Fabulous mum-of-three and news presenter Deborah Knight has recently shared her breastfeeding journey, including the tears and the fears, in a bid to end the guilt surrounding how we feed our babies.
Breastfeeding can be really, REALLY difficult. I know; I struggled through mastitis, nipple thrush, nipple shields and expressing at work for months, but I am no pioneer. Each of us has our own breastfeeding stories – for some mums it came as naturally as we’re supposed to believe it does. For others, like Deborah, it’s a struggle.
‘It’s remarkable I’m still breastfeeding my daughter’
The Today Show weekend edition co-host penned a piece for Nine Honey explaining how she is composite feeding her nine-month-old daughter Audrey (pictured below), now that she’s returned to work.
A photo posted by Deborah Knight (@deborah_knight) on
Deborah expresses breastmilk as her makeup is applied saying, “Under the hairdressing cape I wear to protect my clothes and my colleagues from copping an eyeful, the breast pump sounds a bit like a strange mobile phone ring. Or a lost insistent frog.
I am quite remarkably still breastfeeding my daughter Audrey who is now nine-months-old. I say remarkably, because despite what the pamphlets promoting breastfeeding lead us to believe – with the angelic newborn gently feeding from a blissfully adoring Mother – this seemingly natural and simple task is for the majority of women really hard work.”
As Deborah explains, her third child has breastfed longer than her first two, and it took her a good couple of months to feel like it was going to work.
“And even now I have to feed Audrey in a quiet room with no distractions because she wriggles and giggles and now chomps with her new teeth – ouch! My attempts to breastfeed my first two children, however, were disasters.”
Breastfeeding was a nightmare
Her first-born, Darcy, spent some time in intensive care after his birth, so Deborah expressed breastmilk while they were both still in hospital. But she says once she was actually able to breastfeed her son, she found it painful and distressing.
“I was told by one midwife that breastfeeding was like learning to dance with your baby – it required both of us to be in step. Darcy and I definitely had four left feet.”
“I had engorged sore breasts and suffered grazed and cracked nipples because when he did latch on, it was never the ‘correct’ way, so it hurt – a lot. I was in tears, he was hungry and screaming, and we had to repeat this nightmare scenario every three to four hours because that’s how frequently new babies need to feed. Every midwife in the hospital had a slightly different approach, so the advice changed every time a shift changed.”
Deborah employed the use of a nipple shield when she returned home, and sought endless amounts of expert help. After three months of breastfeeding what she describes as an unsettled baby, she switched to formula.
The nightmare continued the second time round
But the story repeated itself with her second baby, Elsa. While her birth was uncomplicated, her latch was poor, and after four months Deborah began formula-feeding her daughter. And it’s at this point that she wants to point out to other mums that no matter how you feed your baby, you’re doing it right.
“Don’t get me wrong, I know that breast is best for the health of your baby, and if you are lucky enough to breastfeed successfully it is so much simpler than using formula and having to sterilise bottles and carry all the feeding paraphernalia every time you leave the house. But I am not alone in having found breastfeeding really hard – emotionally and physically. New mums take on guilt easily, especially when you fail at something as seemingly natural as breastfeeding.”
She’s called for an end to the guilt, and honesty when speaking about breastfeeding.
“One lactation consultant told me that around that 80% of women experience difficulty while trying to establish breastfeeding. Why aren’t we told that in the pre-natal classes or the maternity ward? And if it isn’t working, help new mums to explore the alternatives without feeling let down.”
If you’re experiencing issues with breastfeeding, or want more information, head to the Australian Breastfeeding Association.