When Breastfeeding Turns Sour…

Breastfeeding / Nursing Aversion and Agitation (BAA)

Breastfeeding / Nursing Aversion and Agitation (BAA)

403 days of Boobs

So, here I am at 1 year and 1 month (and a bit) of breastfeeding my second baby. To date, the longest I have fed from my trusty boobs having previously weaned Oscar at 8 and a bit months. It’s something I’m incredibly proud of and I’m a huge advocate of breastfeeding for so many reasons – not least because it reduces the risk of breast cancer, and having had the Big C once, I’ll try anything to prevent getting it again 😅

However, we need to talk, because something isn’t right, and it hasn’t been since before Christmas and it’s only now, just today, that I finally feel able process it and hopefully, do something about it.

Up until now, I’ve not fully opened up to anyone, not even Robin, about how I have been feeling these past few months. My close “mum pals”, who actually now are just “pals” know nothing about this. I speak to them every day, however, if they’re reading this, it’ll be the first they’ve heard of the true extent of it. I’ve kept this to myself partly through shame, guilt, at times disgust, but mostly just sheer confusion about the thoughts I’ve been having, unable to process what it all meant… you name it, I’ve felt it.

Exclusively Breastfeeding

[Read: I’ve raised a Bottle Refuser]

Please, bear with me while I try and articulate this ramble. This is my way of getting it straight in my head, processing it all and working out what to do next!

I’ve mentioned that Scout hasn’t taken a bottle on Instagram recently and had influx of messages saying “hey, we’re the same!” and “you’re not alone!” and I had originally started writing a post about this… but the truth is, this is only a tiny part of the story.

That’s bit I’ve been able to talk about openly. Because it happens – sometimes kids aren’t great sleepers, sometimes they don’t take a bottle, sometimes people admit that it can be a bit much and they need some space. All that stuff sounds fairly “normal”. I was happy to write that post and follow it up with “this too shall pass” etc. But truth be told, I was gonna keep a few secrets because I was worried about what they meant and quite frankly, struggling with the fact that I felt they made me a bit of a sh*t mum…

Truth Bomb

So here it is – in the tiny hours of the morning, as I’ve been lying feeding Scout back to sleep, these “normal” niggles have been completely eclipsed by irrational, intrusive feelings of anger and agitation that have felt far from any sense of normal. As the minutes and sometimes hours tick on trying to get her back to sleep, I feel it slowly starting to creep in. As she suckles for comfort, I get more and more agitated, irritable and to be honest – angry. When she is still awake and feeding, I have to hold her hands away from me to help me cope because I feel physically repulsed by her touch (even using the word “repulsed” is making me wince – but I’m trying to be as honest as I can be here). I’ve talked about the feeling of being “touched out” before, but this is next level.

Then, as I feel she’s starting to nod off I have to count to 100 over and over again to stop me wanting to just prize my nipple out her mouth to get away, anything to get away. The feeling of being completely trapped is overwhelming and claustrophobic.

Once she’s asleep and I escape back to my own bed, I have to lie and calm myself down, breath it out to settle myself, the pent up frustration, to allow myself to wind back down and sleep… then, more often than not, the itch will start. This has been going on for months now and I have had no idea what the hell it was. It sets in as I’m feeding. At first just a niggle that quickly become an insatiable burning itch all over my boobs and chest that can continue for up to half an hour after I’ve fed her, at times it’s been so bad I’ve scratched it with a hair brush for some relief or left me clawing at my skin while everyone else sleeps.

Now, I KNOW this sounds a bit deranged and somewhat dramatic. This was my worry too. That’s why I’ve never said anything – it’s a little crazy sounding. I’m a relatively calm and chilled out person and I have been genuinely scared of these irrational feelings, completely unable to make sense of it all and feeling so so guilty and ashamed. Guilty that I could feel so incredibly angry at giving my little baby comfort and food. So irritated by an act that I’ve loved and enjoyed so much and for so long with two babies. That’s helped me nourish them and bond with them so beautifully.

There have been nights that I’ve genuinely worried that I may be suffering from some sort of delayed postnatal depression… but then come morning I’ve felt absolutely fine again and that’s just left me more confused. I never felt like this at any point of my feeding “journey” with Oscar, so why now? What does it mean?

The Penny Drops … At 4am!

There’s a reason I’m sharing this now. Turns out everything I’ve been experiencing isn’t as scary or confusing as I thought.

Last night, as I was trying to get Scout back to sleep, I took five minutes away, picked up my phone and opened Instagram and there was a post in my discovery section mentioning “Breastfeeding Aversion” – almost immediately I was googling it, and there it was – an article defining it. As I read it, I honestly felt I could have written it myself. It summed up my thoughts and feelings precisely and in that moment the sense of relief was huge – it’s a real thing and I’m not alone.

The horrible things I have been feeling are all real, and recognised, and valid, and lots of other people experience it! I am not nuts. There is nothing “wrong” with me!

Breastfeeding Aversion & Agitation (BAA)

“BAA or ‘aversion’ is a phenomenon that some breastfeeding mothers experience, which includes having particular negative feelings, often coupled with intrusive thoughts when an infant is latched and suckling at the breast”

(Yate, 2017)

The article I read was this one on the Kelly Mom breastfeeding page (I’m already kicking myself that I didn’t look here sooner as I’ve found the site a great resource in the past).

It perfectly outlines the intrusive thoughts, the sense of shame, triggers and even the dreaded itch! That’s when I knew I’d found my answer. I hadn’t even made a connection before now that the itch was related to my feelings of anger and agitation all the while being intertwined with my night feeds.

The causes of breastfeeding aversion seem varied – anything from pregnancy, to dehydration, to sleep deprivation to hormones. I’m unsure where mine has sprung from because I struggle to pinpoint exactly when it started.

Why am I sharing?

I still feel a wee bit weird about writing this.

After finding that these feelings have a name and a cause I do feel validated but I still feel really guilty about feeling them because they are no reflection on the bond that I have with Scout, part of which has probably been built through breastfeeding itself. But I genuinely had no idea that BAA existed and I can’t help but think that there must be someone out there experiencing this too and, just like yesterday’s me, has no idea this is a recognised phenomenon. Maybe you are sitting feeding just now feeling all the things, having all these thoughts and crying about it just like I’ve done – worried about what it all means.

Its real, it’s got a name, and I think I can fix it. This discovery has cemented in my head that it’s time to stop breastfeeding and move onto a new chapter.

I weaned Oscar off my boob at just over 8 months to that I could return to work and this time round I thought it would be nice to let Scout self-wean when she was ready but I just don’t think I can carry on with this effecting me the way it has been these last few months. I’m really proud of how far we’ve come and I’ve honestly loved it. I never wanted to stop on a negative note and it feels like it’s going that way, so I think it’s time. I have a feeling it might be quite tough, but we’ll get there. Even just recognising what’s causing these feelings will allow me to deal with them better I think.

Honestly though? This isn’t a horror story. If I had another baby tomorrow (nervous laugh), I’d choose to feed it myself in a heartbeat. Our breastfeeding experience won’t be tainted by these last few months but I’ll be honest with anyone that asks me about it because man, it’s been hard. Keeping anything like that to yourself is hard. Carrying all the worry and the guilt is exhausting – so don’t. Open up and share it, because if I’d done that I could maybe have saved myself a few weeks or even months of feeling this way… and would have itched a lot less 🤷🏼‍♀️

Well, there’s my brain dump for tonight – I’m going to click ‘Publish’ before I chicken out. Over and Out.

Lou x

Scout @ 6 Months

baby scout feet

6 months of you

Where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday that we welcomed our little 7lb bundle into the world and completed our little family.

It’s not always been easy… at times, it’s been the hardest thing in the world… But Scout has made it an absolute pleasure.

The past few months have been stressful, with a house move still looming over our heads I hoped that by now we might be able to finally get excited about our new home but at every turn something has managed to go wrong! Maybe by the time she hits the less notable milestone of 7 months we’ll be a step closer…!

Scout Zelda Rose

  • Loves to laugh
  • Loves singing, dancing and getting a fright
  • Still has no teeth but been chewing like mad since day 1 – who knows when they’ll appear!
  • Occasional thumb sucker
  • She sleeps so well – and I think I’m allowed to breath a sigh of relief since Oscar was a complete sleep thief!
  • We have just started weaning and I’m trying to feel excited, but feeling sad at the end of yet another “baby phase”
  • Penchant for playing Duplo with her bro… even if he still isn’t mad on sharing.
  • Captain Calamari is life
  • Completed her first level swimming and seems to love the water!
  • Experienced her first two flights – to London & back

It has been so special to watch our little baby grow and start to develop her own little personality, but I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t been bittersweet.

I think with your first baby everything is so new and exciting that you’re always looking forward to “the next milestone”. I wouldn’t say I wished Oscar’s time away, but I was blissfully unaware of how fleeting every stage would be. So with Scout I have found myself clinging onto every stage, willing it to last just another day. Savouring cuddles where I can get them and keeping her up later than I ever did with Oscar.

Onto the next chapter

Those newborn days were over in the blink of an eye and when I think back I do feel sad despite being so excited to get to know the determined little human she’s growing into – and I think that’s ok.

I mean, Oscar turns three next month and it doesn’t seem that long ago that he was Scout’s age! Anyway, here’s to her next six months and squeezing the most cuddles, smile, giggles, adventures and memories out of my maternity leave. 🧡

Lou x

A Note To My Friends…

When I became a Mum, I changed and sometimes it takes me by surprise how much. Of course, for the most part the changes I see in myself are positive, and I embrace them and am immensely proud of them.

However, there have been times that I have felt like I may have lost a little bit of me, just a wee bit of Louise. And I worry – do other people see that? Do they think it too? Will I get to reclaim it as the children grow? By no means do I think I’m alone in this – I think, I hope, it’s pretty common. With such a massive change in your life, it’s bound to turn things upside down, especially when that change is as all-consuming as a child (or two).

But my friends have been there through this change and they’ve helped a mama out… massively. They may not even realise how much. So I want to say thank you –

Thank you for remembering me and still inviting me, despite me often not being able to come along it still means a lot to know that I still exist. Even more so, thank you for inviting us all and understanding that sometimes we have to come as a package.

Thank you for not holding it against me when I ask a question and get too distracted to listen to the answer. There are times I come away from seeing you and realise I’ve barely been able to actually chat due to occupying a toddler that is hell bent on touching anything that might be breakable. I know how frustrating this must be – but I promise – I care about the answer.

Thank you for wanting to spend time with us. Not just me. For holding Oscar’s hand, for sitting down to play Duplo or paint a pirate ship with him, or for holding Scout while I eat my lunch. For just sharing the load and offering a hand – it means the world.

Thank you for not rolling your eyes when Oscar reaches ‘peak toddler’ – before I had him, I had no idea how intense this phase could be. So thank you for not allowing me to apologise for him and reassuring me that it is in actual fact completely fine. He is loved.

And most of all, thank you for still asking how I am. Whenever I feel like I’ve lost a little bit of me you are all there to remind me by talking about something other than nappies and nursery forms.

Right now I repay you by forgetting to post your birthday cards, but I hope you all know that I’ll be there to hold your babies, puppies, goldfish, whatever, so that you can drink your tea while it is still hot – it’s the least I can do, because you’ve saved my sanity a hundred times over.

Thank you.

What would you say to your friends? What little things have they done to help you along the way?

Lou x

A Different Mother

A better mother second time round?

Nope. Just different…

I knew from day one that I was different. Within the first few hours with Scout being Earth-side a profound difference was obvious. But it took me by surprise.

When I became a Mother

The joy I felt when Oscar was born was immense but there was also a fear – this was a whole new world we were venturing into and one we knew nothing about. Ante-natal classes try and prepare you for the birth of your baby but what about beyond that?! I was completely ill equipped!

I remember the feeling that first night in hospital with a teeny tiny Oscar feeling totally out of my depth. He was the first baby I’d ever held never mind care for. After Robin left the hospital for the night it was just the two of us – I was learning how to hold him, how to feed him, change him and give comfort. It was scary!

But of course, we learnt. The next day I got home and together as a team of three we powered on – learning on the job. It was wonderful, but scary. We’d sometimes second guess ourselves. In the night when he cried and we thought we’d exhausted all resources we got anxious that something might be wrong, of course, there wasn’t anything wrong. Sometimes babies just cry.

Take two

Two and a half years later and we waited in anticipation for Scout’s arrival – we didn’t know yet who she would be, but I was nervous. How would it be second time? Would she take to feeding as Oscar did? Would I cope? Can you die from sleep deprivation?

Then along she came and I felt different – I was so completely at ease and content. She made life easy and took to feeding straight away and I didn’t worry about it the way I had with Oscar – I knew she was doing well, I knew I was enough. When Robin left us for the night I felt confident and enjoyed every minute just the two of us.

While I was pregnant, I had read a blog post by Steph_dontbuyherflowers about ‘pulling up the drawbridge’ (well worth a read for anyone expecting a baby regardless or whether it be first or 10th!). It talks about the pressure new mums put on themselves to ‘bounce back’ and basically to be superwoman on the school run 2 hours after giving birth. Back in the day women would spend well over a week in hospital recovering, and now, many people are out within a few hours putting pressure on themselves to get back to normal, despite their body just going through a monumental event – both physically and mentally (seriously, go read, because my summary can’t do it justice). Anyway, it rang true to me – Oscar was a summer baby and I had been so keen to get up and get out in the sunshine and show him off to anyone that cared, and even to those who didn’t! It was so important to me to get ready, do my hair and makeup and trundle on out with the pram – I think part of me was trying to prove to myself that I had my sh*t together and I was doing ok in my new role and not wanting to lose my sense of me.

However, second time round I’ve had nothing to prove – not to myself or anyone else. In those first few newborn weeks we (semi) pulled up the drawbridge – the fact it was January, Baltic & snowing, made this a lot easier. I’m glad that we spent our first weeks together just chilling on the sofa. We put no pressure on ourselves. We had visitors, we welcomed them in, but we didn’t bother apologising for the mess.

The shock to the system that inevitably comes with a first baby seems lesser with the second. I have felt more at ease with the relative surrender of freedom that comes with exclusive breastfeeding – something I struggled with first time even though I knew it was something I wanted to do, something that was important to me and something that ultimately I loved doing.

We have fed, cuddled and napped our way through our first two months as a family of four – sometimes not even changing out of our PJ’s.

Parenting Rebooted

Has this made me a better mother this time round?

Nope. I’m just different.

Free of the incessant worry that comes with your first child (the worry that ages you about 10 years in the first month of their life). We’re not worried about routines – they will fall into place sooner or later. If she cries, we pick her up, she spends her days in our arms or sleeping soundly on our chests and we are confident in the knowledge that we cannot “spoil” her in doing so. We can shrug off unsolicited advice and roll our eyes, knowing we’re making the right choices for her and our family. Honestly, it’s refreshing.

In the last two and a half years Oscar has taught us both so much – not least that the months fly in. So I’m soaking up every little detail because I know all too well how quickly each phase will end. Already I feel the end of the newborn phase is coming and with it Scout is spending more time awake and demanding more attention. It’s sad knowing this will be the last time we do it but I’m excited for what’s to come, because that’s something else Oscar’s taught us – just how brilliant it is watching a little human grow and develop their own personality.

I don’t think there is a right or wrong. That drawbridge can be up or down, just so long as you’re happy doing what you’re doing. Make sure whatever it is though, you’re doing it for you – don’t let anyone else get in the way!

Lou x

Looking Forward to Another Positive Birth…

It’s coming round quick…

Well here’s a crazy thought – this time next month it’s *very* possible that we’ll have a new wee baby in our lives. A brand new (hopefully cute) sleep thief…

In preparation for seeing our Consultant this week to discuss our birth choices, I’ve been thinking a lot about my previous positive birth experience of having had a elective c-section with Oscar (along with the inevitable off hand comments that often follow such a birth *eye roll*) and I’m looking ahead to doing it all over again…

Bum Down Baby

For my entire pregnancy Oscar was always head up, bum down, the wrong way, breech. We were always assured he’d “probably correct himself” but as the weeks drew in towards his due date it was become less and less likely, especially as he started to run out of room. Regardless, we followed the advice and I spent a lot of my spare time at home in the downward dog position craning my head up to see the telly – very dignified, and it didn’t work.

Having been consultant led throughout my pregnancy, we were sat down once more at around 36ish weeks to discuss our options. We were offered an External Cephalic Version (ECV), this is when pressure is applied on your abdomen in an attempt to assist the baby in a somersault in the womb to lie head down. We declined this procedure based on a number of factors, including it’s rather low success rate.

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