Breast feeding and Busselton

Firstly a warning... this post contains semi-naked photos and discussion of nipples. If this is not ok with you - stop reading now!

I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I’m the first to admit it. I know my husband, family, work colleagues and close friends would whole-heartedly agree, because on many an occasion it has driven them crazy! I’m also fiercely independent. I like to be ‘right’ and do things ‘right’, all on my own (and then complain afterwards about the lack of help or support given, even though I never would’ve accepted said help and support anyway). Madness hey?!

So when I initially struggled when breastfeeding Sage, I was devastated. As her Mum, I was supposed to know what to do. I was supposed to do it right. I was supposed to find it easy, “natural”. Of course I’d heard that it could be difficult. I’d heard that it could be hard. But I never really thought that that would be me.

How wrong I was.
What an incredible reality check. Being a new Mum meant I no longer I had the option of perfection or independence, as I couldn’t be perfect at something I had no idea about. And I couldn’t be independent when I so desperately needed help.
My first introduction to breastfeeding was immediately after I had delivered Sage. She was bought up onto my chest, just as we had hoped. But something we hadn’t anticipated was my need for both internal and external stiches after her speedy entry into the world. While my obstetrician was “mending” me, we were attempting to get Sage to attach to my very flat nipple on my very full breast. I was still experiencing a great deal of pain and was trying really hard not to concentrate on the tugging and pulling of the needle and thread and focus on my new baby girl and her desperate need to suckle. This surprisingly (!) was not a successful first attempt. Sage was getting frustrated and I immediately felt a sense of failure welling up inside of me. My beautiful midwife recognised this and suggested we try again after my stitches were complete.

 Our second attempt was actually much better and with a great deal of assistance we got Sage attached and she fed for nearly 2 hours! This was such a beautiful time for our new little family. We sat undisturbed in our delivery suite, marvelling at our beautiful newborn and reflecting on her incredible birthing experience.  It was then that I regained my confidence and thought “yep I’ve got this, I can do this, this isn’t so bad”.

However it was another 24 hours until Sage needed to be fed again. And when that time came, those familiar feelings of frustration and failure once again reared their ugly heads, as I once again could not get her to attach.

We expressed a little colostrum into a plastic cup and syringe fed her, just so she had something in her tiny little stomach.
This devastated me.
Seeing her suck on Simon’s finger as the syringe was placed into the corner of her mouth was heartbreaking. I was supposed to be the one able to nourish our daughter. But I couldn’t. So instead I sat and I watched, feeling an incredibly increasing lump in my throat.
And then my milk came in. And it was leaking everywhere - except into Sage’s mouth.  I was attempting her at the breast at every feed. Willing her, pleading with her to latch on. I couldn’t do it on my own and I resented myself. So I admitted defeat and called on a maternity ward staff member to help.
She waltzed into the room and said sternly “it’s called breast feeding, not nipple feeding” and promptly grabbed my breast in one hand, Sage’s head in the other and shoved them together. Sage was beside herself screaming, so of course would not attach. Simon gave me a much needed break and took Sage for a walk through the hospital corridors.
I sat and I sobbed.
I tried to stop the tears, but they just kept flowing… ironically, just like my milk.

No, I was not depressed, just utterly and hopelessly frustrated that I couldn’t provide for my daughter in the way I so desperately wanted. At the time I viewed breastfeeding as validation that I was a ‘good’ Mum (this view has most certainly changed).

On the occasions in those early days that she did successfully latch on, I was completely unprepared for how painful and excruciating I found the experience. My nipples were in agony, and I’m ashamed to admit it, but I began to dread her waking as it meant yet another feed and therefore more immense pain. I’d clench my eyes closed and try to breathe through each and every suck. I actually found the pain comparable to birthing her.
I was so close to giving up. And giving up is something that I do not do easily. I remember discussing with Simon the possibility of expressing and bottle feeding her once we were at home, just so the pain would end.

To top it all off, during our first week at home, I developed mastitis. As if being a new Mum and trying to navigate my way through those first days of parenthood weren’t daunting enough, attempting to do it whilst nauseated, feeling faint and light-headed with excruciating, blocked and enormously full breasts was challenging at the very least. But we’ll leave the mastitis story for another day, as there’s enough there for another whole post!
Over the coming weeks Sage and I gradually learnt from each other. She was patient with me, as I was with her. She was gentle with me, as I was with her. She began to attach easily and suckle noisily and best of all, be nourished. I didn’t give up. I pushed through the pain and now breast feeding is something that I not only ‘do’ but actually look forward to.

I love that it’s our special time together, just she and I. I love the way she holds my hand tightly or sometimes, when she’s tired, her own ear. I love the way she has started to play, taking a couple of sucks at a time and then looking up to me, grinning in between. I love the way she ‘talks’ to me once she’s finished, trying out new noises and sounds.


She has taught me that I can no longer expect perfection, as feeding her means the world around us stops. I sit on the couch and look at the washing that needs to be folded or the floor that needs to be vacuumed. But you know what? Too bad! I’m feeding my daughter and that’s more important than any pristine house.

While we were in Western Australia during the Easter holidays we decided to visit the Busselton Jetty. Sage was asleep in Simon’s sling, so we thought walking to the end of the jetty and back would be a lovely thing to do close to sunset.

And it was lovely, but then Sage woke up. And of course she needed a feed… halfway down that incredibly long jetty. I’m sure we looked a sight!

We decided it best to turn around and make our journey back as she was still a little unsettled and it was getting cold and windy.

And then, of course, she needed another feed!

Those eyes

But we still got to see the sunset...

I suppose breastfeeding can be likened to our recent visit to the Busselton Jetty. Some may only make it a short way on their breastfeeding journey; perhaps shorter than they’d hoped. Others may not even step foot on that first rickety wooden path. And some may make it right to the very end and wish that jetty could go on for just a little longer. Just like our journey to the jetty, Sage will be the one to decide when it's time to stop.

And that's just fine by me.


  1. This is a beautiful post Anna! You're right, breastfeeding is not an easy journey but good on you for getting this far. And Sage is absolutely gorgeous, congratulations x

  2. I love your post Anna! With me just about to become a mum I am having the same feelings about breastfeeding as you had. In my mind I’m thinking it is just going to happen easily, it's great to know even though you started off with difficulties that in the end you worked through it and sounds like you are doing it quite easily now! I’ll be thinking of your beautiful story now if I come across any trouble in the early days that patience and perseverance pays off in the end. Thanks for sharing. x

  3. Anna this is just beautiful and bought back so many memories. Such an amazing thing for Sage to be able to look back on especially when she becomes a Mum herself!

  4. This is a beautiful story Anna..i must of missed this one...

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