The theme of this years World Breastfeeding Week is peer support. To show support for World Breastfeeding Week, the Irish Parenting Bloggers group have been blog marching about our varied breastfeeding experiences, My breastfeeding days are over so I had no plans to blog about it but then reading all the other blog posts, I couldn’t not. I think this post is the final one of the Breastfeeding Blog March and you can read all the other posts here or on the Irish Parenting Bloggers Facebook Page. They are a great snapshot of experiences of breastfeeding in Ireland.
My three children all had a favourite breast to feed from and a favourite position to feed in. Snuggled in beside me feeding from the left side. I have my own theory why all three preferred this side; because it was the side closest to my heart.
I had ups and downs with feeding. Bad medical advice plagued my first breastfeeding experience. When I realised that breast feeding advice and support was not widely available in the Irish healthcare system, I sought out the advice and support elsewhere.
The theme of this years World Breastfeeding Week is peer support. I didn’t have peer support when I was feeding. With my first and second child, I knew hardly anybody else who was breastfeeding. Very few of my friends breast-fed. I do not know anybody in my extended circle of friends who breastfed as long as I did. Isn’t that bizarre? I think it is. Peer support, for me, was available online if not in real life. I really hope when my daughters breastfeed they will have support everywhere, from friends, from family, from healthcare staff and from strangers who sit beside them in a restaurant or park bench, when they are feeding.
It is an emotive topic, breastfeeding. I fielded so many comments and questions over the years. ” Are you STILL breastfeeding?” being the most popular. People feel they can make comments like that. Isn’t that bizarre when you think about it? I would never ask a friend, acquaintance or stranger ” Are you giving that baby FORMULA?” Could you imagine the response I would get? I wouldn’t ask though because its none of my business. Yet because I was breastfeeding the world and his wife could question me. Bizarre.
Most people know the benefits of breastfeeding. They are listed in every pregnancy book and you will find flyers and info sheets in maternity hospitals and clinics, there are lots of benefits and facts that aren’t listed though and they should be. Here are some additional things pregnant mama’s should know
- In my experience, it is fact, you get more rest when you are breastfeeding. Yes you are solely responsible for feeding your child but you need to sit down and feed numerous times a day. Just sit and do nothing else. When you master feeding lying down you can even snooze when feeding.
- Pregnancy weight literally fell of me in the first couple of weeks. Like magic.
- Food is sensational in the first few weeks of breastfeeding. Sensational. Apparently it can be likened to having the munchies after smoking something herbal. Apparently.
- If your baby is crying, you offer the boob, they stop crying = magic!
- You can breastfeed anywhere. Anywhere.
- For some women breastfeeding is problem free, for others it is a learned skill. Similar to learning how to ride a bike or drive a car. It doesn’t always come naturally, it can take a while to master. It took me a while, get help if you need it.
- Never give up on a bad day.
- Medical advice and support is hit or miss in Ireland ( In my experience more miss than hit) but there is support out there, you just need to find it. The internet is your breastfeeding friend.
- Unless you are one of the very small percentage of women who cannot feed for a medical reason, you can breastfeed. Some women will need additional support but almost all breastfeeding problems are surmountable. It’s also very much a confidence game. It’s what we have boobs and nipples for. You can physically meet all your baby’s nutritonal needs = magic. Possibly the closest thing to a super power most of us will ever experience.
- Just because your first breastfeeding experience wasn’t great doesn’t mean your next one won’t be. Do not let it put you off breastfeeding your second child. Like most things in parenting, second time round is usually easier.
Breastfeeding my children is one of the loveliest things I have done. There were days it was sore or difficult, there were days I felt somewhat restricted and there were days where I felt I was just being touched too damn much. Those days were rare and far between though. I never expected to but I loved breastfeeding. I sometimes feel sad I will never breastfeed again. I loved it. Nobody tells you will love it, you will though, you will love it and you will miss it. I sometimes even miss the middle of the night feeds, when it felt like everyone else in the world was asleep apart from me and the child, close to my heart, smiling up at me. Magical.