It happened when my son was little as well, but it doesn’t make it any less distressing when you know the reasons and you’ve seen it before: blood on the sheet and on your baby’s sleep suit. She’s 8 weeks old, breastfeeding has improved a lot, but I am still in pain and still bleeding. In fact, just the past week or so, the open wound – sorry! – looks like it is getting bigger again. And now there is blood in the milk she spits up.
I hate it. I know I went to a fancy dress party when I was pregnant as Bella Swan, but I didn’t really want a vampire baby.
I hate being in pain. I hate worrying about whether and when that nipple will heal, and whether I really will come out the other side like with my son and enjoy breastfeeding.
I hate the thought that I might put people off breastfeeding. If I feed the baby in public, carefully putting aside the wound dressing, wincing as I latch her on, I think: I may be the only person some young pregnant mum-to-be sees breastfeeding in public. What about this picture is going to make her think: “Hey, that doesn’t look too bad, maybe I’ll give it a go!”
Thankfully, my husband is very sensible. He pointed out that no teenage mother was ever going to be swayed to try breastfeeding by seeing me feed in public, pain or not. Not because of me, but because that is not what was holding her back.
“But, but, role models! Don’t they need role models who breastfeed?” I splutter.
“A random stranger feeding a baby in a shopping centre is not a role model,” my husband replies, leaving the rest unsaid. The rest being that if I seriously want to be a role model and inspire teen mums to break the mould and breastfeed, I need to go and get to know some teenagers, build relationships with them that involve mutual trust and respect, preferably before they become Pregnant Teen Mums and while they are still just girls, and maybe then they might think something I believe in might be worth believing in too.
I’m glad he didn’t say all that, though. Because I would have come up with millions of excuses not to, and now I can keep all those embarrassing lies in my head, safely unchallenged and unexamined. Changing the world is far too much like hard work. I’d much rather be inspiring just by feeding my baby in a shopping centre, which I was going to do anyway.
Perhaps next time I do, I should wear a sign round my neck:
“I know it looks like I’m in pain and not enjoying this. I am and I’m not. But it will get better soon and in the meantime this is still the best thing for my baby. It’s great and give it a go, really.”
Do you think that would do the trick?