Adventures of a Free-From Clothbum Mum!

Cloth nappies, dairy-free living, reviews and parental ramblings!

National Breastfeeding Week

on June 29, 2012

I’ve been reading a lot of blog posts this week on breastfeeding, as it’s National Breastfeeding Week, so I thought that I really should get myself in gear and get writing, even though it is the last day. This week, to me, is very important as raising awareness of what breastfeeding is actually like and what you should really expect is something that I think we, as bloggers, should help to promote.

Before I go any further, however, I really want to say that I’m not anti-formula at all. I think that at the end of the day, you have a choice and you do what is right for you and your baby. Some people really struggle with breastfeeding for many, many reasons (often a lack of good support) and if formula helps to get nutrients into those babies, then so be it.

I’ve written quite a lot about my breastfeeding journey on the blog in the past and, I have to say, it really wasn’t an easy one at first, as you can read about here. We had huge problems with latch due to an undiagnosed tongue tie and, I have to be honest, it felt as if I was being stabbed in the boobs with a rusty knife every time he fed. It wasn’t pleasant.

There were a lot of times, at the beginning, where I felt like giving up. In fact, I almost did. We were advised by a Health Visitor (incorrectly, as the tongue tie hadn’t been diagnosed – which was the cause of all the problems) that it just wasn’t working and that we should ‘top him up’ with some formula. Oh dear. Thus began all our problems with lactose intolerance, which was horrendous. It was a veritable vomit and poo bath – I couldn’t believe just how much could come out of someone so small. Yuck!

Once the tongue tie had been dealt with through a simple division procedure, I decided that I would really focus on getting the breastfeeding sorted out. I basically bunkered down in our bedroom or on our sofa and fed, and fed and FED. It was exhausting, my nipples were killing me and I resorted to nipple shields. I can’t even begin to explain to you all how amazing those things are. The sore nipple stage didn’t last long at all as his latch was much better, and after a day or two I was ok.

And, he was ok. He was amazing. Prior to his tongue tie being divided, he really used to fuss around the breast and get incredibly upset. It was heartbreaking to listen to these little frustrated noises he was making because he just couldn’t get Mummy’s breasts to work properly. I was so upset and I can totally understand why, at that kind of point, a lot of Mums would just give up. We had to supplement with some prescription formula whilst we got the latch re-established afterwards, but I think I was just stubborn and kept on at it. I desperately wanted to make it work.

Then, all of a sudden – it all just clicked into place. He knew what he was doing. I knew what I was doing and his latch was brilliant. I could feel him sucking with purpose and really drawing out milk, and that was wonderful. He was contented after each feed and his eyes would (and still do) roll back with utter delight when he got to the hindmilk – obviously his drug of choice!!

Ten months on and we’re still going strong, with absolutely no plans of stopping in the near future. He’s a very healthy, happy baby and his only source of milk at the moment is mine. It’s so amazing that we’ve made it and I feel immensely proud that I didn’t give up. It was touch and go a few times, but we’ve got there and I have to say, it’s a breeze. Feeding is really so easy and I don’t miss all the messing around with remembering to sterilise everything, boiling up the kettle, blah blah blah! Ok, so I still have pumping equipment to do, but that’s easy and I don’t have a screaming baby demanding a bottle to have to worry about when I do those!

I’m now back at work and have to pump, which has been relatively easy – thanks to my employers being very helpful. I have a lovely, quiet room that I can go into and a fridge where I can store the milk. You can read about how it’s all going and my love of my lovely new pump here My nursery have been very supportive and I provide them with a stash of frozen breastmilk at the start of each week.

Breastfeeding a ten month old is definitely a lot more interesting and challenging than when he was little. To put it in a nutshell – he used to be STILL! I had no problems with feeding him in public as he’d lie there, quite happily, covered by a scarf and feed. I actually have no problems in feeding in front of people (I’ve invested in a few breastfeeding tops) but I’m a teacher in my local area, so I personally want to be a little covered up if I’m out and about, just in case one of my parents from school are around and get more of a view than I feel is professionally appropriate!!!

So, yes, we’re now heading into the breastfeeding gymnastics stage where he really, REALLY objects to being covered up. He thinks my scarves are hilarious and wants to play Peek-a-boo with them – laughing like crazy where he sees other people looking at him. Um…yes! Not really what Mummy had in mind

It’s lovely when I’m at home with him, to be able to snuggle up together and let him have a feed. He obviously enjoys it and it’s a wonderful, cuddly time that I really wouldn’t trade for anything else.

I have had a few silly comments wafting my way over the past few months about when I’m going to be stopping, but I tend to silence them pretty quickly by quoting the WHO code (World Health Organisation that states, ‘Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended up to 6 months of age, with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond’) That usually works, but if not then I often joke about that fact that he’ll probably not still be breastfeeding when he’s 5. Cue flustered faces! I find it peculiar that how I choose to feed my baby is something that others feel they have the right to comment on – but luckily these are few and far between.

Just to end this rather rambly blogpost – I’ll share a little story with you. I was having lunch with my husband a few months ago and Monkey was sat, burbling away in his highchair. We all tucked into our lunch, Monkey munching away on whatever bits of food we either gave him from our plates or from his own little packed lunch and I noticed several people around the room giving us smiles. Monkey then made it very obvious (to us – as we know his signs and signals) that he wanted a feed. So, I popped him out of the chair, discreetly tucked him against me (mostly hidden by the table) and gave him a feed. I had on a breastfeeding top that shows practically nothing and also used a scarf, so there wasn’t anything really on show.

I became acutely aware of an older lady staring, quite intently at me with not a flicker of a smile/happiness/anything nice on her face. She actually looked almost angry, which was rather concerning. Every now and then, she would turn to her husband and whisper fervently. I steeled myself, ready for derogatory comments – as she got up, out of her chair to leave. As they passed by, she turned to us – still no real trace of emotions on her face…

… and proceeded to tell me what a brilliant job I was doing and how lovely it was to see someone just getting on with life and breastfeeding their baby when he needed it. She then went on to tell us all about her own children and that she’d managed to feed 3 of them (she’d had problems with her first). It was lovely – she showed her emotions the second that she started talking and I couldn’t stop smiling!

The reason I thought I’d share this is that often, when thinking about feeding, people are worried about what others will think in public. This just goes to show you that quite often you might be worrying unnecessarily!!! I completely read this lady incorrectly and thought she’d be mean – how wrong was I!

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