Let me start with a disclaimer. I really don’t give a crap how you feed your own child. If you breastfeed, formula feed or do a mixture of the two, then good on you. You’re the parent and how you choose to feed your child is your choice, your prerogative and your decision. There is no right way, only the way that you think is right for your baby, yourself and your family. Be proud and stand by your choices. No-one else has a right to question how you parent.
After getting that out of my system, let me talk about our breastfeeding journey which looks like it may have come to a natural end last night…
The missus has been exclusively breastfeeding Baby L since she was born. At 13.5 months old – based on my rough calculations – this means that she has had a whopping 2,190 boob feeds. The sprog has always been a pretty quick feeder, so I reckon that’s about 22,000 minutes of her life that the little one has been attached to the missus’ chest.
Let me put it another way. The missus has spent roughly 370 hours – or 15.5 days – of the last year and a bit providing our daughter with all of the nutrients, calories and comfort our little one has needed in order to develop into the awesome little (nearly) toddler that we currently have. It really is quite amazing when you think what the human body can do.
It was always the missus’ intention to breastfeed. When you look at some of the benefits, such as ease, flexibility, speed, cost and the associated health benefits, it just made sense to try breastfeeding. If it didn’t work, then we’d take it from there. Luckily, Baby L latched fine, the missus had very little pain and we didn’t experience any complications along the way which can impact breastfeeding, such as tongue-tie, mastitis etc. All things considered, we couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
But, that doesn’t mean breastfeeding is easy. Having watched the missus battle through it for 13.5 months, it has shown me how warped the general view of baby-related things are. Breastfeeding is often made out to be this magical, bonding experience between mum and baby, but this isn’t our experience.
Much in the same way that you’re supposed to instantly fall in love with your baby when you see them – neither the missus or I felt like this either. Yes, some people do, but many don’t. It is the latter who end up feeling shit because their experiences are different to the unrealistic images portrayed in films, magazines etc.
Our truth is that the missus has hated breastfeeding since day one. Despite this, she has continued heroically. Selflessly putting Baby L before herself every single day. Not once has she enjoyed the process – it has been very much just a function or process that she has had to get through. There has been tears. There has been arguments. There has been many a low moment. But, the end is in sight.
At the time of writing, Baby L has not had a breastfeed in about 42 hours. That is the longest she has ever gone without a boob or bottle. She went to sleep last night without a feed, slept through the night (with the occasional waking up and self settling) then got up this morning and had Weetabix for breakfast. She doesn’t seem to give a crap that she’s not had any boob juice – or booce as I like to call it. For us, that is awesome.
At times, particularly during 4 month sleep regression, the missus was feeding Baby L every 1.5 hours. Every bloody 1.5 hours – night and day. I have no idea how she managed and have total admiration and pride for her determination.
I obviously tried to help out where I could. We went through a few months spell of me giving Baby L a bottle of expressed milk before bed, however this didn’t give the missus much respite. In order for me to have the milk, she needed to express using an electric breastpump, which was a process she didn’t enjoy.
It’s hardly surprising – sitting there in front of the TV with a boob out listening to the vvvv, vvvv, vvvv sound of the pump effectively milking you. Considering that Hay once had to express 50 oz to leave me with enough milk when she went on a hen do, I’m hardly surprised she hated it and decided to stop – even the Laughing Cow would have stopped laughing after that feat!
Things have been a bit better and less labour intensive for the missus since April. In preparation for her going back to work, a then 9-month old Baby L naturally dropped her day feeds because she wouldn’t take a bottle after not having one for a few months. Instead, I would just fill the sprog with food so that she didn’t require the mid-day feed. This meant that she was just feeding first thing in the morning, before bed and once during the night, which was manageable, albeit not ideal.
As time went on, the night feed merged with the morning feed, which put us down to two feeds per day. Then, about six weeks ago, we decided to try to wean Baby L off the morning feed. Instead of bringing her into our bed in the morning like we used to because we were lazy, we started taking her straight downstairs and giving her food to replace the morning feed. As far as we could tell, the sprog was fine with this and we’ve seen no change – apart from her starting to sleep through the night, although this could just be a coincidence!
At the end of this month, we’d planned to get rid of the before-bed feed. For a while now, it’s seemed like it was habit, rather than needed. The decision was made for us last night when Baby L bit down hard on Hay’s nipple! I think the shock of the missus’ yelp of pain startled the little one who chose to cry rather than feed. We therefore put her to bed for the first time ever without a breastfeed. We wondered how she’d get on, but she slept through the night and woke this morning at the same time as usual and happily ate her breakfast. Job’s a good ‘un.
So, the plan tonight is to do the same – put her down without a feed and use other techniques to comfort her (if she needs it) rather than wapping out a boob. If everything goes as hoped, the missus will, to her relief, have ended her breastfeeding journey with Baby L.
It therefore massively surprised me yesterday, when asked if she’d breastfeed again if we had a second kid, that she replied with “yes”. Despite the shitty time she’s had with breastfeeding, she’d do it all again in an instant for the benefit of the kid. No wonder she makes a great mum!
That’s our breastfeeding journey – please feel free to share your breast or bottle feeding journey below so I can have a nosey!