Breastfeeding- An Honest Update

IMG_5748

I’ve wanted to write an update re: milk making for so long now, but  finding the time to sit down at my laptop now that Little Ored is walking unaided (in other words, never sitting down) is almost impossible! This morning I attempted an update on my Instagram stories but my terrible and awkward rambling made me realise 1) I’m slightly more eloquent via the written word and 2) I needed to just sit down and write!

So with Little Ored taking his afternoon nap…

Here we are! 17 months later and we’re still in the midst of our breastfeeding story which both surprises and amazes me every day.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’ve been lucky. I was told the horror stories (especially during my pregnancy. Why do women do that to each other?) and I’d read the brutally honest accounts on Instagram. Subsequently, my story has felt like it never fitted in. Like it didn’t belong. But then I remember how it felt as a Mama-to-be, on the cusp of BF, with no idea how it was going to go and that’s why I feel like it’s important to share my story. Even if it only reassures one expectant Mother that breastfeeding can be a positive, incredible experience. That they can do it.

I still haven’t had painful latches, bleeding or cracked nipples but I can say they’ve felt a little tender at times-especially in those first 6 months pre weaning. I did have one horrible bout of mastitis which feels exactly like the flu (in other words, death), but luckily it cleared up on its own after 24 hours. I get asked a lot about what BF is like as soon as teeth are involved, and all I can say is that if LO is feeding/latching properly I can’t feel a thing. If he’s feeling particularly teethy however, it can be a different story!

As time has gone on I’ve become increasingly confident about breastfeeding in public and one day, when Little Ored is old enough, I’m going to give him one big apology for ever having hid his head underneath a sling whilst he nursed. But we learn and we grow. I’ve breastfed my son whilst carrying him on and off trains, in coffee shops, parks, restaurants, promenades, play groups and more. And every time I do it, I remind those around me of what women’s bodies are capable of. What the real purpose of breasts are.  I can count on one hand the times I’ve received disapproving stares/whispers. Is it because I haven’t noticed them or because people just don’t care like I thought they would? Probably a bit of both, but either way I’ve lost count of  all the times I’ve had people praise me for BF in public (especially by older people) and if that’s not encouraging/reaffirming then I don’t know what is!

Then of course there’s the bonding. The cuddles before bed. The sleepy snuggles in the morning. When LO first started hugging, Ored went wild. “You forget, I’ve never had this before. But you’ve had it every time you’ve fed him.”

How much longer I will BF for, I can’t say. I want to let LO wean himself so only time will tell. But what I can say is that being able to nourish and feed my baby, whilst simultaneously being able to sooth and comfort him, has been an incredible experience and one that I would recommend to any new Mama’s.

So here are a few tips that I would give to any expectant Mama looking to BF.

1. Go to some classes

Whether they’re NCT, NHS or some other reputable organisation, classes are invaluable and will debunk the many myths surrounding BF, whilst providing you with the best start. It was in our NCT classes that Ored and I learnt the ‘signs’ of a good latch and feed as well as all the incredible health benefits that BF affords both Mama and baby.

2. Get your partner involved

Whether it’s your husband, partner, Mum or best friend, whoever is going to be around the most in those early days is the person you’ll need to help you get BF down- so make sure to take them to the classes!

Ored was great at spotting when I had positioned Little Ored too high or too low and for those first two weeks when he was off on paternity leave, I’d often find myself asking for his help. His patience, guidance and ability to spot what was “off” straight away (which is so hard to do from a Mama’s point of view, i.e looking from above, downwards) stopped either LO or me from becoming frustrated and allowed for a quick latch. Practice does make perfect but with a knowledgeable partner thrown into the mix, you really can’t go wrong!

3. Be positive

I can’t stress this enough. Whilst I approached BF with an open mind and a ‘what will be will’ be attitude I also felt a surge of confidence after my NCT classes. I believed in my body and trusted that it was able to provide my son with what he needed. That positive, relaxed approached is undoubtedly what made those tentative first few weeks, where LO and I were both still learning, much easier. Oh and if you didn’t know already oxytocin, otherwise known as the ‘love’ hormone, is what is needed to help produce breast milk making stress, anxiety and pressure completely counterintuitive!

4. Ask for help

Whether it’s your partner, friend, Mum, midwife or GP. If something isn’t working, ask for help and get advice-don’t suffer in silence. Like I said before I was always asking Ored for help and I vowed to exhaust all options before opting for formula.

5. It can be difficult, but not in the way you’d expect…

Everyone told me about the pain I might experience but no one told me about how exhausting BF can be! Little Ored never took to a bottle so I’ve never been able to express milk and let others feed him. That means that for the past 17 months I’ve been the one, especially as he nurses to sleep.

So there’s been moments where I’ve felt frustrated, tired and wanted my boobs to myself for just five minutes, especially when he insists on pinching the other nipple while nursing (FYI, breastfeeding babies gets a lot more interesting the older they get).

But instead of feeling guilty for having those feelings, I’ve embraced them and worked through them in order to continue our BF journey. Sometimes those emotions act as a little indicator that maybe I need a little more ME time and so I make sure Ored knows where I’m at in order to help out a bit more where he can.

6. And lastly…

Breastfeeding is amazing. It reduces your risk of breast cancer whilst giving your baby antibodies. It contains melatonin which helps babies sleep. Breast milk is constantly changing to meet the needs of your baby, responding to illness and even your baby’s age (fat levels increase after your baby’s first year in the world to meet their growing needs). Not to mention the bond it fosters between Mother and child.

 

So there we have it, finally, my breast feeding update!

 

cc-tag

 

Advertisements

A Letter To My One Year Old

I wish I could tell you to slow down. To pause for a moment whilst I catch my breath (and catch up). But your endless energy, knowing grin and curiosity wouldn’t let you even if time would.

So here we are, basking in the afterglow of what was your first birthday this time last week. How has it already been a week since your birthday? How has it already been a year? The past 365 days have been an absolute whirlwind, and they have been the best I have ever known. In that time you’ve morphed from a helpless yet content baby into an olive eating, book loving, shrieking and pointing toddler- seemingly in the blink of an eye.

I remember holding  you for the first time, surprised by how small and how light you were in my arms. I remember not being able to sleep the night you were born as you lay next to me, for the sheer adrenaline coursing through my tired body. I was excited but most of all I was completely and utterly in love.

And so with those memories so clearly etched, despite sometimes feeling like a dream, I can’t quite believe that we are now here. Encouraging you to take your first steps. Deciphering yells whilst eagerly awaiting the day you start to say your first real words.

I had no idea whether Motherhood would suit me. I was never maternal but I’d like to think of myself as caring and loving, and as it turns out that’s all that really matters. Still, I was nervous. Imagine starting a new job without any kind of training! But I had nothing to fear. Motherhood has unequivocally been the making of me and that’s all down to you.

Thank you for making the last year as stress free as possible. Even in the womb you were chilled (I will always remember the sonographer asking me to shake my belly to try to get you to move) and along with your sweet nature, you’ve eased me into motherhood without ever making me feel overwhelmed. Not everyone gets to be so lucky.

That’s not to say I didn’t use Google every time you had a temperature or refluxed after a feed, but there’s a lot to be said for trusting your own instinct even when your instinct as a first time parent is practically non-existent at the start.

I look at you now- strong-willed, determined with an unapologetic mischievousness – and I can’t quite believe you are the same person whose head I was worried I wasn’t supporting properly, or who spent his nights sleeping in a baby box. Now you wake me up in the mornings by crazily crawling around in your cot as if to say “Come on Mama, it’s a new day!”

But it’s bittersweet. I already feel you becoming more independent and self-assured, quick to get cross if either of us tries to help you  because you’re adamant to learn on your own. And even though you are still very much a boob man, I know there probably isn’t long left on our breastfeeding journey (I’m letting you decide when you’re done) not to mention the preparations we’re making to move your cot into your own room in time for the summer.

No one told me that a birthday could be so emotional. But also full of promise. What wonderful, exciting adventures lay ahead of you…

Every day you surprise me with something new. Like when you blew raspberries against Papa Bear’s shoulder (for a solid 5 minutes) or when you problem solve a new toy super quick. Not to mention how impressive your dexterity is. And with that comes an overwhelming pride and joy in watching you grow.

Of course it’s not only you that’s grown in the past year. I no longer fumble with nappies and become flustered when undressing you at the Doctor’s. I’m a pro at navigating public transport with a pram and somehow we’ve created our own language in which I know from a look, cry or shout what it is you want (a good 90% of the time anyway).

I had always thought of myself as patient and empathetic but these are qualities you’ve only heightened. I no longer have time for negativity or anger or to let tiredness dominate the day. And when I see it written down like that, I’m kind of blown away by how much you really have changed my life.

In you I see the best we can be. And I see an already kind, bright and beautiful baby whose future hangs above us like the night sky. What stars you’ll map and align we’ll have to  wait and see, but oh how they’ll be lots and oh how they’ll shine brighter than we could ever have imagined!

And that fills me with more excitement for the future than sadness for the year that has now been and gone.

To you our loving, ever-smiling, head-bopping, beautiful son. How lucky we are.

cc-tag