Inevitably, this post is about breastfeeding. I say inevitably because its impossible for it not to consume your thoughts when you’re doing it for hours every day. I have written before about breastfeeding … It’s somewhere in the archives, I would link to it … But … Erm … I’m too tired.
I had a lovely walk with my Mum today, we were talking and I realised that I hadn’t really given enough credit to how hard the first 6-8 weeks were of Wilbur’s life. Looking after him whilst tending to the needs to a toddler whose world had been tipped upside down was tough. It was beautiful, wonderful and unbelievably hard. One reason it was so hard was because Wilbur fed constantly. I didn’t realise how constantly until I remembered an evening where I unlatched him after a feed, ran to the bathroom and had a speed bath before the next feeding call would inevitably come. I realised this because now I can – almost – guarantee a good hour between feeds, often longer. I’ve been surprised at the number of people who have either been congratulatory that I’ve managed it with two under two (thank you kind people) or those who have been of the ‘why are you bothering?!’ brigade (less helpful and no thanks).
Well, here is why I am bothering: because, for me, it’s the laziest and easiest thing to do. It guarantees that I rest and cuddle Wilbur. It’s free and the milk is always ready and prepared.
I understand the scientific research about health benefits etc but that doesn’t really do it for me. At the moment the hassles associated with formula feeding far outweigh the benefits (sharing feeding and more sleep because of it). Breastfeeding, along with a lot of other things, has been easier for me with my second child because even on the bad nights I know that it will not last forever. I didn’t have the luxury or security of this sense of perspective with Joni.
All the pressure that women have on them to breastfeed is incredibly unhealthy for new mums. Being a parent can be a never ending guilt parade if you let it. I know that I have been extremely fortunate to have a 24 hour breastfeeding supporter and teacher who knows me so well (my Mum, a midwife) and I know that this support is a huge contributing factor to me breastfeeding.
But do you know what? Like with how you birthed your baby, no one is going to appear with a certificate, gold star or a trophy when you breastfeed. There’s no league table. And if you didn’t breastfeed? Same applies. Its not like your child needs to put it on their UCAS form is it? (Do those even still exist?!) So really, the point of this post is just to say this: Calm down. We’re all doing our best, ok?
As soon as breastfeeding becomes anything but the best way for me to effectively parent my children I’m stopping. So there.