Just read @lynnnnn post about her thoughts on breast feeding #mybfjourney and I thought I’d pen down my thoughts here, just as another persons view on the whole experience.
So my daughters are now 4 and 7 year old, and I breast fed them till they were about a year old. I think my eldest was breast fed mostly exclusively for about 6 months.
With my second, when she was about 3 months I had an emergency one night stay at the hospital due to pneumonia and that really disrupted my supply.
To the point that I had to rely on formula from then on to top her up. In addition, I also returned to work and this time round there was a new mix of colleagues which made the environment not as bf friendly so after awhile I stopped expressing at work.
In terms of the actual physical experience, I didn’t find it too bad. The first few weeks when baby and I were learning the how tos were hard but not unbearably so. I was very lucky because I never had any complications like blocked ducts
Or mastitis. My flow was never very impressive but was sufficient. My eldest was smallish even from the start, even when she was born she was quite small despite being almost two weeks overdue and even today she is slight but healthy and strong.
My second was supplemented with formula from about 3 months on, and I weaned her when she was just short of a year old, at which point she was not really missing it much anyway.
Weaning my eldest was a bit more difficult because I used to feed her to sleep and then when she woke up in the middle of the night, let her feed some more so that we could all go back to sleep. It was a convenience for me and became a habit for her.
I had been trying to wean her slowly but progress was slow and frustrating so one night I just let her go cold turkey. She was 1.5 years old and cried for a good one hour, and then finally fell asleep.
And from that day on never asked for the breast again.
Thoughts on how I felt about breast feeding
Things I liked,
Well it is convenient and free, I know some would say that the pumping paraphernalia etc is expensive and makes the whole exercise actually quite expensive. But for me, I only used a hand pump and buying formula, cleaning the bottles etc took a lot more time and money than direct latching ever did.
I liked that it was the perfect food for baby, never had to second guess the ingredients of the formula, or be worried about allergies or contaminants or sterilisation of bottle.
Things I didn’t like,
The time it takes.
Sometimes the inconvenience, having to find somewhere discreet to feed baby when I was in the flow of doing something else.
Mostly though, the true reason I don’t like breast feeding, is that it made me feel like a cow. It made me take a step back and be faced with the reality that no matter how far humans have come, we are still essentially animals.
I guess a small part of me is angry that because I am a woman I am stuck with my biological functions.
Some would say that our female bodies should be celebrated. It’s life giving, life nourishing, and to a large degree I do feel this way.
But another part of me feels that having babies forced me to face my primal self and it was disconcerting and frankly unwelcome.
The hormones, the changing body, the sleepless nights, the constant raised temperature.
And sometimes I feel angry when I hear men criticise a woman for not being a better mother. Now these men are not bad men, they are just clueless to the changes a woman goes through and struggles daily with when they become a mother.
When we are pregnant, mostly, the people around us are warm and positive and caring, revelling in the new life and hope we carry, and so we often also become lulled into this beautiful, dreamy lovely feeling.
When the baby finally arrives, it feels like a cold bucket of water has been thrown on the mother. Suddenly reality sets in. Your life changes completely.
There are no more sleep ins, leisurely baths, relaxing window shopping, lovely meals.
Whatever you do, at the back of your mind you feel you should be with your baby.
You have the many nightly feedings, the constant nappy changes, the feeding and cleaning up, the getting them to sleep, and then them waking up after fifteen minutes. The horrible doubt and worry when they are sick. The unexplainable grumpiness!
Well at least until your child is about two. It does get better as they get older, I have even started to sleep in again during the weekends!
In closing, I am glad I could breast feed my girls because of all the benefits related to bfeeding and that it was relatively uneventful especially compared to the horrors some other moms faced.
But I didn’t really enjoy it and looking back now, years after my breast feeding experience, I don’t think my impressions have changed.
Before I started breast feeding, my expectations were that it would be an incredible bonding experience with my baby.
It was a bonding experience, yes, but so were a lot of other experiences we shared and are still sharing.
On a completely different note, I’ve been reading this book by Amy Tan, The Opposite of Fate #dayrebookclub.
It’s a collection of her thoughts and essays. I have loved her other books (with the exception of the Bonesetter’s Daughter which I couldn’t really get, maybe I should pick it up again) but I especially love this collection because a lot of it describes why she is the way she is and its mostly because of her mother and there are so many instances where I can identify with her.
My sisters and I have been a journey of discovery which started about a year ago which made us see our mother in a completely different light. It’s nice to see that we are not the only ones with a mother who is constantly filling us with worry and paranoia, that in fact it may be more common than we thought.