fatty had somehow torn through all the colostrum I’d provided then damn it, I’d provide more!
It wasn’t my first stressful encounter with the lactation ladies.
My milk didn’t come in as expected on Master Seven’s arrival in 2005 and the midwives had grown increasingly concerned about jaundice.
Despite this, the lactation lady insisted we wait, a decision I didn’t necessarily disagree with.
But hostilities between her and the midwives came to a head when, after she went home, they had me agree to a formula feed via a tube.
She whipped it out of little Master Zero’s nose in disgust first thing next morning, right in front of my confused eyes.
I’ve seen many friends battle through sore boobs and broken nipples, long nights on hand pumps and electric pumps, uncooperative babies and, ultimately, mastitis in a bid to give their babies the ‘best’ start in life.
Sometimes the pressure comes from within, sometimes it comes from others.
I can’t help but wonder, if we were told the most important thing is simply to make sure our babies are fed, be it by breast or by bottle, whether nature might just have a better shot at taking its course.


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