This week is World Breasteeding Week with women around the world sharing their stories.
Kiwi mum, business owner and lawyer Fran Woods shares why she gave up on breastfeeding within a week of giving birth.
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Five days in and I literally felt like I was in hell. I quit breastfeeding.
Margot was my second baby and things had not gone well from the beginning. I had a very difficult pregnancy, with an unwell husband and a huge (7x11cm) sub chorionic hematoma. I bled almost daily from 11-24 weeks and we were not sure that Margot was going to make it.
I had a rough time breastfeeding my eldest Phoebe for the first few weeks, so I was determined to get help to ensure I didn't have the same problems with Margot.
I asked the midwives to help me with every feed but it didn't work. By the third day, my nipples were in shreds and I was in excruciating pain each time. Margot was also feeding all night (particularly between midnight and 5am) and I was running on virtually no sleep.
I had given birth to Margot via a C-section and almost immediately I felt like things weren't right. I didn't bond at all with Margot (unlike my first baby Phoebe, with whom I had immediate, overwhelming love). A lack of bond made me really resent Margot. I absolutely hated feeding her, it wasn't just the pain, I was getting huge anxiety every time I had to feed her and it took all I had in me not to rip her off me every feed.
By day five, I had had enough. I literally couldn't face another feed. So I quit. For someone who breastfed their first baby for 18 months and as an owner of a company that creates lactation biscuits, my feelings of failure and inadequacy were huge. But I just couldn't do it. I was an absolute wreck. I pumped for the next 48 hours giving my boobs a break from the feeding and started regaining a bit of sense of self. I was really conflicted about what to do.
My husband was incredibly supportive but also very worried for me. I was not bonding at all, and was crying all the time. He knew how much I loved breastfeeding Phoebe and encouraged me to get a lactation consultant. So I did.
Sue Shaw came on day seven and saved my breastfeeding journey. Diagnosing Margot with a tongue and lip tie and a high palate she explained why I was in so much pain and helped me find positions where I could feed in less pain. I started up again.
I won't lie, until about eight weeks, breastfeeding was still absolutely torturous, not only the pain but also the anxiety every feed. I also had post-partum depression and anxiety. All in all, it was a pretty dark time. I ended up feeding Margot until nearly 13 months and we had a wonderful journey after those early days.
I am not sharing this story to make anyone who did actually stop in those early days feel bad. Honestly, you are amazing, whether you did 1 or 10 or 1000 feeds. It isn't easy, and a fed baby and happy mother trumps everything.
If Margot had been my first baby I really don't think I would have kept going. Owning Franjo's I was motivated to continue. I am incredibly stubborn and I had also breastfed Phoebe for 18 months so I knew how wonderful it could be.
I am sharing this story to let you know that help is there. Seek it out. You are not alone. Breastfeeding can be really tough and it certainly doesn't always go to plan. A good lactation consultant is worth their weight in gold. And good luck mamas. Whatever your journey, you are amazing.
Fran Woods is one half of the duo behind Franjo's Kitchen. Based in Melbourne, they produce wellness, pregnancy and lactation cookies and crackers.
Fran and business partner Jo launched the business in Melbourne in 2013 and Fran, a Kiwi returned to NZ last year. She co-runs the business from NZ and is also a corporate lawyer and mum of two. The business has more than 550 stockists in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong, with their products also being sold into China and the US.