Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Black and white

My contribution to Tara’s Gallery this week. It's late as I spent the day travelling to Maryland!

I am ready to write this post. I don’t want to cause a debate so I will tell you now, it’s about breastfeeding. Or not breastfeeding, more to the point.

This photo was taken during a ‘good’ feed. One of the feeds which made me think “oh, THIS is how it should be, this is what it means to truly feed my baby”… rest assured, the rest of the feeds that day would have been hell and stopping breastfeeding was one of the most traumatic things I’ve ever done.

Let me rewind :)

I was definitely going to breastfeed, in the same way that I was definitely going to have a home birth and I was definitely going to use reusable nappies and I was definitely NEVER going to let my child eat their dinner and watch TV… I DO still use reusable nappies!

A combination of a 10lb 8oz baby, big boobs, flat nipples, poor latch, lack of support (I live in Scotland and my family are in England plus T was born 6 days before Christmas and the midwives were short-staffed due to a sickness bug), mastitis and constant feeding, meant that my breastfeeding days were over when T was only 12 days old. I was sensible enough to realise that feeling resentful every time this tiny creature with gnashing jaws came anywhere near me was probably not healthy and with much soul searching and self-flagellation, I stopped.

You would think that was the end of it but I felt guilty for months. All around me people were breastfeeding their babies, people were struggling and getting through it, others had babies with perfect latches who couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t do it. Labour? I would do labour again in a second, but breastfeeding? Not a chance! I questioned myself. Had I done the right thing? Maybe if I had just tried a bit harder…

As part of my doula training I had to look back on my own birth and breastfeeding experiences. I had a great birth experience, not a textbook ‘perfect’ birth, but a positive empowering experience. If only I could get over this breastfeeding thing. When T was almost a year old I went on a breastfeeding course and spent a day surrounded by women who could breastfeed, had breastfed and who felt that everyone should be able to breastfeed. We spent time talking through how you do it, what difficulties you may come across and how you can support women who are having issues. I came home from that day and cried. Not because I had done any wrong, because I finally realised that I’d done nothing wrong. I had looked for help, I tried different things, I tried to express milk, I tried supplementing and in the end, it didn’t work for me. My baby was happy and healthy and, most importantly, we did and still do share a bond.

Looking back, I understand that I was never judged by anyone except myself, and I have learnt to realise that the best-laid plans all go to pot in this world of parenting :) I also realised that the world of breast versus fomula is not always black and white!


  1. Two beautiful and perfectly natural pictures!

  2. What a fab post! I was lucky enough to be able to breast feed Burton u til he was 9 moths (by which time he weaned himself off!) but I know that had I not had thecsupport of my OH's mum I may have given up. It is hard and I couldn't get himmto latch on properly for a couple of days. Shechelped me a LOT and I am so grateful to her. Like you said, you tried and you were your only critic!
    Great post and two lovely photos x

  3. What a brilliant post!

    Similar story to my short lived career as a breast feeding Mum. All that matters is that they are happy and healthy, the rest, well that;s out of our control!

    Both those pictures are gorgeous!

  4. Good for you for doing what was best for you and T, even though it was not what you had planned or hoped for. And I'm even happier that your mind is now at rest... These are lovely photos.

  5. Thanks for sharing your story so honestly. In a way I almost feel guilty commenting as I did breastfeed successfully for a long time (and am still breastfeeding my second baby) but I think the further I get from the baby days, the more I realise that breastfeeding is one small part of a much bigger picture. When I'm feeding the baby now and I ask my toddler whether he remembers having milk and whether he'd like some, he screws up his face and says "no, my a big boy, my just like food". But our bond still gets stronger every day. You're right that these things are anything but black and white and I'm glad you feel more at peace with it now.


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