As National Breastfeeding week nears the end I’ve been thinking a lot about what has been said over social media. It’s always sad to read about someone’s breastfeeding ‘failure’ (although I’m always quick to reassure them even trying is a success and definitely nothing to feel a failure about) or that someone has regretted stopping so early. I was even saddened to read that people felt pressure to stop because friend/family/strangers pressured them to use formula very early on for all sorts of dated reasons, though I’d like to think it’s because they felt they were trying to help make things easier for them…
Personally I have had nothing but support. Okay, there’s been the odd ‘you’re STILL feeding?’ Or suggestions her breastfeeding may be the reason she doesn’t ‘sleep through’ but nothing that has made me want to hide indoors or feel ashamed I’m relieved to say. I mean, when I was pregnant all I remember reading about was how people were made to feel they were doing something disgusting feeding in public and were chased out of public spaces. I don’t recall many, if any, success stories. Our first trip out was even carefully planned so it was somewhere quiet and hopefully breastfeeding friendly. We even tried to time it so there may have been a chance she would sleep through the lot and I could sneak back home to get my boob out in private! You wouldn’t think that now as I’m very confident about public feeding but at the time I was consumed by anxiety about doing it. She did need a feed, and yes I fed her and no, it wasnt traumatic. No one screamed at me to leave, I could have sworn a couple moved tables at the time but looking back I’d like to think it was because they were by the door…it was February after all.
This got me thinking. I wonder what other things could and do influence Mum’s (and Dad’s) decision to/not to breastfeed their baby…
It is strongly suggested in some circles that breastfeeding means Dad’s, and other family members, can’t bond with the baby if it’s breastfed. It really isn’t the case. There’s more to a baby than being fed. At times of cluster feeds then breastfeeding can be quite often but that’s where Mum’s could do with rest and Dad can take with the cuddles, nappy changes and tending to their every need. Lee also loved wearing her out and about, that closeness can help create the best bond ever between parents and babies. There’s also the option of expressing once breastfeeding is established to enable others to feed the baby, that’s also handy if you need to go back to work early! Those first 6 weeks are the hardest but push through and it becomes much easier.
Yes, for some it does and some Mum’s have issues from blocked ducts to cracked nipples but all things can be sorted with support. Again, you only ever hear the bad stuff don’t you? I’ve gotten to 16m with only one occasion of lumpy boobs that was easily sorted with a massage in the shower and a bit of hand expressing thankfully. And the only ‘OUCH’ moment I’ve had so far was when Paisley started growing teeth. She seems to get snotty with every tooth which obviously causes issues with being able to breathe with your mouth full and her having to adjust her latch with these new things in her mouth, thankfully it’s only occasionally and not on purpose. The above was our first feed, look how excited I was that we had managed it despite all previous negativity from everyone.
Not enough milk.
It’s common early on for every Mum to worry their baby isn’t getting enough. After all, you haven’t got a measuring gauge on the side of your boob to show ounces have you? Then there’s the pressure with growth charts! Your baby is getting enough. There is no rule with breastfed babies. My F.A.B breastfeeding support visit was amazing for reassuring me of that. That babies could feed between 5-45 minutes from every 2-4 hours, it’s more about on demand feeding and feeding when they need it. Some babies love a big feed every so often,some are snackers and some are a mix of the two. Like us they may only need a snack or a drink before they have their lunch.
Feeling like they’re constantly attached.
Even with the best feeders there may be times when they seem to always be feeding but it’s usually with reason. Be it cluster feeding during a growth spurt, promoting more milk, when they’re poorly and needing the goodness your milk provides, or simply keeping hydrated in hot weather. The most used phrase in parenting groups is ‘it will pass’ and it does but if you’re ever worried that’s what the support is there for. I found local peer support groups and breastfeeding helplines invaluable during moments of ‘are we getting this right?!’ every time it turned out to be perfectly normal. So no, it’s not constant but there may be times when it feels like it is. And if you figure out how to feed your baby whilst wearing them you can feed on the go too!
Not being able to leave the house.
For fear of the baby needing a feed whilst out early on, what will people say? Or like above you feel they’re always feeding and can never time it right to get out. It comes with confidence I can promise you. In a matter of weeks I went from being anxious about where we could go to feed in peace to feeding her whenever she needed it. My turning point was when walking back from a baby group she started getting upset and I thought I’d make it home, it was only a 15 minute walk after all, but I couldn’t bear her cries. Thankfully a lonely bench under a tree offered some shade and it became a frequent stop off most weeks! Milk basically on tap, the right temperature and consistency. Every time.
You do start thinking you need to invest in all sorts of ‘nursing clothing’ and gadgets to allow you to feed discreetly out and about. You don’t really. I did buy a lovely JoJo Maman Bebe nursing dress (the blue and white striped one a few photos above) which I love and no one even realises I’m feeding but it works as well as the infamous ‘on up, one down’ technique utilising a vest top and top over that. The only investment you really need is a good nursing bra with easy access clips to save stretching and ruining you favourite bras! Saying that I can’t help but spot nice outfits with a handy zip or buttons that’ll be ideal to feed in!
What other negatives did you hear before starting your breastfeeding journey, I’d love to know? I imagine I may think of more as time goes on but these common ones I hear from a lot of Mums. Saying that, I do hope it’s mostly been positive and if it has then get sharing those experiences, it may encourage other mums to try breastfeeding and get those national figures up!