I’m not what one would consider a “crunchy momma” by many regards, but I have – rather by accident – become an extended breastfeeder.
By that, I mean that I’m still breastfeeding my 16 month old, with absolutely no signs of slowing down any time soon.
I have written before about Little J being a bottle refuser, but while I’m still feeding I wanted to document my journey and let you know the ups and downs of breastfeeding in case you’re wondering if you should breastfeed or not, or are generally interested in the subject! All journeys are very different though, and before we go on I’d like to state that I’m not anti-formula or one of those sanctimommies – just so you know 🙂
I suppose my breastfeeding journey began when I was pregnant. I think being bombarded by the pro-breastfeeding information in hospitals and clinics sank in a bit, and as I was breastfed myself (and my husband was too), I decided early on that I’d “give it a go” for the first six months. I also decided at the same time that if it didn’t work out for me, I’d stop, and I certainly wouldn’t beat myself up about it!
I had an elective Caesarian at 39 weeks with J because he was upside down and wedged in, and because of this, I did have some concerns that my baby may not take to breastfeeding. When I was settled back in my hospital bed after the birth, I popped J on my boob to give it a bash and he took to it quite spectacularly straight away! No qualms, straight in there. It was so soft and gentle it felt like fairies were dancing upon my nips. Ahh, I thought, this is pretty easy. What’s all the fuss about?
Fast forward to two days later at home, and I was screaming in agony at the thought of breastfeeding. It was excruciatingly painful. Like someone taking a pair of pliers to my almost bruised boobs, J used to feed for two to four HOURS at a time in those early days, and I spent the entire time with my toes curled up wishing that he’d stop. I think the painful phase lasted a good couple of weeks, and during that time I shouted at my husband on many occasions and told him that tomorrow, he’d have to go and buy some Cow & Gate because I wasn’t carrying on.
And every time, after I’d calmed down and stopped crying, I’d say “I’ll just give it ONE more chance”.
And I did. And here we are! Anyway, here’s a list of my ups and downs regarding breastfeeding. Enjoy…
- It’s easy.
Well, easy-ish. Ha ha! Those first few weeks were quite challenging as I got to grips with painful feeds, cracked nips, a tongue-tied baby and the sheer amount of time it consumes, but when you break past that first crazy month, it could be labelled as easy in some respects – especially because there’s no sterilising, washing bottles, weighing out formula, sourcing hot water when you’re out etc. You just pop out your boob and you’re off! It’s also FREE!
- Blocked ducts.
With breastfeeding comes the odd blocked duct – I’ve had a few and they’re painful as anything. I actually felt like I had flu with my first one and the pain in my boob was awful. I even tried expressing to alleviate the swelling and pain but nothing came out – like someone was stood on a hose pipe. It was weird! In the end I drank loads of water, stuck a hot flannel on the sore part and Little J cleared it for me by feeding solely from that boob for the night. By the next morning it was ok.
- Taking advantage of the chill out time!
In the early days, breastfeeding is ridiculously time consuming. J used to feed about every three hours, for an hour! Plus he took to doing four hour stints in the night. Once I’d got used to just sitting there for hours looking at the tip your house is (well mine was!), and not being able to do anything about it, I embraced the chill out time, tuned into Netflix and cracked on with some box sets! I can thoroughly recommend Orange is the New Black 🙂
**Tip** Don’t ever sit down to breastfeed without: Your phone, the sky remote, a muslin cloth and a decaf brew made in a Starbucks coffee flask. Can’t spill over and keeps your coffee warm for ages. You’re welcome 🙂
- Sanctimommies giving us a bad name.
I know that there are some sanctimonious holier-than-thou mothers out there, but I ain’t one of them! I’ve known bottle feeders who feel like they have to justify their non-breastfeeding to me but for the record, I’m really not bothered about how any other mama choose to feed THEIR babies. I definitely feel that us mums should empower each other rather than feel like we’re in competition with each other. Breastfeeding just happened to work for me, and if other mamas don’t have the same experience or just prefer not to boob feed at all, that’s entirely their prerogative. There’s no right or wrong, we are all just doing the best we can for our babies. Full stop.
FYI – I’ve actually tried J on all the different formulas but he’s refused them, and all bottles/all teats – but that’s a whole different story 🙂
- Discovering Lansinoh nipple cream.
Nipples get a bit sore when feeding and this cream was by far the best that I discovered. It is a clear ointment, like very thick Vaseline, and it works wonders for your poor stressed out nips. It also makes an amazing overnight face moisturiser over you usual one, and is great on chapped lips.
Having to dress solely for ease of access to your bangers.
ARGH the minefield that is a nursing wardrobe! In the early days of feeding, it certainly takes some getting used to to constantly have to factor in how to get your boobs out when choosing an outfit. It can be rather limiting!
**Tip** Buy yourself lots of strappy vest tops in lots of different colours. These can then be worn underneath normal tops and you can adopt the “one top up/one top down” approach. Means you can wear lots your normal gear rather than specially-designed nursing tops.
It gives you a sense of wonderment about your body.
As if growing a baby all by yourself in your tummy and pushing it out through your lady parts (usually) isn’t enough, it’s pretty amazing that your body can make food for your baby, all by itself. I must admit, I felt very proud of myself when I was able to provide for J in this way. It gave me a lovely sense of accomplishment and wellbeing. And apparently, my boobs now produce milk designed just for a toddler and his growing needs. That’s pretty awesome.
Feeding whilst out and about with a rambunctious child.
Nursing a newborn or little baby is reasonably straightforward when you’re out and about, but fast forward a few months and it’s rather more difficult to keep your dignity in tact! On account of having (ahem!) rather large bazookas, I’ve always favoured the muslin-tucked-into-your-bra-strap approach to drape over the boob to provide a slight cover-up, but after a certain age there’s really no point because they just rip it down so they can have a look around. I have since upgraded to one of those breastfeeding butterfly covers that loops round my neck, but now it just looks like I’m wrestling with an energetic and rather nosy lion cub if he decides he’s not content ‘under-wraps”.
There we go! I can think of loads more but I shan’t bang on.
If you’re planning to breastfeed, I hope this has given you an insight into the ins and outs of feeding, but like I said, every mummy journey is different.
If you’re a fellow feeder, what are your ups and downs about breastfeeding?