Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Breastfeeding 101

This week is World Breastfeeding Week, & as such brings contemplation & reflection;

I am a strong advocate for breastfeeding, & breastfed my three children till they weaned themselves- at 14 months, 11 months & 14 months.

I was one of the fortunate, to whom breastfeeding came easily.

This is not to say I didn't have my fair share of cracked nipples & other issues, but in the scheme of things, breastfeeding was a fairly natural, easy process for me.

Whilst it is commonly acknowledged that "breast is best" there are those to whom things don't always come so easily.

I have asked my sister Brooke to write about her journey with Breastfeeding,

please read her post below.

Breastfeeding 101

It’s been 3 weeks since I last breastfed my 1 year old daughter, and I have to say that I still feel a mix of emotions – some relief, some happiness, and a little bit ‘ripped off’. You see my breastfeeding journey was the equivalent of running Mt Everest with 1 leg.

After a Post Partum Haemorrhage hours after the bug was born I was left with boobs that didn’t exactly balloon with the liquid gold. Day 3 after birthing my amazing and gorgeous baby, I had my first of 3 blood transfusions, and hoped that aside from making me feel more like a human and less like a corpse, that my milk would ‘come in’, as was supposed to happen. It didn’t…and I began to panic. I hadn’t contemplated not breastfeeding – it wasn’t part of the plan. Whilst I felt a little anxiety about breastfeeding, I had done the research and knew it was better for my child if I could breastfeed, and good for me too. The decision had been made…how hard could it be? I was so wrong…

For months I undertook 3 then 4 hourly blocks of breastfeeding, pumping, supplementing with formula, and using a supply line – as well as settling my child to sleep, and trying to rest myself. In addition I used medication, natural therapies, took 30 tablets a day, visited Osteopaths, Naturopaths, Lactation Consultants, NGALA, Child Health Nurses, spoke with the Australian Breastfeeding Association and conducted hours of obsessive Internet research…and I still had a low supply. Apparently I was never going to be a ‘cow’ (as my delivery midwife and Lactation Consultant told me!).

So I stuck with it (out of sheer stubbornness and a will to do what was best for my baby). At first I thought… “I’ll try to make it to 6 weeks”, then 12 weeks, then 4 months and so on. I made it to 11.5 months and was keen to continue, however the bug had different ideas. She weaned herself and made it loud and clear that she no longer wanted to breastfeed – she was on to bigger and better things. I guess this is the first of many decisions she will make on her own that I may or may not agree with!

I have learnt a lot from this experience…about myself as a person and about having a baby. I have absolutely no regrets about working so hard to feed my child, even though I was incredibly sleep deprived and felt like a failure as a mother. Looking back – and it is only now that it has passed, I feel like a huge success. I’d do it again, but next time, I’d probably be a little easier on myself and accept that things don’t always go to plan…and when they don’t, you do what you can. I now know that although breast is best, it is better for a mother to be mentally healthy, and able to cope as best she can with such a huge life changing event. It is important to provide the best and healthiest start for a new bub, but there are so many other things that are equally important…such as ensuring that a new bub feels loved, safe and secure.

I write this whilst watching my daughter stuffing her face with scone, and send a big supportive congratulations to all Mums during World Breastfeeding Week – those who do breastfeed, and those who don’t, those who do it for 5 years, those who do it for 5 days…but also to those babies like mine who stuck with it, and don’t give up on their Mums…

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