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Breastfeeding

I made the decision to breastfeed before Wilfred was born, it wasn’t even a decision really, it just made sense for us. For the purpose of the blog I thought I’d do some research on breastfeeding and then I got lazy and just looked at the NHS website for the reasons they give for breastfeeding!

If you would like to see the full list of benefits of breastfeeding as given by the NHS they can be seen here www.nhs.uk/breastfeeding-benefits

I have picked out my favourite things from their lists.

·         Breast milk is the only natural food designed for your baby.
I like to do things in the most natural way for my children so it makes sense to start off with breast milk rather than formula.
Formula is well produced and balanced but is obviously not the natural way for babies to feed.

·         Breastfeeding protects your baby from infections and diseases.
This is so important as all the infections they are exposed to are new to them (when you have older children they get exposed
to so many more!), therefore any way I can naturally protect them I will. I discovered when I was pregnant that my Rubella
vaccine had worn off so after the labour I was given a booster injection, it is reassuring to know that by breastfeeding I am
giving Wilfred a certain level of protection until it’s time for his own vaccinations.

·         It’s free.
This is a huge one for us. We are on a low income but as my partner works we are not entitled to milk stamps (I’m not sure if
they still call them this!) or extra support. We simply could not afford the cost of formula milk.

·         It’s available whenever and wherever your baby needs a feed.
This is vital for me. I am incredibly disorganised and spend most of the daytime away from the house, so if I can make my
own life easier by breastfeeding I will. It is great to know that any time he is hungry I can stop and feed him, be it in a café or
on a park bench.

·         It’s the right temperature.
This is particularly useful in the middle of the night. I couldn’t be doing with having to wake up and go downstairs to heat a
bottle. With breastfeeding I can feed him and then go back to sleep, I don’t even need to put the light on. We did buy a
nightlight so we have a low level light in the bedroom which is enough for me to see the baby but not enough to prevent me
from sleeping.

·         It naturally uses up to 500 calories a day.
I’m not trying to diet but I would like to lose some weight around my middle so that I can get out of my maternity trousers and
into ‘normal’ trousers. I was surprised to read it can use as many calories as that, I knew that 1500 calories was the daily
recommended amount for an adult woman so it does make sense. I went and had a look online, 500 calories would be a
couple of slices of toast with scrambled egg, that’s a second breakfast! If you are feeling unhealthy it’s a burger or a couple
of chocolate bars. If you are in need of vitamins and fibre its masses of fruit.

I am by no means a breastfeeding fascist, I believe all women should chose what is right for them and their baby, many try and are unable to for some reason and this can be a difficult blow.

I have a friend who tried breastfeeding and hated it, she and her baby were miserable and she lasted a week. I have another friend who struggled enormously with breastfeeding, she got sore cracked nipples and discovered Lanolin cream to help, she was worn out from the constant feeds, then she got mastitis and had all her friends and family telling her to stop. I knew she wanted to continue so offered her support and the chance to stop or continue, but whatever she wanted to do, 3 months later she is through to the other side and is still breastfeeding. I am immensely proud of both of these friends.

I breastfed my first child for about 4 months and really struggled. I had post natal depression which I hid because my addled brain thought ‘they’ would take my baby away if ‘they’ knew. I never knew who ‘they’ were but I thought pretending everything was OK was the best thing to do, I wish I had spoken to someone about it and got help. We would have both been better off.

With my second baby I found breastfeeding easier and more enjoyable but incredibly tiring. He was a hungry baby and I felt like I was constantly feeding and winding him. We started giving him formula at night after about 6 weeks and this helped him sleep longer so I could get some rest. Before this we had both spent nights at a time up with him, rocking him and taking him out for walks in the middle of the night to settle him. I breastfed him until he started weaning at about 5 months.

This time round I am actually enjoying breastfeeding. He latched on straight after the birth and we both seemed to get the hang of it straight away. I suppose I was more relaxed and felt I had the experience to know what I was doing and he seemed to be a natural. The skin to skin contact really helped and any time he is fretful I strip us both off and have that contact to settle him (only when at home of course!). We are only 9 days in so things could change as his needs change and he grows, but so far I am really happy with how it’s going. He latches on well and I can tell when he hasn’t so reposition him, I use lots of Lanolin cream to keep my nipples moisturised and I am relaxed about the whole thing which helps.

I know many women are put off breastfeeding by the prospect of having to feed their baby in front of people or in public. It is a shame that breasts have become such a sexualized object that many people no longer view them for their natural purpose. Some women also worry about negative comments from others and the prospect of exposing themselves. I find that by wearing tops that I can lift so that the baby feeds from under them helps, people can get a small view of my belly but if they are offended by my stretch marks that’s their issue. I also discovered that my favourite cardigan is a perfect cover up, it’s a big wrap around with buttons on the shoulders. It’s not too thick so we don’t overheat and I can put one side up to my shoulder so that Wilfred cannot be seen but I can still look down and see him. It’s also useful if I’m feeding him outside and it’s a little breezy as it keeps the wind off him. A draped muslin also works but I prefer to be able to see the baby while feeding.

Having gone through breastfeeding 3 babies in public places I can honestly say that I have had very few negative reactions from people. I was once asked to go to a public toilets to feed my baby (this was 12 years ago) and I firmly but politely offered that the person go and eat their lunch in their first.  What I have had is people saying how lovely it is to see a nursing mother and people coming to say hello and not realising I was feeding the baby until they sat by me.

The change in the law to make feeding babies in public a legal right, as well as a wider awareness of breastfeeding has helped to make things easier. I personally do not like breastfeeding rooms; I find them lonely and get bored when faced with a blank wall. Too often when I have used them when no alternative has been found only to feel they were a bit grubby. I would much rather find a coffee shop and sit with a cuppa and a book or find a bench where I can watch the world go by.

For today’s blog I have collected some pictures of me breastfeeding this past week. We have already been out and about quite a bit so some of the places that have seen me NIP (nurse in public) are in a restaurant over lunch, in M&S café while talking to a lovely elderly couple about the baby, on a bench by the canal, in the car and while walking round a shopping centre with the baby in the sling.

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