Breast intentions

Breast is best. My gynae told me, the antenatal class told me, my granny told me (her granny told her), and that well-meaning teller at Pick 'n Pay mentioned it as well. There is no disputing the benefits. I’m convinced. But convincing my cracked, bleeding, engorged breasts is another story all together.

Breastfeeding may be best for my week old son, suckling away happily like a hungry piglet every two or three hours, but my word, it certainly doesn’t come as naturally as I expected it to. There seems nothing natural about the shooting pain I get in my cracked nipples every time he latches (and re-latches and re-latches. He has turned re-latching into not only a hobby but an art). And I certainly don’t get that warm glow the books assure you breastfeeding gives you when I wake up in pain with engorged breasts that make Pamela Anderson’s pair seem modest.

I stuff my feeding bra (most unattractive item of underwear ever known to humankind) with cabbage leaves, hoping for the ‘instant relief’ that generations of women have experienced. But after a few seconds of relief all I’m left with is stinky hot cabbage leaves that are literally steaming when I release from the confines of my throbbing bosom (not throbbing in the Mills and Boon kind of way; more throbbing in the ‘oh my word I need a swig of that gripe water to get me through this feed’ kind of way).

When our whole house and the baby stinks of cooked cabbage, I realise it’s time to call in the professionals. I need a breastfeeding physio to laser my nipples to a crisp. She arrives with what looks like a little torch and shines it on my nipples for two minutes. How can I respect a woman who charges R300 to shine a torch at my nipples for two minutes? Apparently I don’t need to respect her to ask her to come back the next day; and to please bring her torch with her. That’s what desperation can do to you.

Just when I thought all was going well and I had the pain under control, (aah, Myprodol) I woke up two days ago with mastitis. And all previous nipple pain seems like child’s play. This is seriously unpleasant. Body aching, head pounding, nauseous and breasts that resemble concrete blocks. That afternoon the doctor has me on an antibiotic, and I grit my teeth, go home and get back to the breastfeeding. Why? Because Breast is Best!

Did you struggle to get going with breastfeeding? What’s your best advice?

Read more by Carrie Linder
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