I wanted to breastfeed but the thought of it terrified me and so I told myself that I would only do it for six months at most and would then wean her on to formula. I posted on my Facebook page to ask people’s opinions on breastfeeding and was told so many stories by my fellow mums about how they’d found it really hard and had to give up, or how they were told that they weren’t producing enough milk and needed to top up with formula or in fact give that instead and I’m not ashamed to admit that I was seriously considering giving formula when Emma was born, nor that I had some in the cupboard ready as a backup because of such conversations. Still I went to a local breastfeeding group to prepare myself before I was induced so that I could ask questions, and I spoke to other breastfeeding mums. Some part of me always felt like breastfeeding was the right choice for me, no matter how scared of it I was or how many horror stories I heard.
After visiting my local Baby Beginnings group I felt a little better about breastfeeding but was still not convinced that it would work for me. Emma was born and I really lacked confidence doing it and when she fed all night constantly the first night that we were in hospital and then ten hours straight the second night at home, I felt that I wasn’t made for it. This couldn’t be right surely? After all she’d gotten stuck in the birth canal too and needed help to be delivered because I couldn’t push her out myself. I felt that I wasn’t built for motherhood in so many ways. The health visitor rang up when Emma was three days old and seemed stunned when I informed her of the length of time that Emma had been feeding for. She referred me for breastfeeding support so I felt even more like I must have been doing something wrong by following the cues of this constantly hungry baby. I got diagnosed with postnatal depression because I had ‘breast is best’ ringing out in my head but Emma’s mammoth feeds made me feel like a failure. It was a horrible time. I didn’t know how I’d feed for two weeks let alone six months. Then I met our local breastfeeding supporters. They helped me so much and one of my friends telling me ‘once you get past the first six weeks it’s so much easier’ gave me hope. I stuck at it, battled oversupply and a fast letdown and got through that six week period and found that it was indeed easier. My friend was right. Things had settled somewhat and we had kind of a routine for the first time. I found The Milk Meg and Leaky Boob pages on Facebook. I learned about growth spurts and how the long and frequent feeds at the start that made me so depressed and concerned were just down to Emma establishing my supply. I learned to follow her cues and stop watching the clock, particularly when I was told that Emma’s then six minute feeds weren’t long enough for her to be getting what she needed (FYI some babies are just efficient feeders and can get what they need out of one boob in six minutes). I also learned to contact our invaluable breastfeeding support team if I needed to (unfortunately they’ve now lost funding which is such a shame for other new mums who are struggling like I was).
BREASTFEEDING IN PUBLIC
Emma’s now twenty months old. At the start I was terrified of feeding her in public but now (yes I’m still feeding!) I just get on with it regardless of any prying eyes. I’ve fed her around Disneyworld, on airplanes, at the zoo and no longer do I care what people think. That said I’ve not once had any negative comments regarding my breastfeeding though I have read about what some ladies have had to face from strangers it makes me so sad. I’ve finally learned to just go with my gut (and to respond to the child who now shouts booby if she fancies a feed).
I guess my message in writing this article is that breastfeeding can seem horrendously daunting. It can seem confusing, time consuming and relentless and there probably will be times that you want to give up. It is so hard. It is however, I feel, one of the best things that I could have done for my daughter as we have an incredibly close bond and really enjoy our snuggles when she’s having her ‘boobess’.
Breastfeeding is so worth all of the trials and tribulations that come at the start. It has been for me and I completely detested it back then. My advice is to find a great support network and people to answer any questions that you may have because then, I promise you, that you will find it so much easier to get through those early days. You may find yourself feeling so proud of what you have managed to achieve that you seek out a photographer to take some gorgeous breastfeeding shots as I did. You may also find yourself still feeding a very
wriggly (and vocal about wanting the boob) toddler at 20 months too.
Lucy is mostly a stay at home mum to almost two year old Emma, also working a morning a week - sometimes two - at her husbands school in Sudbury. Lucy and Emma can often be found visiting the animals at a local farm or exploring Highwoods Country Park together.