As the World Breastfeeding Week is ending, I thought of writing up my own story on this journey and a journey it has been.
The aim of this week is to raise awareness of the links between good nutrition and increase breastfeeding rates worldwide by supporting mothers to take up on it and also continue breastfeeding for at least the first six month of the baby’s life.
I remember thinking at our antenatal class that if I get to breastfeed for the first three months I would be really happy about that too. For various reasons I had a fear that I wouldn’t be able to, either there would be latching problems, she would be tongue tied or I would just be physically unable to. I was adamant to make it work, knowing the full benefits of breastfeeding. I’m not even going to brag that #breastisbest, no, #fedisbest, but I figured it’s for free 🙂 , it’s great for her, and I literally have food for her whenever I need it.
11 months later I still breastfeed her and I count myself lucky because it was not an easy start and I’m glad my stubbornness kicked in and I persevered. Luckily there was no tongue tie and I thought I got on feeding her quite well at the hospital but when we got home it seemed liked I had forgotten all the advice. I was paranoid she wasn’t getting enough milk and the latch was all wrong. I did have cracked nipples as well but luckily didn’t get mastitis. Then I found out that a lactation consultant who ran clinics every Friday also did home visits so she came to see us because I felt I was doing everything wrong. After that I started going to the breastfeeding clinics and did it for the next six weeks. I found out that my little girl never lost any weight and started gaining immediately. She was born slightly on the smaller side so I was really glad about that. I learnt techniques, positions, how long to feed, what’s foremilk and hindmilk. By then I was getting more confident and I’m forever grateful for this service that NHS provides. I believe lots of mothers stop breastfeeding when it’s really difficult in the beginning because I just don’t think it comes naturally for a lot of us. It felt like a skill that had to be learnt.
I’m not a huge fan of feeding in public myself because she is quite fidgety and I don’t feel like having my breast out for everyone to see. I’ve done a fair share of that and it’s been the main reason she tends to just sleep on the flights when we travel. Put her on the boob and Bob’s your uncle.
I’ve accepted that I’m still carrying a bit of extra weight, which just dropped off in the beginning but a few kilos have remained that weren’t there before I got pregnant. So all the nice dresses have to wait another year or two until they fit me again.
I don’t have a deadline for how long I’m planning to breastfeed. Already I’m getting funny looks from some people when I say I still do that. There seems to be a stigma around #extendedbreastfeeding for some reason. If I can, I will do it for another year because I strongly believe breastfed babies get ill less often that those who aren’t.
It has calmed her, helped her to fall asleep, soothed during teething, and gave me the sleep I so badly needed in the beginning when we co-slept. Most evenings I still feed her to sleep and that hasn’t stopped her from sleeping through the night. I rarely feed her during the nights these days but if she’s really unsettled that’s my secret weapon to get her back to sleep again. I don’t even worry about sleep crutches and bad habits, I do what feels right to me. And this feels right.