Well, after this very draining week of world news, I’m feeling like we all need a little pick me up. So here we have my positive submission for Feeding Friday, from the gorgeous Nicola. Whilst it’s so important to acknowledge the struggles, the lack of support and information, and the barriers, for some women and their babies, breastfeeding is pretty straightforward. Even just about entirely positive…
When Keri put a shout out for her mamas to share their breastfeeding stories I thought to myself, well no one will be interested to hear mine. Aside from the usual “is baby getting enough milk”, “is this cluster feeding normal” questions early on, everything has seemed to be going really quite well. I would go as far as saying I have been / am really enjoying it.
Although this will likely not be the most riveting article, I decided that actually I was wrong – we SHOULD be sharing the success stories, the straight forward, plain sailing experiences. Just as we all know to be the case generally about labour / birth stories – that you only ever seem to hear the horror stories; the same seems to be true about perception of Breastfeeding.
I was more nervous about whether I would be able to cope with the pain and general discomfort of breastfeeding than I was about the birth! All I seemed to hear was how painful it was, how difficult it was and on top of that was the worry about people’s reactions / acceptance of feeding in public and generally getting caught up in the emotive topic of breastfeeding vs formula feeding. I really thought I would struggle to feed, or hate it and be left feeling guilty for giving up (I should clarify here – I don’t think people that can’t or choose not to breastfeed should feel guilty – these are just my personal foibles). I wanted to try however, and I hoped it would be successful. If only I had heard more of the positive stories out there, perhaps I wouldn’t have felt anxious – perhaps more people in general would feel more confident and capable if they heard how great it can be.
Sure, it hasn’t been 100% easy at all times. No-one seems to warn you about cluster feeding (or if they do I must have missed that memo!). Don’t get me wrong, once I knew it was normal I was perfectly happy to camp out on the sofa with a box set and never ending packets of crunch cream biscuits, but at first I (and Hubby) were questioning whether Emily was getting enough milk. Why was she so hungry all the time? Perhaps I wasn’t producing enough milk?? Even my mum was suggesting perhaps my milk wasn’t enough for her and she may need formula.
Luckily, I had some wonderful friends on hand (you know who you are) to assure me all was fine and that it was perfectly normal for baby to feed pretty much ALL DAY! I could then reassure hubby (and mum) that all was good and he didn’t need to run to the shop for formula. I still don’t understand why that isn’t the one piece of information drummed into you straight after labour. By the time the midwife visited post birth I had already been reassured by friends (and Google) and was feeling happy and confident about feeding. I was lucky to have supportive network of friends as well as Keri and her gang of mums. For people that don’t have such support I can absolutely understand how you might get caught in the top-up trap.
That aside, there was the general discomfort in the first few weeks. Yes your nipples will crack, and yeah that does hurt a bit, but after repetitive application of Lansinoh cream (best invention ever) and a couple of weeks to toughen up, that all eased up. Now 4.5 months in, I can’t even tell if she is still latched on half the time!
There are the odd occasions when I feel like I would like to be able to pass Emily to her dad to get her to sleep as I’m feeling a little touched out (madam doesn’t like bottles so it’s been 4.5 months EBF) but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love being everything she needs, and being able to offer instant comfort. I’m also pretty lazy so appreciate the lack of cleaning / sterilising and not needing to get out of bed for the nighttime feeds!!
I enjoy feeding her and hope very much that I can continue our journey through the transition back to working full time early next year.
I know I have been very lucky and that lots of people do have real struggles in their breastfeeding journey, but I also think there are plenty of women out there enjoying a similar story to mine, and I think it would be helpful to share some more of those stories so that less expectant mums feel anxious about something so natural and what can be such a wonderful chapter of motherhood.