My thoughts on breastfeeding

I’ve been breastfeeding my baby every day for 264 days. I’ve fed him here there and everywhere, experienced all sorts of reactions and been given a lot of advice. Now, 8 months down the line, I’m sharing my thoughts on breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is tiring

It turns out that producing food for a whole other person using nothing but your lady udders is tiring. I didn’t expect that. This is no bad thing though because the extra energy required means you get to eat more food!

Shock at breastfeeding exclusively

I’ve never given my baby formula. This may shock some people. Many people suggested I give him formula before bed to help him sleep longer, but I didn’t. Instead I faithfully got out of bed every 1.5-2 hours and fed him. Some people suggested I use formula when I was suffering from severe food poisoning and dehydration, but I didn’t. Instead I did what I could to produce as much milk as I was able, and took twice as long to recover as I would have otherwise. I don’t know why. I’m not some sort of hippy with crystal skulls on the sideboard and a dreamcatcher over the bed. It just felt right for us. I’m not even particularly strict about following the official guidelines (to breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months). It’s not been easy, but I’ve uncovered a dogged determination inside me that I didn’t know was there.

Breastfeeding on demand and routines don’t mix

I’ve listened to so many people talk about their amazing ROUTINE and how it’s saved their sanity/sleep/marriage/etc. It means that you can get your little one to go off to sleep oh so easily and have that magical glass of wine you’ve been looking forward to all day. You know when your baby will eat, sleep, poo, cry, write a novel…ok I’m getting a little facetious. Anyway, when you’re breastfeeding on demand you don’t know how much they’ve had and you don’t know when they’ll want to eat again, so you aren’t exactly in a position to implement a routine. It just doesn’t work*.

*Some babies have their own natural routine and still breastfeed on demand. Their mothers are truly blessed.

Breastfeeding gives you a bad back

No, not because you have giant pendulous bosoms creaking with milk. It’s because of the weird positions you adopt in order to breastfeed. You could be sat in the perfect chair with the perfect support cushion and I guarantee that in your haste to get the little one on the boob you’ll be sat slightly wonky and that misalignment will give you an aching back for many hours to come. Repeat over days, weeks and months and you’ll get a tense and painful back and your neck won’t move like it used to. Mothers ought to be given free massages at least once a week if you ask me.

Expressing milk is difficult

I have expressed milk, but I couldn’t get the milk to flow anywhere near as effectively as my baby can. Maybe it’s because my boobs aren’t all that big so even when they’re very full there isn’t loads of milk waiting there to be expressed, I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I didn’t keep on trying. To be honest though, there just wasn’t the time in between the frequent feeds to express milk. I take my hat off to mothers who manage to find time to express milk and to do it successfully long term.

Feeling close

There’s no doubt about it, breastfeeding has given me regular opportunities to feel very close to my baby. I’m sure you get similar moments of closeness if you’re 100% formula feeding your baby. I do love those cuddles.

To my right boob

Thank you for nourishing my baby. He is a hearty 24lbs now and half of that is down to you. You have done a sterling job. Well done.

The only thing is, you are a NUISANCE! Every time James has a feed you can’t resist squirting at all angles and making him choke. People look over at us in coffee shops to see what I’m doing to my baby, and as his eyes water and I pat him gently on the back you add insult to injury by continuing to shoot milk all over the place. Thankfully James is a tenacious little guy and won’t give up until he’s full, but come on, it’s like you’ve stolen his only birthday present (at least, that’s the face he pulls when you’ve made him cry). In fact if he wasn’t so determined, we’d have been in trouble.

I understand that many many women have a troublesome boob. Maybe you’re all in league together to make an otherwise straightforward biological process that bit harder, I don’t know. But I do know that I’d like you to ease up and stop being such a pesky boob!

Thank you.

What’s your personal feeding style?

We have all heard the statistics and we all have our own style. What we want to know is: What’s your personal feeding style?




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Breast is best but formula feeding is fantastic too!

For 9 months during pregnancy I listened to midwives and doctors tell me that “anyone could breastfeed”, “breast is best” and “breastfeeding gives your child a far better start than formula”. I wasn’t worried however because I intended to breastfeed so formula feeding never crossed my mind. Anyways, they said anyone could breastfeed and they obviously know what they are talking about. Right?? WRONG!!!

The night Izzie was born I put her straight to the breast. No one assisted me with latch or made suggestions. No one offered to help me or asked if I felt ok with it. I just did it because as far as I knew, it was easy and anyone could do it. Or so I had been told. The next morning the midwife came in and said, “Are you ready to go home?” I was bewildered and thought; well I guess they feel I am ready so “sure”. That afternoon they discharged me with Izzie and we went home. For the first 3 days of her life I put her to the breast every couple of hours. She would appear to be eating for about 10 minutes and then stop. I thought this must be normal. We continued this way until on day 3 the community midwives came to see us. Izzie was yellow with jaundice and had been screaming night after night. She had lost almost a pound since birth and I was sent directly to hospital with her. Continue reading

Breastfeeding bullies

Call me massively naive, it’s o.k I know I am, but I always thought breastfeeding would be pretty straightforward. Baby comes out and innately knows what to do, you lift it up, plant it on a nip and away it goes. I honestly had no idea it could be so tricky and the source of so much emotional blackmail.

While pregnant I found the NCT breastfeeding class made me really quite angry. I took exception to being lectured at  by a woman holding a knitted tit and was slightly horrified when she refused to accept that maybe, just maybe, there might be a reason why someone didn’t want to breastfeed. Oh and also the suggestion that you’d  be killing your child by exposing it undefended to deadly diseases if you didn’t.

Cut to when the baby has arrived and the first thing the night shift midwife dumps on my bedside table (alongside the drugs – woo) are a couple of tiny purple syringes. About 10 hours later she comes back to tell me what to do with them and the rest of my day is spent squeezing tiny drops of collostrum into them. I know it’s sad but I actually quite enjoyed the process and was pretty proud to have produced a bunch of full syringes before being told I had to have given them to the baby within 2 hours.

So the first couple of days were spent expressing and feeding with no sign of milk while also trying to encourage the baby to clamp on. Sam’s particular issue was that when he did attach he fed for maybe a minute and then promptly fell asleep. I went to the hospital feeding workshop and numerous midwifes told me to keep trying. The baby was latched on right but still wasn’t getting much colostrum/early milk and I was sore (it hurts! Get lanolin). The relief I felt when a wonderful doctor finally let me off the hook telling me to top up with a little cup of formula was huge, I could have hugged her.

The pressure to breastfeed is huge and while I agree that it’s a wonderful thing to do sometimes for whatever reason you can’t or don’t want to and that’s your decision not anyone else’s, don’t let the pressure get to you. I still mix feed, it means I get some sleep and if you knew what I’m like without sleep you’d agree that’s best for everyone.