I love breastfeeding! I think that it is utterly amazing. Next to pregnancy and childbirth it must be the most miraculous thing that we are actually created to feed babies! What engineering. I know there are lots of folks out there who can't or choose not to for many reasons. In this life we have to do what we have to do. And that is okay by me. But I am feel very fortunate that I was able to breastfeed my son and I hope to be able to do the same with my daughter.
Although I was keen to breastfeed my son, and attended the lecture on it during my antenatal classes, I was surprised to find that it was quite difficult at first. Firstly because my son was in the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) for three days, and the nursery nurses kept feeding him formula through a tube in his nose despite the fact that I was meant to try feeding him first. Then I found the whole process quite painful. Both the latching on bit and the "letdown." The breastfeeding video we saw in class told us that if it was painful then we were doing it wrong!! So I panicked a little until a proper lactation nurse came by and told me that it was nonsense. So after a few more days we started to get the hang of it and were allowed home.
At home the midwife came and told me that it takes six weeks to become an expert. This helped me keep going because it was still quite painful. The nipple creams helped with the sore nipples, but this letdown pain was hard to bear at times. But sure enough within weeks we were flying.
I was feeding "on demand," and my son was demanding! Sometimes I think I was feeding every hour. I was producing tons of milk and leaking everywhere! I slept with several layers of towels under me at night. But that phase passed as well. I thought I would continue for a year if I could. I am lactose intolerant, so I worried whether my son could have milk. And I really didn't want to mess around with formula if I didn't have to. Traipsing around in the middle of the night making and heating bottles is not my idea of fun!
When I returned to work (when my son was a year old) I did indeed find I was able to continue breastfeeding morning and evening. And he was eating food, yoghurt and sometimes milk in between. I intended to stop feeding about then, but soon left that job and found myself home with him again. I breastfed him until he was just over two years old, which is recommended by the World Health Organisation.
The way I got him to stop was by enlisting his father's help. My son would come in to my bed each morning for a feed. Then we would head downstairs for a banana, then cereal and Cebeebies. So for one week I asked for help. Daddy was to bring him down, feed him breakfast and otherwise distract him. Worked like a charm. The after work feed ended about the same time by simply telling him that I didn't have any milk anymore. He did ask to check. He wanted to see there wasn't any milk, but believed me when I was persistent.
I am not sure that I will feed my daughter for so long. I really hadn't intended to go so long with my son. I will be returning to work after about six months maternity leave this time around. So I am not sure how I will manage that, pumping, etc. I will have to consider this when the time comes. I know that I will not be able to pump at work. (Although it is law in this country that employees are allowed breaks and the space to pump while at work). There is just no private place in which to do it. Even the toilets would not be private enough and they are hardly appropriate places anyway. So we will see.