Tuesday, 27 June 2017
my breastfeeding story #celebratebreastfeeding
As it’s National Breastfeeding Celebration Week I figured that for once I might jump on the bandwagon and talk about my breastfeeding journey. It also seems fairly timely too that this weekend I will have been breastfeeding my baby boy for a whole year.
Before I continue I want to acknowledge that all too often conversations about breastfeeding descend into guilt, blame and judgement. Regardless of how you feed your baby, you’re doing the very best you can for your child. The problem for me is, that those mothers who want to breastfeed are not necessarily being enabled to do so (according to official figures, eight out of 10 women stop breastfeeding before they want to). And as a result, the UK now has some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world.
I knew I wanted to breastfeed before I even had children. While I was pregnant, I remember being asked by my midwife on numerous occasions who I intended to feed my baby and I always said that I wanted to try to breastfeed. I had many friends who wanted to breastfeed and for whatever reason – lack of support, tongue tie, etc – were unable to continue. I never felt confident that I would breastfeed but I knew I wanted to try. My reasons for wanting to try weren’t all that altruistic, yes, sure I knew it was good for the baby but also, it was free and quick – what can I say, I’m lazy and imagining being woken umpteen times a night sounded bloody awful, without having to also make up a bottle.
But I’ll be honest, I didn’t really give breastfeeding much more thought than that. And then suddenly after an exhausting induced labour, followed by an emergency caesarean, I had my baby boy in my arms and no clue what to do with him!
I was lucky and he latched fairly quickly – we just had a few tries and then we were away. It felt weird. So weird. And then within days, it hurt. So much. Coupled with a healing c-section wound, I felt utterly dejected. I remember feeling so uncomfortable in the final hot weeks of my pregnancy and eagerly looking forward to giving birth and suddenly getting my body back again. But that just didn’t happen. And I hated it.
It was hot and sticky and breastfeeding made me sweat more and I had a tiny little person attached to me for much of the day. My husband could only look on (and thank goodness that he had some time to himself while the baby fed – All. The. Bloody. Time!!).
For me, in the early days, breastfeeding felt lonely, painful and draining.
After chatting (read: breaking down) with the midwife 10 days in, I decided to set myself small, manageable targets. First, I would get to two weeks, then a month, then two. My mum kept telling me that one day soon I would look down and realise that I actually enjoyed it. I was incredulous. Enjoy it?! But she was right. About five or six weeks in and I looked down at this tiny little boy, feeding away happily and realised that not only did I enjoy it, I was beginning to love it. Even then, I felt that six months would be long enough.
Very nearly 12 months later and we’re still feeding. It’s down to one feed a day but neither of us is completely ready to give that feed up yet and I’m fine to wait a while.
The initial weaning at about seven months was my decision but it was based more on circumstance than emotion. I returned to work when the baby boy was eight months old and so knew that about a month before that I would need to start reducing his daytime feeding. I also got to a point where I could no longer face night time feeds. Since then we’ve been nursing first thing in the morning and at bedtime, but over the past couple of weeks we’ve dropped our morning feed.
I now feel as if I’m reaching a point where I wouldn’t mind if it came to an end. I’ll be sad not to have our quiet time together but I know we’ll still have cuddles.
There were many times that I nearly gave up in those early weeks, when my nipples were sore, when both the baby and I got thrust, when I was so tired and it felt like he’d never stop feeding. But now, a year on, I’m so glad I persevered.