There’s no denying that breastfeeding is hard work. Especially in those early days – it’s often a painful, emotionally draining, and tiring experience. I felt that I was much better prepared second time around – I knew that it might be painful and difficult at first, and I’d promised myself that I wouldn’t put so much pressure on myself to breastfeed, or worry about weight gain. But there’s something primal that kicks in about the need to feed your baby, and despite my promises, all those hormones started up again and it was exactly the same emotional rollercoaster as I’d ridden before. Having now breastfed two children, I think it’s actually one of the hardest things I’ve done as a mum, but also one of the things that I’m most proud of.
And I’d like to say a thank you. A huge thank you – to all of the people who’ve supported me in our breastfeeding journey.
To My Husband
A huge thank you to my husband. For enabling me to camp out on the sofa for hours on end, establishing feeding. For taking on pretty much 100% of the endless washing up, cooking, shopping, hoovering. For all the cuddles when I’ve been crying. For telling me that if this is what I want then he’ll support me all the way. For letting me have a lie in to make up for being up so much in the night. For that cup of coffee that greets me on my bedside table each morning while I’m sat feeding Ben. I couldn’t be doing this without you!
To My Midwives
A huge thank you to my midwives. For being so supportive when we were in the hospital and telling me to buzz for them whenever Ben needed feeding and they would come and help. They never made me feel like it was too much trouble, and were a wonderful support. Thank you to the community midwives, who listened when I told them that something wasn’t right with our feeding. They called the feeding clinic immediately and got us a same day appointment where Ben’s quite severe tongue tie was not only identified, but snipped immediately. All on the same day!
To My Feeding Consultant
A big thank you to my Feeding Consultant. When I’d expressed to the midwives how difficult I was finding the feeding, they arranged for the team’s Feeding Consultant to visit me at home. I don’t know what I’d expected from a Feeding Consultant, but I definitely had in my mind someone who would be a bit anti formula feeding. But she couldn’t have been more supportive of whatever choice I made. I remember admitting tentatively that we’d given Ben a few bottles, and her response made me laugh: “I’m not the formula police!” She listened to me, and didn’t push breastfeeding if that wasn’t going to work out for me. I remember her saying at one point “You don’t have to do this”, and that permission was such a release for me. Thank you giving me a big hug when I had a bit of a breakdown. And for continuing to phone and check in on how I was doing.
To the Breastfeeding Clinics
In those early days where you’re struggling with getting a good latch, public feeding can be daunting. I think having a place where you can drop in and feed in confidence with support and advice from trained breastfeeding supporters is amazing. Once you’re signed off from midwife care you can feel a bit left on your own, so extending that support is crucial. When I was feeding Max I think there was only one Baby Cafe in my area, but this time around there was one on every day of the week, in a different location but all easily accessible, which meant that if you were struggling you didn’t have to wait a whole week before seeking support. It was great to be able to drop in, get some good advice, and a hot cup of tea and cake at the same time.
And a big thank you to Lansinoh – for your fabulous Lansinoh HPA Lanolin which has got me through two breastfeeding journeys now. It works wonders to heal cracked nipples and it’s a huge part of the reason I’m still managing to breastfeed Ben!
To the Lady in the Cafe
And a thank you to all of the strangers who have been so supportive when I’ve been feeding out and about. I know that it’s not everyone’s experience, but I’ve never once noticed staring or had any negative comments. One lady sat next to me in a cafe a few weeks back and, when she noticed I was feeding, offered to get me a glass of water as she remember how thirsty she always used to get when feeding. I love the staff in our local Costa, who always carry my tray over to my table when I have my hands full with a baby and a toddler. Thank you to the lady who approached me, just to say “well done” for breastfeeding – this was when I was just starting out feeding Max, and I remember it so clearly. It really made me feel so much more comfortable with the whole issue of feeding in public. When it comes to attitudes to public feeding it seems that we have a long way to go in the UK, even if my own experience has been a positive one.
Thank you to the Facebook users, who are so supportive in various different groups – for breastfeeding support, for breastfeeding friendly fashion ideas (Can I Breastfeed In It – join with caution as you’ll end up spending a fortune on new clothes!).
There’s no doubt that it takes a huge amount of support from those around you to breastfeed. It’s not the easy option, especially in those early days, and requires a lot of time and support, both in terms of practical support and emotional support too.
Disclosure: I have been sent samples from Lansinoh to help me in my breastfeeding journey, however I’m under no obligation to write this post.