Before i begin…
Disclaimer: This is not a “dig” at formula feeding at all. I have totally formula fed 2 of my children. I think it’s amazing stuff – it keeps babies alive that cannot be breastfed for whatever reason!
Breastfeeding – the most natural thing in the world, right? Wrong.. Or so it seems.
E is totally and utterly exclusively breast fed and has been for almost 3 months now. I never in a million years thought I would manage to get to the stage we are at now where it is so much easier and just normal for us to breastfeed. With the boys it was so hard for me, I managed 3 weeks with J and 3 days with O for various reasons. Find out more about my 2 previous breastfeeding experiences here.
Having now breastfed for 3 months I have learnt so so much about it.
The first 6 weeks are a blur of constant feeds and nappy changes. Totally normal – not going to lie it is tough. Really tough! Especially with other children. I personally got into the mindset where I told myself… this is what you want to do, this stage is completely normal, you are doing nothing wrong and it won’t last forever. Stick with it, it will be worth it. I wanted to succeed so much this time that when it got hard and I was sat in tears in pain with sore nipples or exhausted from the constant feeding, I told myself the above over and over again. I kept reminding myself how much I wanted to do this. How upset I was when I didn’t succeed with the boys. It really helped me through, I still found it really really tough in those early weeks but we got through it. It really is true, it doesn’t last forever, even though it feels like it at the time!
I think the biggest piece of advice I wish someone had given me when I was pregnant with the boys and that I can give anyone who is pregnant and considering breastfeeding is do as much research as you possibly can before baby is born. Research what is normal in those early weeks. Research tips on how to get a newborn to latch on properly. Research when babies normally have growth spurts online and jot it down somewhere – baby will typically want to feed much more frequently at these times. Research developmental leaps – the “Wonder Weeks” app is brilliant for this – again baby may want to be at the breast more frequently when going through a ‘leap’. Find out as much information as you possibly can.
I found people are so quick to say things like “they are feeding too often” “you mustn’t have enough milk” “how do you know they are getting enough” “put them on a bottle they will go longer between feeds”
These are many reasons why mothers who are breastfeeding successfully stop completely because they think that when people make the above comments to them they must be doing something wrong, when in fact they aren’t doing anything wrong at all.
If breastfeeding isn’t for you for whatever reason that’s totally fine and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for how you decide to feed your baby. However, if you really do want to breastfeed, that research before hand is SO important. Also support forums and groups. Really find out what is normal for a breast fed baby and what isn’t. You can then say to anyone who makes the above comments, I’m fine thanks. It’s actually normal, and we are doing well. I have said that countless times the past 3 months.
The biggest thing I have learnt about breastfeeding is something I have only come to realise the past few weeks now my eldest is back at school and we are out and about a lot more, interacting with more people. It is that breastfeeding isn’t seen as normal anymore, and this is what really makes me so sad. I had no idea that breastfeeding is generally seen in this way before I had Emilia. I have been asked countless times if the boys like to help me by giving Emilia her bottle. Just innocent comments from passers by, not offensive towards breastfeeding at all, people just seem to see giving a bottle more normal than breastfeeding. This is what makes me so sad. Even a health visitor has said to me “how many bottles is she on a day” just assuming I bottle feed. There is nothing wrong at all with bottle feeding but I’m not bottle feeding, I’m breastfeeding. Why is everyone assuming that I am bottle feeding?! Because, in the UK, I really do feel that people see bottle feeding as the norm.
Sat in a room full of other mums, some were giving their babies a bottle, happily sat feeding them. Emilia then woke for her feed and I began to breastfeed her and I was asked if I wanted to go into a room on my own to feed her. All the other mums were sat feeding their babies what is so different about me feeding mine! If I wanted some privacy I would of asked for it, me feeding my baby is no different to anybody else feeding theirs. I feed in such a discreet way in public situations anyway you could barely tell we were feeding! We were there to socialise with other mums, I didn’t want to sit on my own for half the time in a room on my own while she fed for 20-30 minutes! Again – felt like I was doing something abnormal!
I realise these comments and suggestions are totally innocent and people often do not realise, but it just reiterates to me that breastfeeding is no longer the norm. It really is such a shame. It’s the most natural thing in the world and what our breasts are made to do.
If you want to breastfeed, don’t let anyone stop you.
If you want to bottle feed don’t let anyone stop you.
Feed your baby how you want, and don’t judge others for how they feed their baby. We are all giving our babies the milk that they need one way or another.
I feel so passionate about breastfeeding now and really want to raise some much needed awareness of it. It really needs normalising and I want to help to do this in any way I can, I hope this blog post helps in one way or another.
What do you think? Do you think breastfeeding needs normalising? What are your experiences?
Thanks for reading