Friday, 24 June 2011

Breastfeeding Awareness Week

As Breastfeeding Awareness week draws to a close, I want to write about my own personal experience of the most sustainable and environmentally friendly way to feed your baby in the early months.

I was incredibly relieved when I was able to breastfeed. Both my mother and sister had difficulty doing so, and the first day in the hospital after having Shugs, I tried, but he simply wasn't taking. The direction I was given was okay I suppose, but I saw a different nurse on every occasion and wasn't given the chance to relay any concerns or issues with the same person twice. I was also disappointed with my level of pain relief, which was making sitting and lying in certain positions for any length of time extremely uncomfortable. After nearly 24 hours of trying and getting incredibly frustrated (not to mention having to contend with a rather awkwardly placed nipple blister on account of him latching onto to the wrong bit) I was almost in tears when the night nurse offered to take him away and give him a bottle so I could get some rest. At first I saw this as defeat, but she assured me this didn't have to be the case, and being tired and emotional I took her at her word.

It worked. In the early hours of the next morning I was able to give him what I considered my first proper feed. It was such a relief, and while the next few feeds weren't easy, once my milk came in fully we were on our way. I found feeding lying down on my side a far easier way, and that wasn't recommended to me until I was almost ready to leave hospital. It meant that both me and Shugs could excuse ourselves from a room and relax, occasionally having a wee snooze together. It actually felt like a break, rather than a chore and the angle meant that he needed very little burping (a fine family tradition of extreme arse trumpeting has been passed on, I can assure you).  I did use a feeding ring occasionally and expressed a little after a while, but for the most part I fed exclusively by breast for the first couple of months.

Not having to worry about cleaning and sterilising bottles in those early stages was such a relief, as was not having to buy tubs of food and deal with the rubbish afterwards. I did use bottles of expressed milk when Shugs got a little older, as I'll admit I was never able to get comfortable enough to feed out in public. Not a modesty issue you'll understand, rather not being able to position myself right. And when at about 5 months we started to wean the wee man, we also started to wean him off breast milk.

So the pros and cons? Well as mentioned there was less clutter and mess feeding by breast, and for Shugs it seemed to do him the world of good (he get the sniffles like most kids occasionally, but is in great health otherwise - nothing slows the wee bugger down). He also has a fantastic appetite and is a good sleeper, both of which I put down to good habits picked up in the early stages. The cons? Well for me it was exceptionally tiring, especially in the 3-6 month period as he got bigger and increased in need, and despite being told the weight would fly off me, I found the opposite to be true. I was too tired to get much exercise and constantly starving. In a mixed blessing sense, it was also starkly apparent when at 4½ - 5 months Shugs needed weaning. His need for milk sky rocketed, interrupting his sleep and affecting his mood. No matter much I fed it was never enough, but I had been told over and over of WHO recommendations to wait until 6 months before weaning. Thankfully, I finally saw sense and listened to my mother for the first time in twenty years and started weaning at that point.

I know it's not for everyone, but I'm glad I was able to make it work for me for as long as I did. So to everyone currently, trying or hoping to breast feed, all the best. 

*In other news, central funding for Breastfeeding Awareness Week is withdrawn after 18 years. Very disappointing.


  1. Loved this, very honest, it was the same for me in hospital, too many different people telling me different things...and the weight, while it went down in the first month, then went up and up as i was so tired. Kealan is 1 now and we've still not weaned him off the boob!

  2. I had the best experience feeding my son, now six and my daughter, now four.
    I felt particularly strong about it, but was basically left to get on with it myself in the hospital and was supported more with the Health Visitor.
    It is the most rewarding thing that I have done!