This article originally appeared and was published on AOL.com
Though natural, breastfeeding doesn’t always come easy.
New moms may tell you that they breastfeed to give the baby necessary nutrients, or to connect. What a lot of moms won’t openly talk about are the sleepless nights, stress, pain and dangers of breastfeeding.
According to the CDC, while 80% of infants in the United States are breastfed, fewer than 49% continue at 6 months. Moms are faced with a nasty combination of pain and stigma — we can’t blame moms who drop nursing. Breastfeeding should be a personal choice, so leave it to the mom.
But mom Remi Peers is hoping to change the way breastfeeding is viewed, beginning with its dangers.
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24-year-old Peers has been sharing her postpartum journey with her followers. And while raising her 1-year-old son hasn’t been easy, she’s been quite frank about the challenges. One of those challenges is breastfeeding, which she has detailed in an intimate photo.
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This is mastitis. After hitting the 1 year breastfeeding mark last Sunday I felt compelled to share my story. Breastfeeding did NOT come easy for me. My milk came in after 5 days. I wasn't aware that it could take that long, I didn't even necessarily know what "milk coming in" meant. (Nobody ever taught me.) I was the only mother breastfeeding on my ward. One women did try to breastfeed, but switched to formula after 12 hours because she "had no milk" (nobody taught her either.) While the other babies slept with full bellies, my son screamed and cried attached to my breast through the night. (What was cluster feeding? Nobody told me) When I got home, problems started to arise-my nipple literally cracked in half. I have never felt such pain, I dreaded every feed, but persisted with tears in my eyes until I was healed. (Nobody taught me that breastfeeding could be painful, nobody taught me what a good latch looked like) When feeding my son out in public I would either go to the bathroom or pump at home and feed him with a bottle. Because I felt embarrassed and as though I would make others uncomfortable. This resulted in clogged ducts and engorgement. (I feed freely in public now, and have done for a long time. Fuck this backwards society!) Then came mastitis. I remember waking up at 3am shivering, putting on my dressing gown and extra blankets and trying to feed my son. The pain. It was excruciating. I was shaking and sweating but freezing to my bones. At 5 am I woke up my boyfriend and told him I thought I needed to go to the hospital. We got my stepdad, a doctor, he took my temperature and said it was slightly high, but to take a paracetamol and try and sleep. 7am comes, I've had no sleep, and now I'm vomiting, he takes my temp again. 40 c. I had developed sepsis overnight. This was because I was not able to recognise the more subtle signs of mastitis (as I had seen no redness that day) I was rushed to resus, given morphine, anti sickness and the strongest antibiotics they could give, and separated from my baby for two nights. I was Heartbroken. Continued in comments…
Peers lives in the U.K., where breastfeeding isn’t common. After Rudy’s birth, Peers knew she wanted to breastfeed, but she was never really educated by her doctors. She didn’t know how it worked, or what could go wrong — but she knew it was all natural.
That being said, she panicked when she wasn’t able to produce milk for 5 days. Later, her son soon began cluster feeding, which was so painful that her “nipple literally cracked in half.”
Her enlarged tissue and clogged ducts were signs of mastitis. But at one point, Peers’ pain, fever and vomiting became so unbearable that she was admitted to the hospital, where she learned she had developed sepsis.
And while she had to continue to pump to alleviate the infection, nurses struggled to help her. “We’re having trouble finding one as we don’t get many breastfeeding mothers here,” they told her.
According to WebMD, mastitis is “most common during the first 6 months of breastfeeding,” a time when most women give up nursing.
Peers photo serves as a warning to new moms, those who may not be aware of the dangers of breastfeeding. It’s normal, it’s natural, but many moms may feel embarrassed their bodies don’t seem to be working the way they should be. Consequently, she’s calling for more education “about the problems that can arise and what to do, how to spot them and how to remedy them.”
“Women are not expected to give birth alone, but somehow today they are expected to breastfeed alone, and not share their experience with others, and this is why so many breastfeeding relationships end before they’ve even really started. The breastfeeding rates in the UK are shockingly low. The health system, and society in general is failing breastfeeding mothers. I see many professionals push breast is best almost aggressively in some cases, and yet there is no real support post baby. Breastfeeding is HARD, it needs to be taught and it needs to be learned. Just like walking, talking, reading and writing- it may be natural, but it does not always come naturally.”
Her post has resonated with other moms, many of whom wish to fight against the stigma. #Normalizebreastfeeding, they commented.
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