She says, by @pols80:
Firstly, I should say that I’m not in the business of judging other people’s parenting. To be quite honest, I’m too busy making sure my herd make it through the day relatively unscathed to be squeezing into my judgey pants and climbing all those stairs up to my ivory tower.
Breast feeding, oddly, is something I’ve never given much thought to. I have three little darlings, and it just seemed to happen naturally. I’ve always been aware of the benefits, but I can’t say I ever really took a conscious decision; I just did it. Boy – was breast feed for about 8 weeks. I had little support in relation to breast-feeding, so when my baby took to crying 25 hours a day (yes, 25 hours. It felt like he cried all the time and then some) and cluster feeding, I immediately thought I was starving him. Surely he was doing all that crying and feeding because was starving, right. Wrong. Now I realise he was doing that thing of Being A Baby. He was growing, and putting in his milk order for when he had grown and needed more milk. I haven’t lost any sleep over it, though. He’s fine, I’m fine, it’s all fine.
Boy 2 made it to 16 weeks before becoming very poorly and being admitted to hospital. Various digestive problems meant that he wasn’t thriving, and so he was started on a special milk that smelled like mouldy potatoes. Appetising.
As for The Girl, she’s 19 months and still a complete milk monster. When she was born, I desperately wanted to make it to six months of breast-feeding. She was born at home on a Sunday morning, and fed like a pro. I went back to work when she was five months, and had to be away for several days at a time. Miraculously, we managed to maintain breast-feeding and we made it to my six month target. Then we made it to my twelve month target. Now I’ve stopped setting myself targets and started wondering when I’ll get a decent sleep and when my boobs will cease to be community property.
Natural term breast-feeding, I believe they call it. That’s what we seem to be doing. Feeding until she decides she’s ready to stop. Lots of people seem to have opinions on this. I have I idea why, given that it only really involves Alexa and I. I’m happy, she’s happy, so it’s all good right? Wrong. I’m pandering to her, apparently. I’m doing it for my own benefit rather than hers (yep, because who doesn’t want bite marks on their nipples, boobs down to their knees and an average of 14 minutes sleep a night?) I’ve even heard natural term breast-feeding referred to as child abuse (no, I’m not joking. Someone ACTUALLY said that). In reality, all I’m doing is comforting my baby the best way I know how, it’s good for her. She enjoys the closeness. I enjoy the closeness. She’s happy. I’m happy. It’s all good.
Not only do some people get their knickers in a twist about how long I’ve been breast-feeding, but they also get a bit flustered about where I do it. We live in a world where sexualised images of women (and men!) are everywhere. The media is rife with them. Breasts are portrayed in a sexual context on billboards, newspapers, magazines, supermarket shelves, music videos and a gazillion other everyday places. Yet nursing in public (NIP) still seems to create a bit of controversy. The law in Scotland says a woman may breast feed her child in any public place where both are legally permitted to be, and should do so without harassment. I have to be honest and say that I’ve had many, many more positive comments than negative ones. I’ve nursed Alexa in coffee shops and restaurant, parks and shopping centres, weddings and funerals. One particular incident that saddened me was when I was nursing Alexa, who was then a few weeks old, in Costa while my sister and I had coffee and a gossip. The man at the table opposite started to make stupid faces and generally make it known that he was appalled. He nudged his wife, pointed, scrunched up his nose and was generally twattish about the whole thing. None of that bothered me, what made me sad was that he had his two young daughters with him. He’s entitled to his opinion, of course, but it saddened me that he was setting that example to his daughter who may one day have hungry babies of their own.
As an aside, people often ask me what Mr Pols thinks about me breast-feeding in public, or about me still breast-feeding a toddler. The short answer is he’s proud of me. Proud that I set myself a goal and stuck with it. Proud that I don’t really care what people think. Proud that I’ve made sacrifices to do what I think is best for our daughter. I find it funny yet slightly offensive that some people think my husband should have an opinion about me baring my breasts in public, like they should be kept for him alone.
Breast feeding is good for babies and good for mums. That’s not judging or gloating or competing, it just is. Being a parent is tough enough without having to endure constant criticism of how you feed your child, irrespective of what method you choose. As I said at the beginning I never really made a conscious decision to breast feed, it just happened, but I have learned some interesting stuff along the way that’s really made me glad I did it…
When a breast-feeding mum kisses her baby, she ‘samples’ the germs around her baby’s mouth and immediately begins to make antibodies to them which are then passed to the baby in her milk
Breast feeding reduces a woman’s risk of breast cancer, that’s pretty well-known. What I didn’t know is that the baby also benefits in a similar way. My daughter’s risk of breast cancer in later years has been reduced by up to a third thanks to breast-feeding. The human body is so clever!
Newborns, if left undisturbed, will ‘crawl’ up their mum’s tummy to her breast to have their first feed. This is AMAZING to watch!
Toddlers are ingenious when it comes to creating opportunities to grab a quick milky snack… Preferably when both of mummy’s hands are occupied e.g. Drying her hair!!
He says, by @adadcalledspen:
I didn’t breastfeed my children. My ex-wife and I decided, quite quickly, that would be her job. For the best really. I might’ve struggled.
But with T there were some struggles in the early days. He had reflux which meant my ex had to go onto a dairy free diet for a few weeks to rule out any intolerance. It was tough as she doesn’t eat meat, but we got through those three weeks with fake cheese and Vitalite. I remember once trying to make a cake, the world’s most boring cake as it turned out, but excluding dairy made no difference. We just had to wait for him to grow out of it. Which he did. And pump him full of medication in the meantime. Which made no difference. At times we had so many potions the house felt like an annexe of Hogwarts.
My ex went back to work and had to express in a windowless-room and did this so I could feed the children breastmilk from a bottle while I looked after them. I remember her saying prior to T being born that she’d never do this because she didn’t want to feel like a cow being milked by a milking machine. Which is fair enough and I won’t talk about her any more here as I know there are some aspects of our time as parents to young babies which she feels are personal and would like to keep private, and I must respect this. I will say however that her decisions and the struggles she had initially, whih she overcame, made me so proud of her. She didn’t want to give up and so she didn’t. Which is testament to her as a person. And I’m so very proud of her for this for so many reasons. I always will be.
I remember early on though we went to a breastfeeding drop-in workshop run by some lovely supportive people who seemed to suggest that the problem was positioning. My ex was trying to feed the wriggliest baby in the world, at only 6lb 4 oz the strongest baby in the world, and at that point the world’s most vomitous baby and it was proving tough. You could see these people wanting to shift T’s position a little bit, a little bit, like horologists working on tinkering with some minute part of a watch mechanism. It didn’t really help. My ex got herself and him into a comfortable position over time, and once his reflux stopped it was easier.
At this workshop I read some literature. Something in a piece made me very angry, but perhaps I’m thick and just didn’t get what it was trying to say. It sounded like propaganda to me and I felt that if people were struggling it was designed to guilt trip them into persisting. It read.
‘Cows milk is made for baby cows, not humans, so why would you feed it to anyone?’
I thought, cows milk is fine in my tea and on my cereal and I thought this view a little OTT, and stretched a point so far it was in danger of breaking. Okay. We all know mother’s milk is good for the baby but what if you can’t? What if you actually just can’t do this, or really struggle? Can one be made to feel bad about going for formula from those demon cows when breastfeeding is proving so hard?
No. I don’t think so. We all make choices as parents and if anyone wants to be all judgey pants then please remember that quote from To Kill A Mockingbird, the one that kind of goes ‘you don’t understand a person until you consider things from their point of view.’ At times we’ve all felt like the world’s worst parents. Oh no, I didn’t bake my own bread or knit my own yoghurt this evening so the kids’ll have to have fishfingers and chips for tea. At times we all struggle, and to add pressure to a new parent by saying that one MUST do it this way and MUST DO it that way for a regulation time isn’t fair. I’d never do it. Mainly because I don’t want the last thing I see to be a tired, new parent come at me with a spork and force it into my jugular.
So, breastfeeding did you? For how long? Or did you not and did people frown at you and throw sharpened rocks in your general direction? Or did you, and did people point at you in the street and glare? To be honest this could be a real melting pot of opinions and experiences which might make some who are struggling, persist, or those who are finding things hard reconcile themselves with making a decision which is best for all. So please express your opinions (See what we did there) freely and openly. And thanks for reading.