You always get the “it’s the best thing for you and baby” advice…but here’s what they don’t tell you about breastfeeding…
We’ve reached seven months of breastfeeding. Seven blooming months.
For some, this may sound like an amazing achievement. Perhaps it isn’t compared to others who continued to feed their babies for longer. Or for some, this statement may sound like a brag, but I can assure you, it really isn’t.
In all honesty, I simply lost track of time. I just kept whipping out the boob on demand and here we are seven months later, still feeding every few hours and I’m drained. With every feed, I’m completely torn between the ease of breastfeeding (this time around) and the strain of it. Part of me is totally amazed that we’ve come this far and the other part of me desperately wants my boobs back. Not back to how they were. Let’s face it, only Mr Nip Tuck could sort these squidgy sad sacks out. But I want the kind of freedom back that only comes with ending our breastfeeding journey.
But no one tells you this part.
You only get the “it’s the best thing for baby and for you” advice drummed into you from every angle. There’s no small print, or what if seven months later I want my boobs back support groups to attend at your local children’s centre. Oh no. I’m yet to meet a midwife or health visitor who will offer up advice about the pitfalls of successfully breastfeeding. So here I am being a reassuring voice for those who are struggling with the early stages of breastfeeding or perhaps like me, trying to get their boobs back. Or even a reassuring voice for all of those who are silently torturing themselves for not breastfeeding their babies, this post might make you feel a little better.
What They Don’t Tell You About Breastfeeding
Milk On Tap
Feed baby on demand they say…So, of course, you do. You’ll listen to whatever advice you are given in your shellshocked, sleep-deprived state. Which inevitably means that baby gets very quickly used to having as much or little milk as they want, whenever they want it.
Be Prepared To Co-Sleep
Unless you’re a machine who runs on sod all kip, you will end up co-sleeping at some point with a breastfed baby.
Long-Term Sleep Deprivation
The feedback I’ve received so far from other Mumma’s is that bottle-fed babies tend to sleep longer and better. In a recent poll, carried out by moi, at least 99% of mothers* reported that their breastfed babies were more clingy, co-sleep dependant, worse sleepers than that of bottle-fed babies. *recent poll via Instagram and Facebook in case you’re questioning my reliable source.
You are Committed
At all hours of every single day for as long as you both shall be committed to the boob. Unless you are a whizz with expressing or are combining formula, you and that little bundle of joy are bound by the boob at all times for the foreseeable future.
It’s All On You
There will be no sharing of the night feeds. No sharing the day feeds. Unless your boob is detachable, then your partner is pretty much left with only the nappy duties because the baby needs to you for a) milk b) comfort and c) everything and anything centred around those cushty boobies that make them feel all warm, safe and just lovely. This may potentially have an impact on said partner bonding/feeling included/sharing the role of being a new parent.
Weaning A Boob Addict
You’ve spent a good nine months thinking about feeding your baby. You then spend however many painful hours, days, weeks, months pushing yourself through the pain, the exhaustion, the tears (on both parts) just to get the nack of breastfeeding. Then once you potentially work it all out, before you know it, you want to wean them off it before they bite your nipple off. There are no pamphlets floating about for this. I’ve searched. Hence this post. The most commonly related pamphlet available (I imagine) is how to wean a vampire off blood or an addict off drugs. It ain’t going to be easy.
Forget the soreness of the initial latch stages. Just wait until baby starts ripping that nipple out as it whips it’s head around to watch Peppa Pig mid-feed. Or when it starts hungrily scrunching the boob into its mouth as if it was a Capri Sun with its little feisty hands. My nipples have actually started veering towards my armpits and I can tell you for nothing, they bloody hurt. They are quivering at the thought of that first toothy peg making any appearance.
You Become A Human Dummy
When they’re not using you for a 24-hour all-you-can-drink buffet, they’re using you for comfort- aka, The Human Dummy. It takes a while to figure out the difference and perhaps even longer depending on how numb your poor breasticles have become over time. At some point, you might find yourself being used solely for comfort. Which is all good and well if you’ve got nothing better to do than to sit on your butt all day with your boobs hanging out? If only.
You Secretly Envy Those Who Bottle Feed
I do. I envy those who decided, for whatever reason and at whatever stage, to bottle feed their babies. Just being able to share the responsibility for the feeds. To get just a little more sleep. Having more routine and structure. To have my boobs back and to chuck away those utterly embarrassing nursing bras that I am oh so sick of wearing every day.
Shedding The Feeding Guilt
I’ve recognised that the Mum Guilt relating to how we feed or fed our babies continues to pop up. Even when our babies are well out of the milk stage. This notion that we need to continue to explain or apologise as to why we couldn’t or didn’t breastfeed our babies is just bonkers. It’s not often you hear a woman say, “sod that, I didn’t want to breastfeed, so we didn’t…” instead we are apologising for our choices.
It goes without saying that they are of course many wonderful aspects of breastfeeding. But that isn’t what this post is about. Of course, I am proud of myself for getting this far with Billie, but I’m also very tired of it. I’m tired of feeding on demand 24 hours a day. Weaning her off the boob isn’t going to be easy. Somehow I need to find the energy to do it because this Mumma wants her boobs back.
If you’re struggling with breastfeeding please contact your nearest breastfeeding support group, (mine were incredible and just brilliant) speak to your health visitor or visit the breastfeeding page on the NHS website…but above all, trust yourself.
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