As a breastfeeding Mum I thought in awareness of 'National Breastfeeding Week' 24th – 30th June Id be topical and witter on about my thoughts on the subject…
Ok so…..We're sat in Bill's in Cambridge having dinner with the lil man, (mines a fish finger sandwich YUM!) lil lady starts to stir, she's getting peckish. Unlike her brother who would have a little whinge when he was hungry she starts with a little whimper as she fumbles for her chunky fingers to soothe herself and I have a good 30 seconds before she builds to a great crescendo of 'FEED ME WOMAN!!!'
…. I spy an older gentleman sat looking over with a 'hush that noise' tone in his face …(yes faces have tones) with a grab of a muslin with my left hand, 'organising' myself 'click & shuffle' with the other I pick her up, within a couple of minutes she's going good guns…. And peace is restored….
Dressing in the morning with an outfit criteria of 'can I easily get my boobs out' is strangely liberating, I recommend….anyhoo I digress
I look up to catch a glimpse of said older gentleman desperately trying not to look in our general direction because ….however discreet I am covering myself with a muslin so all that can be seen is lil lady's feet poking out the side…he's cottoned on to what I'm doing and clearly feels uncomfortable in the presence of 'the lady with her boob out in a restaurant'… Well wotsits to you Mr Man it's the most amazing thing I can do for my child and quite frankly I blimmin well love being able to do it. *steps down from soapbox*
Hearing more and more friends difficult labour experiences I consider myself ridiculously fortunate to have had natural labours with both my children and hugely lucky that with feeding them it just fell into place. You do need them to kind of meet you half way and thankfully they took to it like little hungry ducks to water. I understand that's not always the case.
With our lil man I kept a feeding diary as the early days are so overwhelming and exhausting. This was to try and see if he had any sort of routine for I seemed to spend most of the day feeding and was thinking I wasn't doing it right for him to be sooo hungry all the blimmin time! I read through it before writing this post reminicing, wondering when I actually left the house. I remember him being a hungry tinker, but every 90 minutes to 2 hours 24 hours a day was getting draining. I must have looked like utter s**t to be blunt as with lil lady everyone's telling me 'how much better I look this time around. I'm a typical Taurus as stubborn and contrary as they come so when Mr G suggested some formula to feed him through the night he got a firm 'not on your nelly luv' in response. I did express on one occassion but it just wouldn't happen for me after an hour of pumping away like daisy the cow I'd accumulated a whopping 50ml …and that I blimmin well spilt transferring it to a bottle…there were indeed tears over spilt milk. I felt so disheartened I didn't bother again.
As exhausted as I was I enjoyed my time with lil man, we'd sit in the spare bedroom so as not to disturb Mr G and have some beautiful time together watching snow fall in the winter months, the sun rise in the spring, him looking up at me with a glint of 'yum! thank you mummy' in his big blue eyes…as now does his baby sister, I've no words, it's something else.
I fed him exclusively until his weight started to dip at 5 1/2 months, when we introduced him to butternut squash, I was still feeding him through the night until he was about 9-10 months. When he suddenly slept through without me, I was devastated, I hadn't had any warning to enjoy our last feed together, that was it, my services were no longer required, the first reality check I was being pushed out by sweet potato purée. Lil man was growing up.
Initially feeding lil lady, our lil man was far from impressed, who was this mini person attached to his mummy…he'd say 'no..put Edie in her bed mummy' and try and push me out of her mouth. Gradually with time and patience he now barely notices when I'm feeding her. When she cries irrelevant of time of day he'll say 'its ok Edie mummy coming with breakfast'! (too damn cute). As far as he's concerned so long as I can still sit on the floor with a hand free to put a train track together, get his dinosaurs out the tub or reach the remote to put Cars on he's more than happy.
This for me, has by far been the most significant bonus with breastfeeding. I've been able to help lil man to understand that Edie's arrival or her needing my time doesn't take me away from him, which at such a time of complete upheaval for him has proved priceless. Helping his acceptance of his new sister and reassurance that I can still be with him, holding a bottle I don't think I'd manage as well. Also I find getting out the house a military operation as it is, let alone having formula, sterile bottles & a thermos to pack up in my 'ol kit bag' .
Nevertheless, as much as breastfeeding is working for us, I do appreciate it isn't for everyone and I don't like to judge other mothers for how they choose to feed their babies, I was determined to do it because it was what we as parents discussed and wanted to do, you have leaflets and DVDs with 'breast is best' thrust at you at mid wife appointments, posters on waiting room walls made to feel opting not to is frowned upon… had it not have worked I honestly would have been devastated. As it was/is something I felt quite passionate about. The science proves the health benefits as well as the bonds created with breastfeeding being significant, but that said I do think it's dangerous ground to imply bottle fed babies can feel any less of a connection with their mothers. I certainly don't sit in the parenting room in John Lewis boobs out and smug face on. Being a new mum is hard enough without having others fling you judgemental glances while you frantically shake a tommy tippee. I've friends, relatives and met mothers with various reasons why they can't, couldn't or wouldn't breastfeed and each of them fantastic mothers.
There were times i've felt drained, exhausted and guilt, what if I'm selfishly preventing Mr G from having that same special time with them. Then with a sense of pride, I look over to my strong healthy young man and my beautiful daughter with her chunky thighs that we've made and give my humble little boobies a high five!
If you would like breastfeeding support pay a visit to this website to locate a group in your area.
You can also speak to your health visitor for help & advice or refer to the Start4Life NHS website.