Breastfeeding. It’s possibly one of the first things you’ll do after giving birth. A percentage of women won’t attempt it at all – they can’t for medical reasons, or for their own reasons they don’t want to and their baby will go straight onto a bottle.
With my firstborn, I did it for 6 weeks. It hurt the entire time, I was young and had no idea. No one forewarned me it would be painful. I didn’t seek any help with it, and suffered from blisters, cracks and engorgement. One day I got over it, went and got some formula and put a bottle in his mouth. That was that. I thought all babies were the same. They would eat whatever you gave them.
By child #2 I was determined to feed for longer. I lasted 8 months with her. Again it hurt like crazy for the first month, but I persevered and it was great. It was easy, it was enjoyable and it was bonding. When she was about 3 months old I tried to give her a bottle – and she wouldn’t have a bar of it. No one warned me about that part either – all babies liked bottles I thought.
I tried everything. Every bottle, teat and cup on the market. I spent hundreds of dollars. Dad and others tried feeding her. I tried depriving her (she went 8 hours without food) She eventually weaned because I was pregnant with her sister, and the hormones changed in my milk. One day she grabbed that $2 bargain shop bottle and drank it.
Child #3 had feeding issues and I breastfed her for 12 weeks. By child 4 I was adamant I was doing the entire first year. I don’t know why – that was just my aim.
And I made it with him. Again it hurt. Again I pushed through. And again he wouldn’t take a bottle. This lasted till he was almost 2, I was 6 months pregnant with #5, and I was exhausted. I wanted out. But he was deciding when that happened. It was hard feeding him. He was massive and fed constantly.
It was with #4 and #5 I discovered breast feeding addiction. The kids, not me. Babies will refuse any other form of milk. They won’t touch a bottle. They don’t want a cup. What they want is you – on call 24/7. Which is beautiful. For a while.
Çhild 5 is now 16 months and still feeding. Not by my choice, by hers. And she is a breastmilk addict like her brother was. She feeds often. I don’t count how many times a day but it’s a lot. She will crawl up me and help herself. She prefers me over anyone else, and it’s not for my personality. If I’m truthful, a lot of the time I can’t stand it now. I’m not saying I hate it, but it’s draining and tiring. I want to go away for a night and get a break. I want to not have to feed her every few hours. I want my body back.
Why don’t you stop you say? I’ve tried. She screams and cries and carries on. It’s easier to continue than to deal with the screaming when I have the others to look after. I don’t want to force wean her and leave her knowing she’s upset. Am I too soft? Maybe – she’s my last.
So do I recommend breastfeeding to new mothers? Yes, of course. I also tell them of my experience with my children, and that you might be doing it longer than you planned. You might not get a break for a very long time. You might go and buy every bottle and formula on the market and it still won’t entice them. Your toddler might shove their hands down your top in public shouting “me me” while shoppers look on.
You might start to resent it instead of enjoy it.
And that’s normal. Breastmilk, formula – as long as you’re feeding your baby that’s all that matters in the end.