Reflections on breastfeeding

9 Jan

A friend on Facebook shared this lovely Youtube link today. It asked parents to share what they would tell themselves if they could go back to when they decided to breastfeed. The responses are lovely – I particularly like the “Real men support breastfeeding” one!

It got me thinking back to when I was pregnant with my son and thinking about how I would feed him. I always assumed I’d breastfeed and didn’t think I’d have any problems, since it’s what breasts and babies are designed for. I didn’t think about it in much depth but assumed I’d breastfeed him for six months, when I’d introduce solids and switch to formula. This is what seemed normal based on the experiences of women around me. I didn’t really have any other template for the breastfeeding relationship.

But I had a terrible start to breastfeeding. Feeds were tremendously, toe-curlingly painful and my nipples were terribly cracked.  I was determined to fix whatever the problem was. My son’s birth had been traumatic and I felt I owed it to him to breastfeed him. I had the capability to find support to overcome my problems whereas he had no choice in the matter.

Finally, thrush was diagnosed when my son was 4 weeks old. But I had to buy fluconazole over the counter, as my GP wouldn’t prescibe it (despite me being armed with Breastfeeding Network’s great leaflet).  But one nipple wouldn’t heal, and was still so painful, so I ended up with antibiotics at 10 weeks. Finally, the crack healed and suddenly feeds were properly pain-free – a revelation!  Our nursing relationship immediately switched from a grim count-down to 26 weeks to being properly enjoyable and relaxed.

In the end, I breastfed exclusively until we introduced solids via baby led weaning at just before 6 months. I continued to feed on demand alongside solid foods. And kept feeding when I returned to work when my son was 12 months. It was great for helping my son transition from being at home full-time to being with a childminder 4 days a week. He eventually self-weaned at 19 months, which I was very emotional about – my baby is growing up! But I have this new baby squirming away inside me and I’m looking forward to having a whole new nursing relationship in the spring.

So what would I tell myself if I could go back in time?

Keep seeking support until you overcome problems – it’ll be worth it! And it’s OK to feel proud of your achievement.

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9 Responses to “Reflections on breastfeeding”

  1. Lizzie.n January 9, 2012 at 10:32 pm #

    What a lovely post, I’m breast feeding my 4 month old son Thomas. Its such a lovely experience I can’t imagine giving him his nutrients any other way. It amazes me when I look at him all chubby and content to think I did that!

    It still suprises me how i’m always so out numbered at play group sessions by mothers who chose to formula feed, and when I was in hospital there was only me on my ward even trying to give it a go. Its the most natural thing in the world and as you say its what they wear made for.

  2. lowimpactmama January 9, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

    Well done on breast feeding your son! It’s such a lovely thing. And I’d recommend baby led weaning for when you’re introducing solids, I keep meaning to post about it but it was one of the most fun things we did in our son’s first year!

  3. ATO Mum January 9, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    I’m still breastfeeding my 17 month old, and I fed DS1 at night until he was about 2 and a half. I love it and wouldn’t want to do it any other way, even though it took ages for it to be comfortable with DS1. Also, I have to say, now DS2 is older, I’m not quite sure how anyone manages to find the time to make bottles while running around after a toddler!

    • lowimpactmama January 9, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

      Congratulations on still feeding your DS2! I found I enjoyed feeding my son as a toddler a lot, as I loved all the interaction (also feeds got a lot faster, which was great!). How did you find your DS1 responded to your feeding DS2? I have friends who tell cute stories of their older children nursing their teddies and the like – which sounds so cute!

  4. Rach January 11, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

    I would tell myself not to get upset by the naysayers and to ignore those (hello, yes you family) who pressure to include bottle feeds. I sought heaps of support so I wouldn’t have to say that, but I would urge everyone else to get on the blower to La Leche, the health visitors, get along to those support groups. Don’t let it hurt!

    • lowimpactmama January 11, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

      Good advice Rach. Also got a fair bit of pressure (is he not still hungry? Do you not want a break?) on the whole bottle feed front. Also on the dummy/soother front, which has only really come home to me as a breast substitute since I’ve been reading the Politics of Breastfeeding (I know it’s called a dummy for a reason but I hadn’t really thought about it as such!).

  5. Amy January 16, 2012 at 3:20 am #

    Im mix feeding my 2 week old second son and only managed to feed my first son both boob and bottle for 4 weeks.

    I was much the same just simply assumed i would breastfeed with no issues. i was faced with more problems than i can count with my first son and due to too much weight loss i had to introduce formula. i cant tell you how long i cried for because of this, but in the end my (now 2 year old) is a happy healthy little man.

    So next time round i sought out as much help and support i could get my hands on in the hope it would all go well this time round. But after yet again many more problems and too much weight loss i had to introduce formula top ups to keep my not so little 4.5kg man happy and healthy.

    It turns out my lactation consultant thinks i’m one of the few who doesnt have the glandula tissue to support breastfeeding. While this brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it, it is also a sorce of commfort as i know i have done everything i possibly could to give my boys the best but mother nature has decided against that. While there is very little milk avaliable i still put my son to my breast as anything is better than nothing and my lactation consultant tells me breast feeding is only 10% nutrition so if he can get that from the bottle and the rest from me than thats what i will give him for as long as i can.

    I wanted to post this so mums who cant breastfeed know they are not alone. I would give anything to be able to breast feed but mother nature wont allow me and that breaks my heart but i know my boys are happy and healthy and just as importantly so am I know i did my best.

    Dont beat yourselves up they say its natural and boobs and babys were built for it which is true but freastfeeding is a real skill that both mum and bub need to learn and as long as you and bub are happy and healthy that is the key.

    Good luck ladies i hope this helps others like me find commfort.

    • lowimpactmama January 16, 2012 at 9:37 am #

      Oh Amy, well done on managing to breastfed at all. It sounds like you’ve had a real struggle but are dealing with it the best way you can. It’s clear from your post how much you love your boys, and you sound like a terrific mum. Thanks for sharing your experience here.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Reflections on breastfeeding | Low Impact Parenting | Diaper Earth - January 11, 2012

    […] how I would feed him. I always assumed I'd breastfeed … Go here to read the rest: Reflections on breastfeeding | Low Impact Parenting Tags: 2012-at-1052-pm, 2012-at-1106-pm, baby, baby-led-weaning, facebook, spring, time, twitter […]

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