B is for:
I’ve been reading a lot of birth and breastfeeding stories recently on various blogs, so thought this challenge was a good place to pop my oar into the subject! I’ve breastfed both my children – whether or not this was the right or wrong thing for me or my family, it was my decision and was supported by my other half.
While pregnant I heard many things about breastfeeding, ranging from the ‘ooh it’s icky’ camp to the ‘you’re irresponsible if you don’t’ people. My basic reasoning was ‘you’ve got boobs for a purpose, you might as well use them’ and I can’t say my decision was based upon research and sound judgement – my friends had done it and so would I. I assumed I would only do it for six months anyway, so if I didn’t like it it wasn’t too long.
Obviously before our baby was born we attended a few antenatal classes (a very few – they book up so quickly!) and the general theory of how to do it was discussed, but aside from this and looking up a few ‘how to’ videos on the Internet, I never really thought about the mechanics of breastfeeding, the time it would take etc etc.
So our baby was born and I was encouraged to put him to the breast immediately. Things seemed to click quite well and he seemed to know what to do, so I was quite positive.
Things changed a little after the baby blues set in and my milk arrived – making my boobs hideously large leaky things that didn’t quite belong to me. They hurt, my nipples were sore and cracked and awful and it was the worst possible time to feel weepy. It would have been so easy to stop right then and there, but I was stubborn enough to continue, and hopeful enough to think it would get better.
There was also the issue of sleep – everything looks much worse when you’re not sleeping! Baby fed every three hours or so, even through the night and I’m dreadful if I don’t have enough sleep. I think I was truly miserable, my excitement at having a new baby was almost completely taken away by no sleep and having to feed him all the time. I tried expressing milk and although I was able to get a few ounces out, it was never a great amount, so Mr W couldn’t really help me a lot, although he did try.
I’m making it sound really terrible, although it was bad there for a while, it did get better with time and we settled into a good routine – baby was healthy, happy, gaining weight and a normal little chap. The bosoms healed and it stopped hurting to feed so things were good.
By the time baby was ready to finish feeding at 13 months, I was even a little sad to stop as it meant he was not my baby anymore, but a growing little lad – his feeding schedule had gone down to once per day for about five minutes, so it really wasn’t a struggle to stop – I just didn’t offer him a feed one day and he never asked for a feed again. I have read of people having terrible trouble getting their children to stop, so I guess we were lucky on that score.
Despite the bad parts of breastfeeding I did do it again with baby number two and, yes, there were similar bad parts again, but if I was to have a third baby (!) I’m sure I would do it again.
There are so many reasons to try it – personally for me it was a laziness thing, no bottles to sterilise or feeds to make up in bottles, the health benefits to mothers and babies are well publicised so that has to be a plus too.
Although I don’t consider myself to be vigorously pro-breastfeeding I do think that it’s something that people should try and do, even if they find it’s not for them. Too many people dismiss it out of hand for no real reasons except that it’s something that sounds a bit icky. I do think that most people who try to feed will be successful if given the right support from family, friends and organisations like Bosom Buddies.
On the other hand though, I thoroughly disapprove of people who look down on people who choose not to breastfeed or cannot breastfeed – far too much mummy-bashing goes on at a time when most new mums feel at their most vulnerable and are being bombarded with things they should and should not be doing. This goes for regular people and some medical professionals who have a duty of care to mothers even when they choose to feed in the best way for them.
On the whole, my breastfeeding experience was positive – I was ultimately pleased that I was able to do it, and proud of myself for sticking with it when it got tough. It was the right decision for us at the time and hopefully our children’s future health will benefit.