Monday, 22 January 2018

What I've learned (so far) about running a breastaurant

I am almost 5 months into the breastaurant trade and while I'm glad business is booming, it hasn't been without it's problems...

Before I had River, I was blinded by my own dreamy perceptions about breastfeeding; scoffing at the shelves of Cow&Gate in Boots, being high and mighty and thinking I had no need for it. I convinced myself that because I read a leaflet about it outside the Midwives office and I could pretend to breastfeed with the dolls in the antenatal class (OVER my shirt, may I add. Calm down) I would be well on my way when he was born.

Opening night was a 2 star dining experience at best; the service was shocking and the portion sizes were laughable. I spent my first few hours of being a mother squeezing tiny drips of colostrum into a medicine spoon and feeding River like a baby bird because apparently NEITHER of us knew how to breastfeed. It took us a good few days to get the hang of it and during that time I had serious doubts about the longevity of this breastaurant endeavour...

First of all, breastfeeding is convenient if your definition of convenient is living your life with your tits out. For those first few weeks 'on demand feeding' is basically your baby going to town on the all you can eat menu. All.Day.Long. So when you think it'll be lovely to have visits from friends and family to show off your new baby, think again; they will get a maximum 3 minutes of cuddle time before you have to whack out the next order. 

Secondly, just when you thought your salami nips had suffered enough having to cope with their dramatic new look (thanks, pregnancy) they are now almost as sore as your stitched up vagina with absolutely no time for rest. You can lather that nipple cream on all you want but it's hardly a miracle cure. By the end of week two I considered hitting the formula aisle like I was on supermarket sweep. I just longed to save myself from the agony of cracked nipples. But I persevered and remained in my position as head chef of the breastaurant, grimacing through the pain up on my high horse.

Thirdly, nobody tells you that once you hit the 'sleeping through the night' milestone, you will cry with happiness from both your eyes and your nipples. Closing the kitchen overnight will result in you waking up looking and feeling like you're suffering with a botched boob job; that first morning feed will be like a firehose blast hitting your baby so tell him to watch out. 

Nobody tells you about the inevitable battle you have with yourself when it comes to breastfeeding; it's pretty much one version of yourself competing with another version to be right and succeed. The pro-breastfeeding side of me prevailed nonetheless. Those first few weeks were full on, time consuming, difficult, painful and daunting but it's definitely worthwhile, despite all the shitty aspects. Remembering that breastfeeding was new to River too is the main reason I've kept going and I'm currently awaiting a visit from Michelin.


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