Breastfeeding its a journey!
If you’ve read any of my other posts about breastfeeding you’ll already know that before I had the boy my stance on breastfeeding was quite neutral. I thought I’d give it a go and if it didn’t work then I didn’t think I’d be that bothered. After all there are other options out there.
So when he came along I carefully tread on the first steps of my breastfeeding journey which took me to feeding him to around 18 months and I’m now feeding the Flixster who is 8 months.
But what’s it really like? A question I often get asked by pregnant friends or mums to be that I meet. I’ve thought about the answer and there isn’t just one answer I can give. Its beautiful, easy, hard, amazing, lazy, cuddly, addictive and fabulous all at the same time.
It certainly wasn’t easy for me to begin with. As with all new skills it has to be learned. Baby is born knowing how to find the breast and how to suckle. If you haven’t seen any videos of a newborn’s first breast crawl (yes they really can crawl to a breast all by themselves when they are born) then go and have a scout around youtube. There are some amazing tear jerking videos showing newborns finding their own way to the nipple once placed skin to skin on a mothers chest. For mummies however its a skill to be learnt and getting a good position and attachment of baby is key to everything. In years gone by this knowledge was passed from mother to mother, but in recent years this skill has been lost which is why breastfeeding peer supporters, volunteers and specialists are vital in the success of mothers who may be having a difficult time, or may be in pain whilst feeding. Getting that right position and attachment is everything. With that skill cracked I’d say you’d be well on your way to a successful feeding journey for however long you chose to feed for.
The Early days of Breastfeeding
The early days of feeding aren’t just about the right position and attachment they are also about establishing a good milk supply for the baby. Babies are born with tiny little stomachs that can’t hold much milk, which is why they feed so frequently. The milk may be of little volume at first but it’s of such great value to the newborn, packed with everything they need to survive. Don’t think that because you are feeding so little and often that you’re not making enough milk for baby. Newborns feed so often because they need to, because their tiny little tummies can only hold small amounts at a time. When the boy was little I’d set myself small targets. First I wanted to get to 10 days, then two weeks then four weeks. People would tell me that if I could get to 6 weeks then I’d have broken the back of feeding and things would get easier. They weren’t wrong. Six weeks seem like such a long time away when you have a newborn and you’re surviving on very little sleep, but in the grand scheme of things it’s such a short time.
So fast forward to now, I’m quite an experienced breastfeeding mum and peer support volunteer. I love breastfeeding because I’m quite a lazy person when it comes to routine jobs, I love that if Flixster needs milk there’s no washing and sterilizing of bottles. No boiling up the kettle then waiting for it to cool again and finding the powder to add. Theres no need for me to think ahead to how long we may be out of the house for and how many bottle I need to take. Anytime he needs a feed I just lift my top and latch him on. There’s not, as many people think any need to expose anything, as long as you plan ahead slightly with your outfit then its pretty easy to feed discreetly if you need to.
The thing I love most though about breastfeeding is the feeling of love you get when you feed, the oxytocin high not long after baby latches on. It must be the same feeling people get who are addicted to exercise, I wouldn’t know though, I’d love to find time to exercise, I miss running. I love looking down at Flixster who’s hand is usually waving wildly or stocking my face gently knowing he feels comfortable and at home whilst feeding, he feels safe and secure, it’s the one place in the whole world that he is most familiar with. He’s so tiny still just 8 months and he’s not going to be feeding forever, so for now while he still does I’m going to try to remember every single minute because before I know it (and I won’t know when) he’ll have finished his last ever breastfeed and it’ll all be in the past.