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Breast thrush: My breastfeeding nightmare #bressure

Breastfeeding is tough. That was how I felt throughout my feeding time with both my kids. Sometimes we aren't told just how different it can be for each mum, and we feel we HAVE to keep feeding through the tears. Realism is important for breastfeeding mums. This is my story of breast thrush, mastitis and mummy guilt.

I haven’t been brave enough to talk about my breast-feeding journey yet. Breast thrush – who knew you could get that, right? My daughter and I had our early weeks together blighted by it. I still bare the scars.

It’s has been nearly ten years now, and I think it is about time I told the story. I was asked by Channel Mum to film a vlog about it. It was one of the hardest things that I have had to do as a blogger.

It took me four takes, and I still couldn’t help crying.

You will have to forgive me I am afraid.

My daughter, along with my son, is the most beautiful thing in my life. However, I can’t think about the first precious weeks of her life without pain. The remembered pain of those feeding times, and the pain of missing out on those newborn moments. I spent most of my time trying to work out how I was going to get through th  next feed without tears.

It is important that we understand as mothers that sometime breast feeding isn’t easy. Sometimes it isn’t for everyone. And most importantly, it won’t make you less of a mother if you do your best and you can’t carry on. It shouldn’t need six weeks of breast feeding ravished by thrush and mastitis to work that out.

Breast thrush was never mentioned in my classes before their birth.  I had no idea. I genuinely thought that this awful pain was normal. It wasn’t spotted for two weeks. By then I had mastitis and breast thrush together.

My stupid mum guilt kept me feeding through the pain. I fed with nipple shields for over three weeks because the pain without was too much. The pain with them still made my cry, but at least I could feed through it.

During the worst of the thrush, I used an industrial sized breast pump that made me feel rather like a Frieshan. Eventually, a little medication from the doctor worked, but only after six weeks of hell. My daughter and I just kept on re-infecting each other.

Even the sight of my daughter finishing a feed with my own blood on her lips didn’t compel me to stop. I still managed to convince myself that this was the “right” thing to do; one of THE most important things to I MUST do in my daughter’s early weeks to help make me a “good” mother.

I should have stopped. My husband told me to stop. My mum told me to stop. My guilt told me to continue.

S*d the guilt.

That was what my head should have said, but my mummy heart wouldn’t give in, and I deeply regret it. My daughter’s early weeks are forever tainted. I wasn’t so silly with my son. I gave up at 5 months at the first sign of thrush. I wasn’t going to do that to myself, or my family, ever again.

Every feeding journey is different, every mum and child, and their relationship with the breast is a new story. I had learnt that the hard way, but hopefully my experiences will help others. You feed in the way that works for you, and if that’s breast, well done.

If it is the bottle, I hope you tried, but if it wasn’t for you, then equally well done too. Particularly if you tried and realised that it was better for you and your child to stop.

Thanks for watching this, do check out the other breastfeeding stories from the Channel Mum YouTube channel, as well as the other mums asked to film their experiences. Channel Mum have also done a survey of over 2,000 mums to see what their experiences were of feeding too, and the results are extremely eye-opening.

Helen is a mum to two, social media consultant, and website editor; and this site is (we think) the only Social Enterprise parenting magazine! Since giving up being a business analyst when juggling travel, work and kids proved too complicated, she founded KiddyCharts so she could be with her kids, and use those grey cells at the same time. KiddyCharts has reach of over 1.1million across social and the site. The blog works with big family brands (including travel) to help promote their services, as well as offering free resources to parents of kids under 10. It gives 51%+ profits to Reverence for Life, who fund a number of important initiatives in Africa, including bringing running water and basic equipment to a school in Tanzania. Helen has worked as a digital marketing consultant (IDM qualified) with various organisations, including Channel Mum, Truprint, Talk to Mums, and Micro Scooters. She loves to be creative in the brand campaigns she works on. Get in touch TODAY!

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