Skinny Minnie visits the Boob Lady

15 Aug

So, there are women (I’m guessing it’s not a popular vocation for dudes), that sit around all day, chatting to mummas about boobs. They critically observe the boob. They theorise about the boob. They analyze and they advise. God bless the boob ladies*.

After days of fighting with The Berry over the bottle of formula and getting exactly nowhere, we decided to seek expert advise. Armed with a list of questions about teats, temperature and timed feeds, we drove down the highway to boob town. Finally, we talked to someone who, firstly, knew about the physiology of breastfeeding, and secondly, knew about the emotional minefield of discussing these issues with a fragile mother. She was gentle, sympathetic, and she knew her stuff. (She was also the mother of five, yes five, boys, the last two being twins. respect.)

Her advice was to chuck out that pesky bottle and go on holiday. OK, not a cruise in the bahamas kinda holiday, but a feeding honeymoon where you just keep doin’ it all day long, feeding any time The Berry seemed like she’d tolerate that nipple in her gob. Which, it seems, is quite often! I stopped following the routine suggested by the child health nurses, stopped looking for hungry signs and I’ve just been feeding that baby til it comes out her ears (well, sometimes it dribbles back out her mouth, no ear leakage so far). And of course, she’s putting on the plod. Haven’t weighed her again, and she’s still much smaller than many of the other babies, but she looks good to me – more solid and filled out.

It seems to be working and my supply is better – can now try to cut back to a more reasonable number of feeds, while keeping an eye out for signs she’s hungry, not worrying about whether it’s just before bed or only an hour after the last feed.

The whole thing has made me realise how much knowledge about this stuff has been lost, how between our isolation in the big bad city, the generational thing where women were told formula was the way to go, stigma about breasts, what their function is, all that jazz, it’s affected how we are able to feed our babies. And then a big finger waggles and says “breast is best” “breastfeed your baby for 2 years”. And we try, without understanding or support, and then we fall under the weight of so much guilt when it doesn’t work. From my mother’s group of about 15 women, at least half have had problems with supply, weight gain, latching, whatevs.

It shouldn’t be this way, and I hate the pressure put on women to just “know”. To have these mothering instincts. Cause it’s a cop out.

*Boob ladies may sometimes be referred to as lactation consultants.

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