My nipples burned for less than ten days. I nursed with pleasure, with confidence and curiosity about how it would be this time. The powerful labour gave me strength, the support of that group remained and reminded me always that this time it could be another story.
Breast-Reduction Surgery and Eventually Breast-Feeding?2
“I would like to tell a story of how it was to breastfeed my children.
It starts in 2001, maybe before that, but at that time I did a breast reduction plastic surgery and removed about 700g each side.
In 2010 my son Mattias was born at home, a midwife assisted uneventful home birth. He sucked in the first or second hour of life. Five days later, my nipples were in ulcers. I felt a lot of pain.
When he was 10 days old he was weighed. He was thin. The weight gain was low. A pilgrimage through 5 paediatricians and finally I chose one with a lot of experience in breastfeeding.
We weighed him constantly. He was still very thin. Weight gain low. And I was in pain. All pain is emotional. Mine smelled of guilt, regret and fear, as well as motherlessness. Being a mother without having mother is a very unique pain, it is the mother of all pains.
At 18 days of his life drugs were prescribed, relactation with artificial milk and lots of water. Debating with the doctor I informed her that I would not do relactation with powdered milk that week. Trying to see how it would go only with medication and dedication. And pain.
A week at a time, I was leaving the milk powder idea to die a natural death.
I made a pact with my partner, he would always remind me of what my body was capable of. He reminded me and I remembered. Eternal gratitude.
The weeks passed, the weight gain was still low, but it was not scary. He grew up with a lot of vitality and that gave us confidence.
I attended a support group for breastfeeding mums (Matrice in São Paulo) and also postpartum groups.
To be in a group relieved my sorrows. I would not have done it without them.
The nipples healed about 80 days after delivery.
I breastfed for 6 months without supplementing with formula. We never tasted milk powder. This boy nursed for two years and five months. I consider it a success story and pain.
I got pregnant again when he weaned. I feared going through the whole thing again. But it did not happen.
Corinna was born in 2013, at home in a smooth delivery assisted by two midwives. She fed in the first hour of her life.
She was plump, how was that possible? Yes, breast milk, from the scarred breasts, of my own honoured pain, of myself reinvented as a mother, of the mourning for my own mother resolved.
I do not recommend mammoplasty. And no longer feel that our bodies can be the focus for such frustration.
But today, so many years later, I embrace the 19-year-woman who lay on that operating table and opened herself for a plastic surgery. I had to live all I have lived, I honor my past and forgive myself.
Corinna still breastfeeds, she is now 2years and 1 month. It has been 54 months of milk production to date.
Mothers need support, mothers sometimes need breastfeeding advice. Mothers need professionals committed to breastfeeding.
And babies need feeding.
In the photos are Anna and Corinna just days after being born.
Anna is a big activist and campaigns extensively for birth rights in Brazil. I photographed her labour and she was one of the first people I photographed for the project Birth Marks (www.facebook.com/birthmarks)
Don’t have to show all photos, choose the ones you prefer.
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