Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Thoughts on Breastfeeding

Before I had a baby I was pretty opinionated about breastfeeding.  I thought that surely every woman can breastfeed her baby if she tries hard enough, it is nature, that is what your breasts are for after all.  As my friend said "Just put your tit in their mouth!"  I used to think that women who didn't or gave up on breastfeeding didn't persevere enough and imagine 300 years ago, the breast would have been the only option so the baby would have just had to get used to it.
Well 11 weeks into breastfeeding and I can tell you quiet categorically that breastfeeding is NOT easy, breastfeeding is HARD.
When Orren was first born he just wanted to sleep, he did not want to breastfeed at all.  I had to hand express milk and feed it to him on my finger, he was getting dehydrated and the next step would have been to express milk into a tiny syringe and feed him that way.  This really wasn't what I wanted so I kept on with trying to feed a half asleep baby and squeezing some out onto my finger and putting it into his mouth. Eventually (thankfully) he got the idea of feeding and I was discharged from the hospital with the view that breastfeeding was established.
Three days after Orren was born my milk "came in" and  it really did look like I had had breast implants, Jordan step over!  My breasts were so stretched that the skin on them was shiny.  And boy did they hurt. I had to go out and buy a new bra that next day.  After that I got dry nipples because, as  I am sure you can imagine, having wet nipples for a lot more of the day that you used to can take its toll.
Eventually I felt confident with the breastfeeding, and then of course comes the issue of breastfeeding in public, controversial in some forums.  My view was that everyone should breast feed in public, it wasn't a problem get your boobs out, that is what they are for, if someone stares and has a problem with it then that's their problem not yours. But then when I started actually doing it myself I didn't feel altogether comfortable about it, and it got me thinking; before I had a baby I didn't used to whip my boobs out for all and sundry, basically it was my husband, or on occasional my doctor who saw them, other than that it was just me and them in the shower etc.  All of these outings were in very private intimate situations so why then, after having a child would I suddenly feel comfortable getting them out in public?! It took a lot of practice and much fiddling before I felt comfortable doing it in public, and only then with a discreet breastfeeding top and a quiet corner.
The challenges that I have faced breastfeeding have been pretty small compared to those faced by some of my friends.  (I wept when my friend told me about expressing a tiny amount of milk one day and thinking that it would probably be the last breast milk her baby would have, then her baby kicked it over and it was gone.) However even the small challenges have felt incredibly overwhelming and they have totally changed my opinion of breastfeeding.  It isn't easy, it doesn't always come naturally and not everyone can do it.  A well meaning friend of mine couldn't understand why every woman couldn't breastfeed for the same reasons that I gave above and I said to her that you have to remember that 300 years ago there would have been someone else in the clan or village who could breastfeed and had plenty of milk who would have fed your baby if you couldn't.  Yes breastfeeding is natural but so is childbirth, and 300 years ago many many women and babies died during childbirth because they couldn't do it.  It being natural doesn't necessarily mean that it happens.
The idea that women absolutely must breastfeed or bust (pun intended) is not always easy to accept, one friend of mine was encouraged to express milk in between every feed to top up feeding on her underweight baby, thus tying her to her home all day as a milking machine.  Thankfully she went against this poor advice and topped up her baby's feeds with formula enabling her to get out and about to post-natal classes, NCT meets and lunches with friends thus saving her sanity.  If breastfeeding means mum suffers from depression then this is not going to make for a happy baby no matter how good the milk is.
Yes breast milk is absolutely the right and normal thing for babies to have but women must not beat themselves up if the can't do it, there is a lot they can offer their baby's apart from breast milk and a happy mum makes for a happy baby.  If you were like me and thought breastfeeding was easy spare a thought for the thousands of woman sat in their homes in tears because they can't get their baby to latch or they just spilt the last few millilitres of their expressed milk onto the carpet, and thank God that scientists have come up with a wonderful alternative that enables mothers to feed their babies.


Breastfeeding :)


breastfeeding :')


  1. Really interesting post, I breastfed both my boys for over a year but was never opionated about breastfeeding prior to having a baby of my own. And just decided to give feeding ago when my first was born and never looked back and have never tried formula because it worked so well for us as family. Did find expressing a massive PITA. Also had the Pamela boobs on day 3 when my milk came in, looked like a fresh pair of implants which didn't really go with the postpartum tummy. lol

    Your friend would have been encouraged to express rather than top up with formula because breast feeding is a process of supply and demand so the more she fed/expressed the more milk she would make for her baby. This is one of the reasons that breastfeeding advisors don't advocate mix feeding early on as it can mess with a ladies supply as formula will keep a baby fuller for longer meaning longer gaps between feeds, resulting in less milk produced.

    I think it's great how honest you've been. I was very lucky and found feeding really easy and both my boys latched on really well and were good feeders. No mastitsis or thrush in over two years of feeding. Lots of women go through bouts of thrush and mastitsis and still persevere. Which is trully amazing. But understand when women stop feeding because of these reasons.

    Feeding in public I was ok with just had to think carefully about clothes before going out. I once had someone come up to me saying how nice it was to see someone feeding in public I was in a play park at the time (think more so because I was in my early 20's at the time and look young for my age so more unusual). I've actually noticed a lot more people breastfeeding than bottle feeding in public really so think breastfeeding numbers are on the up which is great. All my friends who have gone on to have babies have breast fed for at least 4 months most of them much longer which is great!

    Also most celebrities seem to breastfeed which I think has helped with people talking about it the press in such a normal way.

    The fact that formula is so readily available for those who breastfeeding isn't for them or have struggled is great and I will never knock that fact. After all each to their own and it's hard enough being a mother at the best of times with-out the added stress of being judged for your feeding choices.


  2. http://resources3.news.com.au/images/2011/01/19/1225991/152003-miranda-kerr-and-her-baby.jpg

    This is such a stunning picture Orlando Blooms wife who is also a super model feeding.


  3. Thanks serendipity child. I am one of the mums who was advised to pump and pump and put baby to boob as much as possible until supply equally demand. Let me tell you that was the hardest few weeks of my life to date which is saying something bearing in mind what has been dealt to me so far. I was so torn and was unable to let go of this 'natural' feeding process I think as there was such a strong mothering instinct that takes over and stops you from being rational with your decisions. It really was heart ruling over head. I asnt functioning on a basic level so eventually let go and now feel so much better and can nurture my baby in so many other ways that I couldn't do while I was a milking cow! Still feel sad I couldn't do it. After nearly 2 weeks of pumping away my boobs still didn't increase the amount they produced and the lady at the breast feeding clinic said she had to be honest and said it would take at least anoth 4 to 6 weeks

  4. Before my supply would increase to anything like my abides demand. S I decided that I would rather be happy and enjoy the early days rather than struggle on with the breast feeding. Days feels more involved and he is happy because I am happy and baby is settling down more now too. Thank you for your comments. I shed a tear or two!!


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