Sunday 26 June 2011

My Story of Breastfeeding - Reality Bites!

All of us who are mothers have a breastfeeding story, it might not be the one we want but we have it none the less and once the time has passed and we no longer produce milk or have a child that it is appropriate to feed in that manner we can not change it. We have to accept it and move on...

So it saddens me to read posts, tweets or messages in forums about mums who are struggling to breastfeed, being pushed to breastfeed, feel uncomfortable feeding in public or any other reason that feeding their baby is giving them angst. Often these mums state that they feel like a failure and they have not fulfilled their natural role or that perhaps others have made them feel like that and you know what? It is completely wrong!

Image Source I remember those days!

Every one of us is different, what is easy for me is completely difficult for you. What you naturally do, I struggle with even with extensive training, so why can we not accept that breastfeeding your baby is the same? I am a live and let live kind of woman. Yes, sometimes I get a bit worried and wound up and wonder what people are thinking of me and then I remember that I am happy with me and so are those you love me, that is what counts!

A while back I watched a TV programme about young mums and breastfeeding and how feeding was not the norm for those people who had babies under the age of about 23. It appeared the the general consensus was that boobs were a sexual thing and they felt their would be stigma and teasing if they breastfeed. I had no idea. I suppose not having my first child until I was 30, I was already a a mature woman confident of who I was and that meant I could make my own informed decision that I would attempt to breastfeed.

That may sound defeatist to some but 'attempt to breastfeed' was always how I thought of it, I had spoken to enough people and read enough to understand that breastfeeding is not always easy. I believe this stance put me in good stead to have 3 totally different but all equally successful breastfeeding stories. Now, do not take that to mean I breastfeed them all for long periods of time, as I didn't.

You may have read a while back how disappointed I was with my birth experience for JJ and that was because my expectations were too high and un-managed. Breastfeeding I am pleased to say was a different story. I know many mums-to-be have a little dream of how it will be, mother and baby skin-to-skin the babe turns and latches on, sucking away gently, the mother smiles and they look at each other and the bond is instant. This continues for a year and the babe flourishes gaining weight beautifully and then bump, dream interrupted, the baby arrives and reality bites!

I put a lot of work and thought into ensuring I knew how to breastfeed, persevering with it and making the right choices for my family. With JJ I attended breastfeeding classes prior to his birth, I read up, I had watched another mother feed, I knew the latch was the all important thing.

He feed as soon as I awoke from my general anaesthetic and it went well, my milk came in, he feed a lot but that was OK, we spent lovely hours on the sofa with the TV, a book, a packet of digestives and some water. He feed and I relaxed - bliss. I had thrush of the milk ducts twice and that was not nice but antibiotics got me through it. Yes I got tired but that is called being a new mother isn't it?

I expressed from day 3 to up my supply and have milk so dh could feed him while I slept, he had a bottle in that first week, a dummy from day 2 and as for nipple confusion - nope he was fine. He got to about 8 weeks and I was ready for more sleep, I knew he could do more time and I recall asking dh is he minded if I gave him one bottle of formula at 10pm. I thought that dh would tell me off and I felt so lousy for saying this but my dh's response was fantastic and helped me to put it into perspective. 'It's not my decision, as long as JJ is fed I am happy, do what is right for you Michelle', I cried and was so relieved. My how emotional breastfeeding is, your hormones are everywhere!

From that day until 6 months he had 1 formula bottle and was breastfeed for the rest, it worked perfectly for us. At 6 months he felt like a big confident baby and for me it felt the right time to stop breastfeeding and that is what I did. My Memories of breastfeeding JJ are fond ones but I know I had cracked and bleeding nipples, I remember holding my breath when the latch was not right and it hurt so much I wanted to scream but I got through it.

Trying to feed the girls was a different kettle of fish. Yes I was an experienced breastfeeding mother and that was great, I knew all the tricks but trying to tandem breastfeed and just dreaming of my milk coming in, those first couple of days were torture but that is a post for another day, I fear this one is too long already.

I wish to leave you remembering that breastfeeding can take a lot of hard work and yes, it is wonderful when done right but if you choose not to do it or the journey towards it being a successful partnership is too hard for you then please stop worrying and just use formula. By having a happy and comfortable mum you have given your baby the best start in life they could want.

I was keen to write a post about breastfeeding during this week as it is national breastfeeding awareness week but from what I understand the government have decided not to publicise it. So it is up to all of us who feel it is important for mums-to-be to receive breastfeeding education and support like I did when I was learning to fed my first baby.