“Hooray for boobies”

Knowing that I’m the kind of woman who is a bit obsessed likes to talk about breasts, Carolin over at Mummy Alarm tagged me in her breastfeeding meme “Hooray for boobies”. Ok, my loverrr, I’m well up for it. Let the boob chat begin.

1. Why did you choose boob over bottle?

Before I got pregnant I wasn’t too bothered about the breastfeeding thing. Maybe I would, maybe I wouldn’t. I was pretty blasé in admitting this, which especially horrified a friend who was trying to convince his wife that she should give breastfeeding a go (she’s ended up breastfeeding quite successfully, actually, despite both of us having misgivings).

From the moment I found out I was pregnant, though, I knew I would try to breastfeed. It was the natural extension of pregnancy. My body would continue to nourish and protect my baby. The more I read about breastfeeding and about formula, the more convinced I was that I would feed her as biology intended.

2. How long did you breastfeed or are you planning to breastfeed?

I used to say until she’s at least two years’ old or whenever she self-weans. I now approach this question with caution. In light of all the difficulty we’ve had, I’m grateful to still be breastfeeding my eight-month-old. I really hope we can make it to a year but if not, I feel relieved and satisfied about having got here. If she hits three and I’m still breastfeeding her, you’ll know it’s because I worked too damn hard to give it up! That sounds so tiring though…

3. What is the best thing about breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding is powerful. I’m reading The Politics of Breastfeeding – When Breasts are Bad for Business at the moment and what’s hit me in its introduction is the power my body possesses in being designed to sustain another human life.

4. Did you have to overcome challenges on your breastfeeding journey?

I often feel like our journey has involved nothing but challenges! Talitha was born with a tongue-tie which meant that though she fed for literally hours at a time, she was never satisfied and barely gained weight between weeks two and eight of her life.

The tie was finally identified and cut when she was eight weeks old but my milk supply had tanked. I did everything – breast compressions, pumping, supplementing with an SNS, switch nursing – and though it helped, I couldn’t get it up to where it needed to be to exclusively breastfeed her.

The only thing that worked was taking domperidone and I had a hard time getting doctors to prescribe it for me. I kept going on and off it. Every time I stopped taking it my supply would tank immediately but whenever I started it again it would take a couple of weeks for my supply to recover. I bought it for a while and finally got a GP to prescribe it to me. It’s been a hell of a journey but we’re still going.

5. Who supported you the most with breastfeeding?

Laurence has been a breastfeeding support legend. I don’t think he had strong feelings about it initially and he probably would have gone along with bottle feeding if that’s what I’d decided to do from the start. Despite this, he’s been brilliant at keeping me going. From bringing me snacks while I was stuck on the couch for long feeds in the early days to calling the lactation consultant when I was in meltdown mode because Talitha wouldn’t feed the night after she’d had her tongue-tie snip, he’s got right into the trenches with me.

6. How did you feel when you first breastfed in public

I first publicly breastfed Talitha when she was less than a week old. We were in the middle of a shopping centre because I was too flustered to look for their baby room. I was incredibly nervous. I lifted my top (I’d worked out a two top system that amazingly kept my mahoosive breasts covered), latched her on and felt my face getting hot and red.

Almost as if they sensed my worry, a pair of elderly ladies came up to me to admire the baby and tell me how good they thought it was that I was breastfeeding her. Later, a woman with a pushchair walked by and exclaimed to me: “Well done!” It was seriously confidence boosting. And it was just the start I needed since I’d later be feeding her in public with tubes taped to my breasts, which attracts, uh, a bit more attention!

7. Have you been questioned for breastfeeding?

I haven’t been questioned as such but I have had friends express surprise that I’m still breastfeeding her at eight months. My question is usually: “Why wouldn’t I be?” I could understand the expectation that I might have “moved on” if I were working in a job that made breastfeeding inconvenient but I stay at home with her and freelance where I can so it really is easier for me to just whack my boob out. I also find it worrying that the medical guideline to breastfeed exclusively for six months has been misinterpreted to mean that after that, anything goes.

8. Has breastfeeding made you feel different about your body?

It has. Profoundly. I have never liked how my breasts look. OK, that’s not true. At fourteen they were pretty spectacular. I have exceptionally large breasts for my frame normally and pregnancy made them grow to a comical size. I now call them “my comedy breasts”. They are not pretty by the standards of Western culture. Maybe less so since breastfeeding – I do feel they’ve changed in the last eight months.

But they feed, comfort and, well, amuse my baby (I can only assume this is why she twists the nipple she’s not feeding from and starts giggling – thankfully I’ve never had very sensitive breasts). This is what their actual function is, so in that sense, my breasts are beautiful. And I’m not that bothered now whether you see them. I’ve said it before, what’s a bit of nipple between strangers?

9. What do you wish you had known before making the decision to breastfeed your baby?

I don’t think anything I’d known would have stopped me from deciding to breastfeed her but before actually doing it? I wish I’d read a book about it. Maybe something like Kate Evans’ The Food of Love: Your formula for successful breastfeeding. I’d read so many books about birth. Little did I know that would be, for us, the easier thing.

Hmm, now I’ve got to tag a few ladies who’ve lactated… Who’s breasts do I want to know more about?

I am tagging

Mother’s Always Right
Northern Mum
Muddling Along
Mum’s the Word
Bump2Basics

If you’re a blogger reading this, consider yourself tagged. It would be great if anyone participating could join Mummy Alarm’s linky so we can all read each other’s stories.

This post contained affiliate links to the books I’ve mentioned but, seriously, they’re worth reading.