Monday, August 27, 2012

Breastfeeding for a year

This wasn't going to be a baby blog but I need to write about this because it's so important in my mind, plus I've read so many lovely posts lately (including this one) about breastfeeding.

Next Tuesday I will have breastfed my son throughout his entire first year and I feel like I should mark this event simply due to the colossal amount of time that I've devoted to it over the last 12 months.

I have no problem with people who don't breastfeed. I know I was incredibly lucky to have a baby who latched on instantly and no troubles with mastitis or tongue ties and deep down, I know if I had had problems there is every chance I would have given up. Nothing can prepare you for the barrage of hormonal emotion that accompany the first few days after giving birth, and accompanied with having just done the physical equivalent of running a marathon and then having no sleep, I am surprised anyone manages to establish breastfeeding at all to be honest. A quite literally life changing skill which must be learned in a very short space of time in the most adverse circumstances.

As a failed 'home birther', I am really touchy about people saying that breastfeeding or home birthing with no intervention (I had gas and air and finally a hospital transfer for a syntocinon/picotin drip during the 52 hours I was in labour) is somehow due to having enough willpower or the right attitude. The Mule has some great posts, but this one makes me feel very uncomfortable. No amount of 'believing you can do it' will help after two continuous days of contractions every three minutes with no sleep, five hours of transition and a baby that is still in the wrong position to descend (do I sound bitter?). Sometimes you can want and prepare for something with all your being but it just doesn't work out through no fault of your own. It took me a long time to come to terms with that with my own birth experience and I apply the same logic to breastfeeding.

I am a person who always feels that they should be doing something, so the many hours I've spent trapped, sitting still, feeding my baby have sometimes been difficult for me. It has been an acquired art, as summed up in these posts that redeem The Mule for me: The Art of Stillness and While I Nurse You to Sleep.

In the early days, I was not at all prepared for the relentlessness of breastfeeding and how often babies have to feed. I was so grateful for a wonderful breastfeeding counsellor that I'd never recognise in the street who appeared at my house on day three of my son's life and gave me a chart to fill in with all his feeds and nappies. I couldn't have survived without that piece of paper over the first week, it reassured me and gave me something to hold on to through the huge wave of newness a baby makes in your life.

I also have the KellyMom website to thank from the bottom of my heart for confirming what normal feeding behaviour was and for teaching me to just trust my body and my baby to do what they were supposed to.

After a few weeks it all becomes second nature, and the feeling of knowing that your baby is growing through the efforts of your body, just has he grew inside of you is miraculous. I'm so glad I have managed to keep it going for a year and have produced this walking, dancing, unstoppably curious little boy that needed his first shoes already. I can't believe it really.


  1. Well done mama! It is so great, Lovely post. x

  2. Congratulations to both of you! What a wonderful achievement.

  3. Glad I redeemed myself ;-)
    I like the point you raise about my birth post. It's difficult. If we shift the emphasis on to women to reclaim birth then there is an inherent implication that if they have a high intervention experience, they are to blame somehow. Of course this is not the case!
    But how can we avoid this? And what CAN we do to fix the current situation?
    Congratulations on your breastfeeding, and love to you and yours x


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