Happy Wednesday everyone! Another week, and another brilliant Newborn Feeding Story, this time from a fellow Mama Blogger- Sadie, from The Secret Life of Mum.
I’m currently 11 months into exclusively breastfeeding my daughter and now we are gradually coming to an end of our journey I feel it’s a perfect time to share and reflect on the highs and lows and maybe even help someone who’s struggling or thinking of quitting before you’ve even really began.
Just to clarify I’m by no means suggesting it’s easy and whilst I’d like to consider myself a breastfeeding advocate I also fully support any mother who feeds her baby by any means (as long as it’s not gin!) after all, fed is best. I was very lucky that I was able to breastfeed both of my children and received adequate support both in hospital and during follow ups with midwives and health visitors.
The moment my daughter was born she was placed on my chest and latched on immediately. There she pretty much stayed for the next few weeks! Ok, slight exaggeration but the cluster feeds…if you know, you know. Those early days, when literally all I had to do was sit around, watch daytime tv and eat biscuits will hold a special place in my heart. Not because of all the biscuits I got to scoff without an ounce of guilt but because it was just me and her. This tiny little human completely dependent on me. It made the toe curling, nipple bruising, blood stained breast pads so very worth it. Lots of women say this is what made them give up but I can honestly say that even when my 5 day old baby was spitting blood from feeding on cracked nipples I was never tempted to quit. I don’t quite know why, I don’t expect any medals for that revelation. I guess it just never crossed my mind. I knew any pain and discomfort was only temporary.
The first few weeks of breastfeeding were sponsored by lansinoh, I had everything from the nipple cream and breastpads to the cold/heat therapy pads not forgetting gallons of water and choccie biscuits.
Once breastfeeding was established there were a whole new heap of challenges to face. Co-sleeping was one. I’d unintentionally become a so-called attachment parent, a baby wearing, breastfeeding, co- sleeping mama. It’s just SO easy in the middle of the night to roll over and stick a boob in baby’s mouth rather than pacing the hall or jumping up to put a dummy in ten thousand times a night. Maybe it’s just lazy but it worked for us, we all got and still get the maximum amount of sleep. Which isn’t much and brings me swiftly onto my next challenge…Baby I has never been the best sleeper and evidence suggests (by evidence I mean my mother in law and Mumsnet) that breastfed babies just don’t sleep through! I’d love to know how true this is so if you have a breastfed baby that is also a great sleeper then please let me know! Always love an opportunity to prove MIL wrong. The current hurdle is a sensitive subject, literally. Baby girl has just cut her top teeth. So that’s 4 shiny new, sharp teeth in her mouth, ouch is all I’m saying.
As mentioned previously, we are slowly coming to the end of our breastfeeding journey, I set myself a personal goal of 6 months so feeling pretty chuffed we’ve almost doubled it! One of the reasons we carried on was down to baby I falling ill. She developed an abscess in the deep nodes of her neck after a bout of bronchiolitis. The mass grew so large it obstructed her airways resulting in emergency surgery and a 4 day stint intubated in intensive care at the wonderful St Georges hospital. I expressed whilst there so she could be fed my milk via an ng tube. It was touch and go for a while as my milk supply really dropped but again, we overcame it together and once she was home and well again it just felt right to carry on. It felt safe and reassuring knowing my breast milk was helping build up her weakened immune system.
It’s been a roller coaster of emotion, some days I wake up and think I want my body back, I want her to sleep over at Grandmas so I can have 8 hours sleep, I want to chuck out my ugly nursing bras. But I haven’t actively done anything even close to this. Baby I has basically done all the hard work for me, when she hit 9 months and 3 meals a day were pretty established she began being less interested in feeds. One day I just dropped a feed, she didn’t look for it at all. This went on until we were down to what we are currently on which is boob in the morning and boob before bed. I’ve recently night weaned her although she still wakes 1-2 times I simply settle her with gentle pats and shushing until she’s back to sleep. The first few nights of this proved challenging and emotional, it would’ve been so easy just to give in when she was wailing and pulling at my top at 2am. But I knew this was a comfort thing, she’s such a good eater during the day there’s no way she’s hungry at night anymore.
So as we approach her first birthday I’ve decided for a variety of reasons (back to work and a hen do with an over night stay included!) that once she hits 1 I’m going to introduce a sippy cup of milk, completely bypassing the bottle stage if I can. She was never a massive fan anyway. Some people may think my reasons for stopping are selfish but I am confident that i’ve a done more than enough to give baby I the best possible start in life. As mentioned, my feelings on ending this amazing journey are mixed, I’m feeling proud of myself for the 11 months+ I’ve achieved. A pet peeve of mine is when people ask if I’m “still breastfeeding” and seem shocked when I say yes. Like, what?! You might as well ask me if I’m still giving my kid 3 meals a day. I’m not still breastfeeding, I’m just breastfeeding. I’m also feeling excited, the thought of a solid nights sleep or an overnight stay sans baby fills me with joy! (Love my kids to bits but even mama needs a night off) I’m already lusting after non-nursing bras and cute bikinis for the summer.
I do feel sad it’s almost over but I’m assured that the sadness will be momentary and that I can look back on our journey with nothing but fondness and fulfilment and most importantly no regrets.
I really enjoyed reading The Secret Life of Mum’s story, it’s so similar to my own, although I did bow out once I’d hit my 6 month goal. I can totally relate to the bane of many Mother’s breastfeeding lives – nursing bras and breast pads – god, just get out of my life please. Congratulations on what seems to have been a great feeding experience for you and Baby I, never feel like you’re being selfish for stopping though! There’s always got to be one reason or another to stop and if that’s because you want some Mama time then that is 100% reasonable. Enjoy your nights off to come!
Go and check out The Secret Life of Mum’s blog for some more brilliant posts, this is one of my faves. You can also follow her on Instagram @thesecretlifeofmum, and Twitter @SLOM_blog.
Sadie’s experience was also shared on My Petit Canard’s #breastfeedingStories, check that out here.
I’m always looking for more Feeding Stories to share so please get in touch if you have one! Email me at email@example.com.