My Breastfeeding Journey
Getting started breastfeeding is an unbelievably large topic. There are tons of antenatal classes, midwives, peer supporters and health visitors that could give you better advice than me. This is my experience, and my own opinions as someone who has exclusively breastfed my daughter, and just stopped feeding her at 29 months.
Why I wanted to feed,
I wanted to breastfeed because it's free, that was honestly my first thought. To be honest, I was breast fed and raised in a family of women who all breast fed on the whole so to me it just seemed like the normal, done, thing to do. I never gave bottle feeding a second thought. Until I actually started feeding that is... because for me it wasn't that heartwarming moment with birds singing, from the very first time she latched at a few hours old my first thought was “bloody hell that really hurts”
How it felt
It just got worse, and worse. My mum told me that it does hurt when you start regardless of what the antenatal classes said. My nipples would take a few weeks to toughen up. But as it turns out Autumn had a tongue tie. Her frenulum under her tongue was over developed. She couldn’t latch properly, luckily for Autumn, she managed to feed enough despite the tie. She gained weight steadily, but at one month was still jaundiced. Which is unusual, so obviously wasn't feeding to her full potential.
It took six weeks to get an ENT to see her and snip her tie. I had to grip my chair to stop myself attacking the very kind and gentle doctor when he cut the tie. Turns out mother's instinct is a very real thing. I passed over my little peanut, and while everything was very professional, to me at the time (six weeks postpartum) I just saw a bloke go for her with scissors. Terrifying.
How long it took
After her tie was cut it still took several weeks for the pain to go completely, she had to learn to latch all over again, with her now free moving tongue, and my nipples obviously don’t get a recovery break. I couldn’t tell you at what point it stopped hurting, at 12 I was still a bit sore when she latched but it would quickly settle down and be fine during the feed.
The cons of breastfeeding are pretty much completely overlooked I think, don’t get me wrong, the pros outweigh them a thousand million to one. But still, there are a few little niggles that I found. Namely, Dads can’t get up in the night, for the first 9-12 months (yes it’s that long) where your baby does need to be fed in the night, that’s all on you. Some men have been known to lactate in response in an infant, but that was not my experience. I think the biggest impact can be on your sex life. Breastfeeding can delay the return of a normal cycle. It is not a contraceptive! But without your cycle, and a baby attached to your boobs, your sex drive can be a bit low. Or a lot low, and things can *ahem* dry up through lack of use if your not careful!
Trying to stop
Now our first born is two and a half, we are expecting another one in March, and despite this post possibly reading a little negative, I will absolutely be feeding number two myself as well. I’m hoping for an easier go of it, as I’ve done it before. Not without hiccups but successfully. I have just managed to wean Autumn. My boobs were really sore and we were only down to one feed right before bedtime. Autumn wasn’t sold on the whole weaning thing, she sleeps well *now*, but really looked forward to her evening feed.
It’s quite sad actually, to be done this way, but one evening she was having trouble settling and refused to let me go. I was getting very sore, and very tired and I started to cry. Autumn realized instantly that she was (unintentionally) hurting me. She gave me a cuddle, then ran out, (while I sobbed at how wonderful she is) to get her Dad.
She has, that night, and ever since, gone to bed with no boob, and I’m so proud of the kind and caring person she is I could cry right now.
Would I change anything
Well...the plan so far is to introduce bottles of expressed milk, probably around four to five months, so that Dad or the grandparents can feed and look after. Because if there is one thing I’ve taken on board more than anything else, it's that you have to spend time with your other half without the kids, as often as possible. Other than that, I’m not sure that I would, I never left Autumn to cry, I baby wore for the first ten months exclusively and if we were having a bad night we would bed share. It’s hard work but Autumn is wonderful, bright, chatty and kind, and I don’t see how you can improve on that.