Breastfeeding – both mysterious and normal

Breastfeeding is kind of mysterious. I find myself thinking this every time I look at the folds of my five-month-old baby’s Buddha body. Where is all this fat coming from? How on earth is she growing so long? How do these calories, these nutrients magic their way from my body to hers?

Most of the time I don’t even notice I’m breastfeeding her, partly because my three-year-old is a hilariously energetic “look at me” distraction and partly because breastfeeding is working as it should this time, so it’s kind of just normal. Just as I couldn’t tell you how many times I picked Ophelia up yesterday, I’m none the wiser about the number of feeds that happen day to day.

Even with my first baby, though breastfeeding was a source of grief and fear and hope in the early months, putting her to the breast felt the thing to do, whatever the fuss, however recently her last feed was, whatever time of day or night it was, however surely it seemed that my breasts were failing their primary purpose.

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“Breastfeeding on demand” was only something I thought about because others commented on what they saw me doing. I never really made a conscious decision to do it.

And I’m glad I never gave it much consideration either way, because if I’d kept a breastfeeding schedule, if I’d tried to pick apart this biological mystery with a clock and pen, there’s no way I would have breastfed my way through low milk supply. My tongue tied baby and I would have missed out on something I wanted so badly to give us, even though I couldn’t have explained to you at the time what that “something” was.

Now that I’m breastfeeding a second child, I see even more clearly what that gift is. The mystery isn’t just in the food my body is giving hers. So much more of me pours into her than just milk.

Actually, scratch that. I’m not going to call breastfeeding a gift as if it’s a nice extra only some mother-baby pairs should have. This is our joint right. That’s why it hurt my heart like hell when it was going wrong last time. That’s why I don’t even think about it this time, while it’s going well, while it’s normal, while we have what’s ours.

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Happy World Breastfeeding Week!


11 Comments

  1. August 6, 2014 / 10:26 am

    Lovely post. Great photos too. I felt the same with breastfeeding. When people would ask how long and how often I couldn’t really answer. Sometimes it felt I constantly fed and other times not so often, just whenever needed which is right. Sometimes it was for food and nuture and other times for warmth, love and a mutual rest. People never used to notice me feeding my girls (who I fed more successfully than my son). They would offer to hold them for me! Miss that time now with each of them. xxx
    Claire Diary of the Evans-Crittens recently posted..Edinburgh, Scotland: A Holiday fit for Royalty – Guest Post

  2. August 6, 2014 / 1:22 pm

    Great post – as you say when it does go well it is as instinctive as breathing for both of you and more than just transfer of calories

    And I LOVE the pictures

  3. August 6, 2014 / 1:29 pm

    These photos are perfect, and sum up your words beautifully! It’s amazing how our breastfeeding stories can differ so much, even between your own children, but I’m happy for you that it’s all second nature for you now!
    abigail recently posted..thirty – one / fifty – two

  4. August 6, 2014 / 2:40 pm

    This is such a lovely post. After feeding two babies perfectly ‘normally’ I was not at all prepared when it went so badly with my third. I had no idea he had tongue tie and the multitudes of problems that came from that. I took it for granted with the first two and had to battle and battle, probably in detriment to my sanity, with my third. When it works well it’s wonderful and miraculous and when it doesn’t it can be hearbreaking.

  5. August 6, 2014 / 7:58 pm

    I’ll echo the others this is a lovely post. Glad you’re having such an easy breastfeeding relationship this time, I’ve also had both experiences and somehow the challenge of the first made the ease second all the sweeter for me. Congratulations.
    Purplemum recently posted..Camp Bestival 2014

  6. August 6, 2014 / 8:09 pm

    Lovely post and gorgeous photos. I was so lucky in that feeding went really well for me both times although I did get loads of blocked ducts with Tiger which wasn’t very nice. It was such a wonderful experience but weirdly I can barely remember it now which makes me sad. And it is so amazing how we can just watch our babies grow before our very eyes all thanks to our bodies, well in my case my body and the huge amount of cake I used to eat! x
    Jess @ Along Came Cherry recently posted..When We’re Not In Pretty Flower Fields

  7. August 6, 2014 / 9:05 pm

    Gorgeous post and pictures Adele, you’re looking wonderful! I totally agree with you about breastfeeding not being a ‘gift’ so much as your joint right. I have no idea how often I feed either 😉 Happy World Breastfeeding Week x
    Cathy recently posted..#greensmoothieclub

  8. August 7, 2014 / 8:28 am

    beautiful post, so glad that this time around it’s so much easier x

  9. August 7, 2014 / 7:13 pm

    I also noticed the posture thing!ha! I’m pretty much hunched over all the time now and a big issue about that was from my breasftfeeding posture ha! Anyway back to your actual post, love what you said about it being a ‘joint right’. As you know like you I really struggled badly at first so its a relief to me to see stories like this where it’s gone so right from the start! I also never get over how amazing it all is, how you are given this little person life and dimples and cute chubby little thighs 🙂 x
    Fritha recently posted..a skincare regime

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