So I want to chat about something close to my heart, like literally it’s close to my heart; my boob/s. It is also close to my ribcage and on bra-less days says hi to my belly button. Now I was not born this way, I blossomed into this world a lovely and agreeable size 34 C where bra shopping means you just pick up a pretty lacy thingy and head off to pay.
Enter the letters of the alphabet where if you are singing the Alphabet song, you need to take a breath for the next round of letters (you have an annoying earworm now don’t you lol).
Enter the grumpy ladies ushering you into a cubicle looking at you up and down saying “Wrong size lady”. No shit Aunty, that is why I am here!
Yes, they get in the way, yes they sweat and yes my aureole are the size of saucers. But boy, oh boy are the useful! I have been able to feed two little boys and fill them with a goodness designed just for them. Zakariyya had me nursing until 13 months and Anas is still going strong with his flappy buddies. He is teething now and using me as his personal teething ring, amber necklace, buffet meal and dummy and it has made me think back to that start of my breastfeeding journey.
I knew from the moment I found out I was pregnant that I wanted to breastfeed. What I didn’t know was how sore it would be. No amount of antenatal classes can prepare you for this. For those women where breastfeeding comes naturally (I have yet to meet one) great for you and I am low-key jelly. For the rest of the maimed boob population, I feel your pain.
From that first latch just after he was delivered and did a crawl to my boob, sniffed and literally gummed down on my nipple, till three months later, was absolute torture and it didn’t help that I have inverted nipples (basically it’s like the only part of me that is shy and literally withdrawn”). Poor Zakariyya had a tongue tie which had to be cut when he was barely two weeks old and I was instructed by my paediatrician to top up with some formula, which I did till I was constantly soaked in vomit. Furious midnight googling found me a lactation consultant who happily (at a lovely price) did a home visit, some weigh-ins to check approximate milk ingested and a tutorial on the various positions to feed; this was my lifesaver and Godsend when I would have otherwise quit quite early on in my “I want to breastfeed for a year” goal. I ended up using nipple shields for those three months until I just got gatvol one-day and popped him onto a boob sans shield. No pain, I was shocked! Finally, this was going to be easy; or so I thought. Down the line I got mastitis, milk supply issues, top ups with formula but definitely the most painful and indeed the funniest was thrush. I think he was about 6 months old and every time he would feed, it felt as if someone was grinding shards of glass inside my boob and pushing it against my nipple. I tried everything, even sitting topless outside so the sun could kill it, but all I got was a tan. Eventually someone told me to try Gentian Violet and to apply it on my boobs (the whole saucer) after his last night feed, which I did. At this point, he was still waking up a few times a night to nurse but as I was co-sleeping (i.e. sleeping right next to me following the “Safe Sleep Seven” ) there was no need to switch on a light or get up; I was deep in zombie mom mode. I woke up the next morning and got a fright but then had a giggle after. Scroll down to see what I woke up to. The thrush was gone in 3 days so thank goodness for these weird remedies.
When I had Anas, I thought this is it, I am going in prepared, I know what’s going down and I am going to make breastfeeding my bitch. I got nipple shields, my gorgeous friend Kim made me bean bags for engorgement and I had tubes of lanolin.
Fail. Again. Somehow, my boobs do not have muscle memory like my fingers that can remember my ATM pin even though my brain cannot. I could not latch my child and I was mortified that I had to ring the bell to get the nurse to help me.
Round two of lactation consultant, round two of pain and round two of mastitis. A week after bringing him home I ended up at the ER with a fever and temperature of 39.5 and had to be admitted and stayed overnight. Not even a month and my boobs had let me down yet again.
So it probably doesn’t make sense why any woman would put herself through so much agony when there are other options out there that won’t cause your nipples to stare at the floor. To be honest I actually don’t even know the reason why I had a one year goal or why I continued to feed through all the pain. All I know is that breastmilk is amazing and it is customised for your baby; here are some cool facts:
- When you are sick, the number of antibodies and white blood cells in your breastmilk increase to fight off infection.
- People who breastfeed are less likely to get breast cancer
- When a baby is going through a growth spurt, he/she will want to nurse more frequently—your breasts will take the hint by increasing the fat content
- Breastfeeding burns calories
With the lockdown WFH situation I don’t know for how long I will nurse Anas. I have no supply issues and he never says no. Like ever. I am hoping that nothing crazy happens in the next two months so I can reach my goal but at the same time I also have a tin of formula ready should the need arise. Breastfeeding is by no means easy but it is an investment that yields the most returns; most selfish ones being: I don’t have to clean bottles, I don’t have to warm up milk, and I don’t have to know any lullabies because a boob is all he needs to fall asleep. These tatas may be heading south but I wouldn’t want it any other way!
Call me Nuz
PS: A great source of information for anything boob related is the La Leche League International. There is a Facebook page with loads of lactation specialists, midwives and knowledgeable persons on board that can assist with almost any challenge. I am a regular on the page and they helped me get my milk supply back after it all dried up with chicken pox earlier in the year.
Disclaimer: No matter which way you decide to feed your baby #fedisbest This blog post is but an attempt at a humorous dig at my journey and the choices I have made along the way.
 https://www.mayoclinic.org/ Tongue-tie (ankyloglossia) is a condition present at birth that restricts the tongue’s range of motion. With tongue-tie, an unusually short, thick or tight band of tissue (lingual frenulum) tethers the bottom of the tongue’s tip to the floor of the mouth, so it may interfere with breast-feeding.