Thursday, 2 August 2018

Breastfeeding; a more positive experience

I wanted to write something with a bit more of a positive twist on Breastfeeding.

All National Breastfeeding Weeks, all I saw online was articles and blogs about how hard it is, how negative peoples reaction is, how people didn't want to or couldn't, and their justification of that.
Let me start by saying there is no need to explain or justify why you didn't breastfeed. It's each mothers choice, and all each mother can do is her best for her baby.

This has been my 'norm' for the last 5 years
No matter where or when,
if the baby is hungry, boobs are out!
What really irks me though, is that bottle feeding is portrayed as the 'norm'. the majority of books, and TV, and cards, even baby clothes that reference feeding, show bottles. Which is fine, but it does get a bit annoying, when all you can find on mainstream sites on line is negativity surrounding breastfeeding.
Sure, there are a ton of support groups online, but they can get very intense, and sometimes quite judgey of mothers who don't conform to the strict Exclusively Breastfed, Baby Lead Weaning, No Sugar, Low Fat, Vegan Diet, rules that a lot of the families in these groups follow.
I'm in no way judging them, but I am saying there's a need for a middle ground.

I was lucky, all three of my boys took to feeding naturally, and I found it very easy. Something that actually made me feel like I was doing it wrong first time round, because I couldn't find a single piece online about it being easy. I can't be the only one.
I had a massive over supply, so I was able to donate my surplus Liquid Gold to the Human Milk bank on all three.

I fed Fionn until he was 1. I had hoped to go longer, but I needed to stop to start on Anti Depressants for PND. I probably should have taken them sooner, but I felt I needed to get to that year mark.

Daithí is still on the boob occasionally at 2 years 5 months. I thought he had weaned about half way into my 3rd pregnancy, but as soon as my milk came back in, he must have smelt it, because he was straight back on.

Tadhg is 9 months this week. I tandem fed him and Daithí, while donating to the Milk Bank for the first 6 months. With Daithí only occasionally feeding, and Tadhg too old for me to donate, I'm starting to accept that this is the tail end of my breast feeding journey as I wrap up some 'lasts'. I'll continue to feed for as long as it's working for both of us.

In the 5 years that I've been breastfeeding, I've had nothing but positive reactions from people while out and about. Which got me thinking, it can't all be as negative as some of the stories on line might lead you to believe. I reached out to some friends to get their stores, and was pleasantly not surprised to hear that they shared very similar experiences. I know I wouldn't have been so nervous my first time feeding in public had I known people aren't always dicks.

I was in a Costa one day, feeding Daithí, drinking coffee and playing trains with Fionn, and a woman tapped me on the shoulder to say congratulations. She went on to explain she was a recently retired midwife, and loved nothing more than to see women just getting on with it and feeding their babies. I didn't really know what to say, but it made me feel a bit more confident in my parenting abilities.

One of the most received posts on IG
Another time I was out in Nando's with the two kids. My friend had gone to the counter to order, and Fionn waited till I had Daithí latched on to spill his drink all over the table and chair. Quick as a flash, a man at the table beside me jumped to help. I pointed at a muslin square on top of my changing bag and he cleaned up the entire spill. As I was gushing a thank you, he said don't mention it, my wife fed both of our kids, I know how hard it is. Again, I felt a little more of a confidence boost.

Yet another positive experience that sticks out in my mind, is when I was in Thomas Land, Fionn & Daithí were off on a ride with Shane, and I was crouched on my hunkers, feeding Tadhg on my lap. A woman was taking shade from the sun beside me, and commented that I was doing a great job, that she was only ever able to feed sitting down propped up with a dozen pillows.

Shane calls it ninja-feeding. Walking and feeding, or feeding while doing something else. He always  gets excited and points it out to me when we spot someone ninja-feeding. He says he'd love to say well done, or something but it afraid people would think he's weird.

Don't get me wrong, I know those early days of learning to latch, and the cluster feeding, and grizzly babies and sleepless nights are hard.

But please, believe me, trust your body, it gets easier!!!