Breastfeeding

The title is pretty self explanatory; this is about breastfeeding and my experiences of it. It’s a very personal (and long, sorry!) post that I’m a bit nervous about sharing. There have been two things stopping me writing this post before now. Firstly, I don’t want to jinx myself and suddenly come down with mastitis or get blocked ducts after writing this as I am hoping to feed TM until he is at least one. Secondly, I suppose I don’t want people to think I’m being smug. Most of the blog posts that I have read about breastfeeding have been about the difficulties people have faced or why they have chosen not to breastfeed. My story is really not like that…

While I was pregnant I did quite a lot of reading, because that’s what I do, and spoke to lots of people about breastfeeding. All of the females in mine and B’s (immediate) family breastfed for at least a few weeks with their babies and most for a lot longer than that. None of them had any major issues with it. In contrast, some of my friends who had really wanted to breastfeed found they just weren’t able to and were truly devastated by that. B and I discussed it and our attitude towards it was fairly typical of our attitude towards most things – I’ll give it a go, but if it isn’t working out I’m not going to beat myself up about it. That’s easy to say and I do wonder if in reality I would have felt that blasé when the situation actually arose. Regardless, I knew that I would have B’s support whatever I decided to do. Neither of us were concerned that he wouldn’t bond with the baby if he wasn’t able to feed him – I think that’s a load of crap. There are a million ways to bond with a baby and feeding is just one.

Anyway, breastfeeding was discussed in our antenatal class and I went to an extra breastfeeding session too. That was very helpful for dispelling some of the myths around feeding and explaining things like cluster feeding. This reassured me not to worry if I had a baby who seemed to feed constantly in the evenings (or whenever) – it’s not because I wasn’t making enough milk, it’s a totally normal part of the process. That was invaluable advice and I can easily see how you’d assume you weren’t producing enough milk if you had a little milk monster like I did.

 

breastfeeding
The vital supplies of a breastfeeding mum!

And then, he was born. The first few days I found my nipples were a little sore and I couldn’t always get the latch right but other than that I didn’t have much of a problem. Once my milk came in (on day three? Or day four? I can’t remember) TM and I were away and we haven’t looked back. The soreness went although we still had a few dodgy latches here and there – normally through laziness. Whenever the latch was a bit wrong I got my lanolin cream back out and made sure to get the positioning right for the next feed (sometimes this meant lying down and changing position – I believe it’s sometimes called laid back breastfeeding) and it would all be fine again.

So far (and this is where I cross my fingers and HOPE I don’t jinx myself) I’ve never had blocked ducts or mastitis. As I say, I’ve occasionally had sore nipples but very mildly – it’s only ever been uncomfortable, never painful. TM has been through phases where he seemed to feed all the time, or would fall asleep on my boob and stay attached for an entire nap. He often goes to sleep on me (and no, I don’t believe that’s a bad habit so please don’t give me your opinion if you do) and when he was smaller he would cluster feed for hours. I was lucky though as these cluster feeds were usually in the afternoons or evenings; he’s been ok at sleeping at night since quite a young age, he just has a late bedtime. He would feed a lot during the day, sometimes hourly or every two hours and woke every three hours at night to start with (which I didn’t think was too bad) and it gradually got a bit longer between feeds. When he’s teething or we are at home alone without much to do he seems to feed more, but it varies. I’ve never tried to schedule it or avoided feeding him when he’s hungry – it’s definitely been baby-led. (A friend lent me this wonderful book on baby-led breastfeeding, it’s a great read).

Front cover of Babyled breastfeeding book by gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett, pink writing and a picture of a baby breastfeeding
A brilliant book by Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett

I am lucky that I don’t have to go back to a job where I would need to pump milk while I’m at work as I don’t seem to be very good at expressing milk! It’s a lot of effort to get everything sterilised and sorted and then seems to take ages without actually producing much. Luckily I only ever need to do it if I want to go out on my own for a bit, which isn’t very often. I don’t know how the people who bottle feed all the way through cope though as I can’t think of anything worse than having to sort out a bottle in the middle of the night!

I suppose the worst bit of our ‘breastfeeding journey’ (ha, wanky phrase alert) was when he was getting some of his teeth through and bit me a few times. There were a couple of days he seemed to bite most feeds and that was horrible, but I got some great advice from a fab friend who happens to be a breastfeeding peer supporter and it soon passed. I am aware it may happen again because of his teeth but I feel a little more equipped to deal with it if he does decide to start biting again.

I found public feeding difficult to start with. Even now I don’t like to feed just anywhere, I tend to pick places I feel comfortable for one reason or another. I think it’s ridiculous that so many women worry about feeding in public, even though I am one of them. How absurd that all these boobs we see in magazines and on adverts are ok but as soon as a woman is feeding her baby everybody is highly uncomfortable with seeing that little bit of flesh. I think our society has a long way to go before it is entirely tolerant and accepting of breastfeeding and I hope it becomes more normalised. (This short film of a Hollie McNish poem is amazing about feeding in public and people’s attitudes).

It makes me sad how divisive breastfeeding is. I sometimes feel guilty for saying I breastfeed as it is implied that anybody who talks about breastfeeding is shaming those who can’t or didn’t (see the Olivia Wilde situation). I have read so much about it and I really do feel that, if given the right support, some women may have been able to feed for longer (if that’s what they wanted to do). When Jamie Oliver publicly said he wanted to improve breastfeeding rates he was slated – and while I appreciate his phrasing was a little off as he called it ‘easy’ and, yes, he’s a man so it’s another bloke telling women what to do with their bodies BUT I believe the sentiment was a positive one. There needs to be better support and education so that those who choose to breastfeed are fully equipped to do so and are helped with that journey for as long as necessary.

 

Me (blond hair, green/blue eyes, nose stud) lying on the floor giving the camera a smile and thumbs up while TM climbs over my back. You can see him from the side and he's wearing a blue long sleeved vest
We don’t really have photos of me feeding TM so here’s one of him terrorising me, instead.

I think, as parents, we all do our best and work out what suits our family and for us that has meant me breastfeeding. There are lot of things I love about breastfeeding. The feeling when he was first born that I was able to give him everything he needs was a great boost and it was the perfect leverage for making B change all the nappies ‘I am taking care of the feeding so you can do all the bum changing!’ Sometimes he pulls off my boob just to look up at me and grin and it melts my heart. It cracks me up when he’s like a little truffle pig snuffling around for milk. I like the convenience of it; I don’t have to remember bottles or formula or worry about sterilisation. I like that it’s free! I don’t know how much he is having but I always know it will be enough and never too much. When he was really small he was piling weight on very quickly and I was panicked that he would be ‘overweight’; so I was delighted to hear from my health visitor that you can’t really overfeed a breastfed baby! I love how it always calms and soothes him when he is upset or tired.

If I’m being honest, though, I feel a little bad that I’ve had such an easy ride. I’ve read countless blog posts and spoken to some of my amazing mum friends about their struggles with breastfeeding and how they felt about it. I have seen the heartache it’s caused. But I didn’t experience any of that. It’s just luck but I feel guilty for being the recipient of that luck. I do feel very grateful, though, and I have loved being able to breastfeed TM.

Cuddle Fairy

 

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49 thoughts on “Breastfeeding

  1. Ah I’m so pleased you published this Ed. Just because your experience has been “easy” it doesn’t make it any less worthy of a voice. Have you thought about becoming a breastfeeding peer supporter? I think you’d be fantastic. Really loved reading this. Moose xxx

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    1. Ah Moose you are so kind!! Thank you for your reassuring comment. I haven’t really thought about it, it’s something I might consider for the future but I don’t think I could dedicate the time at the moment. I think they do a fab job though! Thanks for reading lovely! Ed xx

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          1. What do you mean? I’ve got two kids and I have tons of free time. Particularly if you reduce your sleep requirement to 3-4 hours a night. People who sleep for 7 hours and don’t juggle 8 different hats are just bone idle 😂 xx

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  2. Aw, don’t feel bad that it’s been straightforward – breastfeeding is a choice just like a million other things about being a parent, and nobody should feel bad whichever choice they make. I sometimes wonder if I should have tried to express for Marianna, but I was in no fit state really and it wasn’t like we’d have had any of the closeness benefits from it because she was being tube fed for the first few weeks. I would say maybe next time, but I’ve no plans for that to happen! lol. x #bloggerclubuk

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  3. Ah this is so lovely, such a good read. I think it’s brilliant to read something positive – I completely agree with Mouse Moo Me Too – it’s your story and it’s completely valid and worth telling. I also agree (I promise I’m not just going to copy her comment!) that you would be a fab Peer Supporter. I think you’d be very thoughtful and non-judgemental.
    I know the theory but I also know I’m a bit rubbish at it so I’m going to look up the book you mention on baby led breastfeeding…could do with a reminder! I haven’t experienced any negative comments in public but that film from Hollie McNish is incredible, very powerful. And I have fed in a toilet shamefully but more about me being embarrassed than anyone being horrible, still stupid. Anyway, good point about the bonding…I think it depends on your personal feelings but that’s right where we are too – my husband never felt unbonded because I was breastfeeding.
    Don’t feel guilty, your experience is what it is, appreciating the lack of difficulty is lovely (possibly important – if you plan to have another you wouldn’t want to be knocked sideways if it wasn’t as straightforward) but I don’t think you should feel guilty!
    Xxx

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    1. Ah Lucy what a lovely and thoughtful comment! You’re very kind. As I say I love the work peer supporters do but not sure I could do it anytime soon. Something to bear in mind though!
      It’s a good book just reiterating stuff you probably already know about breastfeeding but it’s very easy to read and refer to if something isn’t going right etc.
      The film is amazing – I’ve not had negative comments personally either but as I say I am quite choosy about where I feed!! A friend of mine got congratulated for breastfeeding by an elderly lady the other day which I loved.
      Thanks darling ❤️ Ellen xxx

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  4. It’s awful that you feel guilty about having had an ‘easy ride’, but that’s how charged the whole feeding your baby debate is. I had it pretty easy with my first too, which was lovely and also great cos I was too lazy to make bottles. I’m glad you’ve had a good experience. Don’t feel bad about that !

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  5. As I have read this it could honestly be my own story. Well except the teeth part as baby girl doesn’t have any yet!
    I love breastfeeding. It was hard to begin with as my milk didn’t come in for 5 days! I thought it would never come. But I put that down to the whole birth experience which wasn’t the best. After the milk came in we were well away. Cluster feeding in the evenings between 6-9pm like clockwork. She’s grown out from that a bit now. She also falls asleep on me for her naps after her feeds. Gives me time to catch up on daytime tv! – housework can wait. They grow so fast so I’m treasuring every little nap and every little feed. They won’t be here for ever.

    #triballove xx

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    1. Rachel what a gorgeous comment, thank you so much. I am so glad you’ve had the same experience and I am exactly the same I just let him sleep on me if he wants to and love the cuddles! I think that’s the best way if you’ve got the time to do it! Thanks so much for reading, Ellen xx

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  6. Yep, I have kept quiet about breastfeeding bc it was a cinch for me too. No issues at all, milk came right in with both, babies had no trouble latching after the first day or so and although I did get bitten a fee times by both that phase was blessedly short. Because it has been so easy I do think ‘Wow, bottle feeding looks like so much work!!!’ but that is also bc I have never had to do it and so don’t really know how to prep a bottle quickly. I do love the convenience bc we went out all the time and i never had to worry if the baby might be hungry while we were out bc I held the solution. 🙂 Always said I would feed til 1 year but #1 was 22 months when we stopped and baby #2 is 16 months now and we are still going so I think I have a few months left in me still!
    This is world’s longest comment. I may have gone overboard when I could have said “Me too. Nice post”. Lol

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    1. Well I LOVE a long comment so thank you very much!! It’s lovely to know other people feel the same as me – it’s a little sad that we’ve felt we shouldn’t write about it because it’s been easy though, isn’t it? All these comments have made me feel glad I did though, so thank you! Thanks for reading, Ellen

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  7. I breastfed my first until he was 16 months, and I am breastfeeding my second still at 17 months and he is showing no signs of wanting to stop! just a morning and night feed, but like you, I like the convenience, when he is poorly or needs comforting its just instinctive. I have had easyish rides both times, and never got mastitis or anything. It’s great to hear positive stories, well done for sharing. Vicky xxx

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  8. A great post. I know exactly where you’re coming from on the being a little shy to admit you’re a breastfeeder. I’ve only ever had one person say negative things to me about it, it was a family member (not some random member of the public like I felt prepared for. I was ready for their comments, I felt armed ‘yeah pick on me, I’m confident and will happily stick up for me, my baby, my boobs not to mention all the other breastfeeding mummies, so you think twice about speaking up again’). The relative caught me off guard, twice and then a third time I over heard them moaning about my ‘extended feeding’ to someone else.
    We didn’t have quite the lucky ride you have, I’ve had a couple of bouts of mastitis, but we got through them and I’m proud of what I’ve been able to do for my girls. XX
    #BloggerClubUK – A comment back as you came to visit my blog. Thank you x

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    1. Ah what a lovely comment, thank you! I am sorry to hear you had a family member make negative remarks, that must be very hard to hear. And well done for feeding through mastitis, amazing!! Thanks so much for reading, Ellen xx

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  9. I completely know what you mean about feeling bad for having an easy breastfeeding journey! My first baby fed for 14 months and I’ve been so far feeding my baby boy for five months and I feel almost apologetic telling people! I get comments like gosh your brave, but I could not go through the pain of having to organise myself with bottle feeding!! Good on you for sharing your story and long may easy feeding continue! Stopping by for #ablogginggoodtime

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  10. So lovely to read a positive breastfeeding story, as so often it’s not the case. For me, I found it really hard and we didn’t end up going down that path but I think it’s wonderful that you’ve made it work. Hope you continue to breastfeed as long as the little one and you would like 🙂 xx #ablogginggoodtime

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  11. Don’t feel bad for having a good breastfeeding experience! It’s different for everyone. I know there are a lot of posts out there about people’s struggles, which is important to share, but it’s also important to share stories of when it went well. I’ve had a mostly positive breastfeeding experience – some sore nipples at the beginning, a bout of mastitis and a few clogged ducts, but once we got past the very early days, it’s mostly been okay. Yes, I fed her to sleep for ages, which was probably a bad habit, but it was easy enough to break once she was old enough. Now that she’s 13 months and I’m at work we only breastfeed in the morning and at night, and I plan to keep doing it until she’s ready to stop. #stayclassymama

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    1. Ah thank you Katie I really appreciate that. I am glad it has (mostly) been positive for you too and that you’re still going. Yeah TM can fall asleep without feeding so it doesn’t worry me too much that sometimes he feeds to sleep. Thanks for reading my lovely! Ellen xx

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  12. I’m glad you’ve had such a positive experience with breastfeeding! Please don’t feel guilty for havingan easy time with it all. as you’ve delicately put it, sometimes it just doesn’t work And that is no-one’s fault! Big hugs and high fives to you! 🙂 xxx #ablogginggoodtime #TribalLove

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  13. Oh Ellen it’s so lovely to read such a positive story about breastfeeding. It’s true people have hard journeys, I had horrendously hard journeys with both of mine but that doesn’t mean you should feel bad. You should celebrate the experience you have enjoyed. It is encouraging to hear that it is not always a struggle for everyone. Well done you on such a positive journey xx #bloggerclubuk

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  14. I’m really glad you shared your positive and easy breastfeeding experience because sadly I mostly read posts about bad experiences. I also had a really good experience breastfeeding my two kids and if i’m honest i really miss it. Every mother needs to do what is best for them and their family and I’m sure every mother does but I totally agree with you when you say that better support, information and encouragement would go a long way. x #stayclassymama

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  15. OMG you should not feel that you can’t share your story about breastfeeding – because it went well ! This is half the trouble – the competition element amongst women on this subject leads to us feeling guilty on either side of the coin. Its just as important for us to read success stories as it to read about the struggles! Good for you is all I can say – I think you have a great attitude and I think this is well written – honest and balanced. May your nipples never get sore and your milk keep flowing! #stayclassymama

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  16. Don’t feel bad, I had a crappy time and I loved reading this, I can live vicariously boobily through you. You and little one have done an amazing job and we are glad it is such a positive experience for you. As I said in my post aslong as baby is fed and we are supportive to other mums do what ever makes you happy 🙂 Lots of love my darling #ablogginggoodtime

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  17. Don’t feel bad about having had a good experience of breastfeeding – it’s refreshing to read actually and this is coming from someone who struggled and ending up expressing and then moving onto formula! Your experience is just as valid as all those who struggled. xx #ForTheLoveOfBlog

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  18. I know you were worried about sharing your story but you shouldnt have been. I think it should be shouted loud as it might encourage more women to have a go at breastfeeding rather than worrying about it. The percentages of women who breast feed are so low. I was unable to past 9 weeks and was heartbroken as I would have loved to carry on and i think its amazing that you had such a positive boob journey!!

    Thanks for linking to #ablogginggoodtime #triballove

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    1. Oh darling what a lovely comment, thank you so much. I have been very lucky and it’s been so great to get such a positive response to this post, I am so glad I wrote it. It would be amazing if it did encourage somebody to give it a go. You’re wonderful and your little girl is just perfect so no need to be heartbroken!! Thanks for having me babe, Ellen xx

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  19. Fab post lovely and you really shouldn’t have been worried about sharing it. There are far too many negative breastfeeding posts, and it’s nice and refreshing to read a positive post. Breastfeeding is hard and with perseverance it can be achieved. I breastfed my daughter for 10 months and went through the turmoil at the beginning of weight loss and feeding all the time. You’ve done incredibly well and have a very positive and relaxed outlook on it. Thanks so much for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

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    1. Ah thanks Claire- well done, 10 months is amazing, especially if you got off to a rocky start. I suppose that’s why I was a little worried to share it as for me it hasn’t been hard and I didn’t feel I needed to persevere if that makes sense, it all just kind of worked. But as you say I guess it’s good to hear a range of experiences. Thanks for having me and for reading! Ellen xx

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  20. You jammy dodger :-). I’m very jealous. We never got the hang of it and I was stuck expressing for 5 months which sucked. Don’t feel bad sharing a positive story though, hopefully it’ll give a soon-to-be mum a little hope in a blog world of negativity. Hope the rest of your journey goes as smoothly for you both.
    #fartglitter

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