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19.6.11

Yes I breastfed, why can't I feel smug?

Breastfeeding and bottle feeding seem to be one of the biggest debates when it comes to parenting.
I am very pro breastfeeding. I'm not ashamed of that.
But at the same time, I can see why some mums bottle feed....due to not enjoying it or simply not being able to because of their baby not latching or poor milk supply.
I find it hard to understand some reasons for women not breastfeeding...its disgusting, I don't want people to see my boobs, its unnatural.
Why is it disgusting? Why is it unnatural? Our bodies create this milk, so its completely natural!
And in the 18 months that I breastfed, the only two people who actually SAW my boobs were my husband and my son.
I see much MORE of womens boobs when down the beach/on holiday/looking at photos of girls on nights out in Facebook. Low cut tops reveal a lot more than a breastfeeding mum!

I would never ever make a comment to a bottle feeding mum saying she is disgusting for doing what she is doing, so why should I be subjected to the same? [Luckily I only ever had one negativeish comment which was at 8 months saying "isn't he too old to still be breastfed?"]

I had a tough start with breastfeeding. Starting with Charles just being placed on my chest and being told nothing about positioning to then being ignored really when I informed midwives about how painful the feeding was. "Just a strong suck". "If the midwife yesterday said he's just got a strong suck then that's obviously what it is".
A late evening phone call to the local Breastfeeding Team and one of their amazing ladies coming out to see me at 9 o clock confirmed what I suspected. There was a problem, latch was fine, position was fine, but something else wasn't. "I'll send Dawn to see you in the morning so she can give a second opinion but I'm pretty sure that's what it is"
The next morning Dawn walked into our house, we latched Charles on and immediately she heard clicking, "he's got tongue tie. I'll call straight away to get an appointment to get it snipped. You should get an appointment for tomorrow" Except we didn't, the consultant was away and we'd have to wait until the following Monday.  This consultant made himself an expert and specialist in tongue tie at the hospital an hour away from us. No one else specialised in this area and he wanted to correct that as its a lot more common than thought.
This consultant also doesn't use pain relief. I hated this thought at first. But with Dawns reassurance that the procedure was simple and would be over in seconds we agreed to see him, we had no choice.

She was right, it was over in seconds and then I could feed my baby properly without the toe curling pain. I could start to enjoy breastfeeding properly. It took me a while to feel comfortable and get used to the fact that it didn't hurt anymore but Charles took to it like a pro. He even surprised the midwives, health visitor and Breastfeeding Counsellor but not losing any weight at all in the first week, which mean that despite the tongue tie he was able to get all he needed. It probably helped that my supply was almost too much [honestly, I could've fed 6 babies and still been able to express for another day!]

So from going from a horrid horrid start, where I could've easily have given up, we ended up feeding for 18 months. I still fed him for the first 8 weeks of my second pregnancy. My boobs were tender and sore and at times it was almost like that first week again and feeding a tongue tied baby, but I didn't stop him. He eventually weaned himself off, mostly due to the fact my supply had plummeted and he just wasn't getting much from it at all.

Up until we finished breastfeeding I fed publicly too. Everyday I risked receiving negative comments from people disgusted by what I was doing. I expected negative comments more so as Charles was older than when he was a baby. I didn't receive any negative comments, apart from the one mentioned above and the occasional horrid "bitty" comment from family or friends and the "you'll have to stop when he's 16 you know, you need to stop sometime" remarks, which to be honest, just spurred me on to want to continue.

I knew Charles was benefiting as much as me from this and yes ok, I am smug about feeding him.
I'm smug that I got through the 8 days of him being tongue tied without using nipple shields or any other assistance, without expressing into a bottle and giving him my milk that way, without giving up and sending my husband out for formula.The pain from those 8 days stays with me more than the pain of labour. I'd rather feel a babies head crowning than to feel the pain of tongue tie again.
I'm smug that I fed longer than my friends did. That whilst my friends faffed with heating up water and bottles I just pulled my top down a little bit and there, my child was being fed.
I'm smug that I was able to just latch Charles on for as little as a minute sometimes just to comfort him and to stop him from being upset if he'd hurt himself. Or that by latching him on when tired meant he would be asleep in a matter of seconds.
I'm smug that I was able to give him something that no one else could. That its something that he will never share with anyone else. Ever.
Breastfeeding was my choice, I'm not asking you to worship me or praise me for getting through those horrid 8 days and then the 18 months, but don't make me feel bad for being smug, or proud of myself.

I'm not saying I'm better than you. But don't take this away from me, its not always as easy as it seems to breastfeed.