Sunday, 19 January 2014

Now and Then

I have had a lot of comments recently from a variety of people regarding my continuing breastfeeding journey with L. 

Lots are along the lines of "Wow you're still feeding her?" L has just turned seven months.

And this has gotten me thinking. I have written before about breast feeding L. And mentioned that we had a bit of a shakey start emotionally as the demands were high and the impact of this hard to cope with. 

I found the first three to four weeks of motherhood incredibly tough, I think we all do. It is a huge adjustment isn't it? A tiny human who demands constant attention, a tiny human who causes cracked nipples. A tiny human who disturbs sleep.

The emotional impact of demand feeding every one to two hours was tougher than I had imagined. In fact it never occurred to me that this would be a factor. 

I researched and read about feeding complications, but physical issues, no milk issues, pain issues. Nothing I read mentioned emotional difficulties. Nothing said that the thing which would make me want to give up was myself, because I couldn't cope emotionally, when physically all was going really well. 

Hour long feeding sessions had been sold as a time to catch up with reading and box sets, not as increasingly freedom taking feeds which would have me disparing at this seemingly constantly hungry infant.

On more than one occasion I put formula in the Ocado shopping basket before taking it back out again. Not because I thought formula was wrong or bad or poison, but because I knew I could do it, and I knew L could do it. I just needed to get through the tough bit, to pick myself up and carry on. I was lucky in that physically I and L were able to breast feed and many mothers and babies can not. I could not give up on this.

L was a natural feeder and knew what to do more than I did. She latched on beautifully right from the start and fed regularly from the get go. She made establishing my milk supply easy as she was rarely off me in the early days. 

But no one said "Wow you're still feeding her?" during these first weeks. It is the assumption that you breastfeed in the early weeks. The NHS recommend breast feeding exclusively for the first six months. 

And really during those first four weeks you need a pat on the back, you need the "Wows" and "Well dones" more so than at any other time. 

After a particularly bad day I had my mum drive me to a breast feeding cafe, I found support and encouragement and reassurance from the other mums and midwives there to help. 

I turned a corner after that day. Two days later we also found out that L had put on nearly 2lbs in three weeks. This was also a huge encouragement. I had done that. My milk alone had helped her grow.

And now seven months down the line breastfeeding is convenient and easy. It isn't emotionally draining or physically painful, despite the warnings I get now regarding teeth! 

L has started weaning and is slowly dropping her feed times. She feeds for about 10 minutes at a time before being satisfied. Now she is on the move she also crawls to me and plonks herself in my lap when she is wanting a feed. 

We use formula for L's dream feed as I have long been unable to express enough to meet her demand at this feed. We found this made no difference to how L slept. We also use formula when I am not around to feed her. We are lucky in that L takes bottle or breast easily and has done since two weeks old, introducing the formula didn't seem to bother her at all.

Now it is natural and easy, especially when L and I go out for the day. Then it was emotionally draining and restrictive. Now I don't need the wows. Then I did. 

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