An Ode to Breastfeeding

Boobs.  There I said it.  Boobs.  Such a comical word.  A word that conjures up images of a cackling Sid James chasing Barbara Windsor around a hospital where she is, quite obviously, dressed as a nurse, albeit one with more cleavage and leg on display than your average ward sister.

I always found my own boobs a terrible disappointment when compared with those of Ms Windsor and the other, more recent paragons of womanliness that graced the pages of the nation’s less highbrow print media.  How would I ever compare? I wailed, as I failed to fill my bikini to a level I felt would pass as satisfactory to a generation of young men raised on Jordan and Melinda Messenger.

Well, I wish I could go back and hit the sixteen year old me over the head with a copy of Nuts magazine, then rip it up (the magazine, not the head) and tell myself quite firmly that NO ONE CARES if you never make the FHM Top 100 Sexiest Women, because NO ONE CARES.  Boobs-no, I am going to bin that word, BREASTS, to use their more grown-up name, the name you won’t find being giggled by ageing schoolboys in Carry On films, are amazing, not because of how they look, but because they FEED BABIES GODDAMIT.  Like, actually keep them alive.

I was reminded of this the other day when I asked Piglet if he wanted milky-pops and he came running-literally BOUNDING-towards me, with the biggest and happiest smile ever.

I’ll take that over an impressive cleavage any day.

Now I am aware that not everyone has an easy time with breastfeeding.  It hasn’t all been plain sailing for us either.  There have been sore nipples and blocked ducts, unexplained pain and seemingly never-ending worry, but I have still been lucky.  I have been able to continue.  When I look back on those chaotic first days of life with a newborn, I feel I was pretty well informed about most things. I had read all the books, been to every antenatal/hypnobirthing/yoga class going, and soaked up the birth stories of friends and relatives like a sponge. I was Totally Prepared for Everything.

I was also wrong. What I was actually totally prepared for was anything and everything pregnancy and birth-and when I say prepared what I really mean is able to put the NCT class Stages of Childbirth flashcards in the right order. What came afterwards I simply hadn’t considered at all. After all, how could I be sure that there was even a baby in there, and not just a very large and wriggly beachball? It was with this in mind that I sat through an NCT breastfeeding class with a mixture of sceptical awe (NO WAY THAT NEWBORN BABY DID NOT JUST CRAWL TO ITS MOTHER’S BREAST.  It has only just BEEN BORN) and intellectual point-scoring (I WILL get all the answers right to the breastfeeding Frequently Asked Questions, because I KNOW STUFF).

One thing I did learn from the breastfeeding class, however, was that breastfeeding was not as easy as it looked-and it didn’t even look that easy.  For something that was apparently the most natural thing in the world, I was fully prepared to endure cracked nipples and tongue-tied babies, because that was what happened, right?  I knew it was going to be hard. Being the last of my NCT class to give birth, I knew from second hand experience that my nipples were going to hurt, bleed and quite possibly fall off from the sheer trauma and exhaustion of it all. I knew that the baby would struggle to latch on, and that I would probably want to give up within a few traumatic weeks. In the end the baby latched on perfectly from day one, and my nipples were fine (eventually. Thanks lanolin!), but what I was not prepared for was the sheer amount of time I would need to spend perfecting this art. It. Took. Literally. Hours. If only I had bought a Kindle. I could have read the complete works of Shakespeare over the months of hour-long feedings that followed (and still do, eighteen months later), and become an expert on esoteric Shakespearean put-downs. So if anyone is interested in my advice on the matter (anyone?) my advice is buy a Kindle. You won’t regret it. You just might not be able to hold it. It’s a two handed job unfortunately, and you will at some point be sat in Pizza Express being hand-fed pizza by your own mother. It will happen.

And on that note, a word about feeding in public. NO ONE CARES. I wish I had known, while I tentatively fiddled with a bra strap under an enormous feeding cape in those early days, that in Real Life one can whip out a boob in Cafe Nero quite freely without sending the masses running from the building clutching their pearls in disgust and heading straight for the Comments section of the Daily Mail to write about how Britain is going to the dogs. So, new mum feeding discreetly under that muslin and looking around wondering what people are thinking, they are thinking nothing (at least nothing that involves horror, disgust or the Daily Mail). Get those boobs out with pride!

Breastfeeding
Apparently there’s a baby under here somewhere?

Breastfeeding is not the be-all and end-all. It doesn’t determine my worth as a mother, but it is pretty great for someone who once cried because the only bra in her size in M&S was labelled “My First Bra.”

thumbnailsize

Domesticated Momster
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Pink Pear Bear
my petit canard
Midwife and Life
ethannevelyn

24 Comments Add yours

  1. Great post and it gives me hope. The newborn days are rough but I think I’m starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. That photo of you in your cape is priceless, I’ve only done one feeding so far in public and like you said all was fine! Nobody gives a sh**!

    1. Min says:

      It does get easier, I promise! That thought kept me going in the early days, and it really is true. Best of luck!

  2. Love this post and totally agree with you! I fed on my own in public the other day – the first time I’ve done this by myself and although I was shaking with fear I was so glad I did it. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and something that is so hard to master! xx #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      Well done you! It’s funny isn’t it? I used to get so worried about it and would be constantly on my guard thinking people were going to comment. The only comments I have ever had have been positive ones. x

  3. I loved feeding! I fed both of mine for a year and my daughter weaned herself, (which made me sad!), and my son took a little more persuading as I think he would have gone on forever but I decided I really wanted my boobs back and for a break from the relentless-ness of it after 18 months of being pregnant and 2 years of breastfeeding! It was a lovely bonding experience, wonderful if you are lazy and don’t want to get out of bed for a night feed and brilliant if you go out somewhere and want to stay on without having to pop home for supplies. I know there are a lot of people out there that don’t find it easy or possible though. Fab post and thanks for linking up to our first ever #bigpinklink

    1. Min says:

      Thank you for hosting and commenting! Yes I definitely think breastfeeding is a good option for more sleep-Piglet co-sleeps with me so I just have to roll over the feed him. This morning when my alarm went off I was feeding him in my sleep. I might end up never getting him out of my bed, but oh well!

  4. Aw, our journeys sound very alike, though you are 6 months ahead of us. We just received our so-called golden boobies (sorry, breasts!) as my boy turned one Saturday just gone 🙂 Great ode! #KCACOLS

    Nadia – ScandiMummy x

    1. Min says:

      I love the idea of Golden Boobies. I wish we got an actual badge!

  5. Mrs Mum NZ says:

    Yay! I love this post. I am in the same boat and on the same page. Breastfeeding was hard to establish but such a wonderful thing to do. I remember looking at my 5 month old, before he started eating any solids and realising that every cell in his body had been nutritionally fed by me! Every single one. That’s amazing!!! Go body! Go boobs!!! #KCACOLS

    1. Min says:

      It is amazing isn’t it? I had the same feeling about Piglet. It seemed unbelievable really.

  6. Robyn says:

    Love your remark about not being 100% certain you were in fact carrying a baby and not a wriggly beach ball. I had that exact same surreal feeling when I couldn’t believe there was a real live baby in there. In fact, when he arrived a month early I was kind of stunned to see him, I just hadn’t been able to picture him in my head at all. I guess maybe I thought they become ‘babies’ in the last week or two, haha!

    1. Min says:

      I remember the midwife examining me when I went in to be induced saying that she could feel hair on my baby’s head, and I just thought, er. how? There’s an actual person in there, with hair? How can this be? You just can’t imagine it!

  7. Very true, I’ve never had a problem breastfeeding in public, no one bats an eyelid. Thanks for doing a nice positive breastfeeding post! and thanks for linking up to #showandtell

    1. Min says:

      Thanks for hosting and commenting! I think it’s so sad that the media implies that people think breastfeeding in public is somehow weird and unacceptable. In my experience the vast majority of people really couldn’t care less and don’t bat an eyelid.

  8. Great post! Love it. I struggled the second time but the first time was fine so it goes to show it does get easier. Thank you for linking up to #justanotherlinky xx

    1. Min says:

      Thank you for hosting and commenting! x

  9. Great post and one I can totally relate to. I experienced 6 weeks of pure pain and agony followed by 9 absolutely amazing and special months of breastfeeding. Its a tricky time, especially if youre a first time mum, but im hoping the next time will be a lot easier. Probably not any more pain free, but hopefully easier 🙂 Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays. Emily

    1. Min says:

      It is fab when you get through the nightmare early stages, isn’t it? I was lucky that it never got so bad I considered giving up. I know a lot of people have it a lot tougher than I did. Best of luck with the next time!

  10. Maria says:

    You are so right – our breasts are wonderful and amazing! I struggled to breastfeed with both my boys but expressed my milk instead so they could get the “good stuff” lol

    Thank you for linking up to #KCACOLS and I hope to see you back again on sunday x

    1. Min says:

      Wow that must have been difficult. I was too scared to express until Piglet was about six months. I think I had it in my head that it was going to hurt for some reason. Thanks for commenting. xx

  11. Fran says:

    great post. so encouraging. so true and so funny. I love the final sentence. made me giggle. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this and as a mother of 4 who were all breastfed, I definitely got better and smarter at the whole thing. Its a great experience.

    1. Min says:

      Thank you! It is a great experience-so much so that I’m reluctant to let go. Piglet is going to be coming home from university every weekend for his “bitty,’ haha!

  12. I’ve seen YouTube clips (by accident posted on various fb site – I don’t actually go online and look for them) where bf mothers get bullied just because she is bf her baby in public. It is so horrible. I never had to experience that before. I love bf my kids – I bf Ethan until he was 2.3 yrs old (combo with formula) & Evelyn is also still going – also combo… I am at the stage of weaning her off. But I do pride myself when people ask me “Are you still bf your baby?” – Yes, so? Thank you very much for linking up with us again on #FabFridayPost

    1. Min says:

      Yes, it’s terrible, and I’ve also been fortunate to not experience that either. Glad to hear of another “extended” breastfeeder!

Leave a Reply