I always planned to breastfeed. For 3 months. Or until teeth. Whichever came first. Laughable now, given that I was earlier sat breastfeeding a walking, talking toddler with 16 of them! However, I didn’t get here without some regrets, a circle of supportive women and a bit of grit and determination.
When my first baby was born in June 2014 I expected him to feed every 2 hours, there or there about. Why does no one tell you that they feed all the time?! I was worried he wasn’t getting ‘enough’ because he was a ‘big’ baby and I was just about ready to send my husband to the shop to get a big, shiny tin of formula as the midwife was giving me the usual spiel about it being normal for babies to lose a little weight after 5 days and not to be disappointed if that was the case (this IS totally normal by the way). This kid had been permanently attached to my boob after the first few fumbly attempts, surely he couldn’t have lost and I certainly wasn’t prepared to continue if he had. Luckily he hadn’t and it was the ego boost I needed to do that little bit more. That night my mum showed me how to breastfeed lying in bed on my side (seriously, why do they not tell you about that little sanity saver either?!) and we were off.
5 months of exclusive breastfeeding down the line and I was less buoyant. He still fed ALL. THE. TIME. I was exhausted and surrounded by people telling me he would sleep better on formula or that it would give me a break. So I merrily skipped to Boots to buy me a big tin of hopes and dreams for more sleep and a bit of freedom. Turns out he didn’t sleep any better and it was still mostly me making the bottles. I quickly came to regret my decision to stop and vowed that if I were lucky enough to have another shot I would do things differently.
Fast forward to May 2016 when my daughter was born. I had armed myself with more knowledge about the biological norms of human babies. I had a couple of lovely close friends who were breastfeeding pros, supportive of my parenting decisions and always on hand with a supportive text/glass of wine/hugs/good vibes. Most importantly I already knew about the magical side feeding in bed. I was already winning. She fed beautifully from the off. It wasn’t the blind leading the blind second time around. I could guide her with my experience. She fed a lot, but this time I knew it was normal and having realistic expectations made the whole thing more manageable. Without really thinking about it or planning to I had suddenly got to 12 months having never given a bottle or formula. She started wanting cow’s milk in a cup liker her big brother and as her food increased her breast feeds naturally tailed off. She will be 2 in a few months and we are now down to a quick bedtime feed most nights as long as we both feel like it. Sometimes I don’t want to and sometimes she doesn’t and that’s ok. It’s a 2 way relationship at this point and we both have to want to continue.
I have learnt so much from two very different experiences and I am now training with the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers (ABM) to be a Mother Supporter.
If you are feeling inspired and would like to share your experience, or if you are after some support on your journey, we have that covered too – just get in touch! firstname.lastname@example.org