Family

Blessed in doubles: Should I stop breastfeeding?

Our columnist Zoe Fuimaono, weighs up whether she should give up breastfeeding after persevering through thick and thin.

Zoe Fuimaono is a 27-year-old, Auckland mum of four who welcomed her second set of twins this month. She will be sharing her and husband Junior's story of raising four kids under two with us - including all the ups and downs.

As I'm sitting here expressing for what feels like the 100th time today I’ve been thinking about breastfeeding.

I’ve had an interesting deal when it comes to my boobs – that’s for sure!

When I was 14 weeks pregnant with Henry and Theo, my first beautiful set of twins, I woke up one morning and there was a massive wet patch on the bed. I was leaking colostrum already!

Henry and Theo latched as soon as they were born and it felt like a dream.

Everything was going smoothly until about a week after the birth and I got a really high temperature. I panicked, thinking I’d got an infection from the birth, and I was in so much pain I thought the worst.

That was my first introduction to Mastitis, a horrible breast infection many mums suffer with. Sadly, it wasn’t my last experience with it.

I got it about eight times after that, two of which landed me in hospital because it was so bad and another two times in A & E to have antibiotics fed through a drip.

To make matters worse I also kept getting thrush on my nipples – meaning the whole experience of breastfeeding felt like poison was being sucked out of me.

But being the stubborn Leo that I am, I wanted to continue. Against doctor’s advice I continued feeding the boys as I’ve always had it hammered into me that ‘breast is best’.

Now when I look back I think was that really the best thing for me? I exclusively breastfed Henry and Theo for sixteen months, and I am proud of that fact. But it was hard work.

All the weeks I was bed ridden, all the times I cried every time they would latch, all the antibiotics and supplements I had to take to try and heal my poor exhausted body.

I had hoped that this time around with Harlow and Noah, breastfeeding would be easier, but I was hit with Mastitis again soon after their birth.

I became so exhausted I was bed ridden once again, and for the first time I thought - I can't do this. I don't want to do this anymore.

The happy family
The happy family

In the past, I would get angry when anyone would try and talk me out of breastfeeding because I felt that was what’s best for my babies and I. But suddenly it didn’t seem so ridiculous to stop.

Setting myself a task, I told myself that if I could get rid of the Mastitis naturally then I would try and continue feeding. A week of pain, Lecithin tablets several times a day, Vitamin C, cabbage leaves, and finally I shifted the infection.

It's such a hard game this whole breastfeeding thing, but for me it has been worth it.

It's not for everyone, and that's okay. I used to think breast is best bit now I believe that fed is best - a happy mama means a happy baby.

Breastfeeding isn't possible for everyone, and some mums just don’t want to do it. The guilt that accompanies the decision not to can be all consuming - and that's not okay. Society places huge expectations on a mother to breastfeed and when she doesn’t it can feel like failure.

I want to tell any of you that are struggling with it – you have not failed. You’ve done your best and that’s all anyone can ask of you. Don’t put expectations on yourself – mum life is hard.

Take each day as it comes and it will all be okay. Just keep swimming!

You can read Zoe's column each week on Womensweekly.co.nz. Catch up on the last one here.

Follow Zoe on her Instagram page here or Facebook here.

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