I met Mummy Glitzer a few weeks ago at a coffee morning for South West mum bloggers in Bristol. We got onto the topic of breastfeeding (as you do) and she told her extraordinary story of breastfeeding by accident or, probably more accurately, breastfeeding by instinct. At my request, she’s graciously and honestly put into words her breastfeeding journey. Please leave her a comment at the end so she knows that she’s been heard.
When I found out I was pregnant with H and had passed that all important 12 week scan I didn’t put much thought into breastfeeding and had decided to formula feed from the start. My reasoning was two-fold.
Firstly, my experience on forums had demonstrated to me that a LOT of women struggle with it – to some it was pretty soul destroying. I know some for whom it felt like a constant battle, getting baby into the right position, getting baby to latch, mastitis, nipple thrush, blocked ducts etc not to mention the draining growth spurts. Quite frankly, being a first time mummy to a new-born, with a husband who couldn’t be guaranteed any leave and with zero family support sounded difficult enough to me.
Couple that with the fact that I suffer from depression and anxiety I figured that it wasn’t a risk worth taking for my family. We couldn’t afford for me to break down mentally and I surely had to be happy and mentally strong to deal with a baby.
Secondly, whilst I had never had any issues at all with other women breastfeeding, it just wasn’t something I personally was comfortable with. This is an area I am still not prepared to delve into but I just don’t like my body and never have. Whilst I knew women *could* and on the whole *do* breastfeed discreetly (whatever that means) I just didn’t think I could. Yes, nonsense, but all the same even the thought pushed my anxiety to the sky. And yes, I was confused about how I would feel about a part of my body going from being part of my sexual relationship with my husband, to a means to feed my child.
I also did my research. Whilst I was happy to (and indeed demanded to) come off my medication whilst I was pregnant, I wasn’t convinced I could manage without it post birth and yet I also didn’t want to take the risk. Risk? What risk? Well exactly. We don’t trial medicine on a foetus or a newborn so we don’t actually know the risks. For me, my decision to NOT breastfeed was very much based on circumstances and personal feelings.
Thirteen months ago, when I first blogged about using a supplemental nursing system (SNS) also called an at-breast supplementer, a lot of people mentioned that they’d never heard of one and just assumed that the only options for feeding a baby were breast or bottle. I wouldn’t have known about it if not for the brilliant lactation consultant who supported us.
There are, of course, a range of other options for supplementing if the need arises – cup, syringe or spoon – but we felt these were too time-consuming for us when coupled with our pumping schedule. Everyone has to figure out what works for them.
I recently dug out my SNS from our garage because I’d met someone who needed to give her baby more milk and who seemed interested in exploring this option. It’s a bottle you hang around your neck or tuck in your top with tubes going from it that attach to your breasts. I’ve explained how it works in my SNS video. Life, Love and Living with Boys recently wrote more about what an SNS is and how it can help you breastfeed.
I’d not thought about it in a while but it occurred to me that there’s not a lot of practical info online about supplementing this way. It’s a real shame, actually, because using an SNS carries a wealth of benefits if other milk is needed.
You get to feed your baby at the breast (whether or not you’re lactating at all), your breasts are stimulated to produce more milk (so, good for addressing low supply or attempting induced lactation or relactation) and you avoid the risk of nipple confusion and reduce the risk of flow preference.
I think the most inspiring SNS story I’ve recently read about was Trevor‘s – he’s a transgendered father who, despite having had extensive breast reduction surgery, has managed to breastfeed his baby using his own milk and a supplemental nursing system filled with donor milk. The supplemental nursing system truly is a useful innovation.
That said, it can be a real pain to use. I remembered this vividly while chatting with the woman I was lending mine to. So, I got online and asked a few people to share their practical tips for using an SNS with me. I also looked through a few blog posts written on the subject and threw in some tips of my own. Here’s what came together. View Post
So many points in our breastfeeding journey have given me space to reflect. The last time we got back from Trinidad and Tobago, I was still buzzing with excitement over the revelation that I was making enough milk to breastfeed without other milk, expressed or artificial.
This time, I’m just feeling quite celebratory about how easy and enjoyable breastfeeding my fifteen-month-old made our trip. So I’ve come up with five benefits of breastfeeding while traveling. If you’ve taken this show on the road, can you think of any more?
Perfect comfort for the plane
I was disproportionately nervous about the transatlantic airplane journey with the baby. I was going to be on my own. When I got to the baggage drop at the airport, I was literally shaking and stammering. Looking back, I think I must have been experiencing some kind of crisis of confidence in my parenting or something. It turns out that I don’t suck at what I do. That and, I’ve got magic under my shirt. View Post
I actually laughed out loud when I read this piece of creative writing by Dr Miriam Stoppard yesterday. I call it creative writing because it certainly wasn’t an exercise grounded in scientific fact. Anyone using the title “Dr” to qualify their statements needs to feel the full weight of their responsibility to their audience.
Most of what she’s written doesn’t deserve a response. OK, actually all of it is. I am tempted to mention that some babies are born with teeth and that they’re called milk teeth for a reason. So why should that be a signal to wean? Better judgement tells me not to bother to mention that if babies are dependent on lab-concocted formula to get the iron they need then something is uniquely flawed in the biology of the human race.
I also don’t know why I feel I should say it but, being from the “Third World”, I can’t see why weaning at four months would be an “economic necessity”. The only reason I can think of is that formula marketing has so powerfully shaped the culture that daycare facilities would rather mix a bottle than defrost expressed breast milk.
A line like “There’s no keener fan of breast-feeding than me” in this blatantly anti-breastfeeding piece of propaganda should have discomfited even her.
No, what interested me was that Dr Miriam Stoppard thinks child-led weaning from the breast is crossing a line. In fact she’s “never heard of anything so irresponsible”. This got me for a number of reasons. View Post
What happens when you put out a call for bloggers to share their breastfeeding photographs? A whole lot of beautiful. Twenty-three bloggers responded with images of themselves and their babies.
Most are pictures of them breastfeeding. One is a post-milky cuddle. Kylie Hodges from Not Even a Bag of Sugar sent a picture of herself pumping in a hospital room so that her premature baby could have her milk.
These pictures represent diverse breastfeeding experiences. Some of these women really struggled to get breastfeeding going. Others found it a breeze from first latch. Some finished breastfeeding before they were ready. Others breastfed beyond their own expectations.
All have shared a reason why they love breastfeeding in celebration of World Breastfeeding Week 2012. View Post
We’re hoping to make breastfeeding history. We’re heading to The Downs in Bristol for The Big Latch On on Saturday 4th August 2012. At 10.30am, all the breastfeeding mums present will latch their babies so we can break a world record for the most women breastfeeding at the same time. Women all over the globe will be doing it. It’s a bit of boobie fun for World Breastfeeding Week 2012 (August 1st-7th).
Huh? But it was just Breastfeeding Week?!
Actually, that was National Breastfeeding Awareness Week. This is World Breastfeeding Week.
You people just like getting your baps out, don’t you?
Well, we do like comforting and feeding our babies as biology intended. In fact, I could launch into a whole post about why we love breastfeeding but I won’t because that’s not really what this is about.
What is it about, then?
World Breastfeeding Week 2012 is all about celebrating the progress that’s been made globally to help women breastfeed their children. It’s also about considering what still needs to be done.
There’s a lot to be done, actually. Of the 136.7 million babies born every year, only 32.6% of them are breastfed exclusively in the first six months. There are probably as many reasons for this as their are cultural contexts but policies and programmes have an important part to play in helping more women breastfeed for longer. View Post