I chose to breastfeed.
I never felt pressured to breastfeed by health professionals, I never felt pressured by myself to breastfeed, I felt very lucky to have it come to me very naturally.
When I fell pregnant with my son, I knew instantly that I wanted to breastfeed, I never even considered bottle feeding. My husband was very supportive of me, especially in those early days when it was all so new to me, he made sure I rested, that I kept well hydrated. He would bring my nipple cream to me, bring me a glass of water if I needed it, when I was in pain he brought me pain killers, because breastfeeding isn’t the most comfortable thing in those early days. He encouraged me, he knew this was what I wanted, and what he wanted. The best start in life for our son, breast milk is amazing, it is tailor made to each individual baby giving them everything they need.
I remember the first time my son latched on just an hour or so after his birth, it came so naturally to him.
The first day or so of feeding wasn’t easy, I struggled with latching him on, but the midwives were so helpful and made sure they checked his latch many times before we left the hospital.
When we got home I didn’t struggle with feeding, but the effects of breastfeeding on my nipples soon became apparent. It became painful, shooting pains through my breasts every time I fed my son, but I persevered. My nipples were cracked and sore, but it was to be expected, having a baby suckle on them for hours and hours every day was obviously going to take its toll. A few days after his birth my friend came to visit and she could see the pain on my face when I fed my son, she couldn’t believe that I was able to get through the pain. I just sat there thinking to myself every time ‘this will end, it will get better’.
And it did. It got easier, after about 8 weeks of painful, cracked nipples, they healed, I no longer needed to lather on the nipple cream after every feed and shower. I didn’t even need to use it anymore. Feeding got easier, the pain disappeared, it just felt like second nature, it was so natural. Yes we spent most of our evenings with him attached to my boob, but that is completely normal.
Cluster feeding is just one thing that you can expect in a newborn, for some people it makes them question breastfeeding, wondering whether they should just give their baby a bottle, they think that they aren’t getting enough milk. I was very lucky that I had a good support network around me, who helped me realise that this was all very normal. The only problem I encountered was that my son only fed from one side, he just couldn’t get a good latch on the other one. It’s left me a bit lopsided but I’ve learnt to live with it!
I love the connection we have when he’s feeding, the way he looks up at me with those big beautiful blue eyes. He always looks so happy and content when he’s feeding. I love the cuddles we have, nowadays he doesn’t really cuddle any other time than when he’s feeding, he’s too on the go! He makes me laugh when he unlatches himself mid feed just to smile at me or make a little happy gurgle.
It’s not so great when we are out in public, but I’ve got used to the fact that there may be some nipple flashing going on when he feeds. I used a cover when he was smaller, but once he started getting interested in the world he started getting frustrated with being covered during feeds and would just push it off. I don’t blame him, I don’t think I would want a sheet draped over my head when I was eating!
When I got pregnant my aim was to breastfeed for 6 months, not long after he was born I realised that a year was better for him. So that’s my aim. We have been feeding for 8 months now, and I am very lucky to have never suffered with any real problems so far (I put that down to wearing a well fitted bra, the girls at Bravissimo are wonder women!) I think I will be sad when we stop at a year, but I will be happy knowing that I have given him the best start in life and I will look forward to my next feeding journey, whenever that may be.
About 80% of mothers in the UK breastfeed their child at some point but only 1% make it to 6 months and only 0.5% make it to 1 year. Breastfeeding also reduces your risk of breast cancer, especially those who feed to a year or past it. This was a significant reason to continue breastfeeding as my grandmother died of breast cancer, so anything I can do to reduce my risk, is worth trying. I just hope in the future the figures continue to rise and that there is easy access to good breastfeeding support for everyone.
This post first appeared on Meet Other Mums where I am a regular blogger, please go and check it out as there are some brilliant other blogs there!