We typically don't hear that much about breastfeeding and bonding - it's an area that provokes strong reaction. A popular piece on the blog is this one, written by a mum of eight, some formula fed and some breastfed; it highlights perfectly the beauty of oxytocin (the primary bonding hormone) at work.
Something else we often hear though from some mums, is that they felt they only started bonding with their baby when they stopped breastfeeding. Whilst we know of course bottle feeding mums can bond (ie it's not exclusive to a breastfeeding mum) stating stopping breastfeeding and starting bottle feeding facilitated this is confusing for many, so that's rarely discussed either.
But we should.
Many mums find it extremely difficult to admit they are struggling to bond with their baby; afterwards once they've got there they can, but at the time it's hard. We perhaps read it more online than in person - because the faceless forum can sometimes allow people to be more honest than they otherwise would be.
Yet when supporting a mum in person with severe feeding problems, highlighting that it's important these issues are rectified, because they can amongst other things lead to problems bonding with baby - is so often met with a look of pure relief and frequently tears, that I think it's too significant not to talk about.
Imagine that every hour your husband walked over and nipped your arm, hard. Sometimes he held the nip so hard it cut the blood supply from your arm, other times he released it quickly, but sat for ages repeatedly nipping over and over again. Your arm became bruised and sore, but you felt you had to endure it for the sake of your marriage.
Pretty soon you would be flinching when your husband came near you, whilst he may be the best husband in the world outside of the nipping, you may think him gorgeous and love him dearly, when you knew nipping time was looming you would start to dread him coming near you!
Over time that would get you down, you may avoid being close in case he signalled he was about to nip you....
Some I'm sure will be wondering how this is in anyway comparable to breastfeeding, so let me show you what one mother showed me during my last visit.
But the question is, why on earth would anyone consider anything that caused such pain bonding? You think this mum is going to get an "oxytocin high"? In case you're wondering the midwife commented they looked sore, suggested lanolin and to hold the baby more firmly on to the breast.
It's also incredibly easy for a mum in such a situation to become tearful and down, and so PND may be diagnosed rather than situational stress.
The baby had a disorganised suck, clamped and bit down when anything came in contact with his gums, tongue tie and couldn't even trigger the let down reflex - yet the mum was told to stick at it, which she had for 5hrs straight one night; is this what people mean by toughening up?
We need to address breastfeeding problems before they have a chance to cause trauma, not only the kind of physical damage visible in the pictures, but to mums mentally and emotionally. Ultimately that can take much longer to heal than even the sorest nipple.