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.
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.