• Bianca Kellaway

MotherMuse - Bailey Schneider

I never ever expected breastfeeding to be as hard. I'm pretty convinced the term "blood, sweat and tears" comes directly from breastfeeding. I knew I wanted to breastfeed and when my first son was born at 37 weeks old, he didn't know how to suckle properly. The nurse taught me how to teach him. I had to insert the tip of my pinky finger and stimulate the top of his palate to encourage sucking. He was a quick learner, but he just wasn't able to latch properly. My nipples burned and ached and I was devastated when they had to top him up with formula (via a cup) because his blood sugar level dropped and I just didn't have enough milk for him. When my milk came in on day 4, besides the complete hormonal insanity, my breasts were so engorged and painful. I was alternating between frozen nappies and cabbage leaves. Nothing worked. I had this "Disney" idea that we would leave the hospital as a new family of 3 and arrive home, settle in and nest, but instead, we drove straight from the hospital to Thula Baby Clinic, where I was in agony from my C-section and rock hard breasts. I sobbed my heart out as the lactation specialist massaged my breasts and then I expressed. I was told I'd need to take hot showers, but we were in the middle of the major drought in Cape Town, where we were concerned about Day 0 and confined to 2-minute showers only. I had to express for 30 minutes every 2 hours, around the clock and I made tiny amounts of milk. Unfortunately, it was never enough. I'd just make 30 MLS and he'd need 50mls, so I'd have to top up. As I made 50mls, he'd need 85mls and so it continued. I never made enough for a bottle to be in the fridge, never mind a freezer supply. For 7 months, I expressed every 3-4 hours, for the next feed. It was absolutely EXHAUSTING, but I couldn't give up. I knew that if I had some milk, I wanted him to have it. It really traumatised me that I couldn't get the breastfeeding right, and while I'm proud of myself for doing the best I could, I still always felt like I'd somehow failed at the one thing that was meant to be natural. When I was pregnant with my 2nd son, I felt the anxiety creep in about breastfeeding. I really would not be able to pump every 3-4 hours the way I had - not with a 2.5-year-old toddler. I surrendered that what would be, would be. My baby was born hungry and while I was in recovery after my C-section, he latched instantly. Second time around it was a completely different experience. While he was able to breastfeed, it was not without some painful challenges. My nipples cracked and bled, I worked with a lactation specialist who helped me with the latch and it really was only after 3 months, that it got better. I got Nipple Dermatitis from a reaction to nipple cream. I was misdiagnosed 2x with Thrush, used all the treatments, but was still in burning agony. It felt like someone was stubbing cigarettes out on my nipples and I've never cried as much as I have. It finally turned out that I had a rare condition called: Nipple Vasospasm. I also had D-MER, which is also incredibly rare, which went away after 4 months. Again, I couldn't let go, because this time around I have just enough milk, he was able to actually breastfeed and while I may have wanted to quit 1000 times, I persevered 1001. Here I am a week away from 9 months of exclusive breastfeeding and I'm incredibly proud to have persevered through it all. ❤️

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