I'm passionate about breastfeeding. I've been either breastfeeding or pregnant since July 2009, and for a horrible few months I was both. The knowledge that, for the last four years, my body has been creating and nurturing these two amazing tiny people takes my breath away! I find it difficult to remember the person I was before. I'm certainly very different to that person now.
Feeding Bud did not come naturally. I wrote earlier in the week about the lack of support for breastfeeding that I received in the early days. I think we persevered down to my stubbornness, I was determined that he would feed and, after five days when my milk came in and he fed properly, and then at around two weeks when he could manage to stay awake for more than 90 seconds into every feed, he thrived. We thrived. We were so close, I loved the convenience. We could spend days just relaxing, sitting watching endless Eurosport (me) and snuggling (him). Everyone said what a calm, relaxed baby he was and that was so true. I have so many lovely memories of feeding him in so many different places - on a boat ride, in the Welsh Assembly building on his first holiday, in the bath, at family parties - everywhere. I very quickly realised that breastfeeding was going to be no fun unless I learned to feed in public and be discrete about it. A few judicious purchases and a lot of muslins and scarves employed and I was fine.
As Bud grew bigger I was met with comments 'are you still feeding him?' 'When will you stop breastfeeding?' I met all these with the same answer, 'when he wants to stop.' I cited the World Health Organisation guidelines at more people than I care to remember but I stopped feeding him in public. He quickly understood that he only had milk if we were at home or at a close family members' home. Too many questions and the risk of being half undressed by a small boy who was more than capable of removing a scarf or lifting up a top to get to his milk himself!
I had two in my head as the age he would stop at. Bud loved his milk, he loved feeding and, when I got pregnant with Little Miss when he was 21months we carried on as normal. He was then having three feeds a day - morning, nap time and bedtime, with occasionally more feeds if he was upset or unwell. When I hit nine weeks pregnant something happened, horrible sickness and nausea hit and breastfeeding became awful for me. It really hurts to say that I hated breastfeeding. I used to sit with my fingernails digging into my palms as every feed was like nails down a blackboard. Apparently this is not uncommon in attempting to breastfeed while pregnant but it had a devastating effect on me. I withdrew into myself completely. Walked away from this blog, friends, my life. It was terrible. A really black period for me and one that makes me sad to look back on. In the end I had to wean Bud from the breast for the sake of my own health. I'm so sorry our breastfeeding journey ended in that way. He dealt with the change easily although he still snuggles in exactly the way he used to when he was feeding and it makes me remember those times, good and bad.. He was 25 months old when we finally stopped and, looking back, I'm so proud of myself that we made it, from those horrible first two weeks, through the months where feeding was lovely and even through the misery of the final four months.
I had four more months of heavy pregnancy and then Little Miss arrived. I suffered a PPH after her birth which left me in need of a blood transfusion but even though that left me feeling dreadful, breastfeeding came naturally to both of us. She was an alert,greedy baby. My milk arrived within three days. We started easily and haven't looked back. I'm different now too. I'm so relaxed and open about feeding. When she cries Bud will say 'give her some milk Mummy' which I love as, for him, that's where baby milk comes from. It's entirely normal and that's what I want for both of my children. That, if and when they become parents they will want to breastfeed or support their partner to do the same. I won't hide away when Little Miss gets bigger and wants to feed and I'm going to feed her for as long as she wants to. We're having no more babies so we won't stop until she's ready. It's hard to predict. At nine months she is a busy little madame and feeding is something she does fast before she moves on to the next interest. i think she'll get bored and stop before I am ready, we will see. That will be the final chapter in my breastfeeding journey, one that has seen so many highs and lows but one that has been one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences of my life.
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