This was written by Fiona, mum of 3. The article is from www.breastfeedingsupport.co.uk which since the article was written has changed, there is an enormous amount of information still on there though it is under a different site name – www.infantfeeding.info
“Before I was even married, and certainly before I contemplated having children, I had a lecture on infant feeding from a rather brusque midwife at work one day.
“You’ll HAVE to breastfeed of course” she said.”Huh?”"Well you’re a doctor, you’ve got to do the right thing haven’t you?”
Not surprisingly, this didn’t really convince me of the benefits of breastfeeding, and I was annoyed by her attitude. My sister was a successful breastfeeder already, but as someone who had never really thought that having children would be important, I’d not really taken any interest.
Years later, on discovering that I was pregnant for the first time, that conversation came back to haunt me, as after reading more about the health benefits of breastfeeding I concluded that yes, I would have to “do the right thing”. It didn’t hold any appeal for me though. I resolved to feed for 3-6 months, until I went back to work. It would be a chore, but I ‘ought’ to. I certainly would never be able to feed in public, and would stop as soon as it was reasonable to do so.
Things didn’t quite end up like that though: as it turns out I fed my daughter ’til she self weaned at around 3.5 years, and I’ve fed her pretty much anywhere you can think of. I’m now feeding my son, and am a passionate advocate of the benefits of breastfeeding. My old friends still find this amazing, and not a little amusing!
So how did this change of heart come about?
Well for a start I had a hideous pregnancy. I had envisaged myself carrying on heroically, as if nothing was happening, probably working until labour was established. In fact I had horrendous hyperemesis (sickness), necessitating repeated hospital admissions and no work after about 16weeks. I then developed pre-eclampsia and Isabel was delivered, just over 2 weeks early, by caesarean section. How on earth did that help me breastfeed, I hear you ask. Well, I’m pretty stubborn at the best of times, but all this disappointment made me even more determined that I was going to get something to work!
Breastfeeding did not come easily either: the pain from my nipples overshadowed the post-section pain in a major way. Despite numerous visits from midwives, health visitors and breastfeeding counsellors, no one could find why I was in so much pain. I cried in pain everyday for 3 months or so. (I’m not encouraging you here am I?) So why did I persist? Well partly that stubborn streak again, partly the encouragement from my b/f support group and especially my sister, and mostly because of my beautiful little girl. She was so obviously thriving on it, and the closeness of the feeding times was marvellous. The look of contentment on her face as she fell asleep at the end of a feed made it all worthwhile. I had never imagined I would feel that way, and if breastfeeding was what she needed, I would carry on. I also loved the convenience; ‘Have baby, will travel’! No need to worry about warming bottles or running out of milk. I love the outdoors and was soon back to sailing and walking with no worries. If she got hungry, I just fed her, wherever I happened to be.
I stayed off work longer than I had anticipated, returning when she was about 8 months old. I had expected to stop feeding her then, but we were both so happy with the arrangement that I carried on. Although leaving her was very hard, the joy of the ‘reunion feed’ at the end of the day made it a little easier. My husband was an absolute star, bringing her over to work in the evenings when I couldn’t get home, so that she could still have her bedtime feed. Breastfeeding had become such an integral part of all our lives, it seemed daft to try and stop.
I didn’t ever consciously make the decision to breastfeed for as long as I did, it just kind of happened. My sister fed her 3 children til they were over 2yrs and my sister in law fed her 4 for between 18months and 3 years, so I didn’t really see myself as that unusual. Of course with time her feeds got less, but a breastfeed continued to make a lovely end to the day, and it was a godsend on the few occasions when she was ill.
Likewise I never made a conscious decision to stop. She began to ask less often, and I stopped offering. It ended naturally. I don’t remember her last feed, or even exactly how old she was. Despite the numerous dire warnings I received, she did stop of her own free will, and she is now as happy and self confident a 6 year old as you will meet, not for ever tied to my apron strings as I was told!
For me, breastfeeding is the healthiest option for a baby, but it’s also hugely convenient and a great source of pleasure. With my son, I found the whole business a lot easier and I intend to let him choose the time to wean too. I am not everybody’s idea of a ‘typical’ extended breastfeeder (if there is such a thing) so if you don’t think it’s for you – give it a go. Like me, you might just be surprised!
This article reproduced with permission from www.breastfeedingsupport.co.uk a ‘not for profit’ website packed with articles and advice about breastfeeding, written by mums from their own experiences.