Here it is, my one time rant about breastfeeding.
As a breastfeeding mum I try really hard not to preach or judge. I’m a health care professional too, or was in a previous life, so not only do I know what should be done I’ve also seen the harsh reality of how today in our crazy world, it’s not always easy to do.
I don’t want to be the breastfeeding gestapo, women everywhere get super defensive and say that they tried and couldn’t. I want to say that there are more than a handful of times where I thought I couldn’t too, but nature found a way.
That’s the crux of it for me, it’s natural. Boobs were made for a purpose, and despite what everyone may think, it wasn’t to attract men. In a primeval way perhaps huge mammaries were a flashing beacon to our potential suitors, ‘look at how well this one will nourish our offspring’. The attraction could be a bit Freudian too, reminiscent of the days snuggled up in our mothers bosom. Probably not, it’s more likely a flashback to the days of page 3 girls, a bit of eye candy and a sense if naughtiness that was acceptable to schoolboy and dad alike. Boobs are there to be ogled.
Luckily I was never given a pair to write home about. These bad boys have always been a strictly functional duo. Now I’m a fully fledged woman, with certified evidence I can see the merit in being flat chested. I can run, there’s no constant back ache, no grooves in my shoulders from bra straps. In fact I save a fortune in not needed to wear a bra at all. I am blessed.
It didn’t feel like that when I was growing up, the nervous teenager on the school bus with the unfortunate short hair. “Is that a girl or a boy?” as laughter followed me to my seat. I thought that a pair of decent knockers would have shut them all up instantly, but thankfully I was too scared of a general anaesthetic to ever have implants done.
My breasts are amazing. The best thing in the world. Well at least to my son they are. So much so that 2 years down the line they’re impossible for him to give up. There have been so many times when I’ve thought thank goodness I’m feeding him, and probably in equal measure I’ve wondered just how long this torture will last.
It’s not all amazing cuddles and beautiful eye contact. The first few months of feeding are almost hellish, am I doing it right? Is he getting enough milk? Is it fair on the rest of the family that I’m a sofa hostage? How long can I do this for?
And when you just start to think you’ve cracked it the baby decides to have a growth spurt, or gets a cold, or starts teething.
My cherub is 2 years and 3 months old now. He hasn’t slept through the night ever and can still feed up to four or five times a night, plus the snuggles he demands in the day. I work from home now and he knows that jumping on the boob is a good way to keep him still and quiet. If the phone rings he’ll hop on, if I’m inputting the accounts he’s right there under my top and hanging off a nipple before I even realise what’s going on.
Sometimes it makes me laugh, sometimes it makes me cry. I’d like to sleep a whole night without being mauled, I’d like to wear a dress that doesn’t require open access. I’d like to not be judged by people who haven’t ever been in my position.
I’m so grateful to the booby juice, on more than one occasion it’s been not only a life giver, but a saver too.
My son was admitted to hospital recently with pneumonia, his right lung was two thirds congested, blocking air intake. If we didn’t have the booby juice things would have been so much worse. Unimaginably so.
I was asked by a nurse if I feed at night, and when I replied yes she told me that might have been how the pneumonia developed.
I dismissed what she said instantly, it’s not the first time a health care professional has suggested that breastfeeding is now detrimental for my son’s health. Last year I was told the reason my son has a cracked tooth is because I breastfeed. Unsupported nonsense. There’s no evidence to support their opinions, yet the damage they cause is huge. Thanks for the support, the well done for getting this far, the if only everyone could give that to their children.
The way I see it, they grow up so fast. Blink and you miss it, my two teenagers are a testament to that. If I can’t be a little selfless now, give my baby what he needs for just a few years, then what’s the point? I look at my whirlwind of a toddler and think ‘wow, I grew him, start to finish, inside and out’.
Of course I wish we weren’t so attached at the umbilical cord still. I missed out on going to the theatre with my ma a few weeks ago, and my yoga is a non happening event, but there’s years ahead for that. There’s only now for my little man.
If I need to feed him when we’re out and about I will, if he’s thirsty why is it wrong to offer him a natural substance that’s made to order for his needs? Why do we need a sticker on a door to declare that breastfeeding is welcome there? Why is it more natural for us to accept milk from the teat of an animal with four legs than it is to feed our own offspring? It makes me feel like our world is broken, possibly too much to ever fix.
So to all of those women, and men, out there that say the breastfeeding gestapo are at it again, think again. Breastfeeding is a minority, it’s seen as unnatural and frowned upon even by health professionals. It’s the most isolating experience I’ve ever had.
It’s also the most rewarding thing I have ever had the pleasure of doing. I alone am responsible for the leaps and bounds. I did that. I grew him good.