Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

Weaning in a hurry


How's this for a Saturday afternoon activity: lying topless while a young man palpitates your breasts.

It wasn't my husband - he was playing with the baby. It was, in fact, a doctor. A doctor I paid $85 to see after waiting an hour. With a throbbing pair of breasts, or front bumpers (as male family members charmingly call them) or fun bags (as others call them, though they haven't been much fun lately!).

The story starts on Monday morning when I went to give my 11-month-old daughter a breastfeed.

Having just got top teeth, the tot thought she'd try them out on my breast and chopped down with huge gusto. My screeching followed, and then her wailing.

When I noticed she'd drawn blood, I immediately vowed to wean her.

Feeling a little sad about it, I tried to go back on my vow later in the day, but again the little devil got her fangs out and I then decided I was too scared to put any of my anatomy in her mouth ever again.

It wasn't as though she was taking lots of breastfeeds anyhow - I had been cutting back for months. However, it was a nice way for me to unwind at the end of the day - at the end of the chaotic witching hour - and I relished being able to do it.

It's frequently a struggle to establish breastfeeding - in my case my daughter was tongue-tied and needed a snip to stop mangling my God-given equipment - but if you are lucky enough to eventually establish it, it can be easy and relaxing.

But the bite was a step too far.

I am haunted by the story told by a coffee-group colleague of mine who knew of someone whose nipple was actually bitten off and had to be surgically reattached, the type of tale that sends a round of winces and shudders through any group of mothers.

My chest was hugely engorged as a result of the sudden weaning. I actually said to my husband at some point: take a look, only plastic surgery will attain this look after this milk has gone!

Unfortunately any joy he might have gleaned from the enhanced bust line was ruined by the fact I screamed in agony whenever anything at all got remotely near them.

Attending a meeting the night after the weaning, I was able to share my experience with other women who had weaning stories.

Cabbage leaves were highly recommended, as was pain relief, and one woman had bound her breasts for four days under mounds of muslin.

I used both cabbage leaves and pain relief liberally. A few days, I thought, and everything will be back to normal (or deflated, if the last experience is anything to go by).

But no, six days later and I was as swollen as ever, and in ever increasing amounts of agony.

I rang the Plunket Hotline (thanks, John Key!) and the nurse told me to get myself to the doctor, quick smart.

As always, the biggest emergencies always end up the most expensive as they are usually outside business hours and this was no different. Not to mention the waiting time, which I have already mentioned.

And then that incredibly young looking doctor - 24 if he was a day - and a humiliating breast examination with only the thinnest of curtains dividing me from (seemingly) hundreds of waiting others.

And so, back home and several pills later, the pain and swelling is still there but I hope it won't be for long.

I had hoped to wean slowly but unfortunately it was not to be. My daughter doesn't seem bothered by it, so that's one thing to be glad of.

Now if both the kids would temporarily stop throwing themselves at my chest - typically for kids they seem more keen than ever to do it at the moment - life would be that much easier!

- Dita De Boni

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Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

Dita De Boni is a columnist, commentator and TV producer/journalist. She first wrote columns for the NZ Herald in 1995, moving to daily business news in 1999 for four years, and then to TVNZ in Business, News and Current Affairs. After tiring of the parenting/blogging beat for the Herald Online she moved back to her first love, business (with a politics chaser), writing a column for Friday Business since 2012.

Read more by Dita De Boni

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