My Breastfeeding Experiences

2010
06.27

This whole kerfuffle over the ‘Mother & Baby’ magazine pro-formula/anti-breastfeeding article has got me thinking. For me, I always knew I wanted to breastfeed and would have been devastated if I had had to give up early. When I was pregnant with Twink I didn’t know anyone who had breastfed past six weeks, but I was determined to give it my best shot. And I can be very VERY stubborn.

My experience, however, has been very different from most of my friends (as I mentioned in this post). The difference between my experience and others has made me look at things differently…the way breastfeeding and formula feeding are portrayed in our society has a dramatic effect on how individual mums find starting breastfeeding, as well as affecting the bigger picture, of how much funding breastfeeding support gets from the government. It turns out that although the government, and the NHS pay lip service to encouraging breastfeeding, in many cases, that’s all it is. Lip service. I know a hospital midwife (as a friend, so completely off the record) who admitted that while the paediatricians say they encourage breastfeeding in general, in actual fact they encourage individual mums to stop if their babies have had to be admitted. Why? For the simple reason that it’s easier for the doctors, as they can quantify how much the baby is getting and it is easier to keep the baby on a schedule. I even found the NCT advice a bit off putting as our antenatal class teacher stressed so many times that ‘breastfeeding is a skill and takes hard work and practice’.

Nonetheless, on a personal level, I feel very strongly that individual mothers should have the choice to feed their baby as they wish. It is their body; their baby; their choice. But that decision is made in the context of a society that makes things harder for them to breastfeed. A society that doesn’t offer every mother the support she needs. A society that is happy to gawp at page three models, but doesn’t know where to look when a mum is breastfeeding near them.

I have no problem with the article itself as it is purely a piece of opinion, and as such, I feel sad, and a bit amused at some of her comments (‘funbags’?? Seriously?? Who calls them that?!!). However, I do feel that the magazine should have had some blurb on the page clarifying some of her opinions, so their readers were aware they aren’t true. You don’t have to abstain from alcohol completely when you’re breastfeeding, and it’s pregnancy that wreaks havoc on your body…if anything, breastfeeding helps you lose the weight. It worries me that someone might read that article and take it as gospel just because it was written by the deputy editor of a parenting magazine.

Obviously I’m approaching this as a ‘pro-breastfeeder’, whatever that means. One of my labels is that I’m a tandem breastfeeding mum, which as far as many are concerned puts me in the extreme category, especially as my eldest is nearly 26 months old (as mentioned before, I hate those labels and the way they put barriers between mums). How did that happen? I’m not sure. If I’m honest, I never had that ‘I’ll just get to 6 weeks/6 months/a year and see what happens’ mentality. The WHO guidelines recommend feeding till at least 2 years, so deep down, that was what I had in mind, but I still intend to carry on until he’s ready to stop. And after the tantrums he’s been throwing this week, I’m quite glad I still have the ability to calm him with a quick nurse.

That said, I fully expected him to wean himself while I was pregnant. There were points in my pregnancy when I really struggled with breastfeeding him. It never got to the point where it would have been easier to wean him, but that’s not to say it was easy. I got a pretty bad case of nursing aversion, starting with the night feeds when I was about 8 weeks pregnant and Twink was about 14 months. We night weaned abruptly after a night where I spent 2 hours crying as Twink tried to feed to sleep, but couldn’t as I was keeping him awake. He wasn’t bothered at all as long as Daddy dealt with all the night wakings. A month or two later the day time feeds had to be dramatically reduced to two feeds a day, which was the level I could cope with. It all got much easier again once Squishy arrived!

People do look askance when they realise I still feed Twink, and I do feel judged, and it does upset me, so I’d certainly hate for a formula feeding mummy to feel similarly judged. We’re all doing the best we know how, but I do wish society would start being more positive about breastfeeding in a real, substantial way. It’s been articulated in a much better way than I ever could over at PhD in Parenting. On a more personal note, I have decided I am not going to be making my life any harder than it already is (we’re deep in teeth/developmental/who knows what tantrum territory), so if Twink needs breastfeeding and I am able to, I will be nursing him. So far this week I have fed him at a friend’s house (although if I’d done it 15 minutes earlier, we would have avoided the lips turning blue with screaming rage tantrum) and just before his swimming lesson (which was more for my benefit as I should have fed Squishy before I went in, but she was asleep in the sling on her daddy by that point). So, if you see me out and about, and I’m feeding a toddler, judge me if you want, but believe me, it’s preferable to the screaming, toddler foot stamping alternative.

PS. Sorry for no pictures…wordpress is still not letting me upload pictures, which is why I’m behind on my Squishy photos. It’ll be fixed soon, I hope!

Squishy 9 (Friday)

2010
06.26

My camera has been playing up today, so this is the best of a bad bunch of photos…Hubby has played around with the settings & assures me that my photos should be normally coloured from tomorrow.

Squishy 8 (Thursday)

2010
06.25

She hasn’t gone to sleep on time for a lot of this week…

Squishy 7 (Wednesday)

2010
06.25

Hubby wears Squishy in the evenings if she’s still awake when I get Twink to sleep. I love the way she’s looking up at her daddy in this picture.Hubby wears Squishy in the evenings if she’s still awake when I get Twink to sleep.

What’s in a (nick) name?

2010
06.23

Twink has been my son’s online persona since I joined the Baby Led Weaning forum when he was coming up to six months old. It was chosen because when he was just a bump, he was known as Twinkle. I felt Twinkle was a bit feminine for a boy, so shortened it. The thing is, he hasn’t been called Twink in real life for…oh…nearly two years I suppose! Squishy on the other hand, really is called Squishy (no…not literally…she has a real name too!), so I sort of feel it’s time to update Twink’s nickname so it reflects him better. The problem is, apart from things like sausage, darling, sweetheart, boy and many, many others, he doesn’t have a nickname any more. Does it matter? Should I make up a new one? I feel like he’s outgrown Twink, but I can’t think of anything else I could call him…any thoughts?! So far my favourite is The Boy…

Squishy 6 (Tuesday)

2010
06.22

It’s been so hot today, so Squishy has spent most of the day in just a nappy.

Things I worried about before becoming Mummy

2010
06.22

During my pregnancy, and even before, there were many different things that I believed erroneously or worried about unnecessarily. True, many of these things are problematic to other people, so I’m aware of how lucky I am, but as worrying about these things didn’t have any effect at all, I do wish I’d saved myself some stress.

  • Giving birth at home without drugs. Before having Twink I didn’t know anyone who had given birth without at the very least having pethadine (/meptid), so I worried a lot that I was being naive to think I could cope without. It turns out that giving birth wasn’t a horrible ordeal to get through, but an amazing experience that I’ll always treasure.
  • Breastfeeding is difficult, needs working at and involves overcoming pain. Oh, & you’ll leak almost constantly. This was true for almost every mother I knew at the time. It turns out Twink knew exactly what he was supposed to do…even trying to latch on through the tankini top I was wearing in the birth pool! I didn’t have any trouble at all breastfeeding until I fell pregnant again. And I rarely leak. I wore breastpads for a week with Twink before realising they weren’t necessary, & I haven’t bothered this time…not even when I had the whole day away from Squishy when I went to London…not even one leaked drop…I know, I know, I really am a freak! True the early days were mostly spent on the sofa catching up on my DVD box sets with Twink attached, but that was the hardest bit…being stuck on the sofa while Hubby brought me drinks, food and changed the DVD! It’s a hard life ;-) Squishy did find it a little more difficult getting the right latch, but still, aside from a slight soreness (nothing that was even visible), it was easy. Which probably explains why I’m still feeding Twink over 25 months later! National Breastfeeding Week
  • I wouldn’t cope without sleep. I’ve been an insomniac since I was a child, so perhaps I’d been in training for this all my life, but despite Twink not sleeping for longer than two hours (more usually just one) until he was nine months old, I did cope, and actually the worst bit was just before it got so much easier. I think he woke up half hourly during the nine month growth spurt and I nearly lost it…but worrying about his sleep didn’t change it at all…he just did it in his own time.
  • That I absolutely needed a flash travel system. With hindsight I wish we had bought one of those car seats that converts for an infant and then a toddler…lugging the baby car seat around was torture, and Twink hated being in it, hated being in the pram and hated being in the pushchair…if only I’d known about slings before he was born, and had the confidence to just buy one and wait until later to get a pushchair. I would have waited to buy a pushchair until he could go in one of those incredibly small, lightweight, umbrella collapsible ones. My expensive Bugaboo Chameleon may be gorgeous, but it’s a pain getting it into the car and it’s only been used with the carseat or the pram a handful of times. I spent SO long researching the ‘right’ travel system for us and in the end I got it wrong, & now I’m stuck with it as it was so expensive.
  • That I would need to get my baby into a routine at some point. I was told repeatedly that it was all very well me feeding on demand and letting Twink sleep whenever he wanted to when he was very little, but I really needed to get him into a routine before he was two or three months old. Hubby and I aren’t very routined people. Ask anyone…we’re almost always late (even before we had children) and we rarely know what we’re doing more than a few days ahead. When Twink was born, Hubby was working for himself from home, so his day would start when he was ready, and finish when he needed a break. Sometimes he would take an hour or a day off to do something as a family. Weekends were frequently the same as weekdays, so we literally had no pattern to our days at all. The idea of imposing a routine on ourselves, let alone a baby was terrifying to me…I honestly didn’t know how I would cope. I read all the books (no, really…all of them!) on various routines, and all of them made me want to scream…for a start they all wanted me to start my day at 7am. SEVEN A.M!!!! Hubby usually started work some time after 9am, and he’d generally only have been awake for half an hour. Twink was happy to laze in bed with me until 10 or 11. Back then, 7 am was a whole other world for us. And as for the rest of the day the routine books were planning out for me? I still don’t understand how people manage to leave the house if they’re following those routines. They just really weren’t for us, so I worried that I was doing something wrong or damaging my son in some way by not imposing any sort of routine or pattern on him. Yet again, it all fell into place by itself…after we started solid foods, we had a bit of a pattern, and much later (9 or 10 months old) when we introduced breakfast, we even started getting out of bed around 9am!
  • Cosleeping is evil and I would have a fight to get him out of our bed. Think I’ve covered this at the end of another post already…it’s just wrong!

All worrying did was cause me unnecessary stress. I really wish I’d just relaxed more when Twink was little and enjoyed it. Instead I was so worried that I might be doing something wrong…actually all I was doing was responding to my child in a way that suited my family. I think I’m more relaxed about it this time round…this is what I do and it works for us…I’ll worry about it if or when it stops working.

So what do you worry about? It can’t just be me having random worries about everything (I’ve not even covered everything here…but it’s getting late & I want to go to bed!). Are there things that you now kick yourself for worrying about? Or did worrying about something actually help you sort out a problem?

Squishy 5 (Monday)

2010
06.21

Well, it had to happen sooner or later, although I was hopefully thinking that it would be later…I forgot to take today’s photo. All was not lost though…I simply had to investigate some of the more obscure camera settings so I could take a picture of her sleeping without using the flash (which would almost certainly have woken her up). This was my first attempt:

Then some blurry ones:

Then I got it!

I’m pretty amazed that all those pictures were taken in the same lighting…all it took was fiddling with some settings (and finding a steady surface to rest on…damn shaky hands!).

Squishy 4

2010
06.20

We’ve had a lovely father’s day, pottering in the garden (i.e. Hubby doing gardening, me wandering aimlessly, looking after the children and letting him get on with it!). Twink learned how to saw up a tree into bits, and I melted slightly over the 3 of them having a group hug with Twink being so gentle with Squishy.

Hubby says she looks like an alien…she’s just frowning at having a camera pointed in her face again.

Little dimpled Squishy hand, investigating the elephants and tigers on her mat.

Sushi Madness

2010
06.19

Last week I won a meal for four at the brand new Yo! Sushi restaurant in Milton Keynes (they haven’t asked me to write about it or anything, but I thought I would try my hand at reviewing it). I grabbed a couple of sushi loving friends and booked a table. We LOVE sushi in this house…in fact I had to keep it quiet around Twink as he is also a sushi fiend and would not be impressed at us going without him…not to worry though, I’ll be just have to go back with him soon!

We arrived more or less on time and the staff were very welcoming. My fat wodge of vouchers was waiting for us behind the counter, and our table was quickly made ready. First hitch…they have these round booths. Round tables with padded benches either side, the sushi train (can’t think of a better name for it…) on one end, and a gap to get in at the other end. The problem was there wasn’t enough space for either me (with Squishy in the sling) or my pregnant friend to actually sit at the table! The staff were still brilliant & quickly sorted us out another table with chairs that actually move.

Then the eating started. When Hubby took me to Yo! Sushi in Bond Street, London, I think we spent about ¬£30/¬£40 for the two of us…so do you think it was difficult for the four of us to spend the ¬£100 worth of vouchers I had? Nope. Not even a little bit!

My favourite hot dish is still the Prawn Tempura, but the chicken katsu curry was also yummy…well, so was everything else, but that did stand out! As for cold…probably the tuna sashimi. We tried the desserts this time…I wasn’t a huge fan of the chocolate mochi thing. It tasted nice, but had the oddest texture! Hubby liked his chocolate cake more…at least he didn’t share it with me. We didn’t have any spoons on our table, so being slightly mad, the boys decided to try to eat it with their chopsticks…

Even Squishy joined in the fun, deciding that being in the sling facing mummy was a bit boring, so she sat facing the table for a while. She eyed up my prawn tempura, had a hold of some chopsticks and generally chatted away with my lovely friend A.

We had a fabulous time. Obviously being a sushi addict, the restaurant would have had to be pretty bad for me to not go back, but they really were lovely. I can’t tell you how happy I am that MK finally has a sushi bar!



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