Firstly, this post is not meant to shame others or make others feel shitty. It’s simply my thoughts, feelings and experience. Boobs are brilliant no matter what you decide to use them for!
When I was a child i remember being at a big city park with family. It was a beautiful summer day, families everywhere. A mother was sitting on the bench watching her older children play while she was breastfeeding her baby. No shame, no cover. I was disgusted. I know, right! i remember thinking “ugh, can’t she just give it a bottle! Imagine doing that in front of children”
The truth is ive been raised in a world where bottle feeding is the norm and at that point had never actually seen anyone breastfeed.
I bottle fed my first two babies. It was easier. I didn’t stand out. i was feeding how every other mother was feeding their babies. There was no encouragement from healthcare professionals and by this point i had seen 2 mothers who were breastfeeding that fed for the first 2-3 months before switching to formula. I witnessed clinginess and cluster feeding, their cracked nipples, their not having any help due to being the only one who could feed baby. I didn’t want that. I wasn’t ready for that. I was still quite selfish at that age.
Fast forward to July 2014, I’m 26, I’m pregnant. Despite the formula and baby jars with my first, I had progressed to non-dairy formula and home cooked puree for my second, it felt natural to progress even further to breastfeeding with my third. My mothering was becoming more maternal, more natural, more instinctual. This time I wanted to do things as naturally as possible. Our midwife was the first I told of my plan to breastfeed. Her response…..”breast or bottle doesn’t matter as long as its fed.” Not quite the words of encouragement I’d hoped for being a first timer.
Jacky was born. The birth was slightly traumatic but we will dance around that. I had him in my arms and he was beautiful. That euphoric rush of love and adoration was immense. That good old oxytocin, they should bottle it!
The first feed! What breasts were meant for. Should be east right? WRONG. I literally had no idea what I was doing. A lesser willed person could’ve crumbled at that point but I didn’t. I was determined. I asked for help. A magical midwife grabbed my nipple and literally shoved it into my newborns mouth. My toes curled. Its was horrible. It didn’t feel like i had imagined but I’m stubborn so I persisted.
Less than 48 hours after being home to 4 cats, a dog, a 7 year old, an 8 year old and soooooo many visitors, Dad fetched formula! My nipples were sore. The tummy pain every time baby latched was horrendous. I remember my sister coming round and just bursting into tears. I was so tired. It was not the natural experience I had pictured.
Before I could place the bottle to his lips the door went AGAIN. Only this time it was our knight in shining armour, well a lady in a blue tunic but i digress. She was the exact person we needed it to be. Not only a midwife but an advocate of breastfeeding. That moment was a pinnacle moment in our breastfeeding journey. She is the reason I can proudly say that I exclusively breastfed my baby for the first 6 months of his life before introducing food. This is something I’m so proud of.
The first 6 weeks were really hard but the weigh-ins keep you going. In the first 4 weeks my 7lbs 11oz baby boy had grown to a healthy 10lbs 4oz all on my milk. I felt like superwoman!
By 3 months I finally felt that I was comfortable and do know that rush of emotions, that oxytocin that they should bottle. That comes back. Every time you place your breast into your babies mouth, when baby begins to suckle life from you that rush of adoration comes back and it feels amazing!
6 months was my goal. I had planned to transition to follow on milk and food from here. I’m not sure why. I suppose I had hang-ups about feeding an older baby. About it not looking right. About it being unnecessary.
I had joined a breastfeeding support group at my local children’s centre where mums could feed in a safe space and natter and drink tea. We went there from 4 weeks and that was such a lifeline for me. Also an online forum Breastfeeding Yummy Mummies, support from them without them even knowing was invaluable. I was a little intimidated by their anti-formula approach at first but it soon becomes apparent why. Breastmilk is the biological norm, it’s tailored for your baby, it’s what your baby is designed to drink. The (wo)man hours that go into providing that nutrition are endless. It’s a badge they all wear so proudly. It’s a community where breastfeeding is the norm. The wisdom they share is incredible and i feel so proud to be part of their community.
Jacky is now 2 years and 2 months old and is breastfeeding. He breastfeeds when he’s hungry, when he’s ill, when he’s sad, when he’s tired and more importantly when HE wants to.
So when will we stop. I don’t know? But what I do know is it’ll be when we are both ready to. It’s nobody elses business.
So when you see a mother feeding her baby think about what she is actually doing. She is feeding HER baby with HER body.
If you are offended by such an act as that move on and keep those thoughts locked away. You are entitled to your opinion but your opinion is wrong. Fact!
Boobs boobs boobs boobs boobs boobs boobs boobs boobs. Everyone loves boobs!
I found some interesting information about natural term weaning on this site;
Also, some invaluable information on this site;