Given that I had no ‘breastfeeding goal’ other than just to try to get my newborn to latch on, I’m quite surprised that I’ve managed to last this long — The Child will be two years old soon, and shows no sign of giving up the boob. If you’re thinking of breastfeeding but am feeling a little afraid or daunted, here’s my story so far, in (I hope) easily-digestible bullet points.
- It took three days for my milk to come in, and I was getting desperate because The Child was crying so hard. Our local breastfeeding counsellor came over and suggested that she might have posterior tongue tie, but as she fed well once my milk came in, I didn’t bother to do anything about it.
- She had a windy tummy in the evenings, so I took to trying to burp her after a feed. I tried this after a midnight feed and she screamed for four hours. Er, never again did I burp her at night. Sorry, neighbours. The ‘tiger in the tree‘ hold worked well.
- She had a wee bottle of expressed milk at five weeks because I had to pop out to the registry office. She had another a few days later, but refused the third, and hasn’t drunk from a bottle since. The lesson from this? Don’t spend lots of money on a breast pump until you know your expressed milk won’t go to waste. Buy a cheap manual one to begin with, if you must.
- Things got better once I felt comfortable feeding her somewhat upright. Then I got a milk blister and that’s when I took myself off to my local breastfeeding support group, a group where I have become a regular. And the treatment for a milk blister? Feed through the pain, it’s better than the pain of a blocked duct or mastitis.
- Once breastfeeding is established, life gets so much easier. Baby crying? Boob. Baby can’t sleep? Boob. Baby fell over? Boob. Baby just a grumpy bum? Boob. Baby hungry and can’t wait another second? Boob. Plus you learn to do everything ambidextrously. It’s not something to put on your CV (‘I can eat a bowl of soup and breastfeed a baby at the same time’), but an enviable skill nonetheless.
- If you make it this far, toddlers can do a few things when they breastfeed. Twiddle your other nipple, switch sides every 30 seconds, try to move their body as far away from you as possible while still being latched on, do handstands — basically cause you pain and then laugh in your face.
- I have no idea how long more I will continue to breastfeed. I have started a very gently programme of causing myself less discomfort nursing her at night, which should (at some point) lead to night weaning. And I read somewhere that once that sort of thing starts, toddlers are more likely to wean themselves. So we’ll see.
I started off being quite judgemental about other mums who bottle-fed, but my thinking has evolved. Basically, I won’t judge you if you use formula; there are so many reasons for using formula. But I will judge you if you don’t bother to even consider breastfeeding (the most natural, cheapest, and generally safest way to nourish your baby) before deciding on formula.