My Breastfeeding Journey

I have been very fortunate to have been able to breastfeed all my children without any major problems.  I obviously had the normal sore nipples at the start (ouch!) and the engorgement.  I can remember waking up on day 3 with Brogan and thinking have I had a secret boob job in the night as i suddenly looked like Pamela Anderson, something all my sisters kindly remind me of regularly,  i have never had before (flat pancakes come to mind).  But following that, breastfeeding was very successful and i found it fairly easy (luckily).  I never had any doubt that I would breastfeed, I saw my mum breastfeed my sisters and to me it was just the norm, to be honest I don’t remember even discussing it with Stuart, or in great depth with my midwife I just knew i wanted too.  I breastfed Brogan, Wil and Madison for 6 months, until weaning began and then naturally stopped and went to formula, without any issues from them.

b745c667-75a5-4d87-b6b0-9859687f1f09 However, Olivia has been totally different. This week marks a week of no breastfeeding and Olivia is 24 months….ok 2 years old and still even this evening she has stuck her hand down my top and asked for “mummys milk”.  We should have known, as the above picture shows, she went straight on the boob when she was born, and pretty much didn’t come off without screaming.  I never planned on extended feeding with Liv it has just happened, or should i say she has wanted it and wouldn’t bloody stop! She was not great at eating at first, i think mainly due to not getting any teeth for ages so couldn’t chew much, so i felt like I had to feed her to make sure she was getting what she needed.  Also when i look properly, i think I was in such a difficult space with my mental health issues that i just clung onto feeding her, feeling wanted and needed.  I have enjoyed it, but probably just before Christmas i was beginning to feel like I wanted my body back, as i’m sure Stu did too 😉 and she was getting to old for it now.  She eats really well now, so she doesn’t need it for nutrition.  But could we get her to take a bottle or stop….NO, so we ended up going a bit cold turkey.  We went away with friends for the weekend without children and just left Liv with grandma to manage (sorry Sue).  And you know what……she was absolutely bloody fine, me however-HOLY SHIT what agony, i forgot my pump, which i was going to use to take the edge off but couldn’t.  They were humongous and painful, and i totally forgot where i was and was constantly holding them, or gently rubbing them to ease any pain, luckily my friends understood (expecting their first child so prob scared them to death) but i’m not sure what the young lad working in the giftshop thought when he saw me!!!!  I took paracetamol all weekend and gradually after about 3-4 days they started to soften and from that point they never really began to fill again.  However, Liv still managed to somehow get a bedtime feed out of me, this really was a comfort thing but still I couldn’t fully stop, until last Thursday when she feel asleep in Madisons bed without having any mummy’s milk, and then on Friday slept at grandmas again without mummy’s milk and I just thought….thats it, no more and I’ve stayed firm (the first few days were hard and she was NOT happy) but its been just over a week and breastfeeding is done.

I know it was right, as I don’t feel sad about it, I was ready and that really was an important factor.  Breastfeeding is such an emotional thing and I can honestly say that until I started my midwifery training, I did not realise some people just cannot breastfeed and what lengths women will go to try and breastfeed or give their baby some breastmilk.  I hold my hands up to all those women, because i know for sure, that i would not have had the patience, or want to express every two/three hours using a syringe to catch maybe two drips of breast milk to give my baby.  I would have given formula, and just made sure my baby was fed, and i was rested.  There is so much pressure on breastfeeding, which although many women say they felt it came from their midwife (something i have never tried to pressure my women to do), i think that the media and society have put this on women.  The most important thing for a newborn baby and mother is that they are both happy, able to rest and obviously fed.  If this means by breast or bottle it shouldn’t matter, as long as baby is fed and happy then thats all that matters, because then mum can rest and recover herself.

I believe this is where education is so important, girls and boys should be told about these things whilst in school, perhaps during sex education, as they may not be able to get the information from anywhere else.  Through being a midwife I have really seen how society affects you’re choice in how you feed you’re baby and how the family is such an influence.  We tend to follow whatever our mothers and grandmothers do, whether we believe it to be right or not, just to conform.  The same is with breastfeeding in public.  This is such a provoking issue and it is very sad it causes so many problems, but again I really feel this is down to society and family influences.  I myself remember with all 4 of my children at some point sitting on a public toilet feeding my baby, so not to offend.  Admittedly, with Madison and Liv i felt more confident and comfortable to feed in public, but to do it respectfully.  I believe this is where people have issues, when i women sits and just gets her whole boob out and feeds her baby without a care in the world, whilst this is great and go her, it can also be sometimes inappropriate,  I have breastfed 4 babies and I know that you do not need to get you’re whole boob out to feed, or if you do then you can turn slightly so not to offend or put a light muslin/scarf around you to not make it so obvious, especially in restaurants when people are eating, or places where people may be made to feel uncomfortable.  You should also be aware there may be parents longing to have children, or have lost young babies and not had the opportunity to even feed their own baby and could find seeing you breastfeeding upsetting.  Im all for breastfeeding but i believe it should be done sympathetically, and if done so then there would not be so much prejudice against it.  At the end of the day, as long as your baby is fed and well then that’s all that matters.

I’m sure some people may not agree with me, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it, just wanted to give mine.  Anyway on a side note, I now have two uneven boobs, or nipples on string as i call them, but i’m happy and glad i was able to breastfeed my babies, but this boob shop is shut forever (.)(.) and I am hating that the dreaded periods have returned!!

Thanks for reading and please feel free to leave any comments xx

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