At the milk bar
It was International Breastfeeding week last week and there has been a lot written and debated on the subject so I’ve had plenty of time to reflect about my own relationship to this issue.
I’ve breastfed Anakin since he was born. Until he was 5 months old he was an exclusively breasted baby. There was never a doubt in my mind that I wanted to do this, and still do, for as long as possible. (I’ll add within reason. I’m fairly certain our boobie relationship will come to its natural end in due time.) It hasn’t been a simple thing at times and we had a tough start, as I’m sure many do. To be honest I’d always pictured it to be fairly easy before I actually had to do it. It’s such a natural thing it never occurred to me that it was something we both had to learn how to do.
I initially wanted Anakin to have hist first feed within the hour of his birth. But the hospital was extremely busy that day and we were left in the birth suite by ourselves for close to two hours after he was born before someone popped back in. By then I had tried to latch Anakin on myself, but with little success. The poor bubba did his best to try on his own, his little head bobbing up and down on my chest, but we both needed a helping hand. Feeding was a constant battle for the first few days. I was cracked and sore, he was impatient, and as much as I asked for help that first night in the hospital, no one had the time to show me how to do it. They just put him on before running off to help someone else. (And the politicians believe that nurses and midwives should have more patients per staff??)
After coming home it still took us a while to get the hang of it. Anakin fed often. Very often. He’d fall asleep and being none the wiser I would let him. Then he would wake ten minutes later for another 5 minute feed and so it went… until a visiting maternal child health nurse explained to me that I needed to wake him so he could finish. That advice and some lansinoh ointment became my rescue.
Our feeds have always been a special time. Our first couple of months as a family were chaotic and exhausting for various reasons, and I cherished, and still do, those times were we’d go off to sit by ourselves, him nursing while I just watched him. As he’s grown older it’s hasn’t always been an easy thing. He gets easily distracted, he bites although he has no teeth, he sometimes scratches, pulls, hits and kicks. Occasionally I think he’s trying to be my dentist. But I still cherish those moments. Most of them anyway. I love the intimacy we share through breastfeeding.
My favourite feed is the bedtime feed. I feel him wind down, he’s gentle and calm. His muscles relax and he turns to butter in my arms. One hand over his eyes and the other usually on my other breast or up by my face. It gives me time to think about our day, to give him more soft cuddles and to just bask in his incredible beauty.
I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to breastfeed, but for me it has been worth all the struggles. It is such a beautiful thing to share with your baby, and I hope I get to share it with mine for a lot longer.