Before having my baby I was asked by a client at work whether I was planning on breast feeding, to which I answered ‘Yes, if I can, I will breastfeed’, her response ‘What do you mean if you can?’ Her response resonated with me, the tone in her reply said it all and before my son was even born I began to feel the pressure that many women feel, would I be a bad mother if I was unable to breastfeed?
My son was born with a tongue tie, something that I had never even heard of before Leo. Tongue ties cause some babies to have difficulty attaching to the breast and I was nervous, however we were fortunate Leo was not one of these babies.
So with no problems latching on, no problems feeding and with me producing enough milk to feed all the babies in the maternity ward Leo became a breastfed baby and I in turn, became a breastfeeding mother. Little did I know that I was entering into something that everyone seems to have an opinion on.
‘Breast is Best’, we’ve all heard it and yes the benefits of breastfeeding are huge, however if breastfeeding is the most socially acceptable way to feed our newborn children why are there still campaigns such as #freethenipple? Why do we need to run campaigns to normalise breastfeeding? Why do we still feel the need to cover up when feeding in public? Why do people feel uncomfortable in the presence of a breastfeeding woman?
Yes there are more and more breastfeeding friendly cafes and facilities but over the handful of times I have fed in public I have been one of the ‘lucky ones’ to receive a complaint about me feeding my son. I didn’t realise that feeding a baby was so offensive, I am not doing it to show off my amazing post baby body or my gorgeous maternity bra I am doing it because most likely my son is inconsolable, I have tried everything else and I know feeding him will calm him down or god forbid he is hungry and this is how I feed him. The sad thing is I have resorted to feeding my baby in the car rather than a ‘breastfeeding friendly’ cafe because I am more comfortable in the privacy of my own car, I know there will be no one there to complain about me feeding.
For anyone who has breastfed or tried to breastfeed their child they will know it is not easy. It is a learned skill between the mother and the child and guess what, some children can’t do it, some women don’t get a giant influx of milk, some women have the horror of cracked bleeding nipples and painful attachment. I have lots of friends who formula feed their babies, most of them expressed for weeks (hats off to them for that), they did everything they could to give their babies the best start in life but for one reason or another feeding didn’t work for them. Their babies are just as healthy, just as boisterous and just as gorgeous as my breastfed baby. To those mums who have ever felt guilt because they couldn’t breastfeed their baby, don’t, no one is going to walk up to our babies when they are at school and say ‘yes you were bottle fed and you were breast fed’, no one will be able to tell in five years time how we fed our babies when they were three months old. We are all doing the best we can for our babies.
Everyday I consider myself lucky that I am able to breastfeed. I am lucky that Leo’s tongue tie hasn’t caused him any trouble with feeding and I am lucky that I haven’t had any issues. I must admit there have been moments where I wish I didn’t have to breastfeed, days where I haven’t left the couch with my baby on and off me all day, draining every last ounce from my body. There have been moments where I was jealous of all those formula mum’s who can go out for longer than four hours at a time or get their husbands to do the midnight feed or the early morning feed while they sleep in. Then there are these moments.
Moments when I am feeding and everything is peaceful and quiet. Moments when my son falls asleep clutching onto my top like I am his whole world and no one can seperate us. I know my feeding days are temporary, there will come a time when my son is so big it will be hard to imagine that he ever fit laying across my lap, but for now I am grateful for every moment I get breastfeeding. I know when this is all over I will miss these calm, beautiful moments.