It's national breastfeeding awareness week! I've been wondering why I've been reading so many posts about breastfeeding, and I found out today. Yesterday, the midwife at aquanatal told us all about a free pampering session at our local children's centre today, for mums and mums to be. It turned out to be as part of the breastfeeding network group I attended a few times (and became friendly with a few of the volunteers), and put on in honor of national breastfeeding awareness week. Who can really say no to a free indian head massage and all the crumpets and cake one can eat without looking a pig? So I celebrated in style, especially since Boy was with Nana this morning due to another hospital appointment....
I asked at the group for any advice on things to do differently this time round, as I only managed 4 weeks exclusive breastfeeding with Boy (during which he became skeletal, despite feeding on demand, and topping up with expressed milk), and 4 months combined breast and formula. I say "only", because if I had my way, I'd still be feeding him. I loved (almost) every second and fully intended to feed him up to and beyond the 12 month guidelines. Still, today, 14 months after giving up breastfeeding, tears choked my words as I talked to the volunteers. I do wonder if I'll ever get over the guilt I feel for not being able to sustain my baby with my own milk (due to a genuine health condition, unlike me, almost 100% of women can make enough milk if supply is boosted by varying techniques. All of which were exhausted by me). I feel less guilty than I did at the time....
In my logical head, I know that every day makes a difference to your baby, the NHS slogan of choice. And my own doctor insisted the first two weeks were the most vital, and I managed that! But I can never quieten the mother inside me whose sole ambition as to nurture her baby, and she failed. I remember my mum coming to visit me when Boy was a month old with a tin of formula, crying, and begging me to feed my baby. She had been the one who noticed his tummy rumbling constantly....I just thought babies tummies must do that, he was my first!
I know,in my brain, that I made the right choice to feed my baby with formula, but my heart just can't hear the reasons.
I do intend to breastfeed the new baby, and although the specialist said it is very likely that my condition will remain the same,it's not a dead cert. And I know this time to force myself to ignore the formula-guilt, and combine if/when it becomes apparent that baby is hungrier than it needs to be.
The volunteers at the group told me that I did everything I could last time, I couldn't have done a better job. HID pointed out that he has been saying that for upwards of a year, but that's why I married him, he says all the right things. It seemed more comforting to hear it from a pro-breastfeeding stranger.
As I left, a volunteer I knew quite well insisted I take her phone number, and to text her when the baby was born. She is coming to the hospital to help me establish breastfeeding. "The midwives are often too busy to do much more than check your latch. I'll stay with you until you get it right." I almost cried. The woman has no idea how much relief washed over me as she wrote down her number. I did get help last time,but this time I'm feeling fully armed.
By the way, the picture at the top? Checkout mama merit badges.
Even if you managed one feed, stop beating yourself up and feel proud: you breastfed your baby. There is no need to feel guilty that you didn't feed up until school age. All those fellow breastfeeders out there, well done!