It occurred to me this week as I sat at a busy breastfeeding cafe just down the road, that 9 Months of Nye also means hitting the 9 months of breastfeeding milestone.
|My favourite breast feeding campaign |
by Sophie Barker & Kayleigh Brooks for Best Beginnings
I haven't written about breast feeding since I was back in the early days, of what I would retrospectively describe as, a steep and painful learning curve!? It would be fair to say I am not a patient person and I found breastfeeding so hard to stick with, mentally and physically. I am trying not to read the previous post I wrote until this one is complete as I'd be interested to see how my memory of the time relates to how I wrote about my feelings back then. I am pleased to say that all the grinning and baring it was worth it, as I now feel so lucky to be able to feed my son on demand. Breast feeding truly gives me special time with my son, a place in time and thought to enjoy the peace of fulfilling his needs.
I thought that perhaps writing about the experience now I am so much further into my journey as a mother would be helpful to myself and others. Especially if this is something I go through again in the future, to at least provide me with a bit of hope that those early days do get better. Breast feeding has so many benefits for mother and baby that make it a skill worth persevering with.
|Nye at 1 month old.|
So, at 9 months, I am pleased to report that breastfeeding is going very well. I find it easy, enjoyable and pain free. At this age Nye is on solid feeds and only wants milk 3-5 times a day dependent on his mood. He always feeds on wake up in the morning at around 6.30am, and always before bed in the evening. Other than that, I take his lead as to whether he is hungry for milk and he usually makes it quite clear as he starts getting a bit grouchy and headbutts my chest.
Back when I was just starting, my body was getting used to the demands of feeding a baby, sometimes constantly all day where one feed would fall into the next with little time for my body to recover. Breast feeding is hard, it has a certain knack to it, a part of your body which is usually delicately draped in soft fabric is pounced on and chewed on by an overly eager hungry baby and it is so draining. In retrospect it is understandable. Breast milk is a babies life source and you can better comprehend them learning their way, now looking back. They are new to the world and are yet to learn how to do this whole feeding thing with much style or grace.
Now it is so different, even at 5 months the feeding had eased, he is more efficient, more gentle and so much better at communicating his needs (and I am much better at understanding them.) I remember those forums, those mothers urging me to continue, supporting me, telling me confidently to always stay with it, tell yourself, "just another month". And then, by the end of the week things had improved and they were right, that dark cave turns into a tunnel and you see the light at the other side.
With time, my confidence when feeding out and about has also massively increased. I went from trying to avoid feeding in public, to always feeding expressed milk in a bottle, to feeling confident to do it in most places. Obviously somewhere comfortable is preferable but I don't worry about this, or plan my journeys around it. These days I'm more concerned by his food, is he getting a balance diet? His naps, his comfort, all the time knowing that I always have the ultimate tool at my disposal. Breast milk!
It has been such a journey, and I feel proud to say that I stuck with it. I don't think Neil ever imagined a time where I would enjoy it, but in my heart somewhere I knew that so many women could not be wrong. The time and space you are allowed from weaning created a new enjoyment and release for me. I even felt a little sad that I was no longer required in quite the way that I was before as milk feeds slowed at around 5-6 months.
The last week has also brought us the new challenge of teeth that have appeared slowly but surely. This has led to things feeling a little more uncomfortable but I feel certain that this will be yet another hurdle that is overcome in time. Who knows when I will stop, realistically I don't want to take Nye's breast milk away without his consent and will carry on as long as he wants it.
|Nye at 2 months old.|
I know how lucky I have been, managing to stay free of mastitis or thrush. There are times when it is a little more painful but it passes after a few hours these days, without needing to slather myself in lansinoh. These times usually happen because I have let Nye get over tired or hungry and he chomps down on me like there is a world shortage of breast milk. Just now as I allow myself a chance to reflect, breastfeeding seems like such a back story to our relationship. Something that supports everything else in the background but for the time being it is no longer something I have to think about, a bit like a heart beat.