I make milk... What's your superpower?
Looking back on my pregnancy, I wish I had spent less time concerned about birth and more time focusing on breastfeeding. I'm not downplaying the significance of birth, but it's only one day in the scheme of your whole life, and girlfriend I promise you that baby is going to come out, no matter how many books you read.
Breastfeeding however, this is a far bigger commitment. You're committing your body, your time, your energy, into fuelling your little baby. That is a big task for anyone!
First you and baby have to learn how to do it, then you have to re-learn once the milk comes in. Your boobs become super-sized and sore. And your nipples, well that's a whole other story (especially if baby has tongue-tie, not fun!).
You spontaneously leak and have to wear a bra all the time because if you don't have breast pads on you'll end up drenched (and then that's more washing too). Plus, there are those times when one boob is empty and the other is full, causing an awkward lop-sided effect.
Feeding gives you painful contractions for the first few weeks, and you get extra dehydrated/hungry. There's nothing worse than sitting down, latching on, and then realising you are sitting just beyond arms reach of your drink bottle.
Every midwife/nurse/lactation consultant has something different to tell you on how to do it, and you have to get used to getting the girls out in front of complete strangers in hospital. They tell you not to use a dummy for the first six weeks because it causes nipple confusion, but you tell that to the tired parent of an inconsolable baby. Phhfft.
Even once you 'have the hang of it', baby is still going to have those fussy periods where they just... won't... latch... on... darn... it! These little ratbags have been known to fuss at the breast for hours without doing anything productive. And with no regard to time, they will quite happily do this at 11pm, 1am, 3am, 5am... you get the picture.
All the while you have the added pressure that you actually have no idea how much milk they are getting. You hope they are getting enough, and that you have enough milk supply. You hope they are gaining enough weight, and that they are healthy.
The truth about exclusive breastfeeding is that it is hard work. It is relentless and around the clock. According to La Leche League, despite 93% of NZ'ers who start breastfeeding at birth, only 56% make it to 4-5months of age.
I've almost made it 6 weeks, and there have been times when I've wanted to throw the towel in. But big decisions can't be made when you're sleep-deprived/borderline crazy at 3am.
In my moments of clarity, I remind myself its great to have Marley's food ready to go. I can feed him anywhere I want, even on the moon if I fancied it, and all I'd need is my boobs. We get to bond, and I get to be satisfied by the fact I helped in making his chubby cheeks, his double chin, and his multiple leg rolls. Plus, going from a B-cup to a D-cup would have cost me thousands of dollars otherwise.
I'm not here to preach about breast is best. Each to their own I say, everybody has different situations and as mothers, we do what we can to make things work. But for those mums that do breastfeed, I say R-E-S-P-E-C-T. It's darn hard work making liquid gold, but totally worth it.
We are our babies lop-sided super heroes.