Friday, 2 April 2010


Considering that for the last ten years I have either been pregnant or breastfeeding, and we have had four children in that time, you might think that the addition of Number Four would present little difficulty. But it is amazing how little you remember between babies, and the long-term effect of preg-head and nappy-brain (both scientifically-proven results of hormonal fluctuations, don't you know) seems to be that in between children, you largely forget most of your skills in the child-rearing arena.

Take breastfeeding, for example. First time round we lived in Brazil and were the first of all our friends to have kids. There was no advice or support at all. We had the baby in hospital, had a lesson on bathing a new born, and were then sent home to our apartment to muddle along as best we could. Best we could resulted in some serious nipple damage and a fairly serious case of mastitis within two weeks of being at home. Not to mention total exhaustion and serious questioning of our decision to have children at all on my part.

This is now nine whole years and three children later and so I expected to simply have the baby, pop her carefully on the boob (using all my powers of motherly skill, and remembering all the crucial elements of breastfeeding which, if you make a mistake one time, can result in days of pain, tenderness and/or infection) and away I would go.

I am not sure if the left boob (which has taken the worst beating over time) is now so devoid of sensation for all the scar tissue that has built up, that I am unable to detect a bad latch resulting in the nip being sucked to within half a centimetre of being totally removed, or if it is just that it can take a while to get back into the swing of things.

Fortunately, this time, we have been in the UK. Not only does a midwife come and visit you at home more or less any time you want it when you get home for two weeks, but my mother is just up the road and has been helping me out. Also, there are legions of breast feeding advisers who will come and visit you to help you, and then phone and check your progress every day. The support is legendary, and absolutely amazing compared to most other places. Some girls I know here complain that the breast feeding lobby has become almost nazi in its desire not to let people put their babies on bottles. From my own point of view, I agree that breast feeding is the most healthy thing for you and your baby, so I want to do it first of all from a long-term health point of view. But more practically, I know that breastfeeding is definitely the safest and easiest way to feed your baby if you live in a place like Kazakhstan. If we want to go on trips as a family, or hike into the mountains, or go and stay in out of the way places which we will do once we finally get back to our home in the Stan, we will only be able to do that if I am feeding the baby naturally. There will be no facilities to keep things clean if I were to switch to bottles and we would be limited in what we could do. Also, the chances of the supermarkets stocking a reliable supply of formula are nil. Even with our toddler, when she was still having formula, she would regularly have to drink the wrong formula for her age and stage, since the correct type would be unavailable in all stores Almaty-wide.

And this thought has kept me going this time through the bleeding nipples and breast infection which once again has marked the first few days of a new family member. It is now four weeks since our baby arrived and I am still having issues with the left side. The will to succeed in this has been seriously tested, but with our visas now coming through to return to Kazakhstan, I will simply have to grit my teeth and keep going. Keep your fingers crossed for me that there is no return of the creeping redness that signifies the onset of mastitis, and that this darned left nip settles down and stops hurting all the time.


  1. Oh good luck, do hope it sorts itself out and no mastitis. Have a good trip back. x

  2. Fingers crossed it is all sorted out and for no mastitis - have a safe trip back