For National Breastfeeding Awareness Week 20th -28th June 2015, I was invited to write a guest post on my own breastfeeding experiences for our lovely Brand Ambassador, and mummy blogger, Another Bun. So here it is.... my Brooding on Breastfeeding! Read on to find out about a wonderful feeding pillow competition we're running too!
I've suddenly realised that for two thirds of the last decade, I've either been pregnant or breastfeeding! The other third has been mainly spent lifting my eye bags off the carpet!
My breastfeeding days are over now, but with National Breastfeeding Week this week I've been reflecting on what my journey entailed, how it changed over time and how different my experiences were with each of my three children. Because let’s face it, when you’re up to your eyeballs in breast pads, wrapped head to toe in muslin cloths and deciphering the meaning of the contents of your baby’s nappy, the last thing you've got the energy for is reflection!
So here’s what I've learnt over my journey. I hope it resonates with you, just a tiny bit.
- Burn the books!
After the 3 day labour, concoction of drugs and eventual c –section, it’s fair to say that with baby number 1, breastfeeding didn’t come easy. Baby was traumatised, I was knackered, my milk was pretty much non-existent at first. But with the help of a patient midwife and the purchase of dubious accessories such as nipple covers and breast pumps, we did eventually get it. Hurray!
But that’s when the problems really started. When does baby need feeding, how long for, what side, do you wake them? …..worrit, worrit, worrit!
Shrouded in new mum anxiety, clueless to the point of ridiculousness, what do you do but reach for the ‘book’! You know, that ‘book’! The one you've been reading earnestly for the past 9 months. The ‘book’ that has the answer to every baby related question, the one that schedules your day to the last second, the one that categorises your baby by personality and magically comes up with the best routine for you? Yes, that book!
BURN IT! BURN IT NOW!
Don’t get me wrong I'm all in favour of education, and it’s really important to know what symptoms and issues to spot with baby, and, practical advice is golden. But any book that draws you into thinking that your baby should be feeding to this time frame or that time frame, that sucks the natural mothering instinct out of you, chews it up and spits it out on the pavement along with your self-confidence is just wrong!
Don’t put yourself under pressure or create a world of self-doubt! Go with the flow mama, trust your instinct – that’s your baby there. Yes, your unique, individual baby. If you think baby needs feeding, feed it! Don’t go by the ‘book’!
- Give it a whirl!
OK so you might think I'm contradicting myself now after reading point 1, but support and help is really important. Not draconian rules, but friendly support, encouragement, and practical advice!
I was a bit wary of approaching my local breastfeeding clinic. Surely it would all be a bit boho; mamas with their boobs out philosophising about moon cups whilst munching on lactation cookies? Not really my cup of tea.
Well, there was always a good supply of biscuits, but I attended these groups with each of my babies because I really need some help. Each baby was different, I’d forgotten things, and yes I just needed to get out of the house and have a hot brew, preferably accompanied by a large slice of cake!
I conquered green poo and reflux by attending my local clinic. And I made a few friends to boot. I also tried things I’d never tried before through chatting with other mamas - public breastfeeding, sling wearing, combination feeding, formula feeding - my eyes were opened (and not a moon cup in sight)!
Which brings me on to my next point…
- Who made you judge and jury!?
Always judging, always presuming, that’s me. Or was.
Having kids has without doubt made me a much more empathetic and dare I say it nicer person. And breastfeeding has definitely been part of that process – as my journey has evolved over time with each child, as situations and the need to adjust feeding has changed, so have my perceptions of breastfeeding versus formula feeding. So have my perceptions of other women and their journeys.
But with all the pressure to feed this way, that way, upside down, round and round it’s no surprise that women all over the land are huddled over their lattes discussing Barbara’s boobs or Florence’s choice of formula, or indeed beating themselves with a breast pad for failing to pump 5ml or breastfeed in the first place!
But what I’d say is, c’mon ladies, let’s stop this now, this judging of others, feeling regret, anger or defiance for feeding one way or the other! We’ve all got a story! There’s always a reason for our choices.
Surely the thing to focus on here is THANK GOODNESS WE HAVE OPTIONS!
We are lucky, we can feed our babies regardless of whether we breastfeed or not, willingly or otherwise.
Let’s rejoice! That plump and healthy little baby over there is yours, just yours! He’s fed, happy and content. Enjoy!
Karen is mum to three, cake lover, coffee connoisseur and owner of Burble Baby, an on line gift boutique for new mums and babies. To celebrate National Breastfeeding Week, Burble Baby and Another Bun are running a fabulous give away to win a super stylish breastfeeding pillow from Thrupenny Bits worth £45. Check out the pretty and stylish range of feeding accessories at Burble Baby - practical and pretty! Gorgeous! x