My Real Breastfeeding Experience


 Blog Title: My Real Breastfeeding Experience

When I was pregnant the first time, I tried hard not to go into motherhood with too many expectations. I never drew up a birth plan – I’d seen too many friends be let down when things didn’t go to plan in the birthing suite and they’d ended up very disappointed. I was open to whatever means necessary for the baby to be brought into the world that was going to be safest for her and for me. (Fortunately, I was able to have a natural birth.)

One thing I did really hope for was that I’d be able to breastfeed. I really liked the idea of the bond created through the breastfeeding snuggle, and the fact that this was how mothers were designed to grow and nourish our babies, since the human race began. And obviously every mother hopes to give her child the best IQ and immune system boost that she can.  If I’m honest, I also thought sterilizing bottles looked like an extra job I could do without! But again, I’d seen a lot of friends go through frustrating and harrowing times with breastfeeding – latching issues, mastitis, and lack of supply – that I knew it doesn’t necessarily work out for everyone, even those with the best intentions, and it wasn’t guaranteed for me.

I was really lucky to have the support of midwives in those first few days who were absolute sticklers for making sure that my baby was latching correctly.  During the first few weeks, one of my bleeding nipples was excruciatingly sore every time my daughter would latch – I remember stomping my foot in frustration and crying out in pain as she would start on that side. There were times it certainly looked like it would be easier to bottle feed – no more intense pain, plus I could more easily share the feeding load with my husband! – but I’m so glad I was able to stick with breastfeeding, because after 6 weeks or so, it became much easier, and gradually it even became enjoyable. The milk was on tap – at the right temperature! – whenever and wherever she needed it. It came in very handy when at 5 months old my daughter caught conjunctivitis and I was able to apply breastmilk as an ointment and clear it up within 24 hours.

I was so amazed to discover that breastmilk itself adapts to the baby’s needs every day. There are receptors in the mother’s nipple that read signals in the baby’s saliva about what he or she needs, for example certain antibodies to fight off a cold. It’s truly incredible… the miracle and medicinal nature of breast milk really is undersold!

I had in my mind that I’d like to breastfeed for 9 months, but it became such a part of our routine that I ended up feeding (only once a day towards the end) until my daughter was 17 months. If someone had told me at the start that I’d do it for that long I would never have believed them! I thought that only “hippies” would feed for so long! In fact, I ended up feeling a bit sad when feeding naturally came to an end as my daughter gradually lost interest. I really missed the snuggle time it provided and I worried (as mums do) if my daughter was still getting the best nutrition possible without it.

Now, as I await the birth of my second child in January, I hope that I can breastfeed so easily again. I know it will certainly be different this time around, having a toddler at my feet. The feeds and snuggles might not be so leisurely!

I think almost all mums know that breast is best IF it can happen – but ultimately, a full and satisfied bub is the happiest baby, and that is what must come first. If chronic difficulties with breastfeeding are causing a mum to feel anxious or guilty or miserable, she isn’t going to be the best mother to her new baby. All a baby does during his or her awake time in those first few weeks is search its mother’s face for smiles, to reassure them they are safe and loved.  Even more so than milk, it is so important for mothers to be able to supply those smiles. Happy mum, happy bub!

- Alexa

 P.S. How's your breastfeeding experience? Let us know in the comment below!

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