Tuesday October 20th 2020

My name is Beth and I’m a breastfeeder

I’m in the thick of a new breastfeeding relationship. A few years on and I’m doing it again. My last one ended after more than three years.

Before I weaned my first child, I thought that I’d feel a celebratory zing at having my body back. But it was more of an ‘oh well, that’s that’ feeling, rather than a ‘shee-wow baby, I got ME back!’

Now, nearly 40 months later, I’m starting all over again. And I’m tired. This time, I don’t feel that I can go the distance. Even though I will.

Breastfeeding is hard work. It doesn’t always feel that way, especially when you’ve got the latch sorted and the first couple of weight checks in and you’re not cracked, bleeding, engorged or infected. But let it be known : just because it’s the most ‘natural’ process, and you’re doing it correctly, doesn’t mean that you’re sorted. Or that you’ll feel like doing it every day. And sometimes on the hour every hour. Or, in my case, over the past few nights, EVERY 20 MINUTES through the night.

I feel completely alone in my breastfeeding relationship, even though there are two of us. I’m the one doing all the thinking. The worrying. The double-checking.

I’m the only one my son wants in the middle of the night and, even then, I question if it’s really me he wants, or just the boob. It’s like this for most mothers, breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, but when there’s a bottle involved, it’s logistically possible for someone else to take the fall in the wee hours. When it’s Boob Only, there’s no medieval wet nurse on call. And, as a ‘modern’ breastfeeding mother, there’s also the constant, urgent thought that says : “this is how it is and I’m all he’s got.”

After my first child, I wrote a book about breastfeeding. I’m so passionate about the subject that I want to share what I know with whoever wants to hear or read it.

But just because I’m supposed to know what I’m doing, doesn’t mean that I do. And that’s the point of this blog.

I know that, right now, this minute, there are literally thousands of first-time and veteran breastfeeding moms who would give their eye teeth for four straight hours of sleep tonight. Or who just want to take the day (or the morning, or even two bloody hours) off without having to frantically pump 160ml or 5oz into a bottle or cup which their baby may, or may not, drink.

For those of us who choose this path, there just doesn’t seem to be any other option. And that’s what keeps us going, from nursing session to nursing session. It has nothing to do with opinions on the benefits of breastfeeding, or the breastfeeding versus bottle-feeding debate, or cost, time or pressure from the World Health Organisation.

It’s just what we do. And just because it’s apparently biological simple, doesn’t mean that we have to pretend to be cushy earth mommas all the time. And that’s okay.

 

 

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