Every breastfeeding mum has their own unique experience. But we are often isolated in our experiences. By sharing our realities, both the joyful moments and the hard truths, breastfeeding women across the country, sitting up in bed, tucked away in nursing rooms, out on park benches, or alone on their couch, can find connection, confidence and feel empowered to keep going. The following series reveals some of the highs and lows of breastfeeding.
The hardest part about breastfeeding: a collection of stories from Australian breastfeeding mums
“I remember a feeling of panic when my milk came in. I just assumed my body would know how to provide the right amount of milk for my baby. Managing my milk supply was a constant battle. My body just wasn’t in sync with what she needed, and that was really overwhelming for me.” Kim
“Every time my nipples spontaneously erupted in pain I felt this urge to shout out loud and tell whoever came my way, because the pain was so consuming. I always wondered why I had never heard anyone else shout out loud about their nipples. So the hardest part was feeling like I was the first one to have ever experienced this.” Alana
“I had enough milk to supply octuplets, so feeding was really messy for me, and it was easier to just get naked. No one made me go in another room, but still, the hardest part was the isolation. Hearing everyone talking and laughing in the other room, and feeling so alone.” Alexandra
“Knowing that for my friend, it was her favourite thing about being a mother, and I was sitting there not enjoying it at all.” Jocelyn
“The hardest part was seeing some women breastfeed so effortlessly. I always needed to have everything in place… my pillow, my water and snacks, my netflix… It wasn’t a difficult experience for me, but it certainly wasn’t spontaneous. “ Terri
The best part about breastfeeding: a collection of stories from Australian breastfeeding mums
“I didn’t think I was capable of giving so much of myself. But I did, and I’m really proud of that.” Laura
“By far the best thing was seeing his drunken sleepy smile, with his head rested on my breast, at the end of every feed. It filled my heart.” Caroline
“Seeing his round rolly body at six months, then thinking back to that tiny preemie baby, and knowing I had done that. I made those rolls.” Ebony
“There’s not many things you can do as a parent where you know for sure you’re gonna get it right. But breastfeeding just felt right. Deep down I knew I was doing the best by my girl.” Tamara
“Her little hands on my chest.” Ishani
A commentary on the collection
We know the importance of having strong maternal supports to positively affect breastfeeding outcomes, particularly breastfeeding duration. But there is certainly more to learn about the emotional breastfeeding experience. Women’s reflections on the realities of breastfeeding are diverse, and highligtht the uniqueness of each mother’s journey.
As health professionals, the best way we can support new mothers is by offering holistic and individualised breastfeeding support, assessing their psychological and emotional needs, offering reassurance and acknowledging their unique experience. If we can promote the positive aspects of breastfeeding, while still offering women a realistic idea of the common challenges they’ll face, along with strategies to overcome those problems, we might see more of a balance in breastfeeding outcomes and experiences.
Baby Steps wants to thank our breastfeeding mums for participating in our storytelling project, for owning their stories and sharing their truths. ⠀
Each shared experience brings with it a chance to connect and to heal our wounds. ⠀
“Tears are words that need to be written.” — Paulo Coelho⠀
We are so thankful for your willingness to show us YOU!⠀
We would love to hear your thoughts too and encourage more mums to share their breastfeeding stories with us. Should you need some qualified support our Lactation Consultants and General Practitioners are available for consultation.