A quick word on breastfeeding: bloodyhardwork.

This has to be a quick post, because it’s 6am and I’ve been up for 3 hours. But I’m hungry, I’m slightly stressed, and my daughter might have a cold – or so we think. And while the stress is mostly about her suspected cold, the straw that really broke the camel’s back has all to do with breast milk.

For some new mothers, their milk comes gushing forth like a savanna after a drought. Their newborns face the ridiculous difficulty of getting rained on as breast milk comes spurting out of mommy. I’ve been told it’s like trying to drink from a garden sprinkler.

I am not one of those mothers. I wish I need only sneeze to fill a milk bottle. I hear of mothers who express milk by the litres (seemingly), and have freezers full of bottles ready to go. I vacillate between wanting to shake their hand, and hitting them with it. It has taken me a full month to get to a stage where I can express 100ml – and only after I’ve missed a feed. Arddun gets a cocktail at every meal, thanks to my skanky supply: half hour from the source, about 20-40ml expressed milk, and 60ml of Evil Formula. It takes me 1.5 to 2 hours to feed her every time. I am exhausted. (And yet blogging! Which tells you where my priorities are this morning. Vent first, sleep later.)

So when I spill any expressed milk – even a smidgen, like 10ml – a part of me dies because it feels like such a colossal waste. People get outraged by news of tonnes of food from Australian household fridges going to the tip every year because of over-purchasing and bad planning. Not me. But I literally kneel on the floor moaning in pain when a milk bottle accidentally falls off a fridge shelf and splashes some.

Liquid gold. That’s what breast milk is.

Earlier this week, I was absolutely stoked when I managed to express 60ml after a feed. Only to waste it all when I didn’t screw on the teat bit properly so it dribbled down Arddun’s front. And then she threw up the rest. I was so mad with myself the whole day. I even scolded the poor chit. For spitting up! She’s 4 weeks old! That is how crazy things have gotten. Utterly ridiculous.

ElilyMommy mentioned how an acquaintance’s mother-in-law was so disgusted by the concept of breastfeeding (strange woman), that she drained all the bottles of breast milk from the fridge/freezer when her daughter-in-law was at work. I was appalled BEFORE I even had Arddun. Now that I understand how bloody hard it all is, I want to take that crazy woman to the back somewhere and explain life to her. Preferably with some assortment of torture devices like endless re-runs of Teletubbies, and an electric breast pump.

I want you to do three things when you next see a mother of a newborn. I want you to ask how the whole feeding thing is going – and listen without judging. No matter what she says she’s doing, I want you to tell her that she’s doing a fantabulous job. And if she is having low milk supply issues, I want you to hug her and stroke her hair while muttering, “there, there”.

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