National Breastfeeding Awareness Week

This week (24-30 June 2012) is national breastfeeding awareness week. To mark this, I thought I’d share some of my experiences of breastfeeding with you. I’m really aware that a lot of people struggle withbreastfeeding, for one reason or another, and I just have to look through some of my favourite blogs to see how this makes people feel.

I think perhaps there is a huge amount of pressure put on new mums to breastfeed. Certainly, I recall at my 8 week midwife appointment (the disastrous booking appointment I endured in Somerset) being asked what I planned to feed the baby. I responded somewhat facetiously “milk” and that I wouldn’t be giving it any further thought until we at least knew we had a viable foetus. In fact, all the way through pregnancy I attempted to have a relaxed attitude to feeding the baby; that I would attempt breastfeeding, that we would see how it went and if it didn’t work, well, baby would be fine.

With that in mind, this is simply what happened to us. Pip immediately attempted to suckle and she has continued being a good feeder. She has a strong suck, feeding doesn’t take hours and after the first week, has been by and large painless. I am adamant that her feeding will not get in the way of my need to continue living and leaving the house, particularly as I have struggled with baby blues until about 6 weeks. I therefore have been defiant about feeding in public, parties and any other social situation where the options are feed her or she will shout her protests loudly. And be damned if I am going to hide away in a bathroom or other ‘private’ space. Not for me will I feed in a parent room attached to a department store loo, when I can feed her in the cafe and have a cup of tea at the same time.

I realise, however, that not everyone feels like this. I am lucky to have not ever been hugely body conscious, and to have to the casual observer appeared to have lost most of my baby weight. I would say though that the more casually and defiantlyI have approached feeding in public, the easier it has been. The first time, I tried to hide under a scarf thing. It was annoying and irritating and made me really cross. I abandoned it and from then on things are easier. Dressing the part is harder work though, and perhaps a whole post in its own right later this week (if people are interested?).

What I can’t deny is this: I find it far more convenient.Its free, on tap, the right temperature. The downside however is that only I can do it unless I have time and energy to express; that I occasionally when in a bad mood or hungry myself feel I am little more than a cow and that I can’t bear the word ‘tit’ in relation to me.

One last observation. Once Istopped trying to create the perfect setting to feed in, I found it easier in public. Yes, a chair with arms is easier, but it is still possible to feed perched on a high stool, or stood up having a conversation at a party.

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4 comments

  1. Your experiences seem broadly similar to mine. Interestingly because I did not struggle to establish feeding and have actually found it very easy, I have often found myself downplaying my success. People have been continually surprised by my feeding all the way through, health professionals, friends. Yet I have had no reason to stop, she has weaned herself to just have feeds first thing and at bedtime and I enjoy having those times with her still.
    Now I think maybe I should have been louder and prouder! But at times I have almost felt guilty about having an easy time of things when others around me have struggled or had problems.

    1. I think you’re right. I have downplayed how successful it’s been (or successful it’s been so far) because a lot of people have struggled with it. But equally, I don’t want to add to the pressure I know that I felt to be able to do it. Thankfully, it worked for me, but given that I have had to force myself to be proud of a birth that society and blogging can sometimes seem to consider a failure, or giving in (epidural then assisted delivery) I am acutely aware of the balance and not wanting to seem too smug.

      I’m really glad to hear your feeding success though, as a lot of what I hear is not so easy. I really hope to continue feeding Pip exclusively until 6 months and then it will hopefully naturally tail off, like you say, until she is fully weaned.

  2. Breastfeeding while standing up at a party. You total badass.

  3. I love, by the way, that Breastfeeding Awareness week started to make breastfeeding ok, and now you very rightly lead with the fact that there is way too much inappropriate pressure to do so. When I expressed that I was planning to breastfeed but not *excited* about it (seriously, who gives a f*ck if I’m excited? It does not matter.) She said with some disapproval that “She expected me to be more maternal.” I know that I live in an area where the pressure is off the charts, but I’m quite angry about it. Telling women what to do with their own bodies seems to me to never be ok.

    And. Lovely helpful post. I’m going to steal your line and tell people I plan on feeding the baby milk.

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