My Breastfeeding Story
National Breastfeeding Week
With it being National Breastfeeding Week I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and share my experience. So many people have an opinion and there’s a lot of pressure on new mums to meet certain expectations. I breastfed Jacob exclusively for two weeks, then combination fed until he was about one month old. Part of me sometimes wishes I’d have stuck it out for longer before introducing the bottle, but also I am proud for just giving it a go. The main thing is, I know I am doing what is right for both of us. If I’ve learnt anything from my journey, it’s that MAMAS KNOW BEST!
Take it or leave it
The idea of breastfeeding had never appealed to me that much before falling pregnant, mostly because I just never pictured myself as that person brave enough to get my boobs out in public (although I had nothing but respect for those who were). During pregnancy I was bombarded with information about the benefits of breastfeeding, so after seeking advice from friends and family, I decided I would give it a go.
No breastfeeding experience is the same
I understood that every Mama and baby were different and had different experiences, so I didn’t bother with breastfeeding antenatal classes. Holly Willoughby’s book was great with providing the best feeding positions and techniques for latching on (it was like my bible at the start!) My relaxed approach seemed to pay off though and Jacob latched on perfectly within minutes of being born! The first few days were a dream. Obviously it’s a weird sensation to begin with, but I loved how it was creating a bond between us, especially during the night feeds when it was just the two of us awake. This was easy!
But then the milk came..
And my boobs grew. Just call me Pamela Anderson! From this point on, no two feeds were the same. Jacob took a sudden disliking to my left boob. Every so often he would get irritated, arching his back and chomping down as he struggled to latch on (RIP nipples). It made it difficult to plan anything as I didn’t want to be out and about when a feed was due. I was in pain, worried I was doing something wrong and JJ wasn’t happy at all. Although I know it’s common to go through these bad days, personally I didn’t feel like the struggle was worth it. I had no choice but to express my left boob (for the fear it would explode if I didn’t) and as he took so well to the bottle, it just became the easier option (and gave my nipples a much needed break). It was also nice that it allowed Rich to get involved, but as it was so time consuming (it took about 30 minutes to express 5oz) we soon turned to formula to make life easier. Gradually reducing breastfeeds meant I wasn’t in pain as my milk slowly dried up.
Where the problem lies when it comes to breastfeeding advice
I read this week about plans to introduce breastfeeding information in schools, which has created mixed views. Personally, I don’t feel there is a lack of information regarding the benefits of breastfeeding. I do however feel there should be better support. I received so much conflicting advice from the health professionals I encountered. One midwife encouraged me to express if I was struggling, as ‘breast milk is always best’ however it reaches your baby, whereas another warned this wasn’t advisable before 6 weeks. I was also told I should power through the pain as it would get easier.. but why?!
No Mama should be made to feel guilty
What we need is consistent advice and support, regardless of how we choose to feed our baby. Giving up if it’s too painful does not make us weak – we’ve just gone through childbirth for Christ sake! Introducing bottles so Daddy can be more involved should be encouraged. Adapting your feeding choices to suit your lifestyle if it gives you the confidence to get out and about is perfectly fine too! If you are stressed, in pain or simply not enjoying breastfeeding, your baby will pick up on it. As long as you’re both happy and healthy, that’s all that matters. For all those Mama’s who are still breastfeeding 12 months in – good for you!