Tuesday, 21 June 2011

My Breastfeeding Journey

This week is National Breastfeeding Week and so I am writing this post to share my experience with other women.

Freddy is my fifth and final baby.  I always intended to feed him myself as I had fed his four older siblings before him.

As soon as he was delivered he was placed in my arms and immediately started to feed.  It was pure instinct for this little baby who was just moments old to seek sustenance and comfort at my breast.  It was a real defining moment in our bonding.

Newborn's Instinct to Breastfeed
It wasn't plain sailing though.  My milk did not come in straight away.  Within a few days Freddy had lost a whole pound in weight...but as he was 9lb 10 oz at birth it was not putting him in any immediate danger, so I persevered.  The midwife was not very helpful, telling me it could be down to my age.  I felt terrible and inadequate being told that, like I shouldn't be having a baby at 40.  She suggested that perhaps I was doing it wrong, which after successfully feeding four babies I seriously doubted.  Thankfully my health visitor was far more helpful.  She explained that because my labour was so quick, my body didn't have the slow build up of hormones needed to trigger lactation.  She suggested some different positions to try nursing Freddy to try to stimulate the milk production.  Whether it's because I stopped stressing about it, or maybe it would have happened at that time anyway, but the next day my milk came in.  Freddy was a happy boy and soon put the weight back on.  We never looked back.

I had a few bouts of mastitis,  but nothing that some paracetamol and a Savoy Cabbage leaf didn't cure!  I love that nature produces its own custom made, boob shaped relief!  They also make good hats!!

Breastfeeding a baby ties you to your child so that you do sacrifice certain freedoms.  However the benefits are huge.  I loved bed sharing and breastfeeding from a purely lazy point of view.  I've never had to get out of bed at 3am to make feeds or warm up bottles.  Snuggling up and dozing while my baby fed was (and still is) a real joy.

When Freddy started teething I did endure a couple of nips that made my eyes water...but baby soon learns that nipping a nipple leads to mummy withdrawing the milk supply while she swears loudly.  They don't want their milk abruptly taken away and quickly learn not to do it!

I have breastfed Freddy wherever he has needed to be fed and thankfully have never received any negative comments whilst feeding him in public. In fact I have been congratulated for still feeding him by a woman who told me she gave up at six weeks and regretted it.  I have written about breastfeeding in public and strongly believe in a woman's right to nurse her child without feeling uncomfortable.  I love the Breastfeeding Flash Mobs that are going on this week.  It is great to provoke discussion and show breastfeeding as the natural and normal thing it is.

I am now waiting for my son to self-wean.  There are no signs of him giving up yet, although he has started drinking a cup of milk at bedtime in addition to his breast feeding.  So I'm hoping this will herald the start of him making the decision to stop.  He is two next month so we have really given him the best possible start in terms of the health benefits of breast milk.  I have written about my fears over my Cybermummy Stress as this weekend will be the first time I ever leave my son overnight.  I am very nervous about it, but feel it is something I have to do.  It might be what he needs to help him make the decision to wean.  I know that our breastfeeding journey will soon be over, but I will look on this time as hugely rewarding and something I am proud to have achieved.  Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to breastfeed for whatever reason, and some woman choose not to feed their baby this way...but for me personally it has been a wonderful experience!
Breastfeeding my toddler.


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