Posts Tagged ‘breastfeeding’

Is this the end?


I’m writing this because if this is the end, I want to remember. And because I’m impossibly sad and guiltily relieved about it…and not ready.

Up until Sunday evening (3/10/10) Twink breastfed once or twice a day. Generally twice if we were together all day and I did bedtime, once if it was a nursery day. All of us, except Hubby, have been ill since Saturday night. It may just be a cold, but it’s a bad one and we are not getting much sleep here. Since I was pregnant with Squish, I’ve suffered from nursing aversion when feeding Twink. Sometimes it’s been so bad I’ve been trying not to scream, digging my nails into my palm and hoping he would finish quickly. Sometimes it’s not been there at all and we’ve had lovely snuggly feeds. As recently as a few weeks ago, he fell asleep nursing. However, when I’m feeling run down, or even just dehydrated, the aversion is worse. So, naturally, as I’m ill now, I’ve been avoiding feeding him. If he’s asked I’ve told him later, and if he’s asked again I’ve let him nurse. If he hasn’t asked or has forgotten after being delayed once, he’s missed that feed. While his feeds were usually one in the morning & one in the evening, they have never been routined (he’s not a routine person, & neither am I!), so sometimes they were before breakfast, sometimes after, sometimes in the living room before bedtime started, sometimes in his room last thing before sleep.

The last feed he had was Wednesday morning, and I can barely remember it.

I’m welling up just thinking that it could be the last time. It was a little longer than his usual feeds. Squish was napping and I thought he wanted extra to get my supply back up after a three day break, as well as because he is run down too. As long feeds go, it was quite lovely, but I did have to cut him short on the second side as the doorbell rang, and I was relieved about that. When he asked for more, I told him later. He then asked when Squish was feeding. So I fed him standing up in front of me, with Squish cradled in my arm. Squish lost interest at that point, but still, I think it counts as a tandem feed. Sorry if that’s too much detail, but I don’t want to forget.

I’ve been hoping he’d stop for a while, but at the same time I don’t think he’s ready and I definitely don’t seem to be! He was just two days shy of 29 months, and while to many people that would seem like a very long time to breastfeed, it doesn’t to me. Maybe it’s because his speech is behind, or we’re still waiting for those last four molars, or I’m being precious about my firstborn, but he still seems to need it. Or at least he did before this week.

I’ve always known I wanted to breastfeed. To be honest, it never occurred to me that there was an alternative. I worried about whether or not I’d be able to breastfeed more than anything else while I was pregnant. It was so important to me. I read everything I could, and gathered telephone numbers offering support. I didn’t know many people who had breastfed, and none who had breastfed past 3 months, but all of them had found it hard work. So I thought I was prepared for whatever challenges were ahead.

The reality was nothing like I’d expected. I picked up this solid little baby from the water (he was born in a birth pool) and cuddled him to me. I was wearing a swimming costume top and a nightshirt on top (don’t ask…weird pregnancy brain thought it was sensible!) so he couldn’t get at me to feed, but this seconds old baby knew exactly were my nipple was and tried to latch on through two layers. As soon as I’d got rid of the barrier he latched on, and then came the unexpected part.

It was easy.

Really easy.

The midwife visited when he was five days old. I answered the door cradling him in my arms while he fed. I joked that all I had to do was get him in the right general area and he did all the work! My midwife even invited me to be a guest at the antenatal classes she was running to ‘demonstrate’ breastfeeding. Within the first few weeks I had breastfed him walking around the shopping centre (9 days), walking through a crowded, open plan office full of lawyers (2 weeks), on the steps in front of the lawyers’ office, in the pub (not a family pub, 3 weeks), coffee shops, friend’s houses, & I’m sure lots of other places I can’t remember…I didn’t stay in much!

I remember spending the first few weeks on such a natural high. I was literally giddy at being a mum. Those post-birth hormones were FANTASTIC! And I think a lot of that was down to our breastfeeding relationship. It seems I was lucky. I was certainly happy that I had the magic cure all that could fix everything from hunger, to pain, to tiredness and grumpiness. On the other hand, he was the kind of baby who fed constantly! There were many people who didn’t see me without Twink attached, and as for growth spurts…I didn’t even notice them in the first six or seven months…2 hours was a long space between feeds for him. Day and night. In fact, it was usually even more frequent than that. The nine month growth spurt was the first one I noticed…he started feeding every 30 – 60 minutes, day and night! Thankfully that didn’t last forever, and after that he started going longer between feeds, until he even started sleeping through at 11 months.

After that, he still fed at least every two hours during the day, and after a month of sleeping through, he started waking once or twice. I didn’t realise at first, but this coincided with me becoming pregnant with Squish.When I was about 2 months pregnant, and Twink was 14 months old, I got my first taste of nursing aversion, although it was just at night. After a memorable night when Twink & I were awake and crying for two hours (because he wanted milk and was tired but I kept taking him off before he was ready as it was just too much for me), Hubby took over night times, and as Twink has always been fine without milk unless I was in the room, he was fine with Daddy cuddles.

Unfortunately a month later nursing aversion hit during the day and I had to cut him down from every 2 hours on demand, to twice a day. I was always flexible with when those two occasions were as sometimes it was useful to be able to calm him down before a tantrum hit in the afternoon, but 2 feeds were manageable. After a few months I found that as long as I drank plenty of water and took care of myself, I could cope with the occasional extra feed.

When Squish arrived, Twink was 21 months old. He had nursed the evening before her birth, and he nursed again a couple of hours after her birth. The nursing aversion had practically disappeared. Since then it has come and gone, mostly depending on how much care I’ve been taking of myself. It has never been anywhere near as bad as it was when I was pregnant. One trigger for it was tandem feeding, particularly in the early days….which is when I had to tandem quite often as Twink fancied feeding whenever he saw his sister having some milk! After a few weeks of several feeds a day, he once again settled back to once in the morning and once in the evening…with the occasional extra feed to avert a tantrum! I even managed to feed him in public again…although only as a meltdown stopper.

I’ve found nursing a toddler quite challenging. It’s actually not that easy to get him comfortably positioned on my lap, especially as he still prefers the cradle hold. That’s probably the major reason why I haven’t tandem fed so often recently…Squish is a wriggler if I feed her sitting up (me sitting up, that is), so add in a toddler who seems to be all knees and it’s not comfy!

Since I wrote the above, I was almost positive it was over when Twink watched me pump without asking to nurse. Then after Squish had fed, he asked for some!! So we had a lovely snuggly sleepy feed as he hadn’t napped today…at one point I thought he was going to fall asleep!

I hope this isn’t the end…but I guess if it isn’t, it’s still a sign that the end isn’t too far off. Time to prepare myself for not breastfeeding a toddler :(

My Breastfeeding Experiences


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!

Things I worried about before becoming Mummy


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?

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