Thanks for hopping over from Run, Jump, Scrap and welcome to my post for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt Day 1 The Start of My Journey sponsors today include Boobie Milk with a £50 voucher, Cherub Chews who are offering a breastfeeding necklace and Loveyush who are offering a breastfeeding scarf for our Grand Prize winner. Over £700 worth of goodies are up for grabs entries via the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.
I have a confession to make. I am a huge breastfeeding advocate and I think every baby should have the right to breast milk to help give them the best start to life. I’m not talking about a legal right because legal rights are complicated and tend to pit themselves against other people’s legal rights and that gets messy. All I mean is that I think every baby deserves that start if at all possible. Some people, especially certain feminists, find it contentious and debatable but it is the biological norm as far as nutrition for an infant.
However, I have a confession to make.
I did not breastfeed my first daughter for two and a half years because I was some great, decisive, committed breastfeeder. I was pressured by some people in my family to not try formula. I was also just too scared to make that choice to give her a bottle of formula, but I did think about it a lot. You see, to me it wasn’t ‘just’ a bottle of formula, but the end of the virgin gut, so I just hung on day-by-day.
To be honest with you, if it weren’t such an important thing, I’d almost laugh about how at four months I felt like I just had to get a break and a bottle of formula could be that break; because I’m more than four years in now and still haven’t gotten the break I thought I needed. I’ve gone out for a few hours here and there, of course, but looking back that’s not what I was looking for. I kind of wanted a total ‘system reset’ kind of feeling. The fact is, being a new mother is absolutely, fucking terrifying.
Breastfeeding is where we lay the blame, because it’s so physical, it’s every 20, 30, 40 minutes sometimes and it’s something only a mother can do. This baby needs my body or it will starve and she will cry, and that cry can make my entire being throb in misery.
This was nothing I’d ever felt before.
This was something I’d never experienced before.
As an introvert, I had a lot of growing to do. (Or maybe it was repressing, I don’t know, I’ll get back to you on that.) I used to put her in a Rose & Rebellion carrier so I could resume my daily two to three hour walks in which I’d just reflect on my life and my thoughts. I can’t believe I used to have so much time for such frivolity! Getting used to motherhood was so hard. It was similar to the time that I had a little seven day a week breakfast and lunch restaurant with my ex-husband, except the baby was cuter. Although the restaurant did let me sleep at night.
I think I just wanted to forget the weight of this new paradigm in my life. I wanted to walk away and not be the life or death of the most important being on the planet.
That kind of break never happened. I held on, one day at a time, and did the best I could. My mother in law had breastfed all three of her children and made it clear she didn’t see the point in bottle feeding. I’m not usually one to worry about “peer pressure” but having already read that it is what’s best, I’ve only ever felt it was the support I needed, along with my husband who continued to remind me gently what our focus was.
But the truth is, I was lucky. I don’t credit myself for being a breastfeeder for 4 years, instead I thank my lucky stars. I just happened to be the kind of person who does a lot of research so I knew about the virgin gut; I just happened to have my mother in law living with me, who told me I was doing a good job and told me stories about breast feeding her children; I just happened to have an amazing, supportive husband who knew me well and was on the same page; I just happened to have gotten the extra nap when I needed it and just happened to manage the extra deep breath when that’s what was necessary.
I don’t know how we can encourage better breast feeding rates because I’ve noticed that what seems like support to one person is pressure to another. One size doesn’t fit all, that much is clear. What I do wish, as with every other issue in the world, is that we could manage a little more compassion for each other.
Following on from my journey, please do hop over to Fit For Parenting to see how her journey began and be in with more chances to enter the grand prize draw. Remember you need to earn 50 points to be eligible, full details can be found on the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Site.