This week its Rebecca, showing us that breastfeeding isn’t ALWAYS hard! Just like with labour we hear so much bad about breastfeeding that the very thought of it fills us with dread when we are planning how to feed our babies when pregnant! So here’s a positive story to remind you that sometimes things just work out easily…
Before I had my baby, all I knew about breastfeeding was that it’s HARD, hurts and most people rush to the local shop to get formula in the dead of the night when they can’t handle it any more. So I stocked up on plenty of bottles, a fancy formula making machine (for £100!) and promised myself that I wouldn’t torture myself if it didn’t work out. Turns out that I had a MUCH easier journey than I expected and, at 6 months old, my little girl has yet to have a drop of formula.
After a complication free and relatively short labour, I got off to a pretty good start with breastfeeding and had her latched on in the hospital. I was terrified that I was doing it wrong (it is very much an art rather than a science and, for obvious reasons, impossible to prepare for) so I used every opportunity to ask midwives to watch and tell me if it looked right. Within a few hours of giving birth, I already had 3 completely different recommendations from different nurses.
The milk coming in after a few days was definitely the hardest bit in the early days. Cold cabbage leaves helped! But it didn’t last long at all. Then I found the CONSTANT feeding was tricky for getting out and about. Even a 20 minute car journey felt like the impossible – and, often, involved a stop. Going on the motorway to visit my family was just out of the question. Those days felt never ending but, in hindsight, were just a few weeks.
Then, by about 6 weeks old, the benefits showed themselves – no packing bottles or prepping formula in the middle of the night. So many cuddles. The miracle cure for everything – hunger, wind, tired, get out the boob!
I really didn’t realise how special breastfeeding would be. The knowledge that you, and just you, can provide everything that your little baby needs is indescribable and helps to prolong the ‘pregnancy feeling’ of it being just the 2 of you.
Now, at 6 months, I certainly don’t feel ready to stop. Ideally, I’ll carry on (at least in the morning and evening) until she starts nursery so that we can maintain the bonding experience during what will, I’m sure, be a really difficult time.
But that’s not to say that there are not down sides. Her sleep is DREADFUL and she often relies on the boob to fall asleep in the night. I had one night away – a chance to sleep through – and I was up at 4am expressing painfully full boobs. I express for 3 days to get enough milk to go to a Sunday morning yoga class, and then do the class with leaking boobs. The tricky thing is, you can’t turn the tap off!
Before Heidi was born, I was absolutely intent that I would not torture myself if I couldn’t breastfeed, and was VERY prepared to move swiftly to formula. Despite the difficulties, I would absolutely persevere if I had another.
If you would also like to share your experiences on a Feeding Friday blog, I would love to hear from you – just get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org