Today’s breastfeeding guest post is brought to you by Carole from www.carolefindsherwings.wordpress.com Thank you Carole x
From the minute I found out I was pregnant, I was determined to breastfeed my baby and nothing anyone said would change my mind. Luckily, most people are all for persuading you to do it so when Tori arrived I was full of confidence and we set off on our breastfeeding journey together.
I loved it. We got the hang of it pretty quickly and I could never sing the praises of how easy and convenient it was – I didn’t have to carry round bottles and formula or worry about warming it up and I didn’t have to faff around sterilising bottles every day.
Okay, so I had to tailor my wardrobe to being able to feed her and I had to do all the night feeds because OH inconveniently decided to not evolve to have working mammary glands but in comparison to the worry and organisation needed to bottle-feed it was worth it.
All went swimmingly for a while until Tori hit about six months old and then it all started to get a bit wobbly. She was a naturally small baby and this provided a catalyst for people to start asking questions and making comments.
The mushy coos of ‘Oh, isn’t she tiny!’ subtly changed to ‘Isn’t she small for her age?’ and were often coupled with things like ‘Are you still breastfeeding her?’ in the sort of tone that implied my answer should be no.
At first I ignored it and carried on regardless. I knew she was getting enough food and she was healthy so what was there to worry about? But after a while things started to niggle and people started to get less subtle in their hints.
‘Are you sure you’re still producing enough milk?’ was a question put to me on more than one occasion. The answer was yes but the more things like that are said the more you begin to doubt yourself.
When Tori reached 8 months I found myself being battered with tales of how other people had been feeding Baby mushed rusk from 4 weeks because they weren’t getting enough from breastfeeding or how Baby had been switched to formula after 5 months because breast milk ‘wasn’t enough’. These conversations were always mixed with queries of how much formula I was supplementing her breast milk feeds with (none) and if I was regularly feeding her baby rice (I had given her the chance to try it by this point but she wasn’t wildly enthusiastic). I always came away feeling like I was doing something horribly wrong.
It even reached the point where people were talking to my OH when I wasn’t there and getting him to ask me if I thought I was making enough milk etc. I admit I was feeling a little unstable due to a bit of PND but the constant drip drop of hints that I was taking this breastfeeding thing too far really got to me and by the time Tori was 9 months old I stopped and switched to formula milk.
I hated myself for it. Stopping like that and switching her over felt wrong. I’m sure it didn’t do her any harm at all and everyone else seemed happier with it but I felt more than a little useless. I missed the bond I’d shared with her and I felt resentful that I’d lost it because of other people.
I wasn’t emotionally ready to stop when I did and it really rocked me. I never talked to anyone about it because I thought I’d sound silly but there were times when I’d curl up in a corner and sob miserably about it. I felt like I’d let my baby girl down and that feeling alone made me feel sick to my stomach.
I realise now that I didn’t have to conform to what other people thought and it would have been perfectly fine to carry on breastfeeding her as long as I wanted. I was making plenty of milk, she was happy, I was happy and she wasn’t small because of me – she’s still small and she eats like a horse.
I’ve just had my second baby and I’m breastfeeding again. This time I’m not going to let other people get to me like before, I’m going to trust myself and do what I feel comfortable with. I never ever want to feel like when I believed I’d let Tori down ever again, especially now I know that it was unnecessary and I could easily have avoided it.
I believe breastfeeding is a personal choice, it is entirely up to you and how you feed as to how long you do it for. From just the first week through to two years it doesn’t matter – if it is what you want and what you are comfortable with then you should do it. It doesn’t matter what other people think or did – everyone is different and so is every baby, we can’t all conform to the same guidelines.