Elizabeth and Stelios

As I watched the breastfeeding-counsellor caress a knitted boob at my final ante-natal class, I thought to myself ‘How hard can feeding a baby actually be?’. Fast forward a month, and my two- week-old daughter had not only failed to regain her birth weight but was beginning to lose weight. My nipples had begun to bleed and were so sore just the thought of feeding her made me wince. All of my preconceptions about breastfeeding – that it would come naturally to me & baby – suddenly seemed laughable & I felt bitterly disappointed, not to mention guilty. I needed help…
Enter Mars. Not only is she a trusted friend, but she is also an experienced Doula, breastfeeding counsellor, mother, and general lover of life. She had already seen me through some pregnancy panics (I had terrible anxiety following a pregnancy loss at 13 weeks) and I knew it was time to call. When she suggested talking on Skype so I could show her my ‘technique’ I tried not to give too much thought about my breasts going wireless and decided to park my reservations & put my desperate family first.
With my husband holding the iPad and Alice ready to feed, we were good to go. Mars talked through different positions, how to relax and how to hold Alice properly so she would latch better. She was able to pick up on subtle things I was doing which weren’t helping (my posture for example) and was able to witness Alice’s approach to it all. And over the next few weeks she supported me through two bouts of mastitis and diligently replied to text messages about nipples, feeding times & just general new-mother anxiety.
For some, breastfeeding comes naturally & is trouble free. But if you do encounter challenges, its critical to be able to demonstrate the problem YOU are having, and have someone talk it through with you and make suggestions which might help. Mars not only helped me with the physical aspects but all the while was offering emotional support, too. The guilt at not ‘getting it right’ coupled with the stress of a hungry baby is extremely demanding. Mars patiently and softly guided me, but never pressured me or made me feel like I was a failure.
Having Mars on Skype was the next best thing to her actually being with me (sadly we live miles apart!) and I was able to ask everything and anything – she has an amazing ability to make you feel like no topic is off limits.
My breast-feeding journey wasn’t what I wanted or thought it would be and I eventually combine-fed. But I am convinced that without Mars’ help I would have thrown the towel in after a few days, rather than continue for a few months. Skype-demonstrations needn’t be dodgy – it’s easy, interactive & does not exclude you from being supported by the best!