This week is world breastfeeding week
As a woman new to this world of being a mummy it's a topic close to my heart.
I'm proud I do it and I love the fact I do it.
I also think mummies who don't breastfeed are amazing too.
I do not like the stigma attached to mums who don't breastfeed as being bad or lazy and making those women feel like failures in some way.
I also do not like the way mums are judged for simply feeding their children in public. When you think all the sights you experience every day how can something so natural be deemed so disgusting?
Years ago the thought of breastfeeding seemed a strange idea to me I admit. Ew a baby sucking on your breasts? Ew. No thank you very much.
This from the girl who always said "er babies come out all covered in gunk when I have a baby I want it cleaned up before they hand it to me"!!
Cut to 9th May 2016 when my beautiful daughter entered this world at 10:10pm and changed our lives forever. And yes she was handed to me immediately and she was beautiful and I kissed her and cuddled her as close as I could. After she was then checked and we'd had 1 hour of skin to skin (thank you Queens Hospital labour ward staff. No the hospital is not all bad as people claim and they were amazing to us!) she was placed on my chest and she latched on immediately.
If I didn't feel amazing already for having got through hours and hours of labour and birth (if not extremely exhausted and in pain!) that sensation of feeding my child was astonishing - I felt so pleased she did it and I felt great I'd been able to do it.
Once I was pregnant this time round I said about half way through my pregnancy I wanted to try and breastfeed, but that I wasn't going to put myself under pressure. If I could great, if I couldn't no big deal.
I was lucky no midwives or NHS staff made me feel I had to breastfeed either - I know a lot of woke unfortunately get forced or guilt tripped into it.
So when the time came I was chilled out about it and yes I've had a successful time.
Well, don't get me wrong there were slight struggles. Such as she fed around midnight when born and then when the midwives came round about 7/730am to check how she was feeding and asked when she was last fed and went a bit crazy that she's not fed since. Yes I was a new tired mum and a bit clueless and had heard the next day midwives come round and show you what to do and as I'd sat up all night holding my newborn child and she'd seemed okay I thought all was well!
I then had to keep a chart and monitor when she fed and when she needed her nappy changed etc. And lo and behold once I knew what I was meant to be doing I fed my baby and our breastfeeding went well.
I tried to let her tell me when she wanted a feed - hand in mouth, turning her head to my chest etc and after a few weeks or less we'd established a 3 hourly feeding routine.
I think my whole being relaxed about whether I can breastfeed or not has helped keep me chilled out and successful in my feeding. Also my type of birth meant breastfeeding could be started naturally.
I've had a few hiccups along the way - very minor I must say and luckily for me - I've had to buy lanolin the godsend for breastfeeding mums (although not used much) and I had a bit of soreness early on a couple of times.
I also was very nervous to try expressing in case my baby went off feeding from me. My amazing health visitor as per usual reassured me and assured me when he came to visit when she was 9 weeks old that my feeding was well established and she would come back to me after the bottle and that Daddy should feed her first and to take our time.
Well, what do you know? 3 weeks later and she's accepted bottle and boob and I've even managed a girls boozy night out (oh the guilt and disappointment though at having to throw those 17oz of ruined milk away!) and I've even attempted to give her the bottle too (whilst covered in a muslin to try mask my scent and hide my boobs haha).
I've also fed in public, I've got a handy little cover to hide my modesty and am comfortable feeding when out.
I choose to cover up when out, some Mums don't. I used to feed her in a chair in her nursery now I do it on the sofa or on the side of the bed in the night. I've tried 'dream feeding' (breastfeeding your baby when they are asleep). I know my posture is not great when I feed her now. But you know what? I am comfortable and happy with what works for us and that's what we'll continue doing. And I hope I can continue to feed my baby with my milk until she's 6 months.
Support is so important - my fiancé has been supportive from the very start as have friends and family. I haven't needed to attend breastfeeding groups for advice but I know others who have and and they're great - use them. Get support and help support other Mums.
However as we mark National Breastfeeding Week, I want to salute all the mummies out there - whether you breastfeed, formula feed, express or whatever. Well done you, you're doing what's right for you and your baby. And if you're struggling with breastfeeding - keep at it if you feel you can and get support. If it's not working for you or bubba then stop. Don't feel guilty, do what feels right for you and little one.