Archive for the ‘breastfeeding’ Category

13 Things I never expected before I was a Mum…

 

1. I never expected that I would ever breastfeed on the toilet.

2. I never expected that some mornings, my baby would eat his breakfast in his highchair, in the bathroom while I have a shower.

3. I didn’t expect that I could make such a wide variety of noises with my mouth- all to amuse a little boy who likes to laugh at his Mum.

4. I never expected that it could be so wonderful to be woken with an open mouth, closed eyes, dribbly kiss first thing in the morning.

5. I didn’t expect to take half an hour to collect the mail from the mail box, stopping to wave to the mailman, the cars driving past, the neighbours….

6. I didn’t expect that each time we arrived home we would greet the ornamental green metal frog like a long lost friend, including kissing and hugging it.

7. Little did I know that I would value breastfeeding so much that I would express milk to provide for a friend’s young baby and another friend’s sick Mother. What a blessing these breasts have been.

8. Who knew that planning a 1st birthday party could be so fun?

9. I didn’t expect that the first time my little boy got gastro would be on his first plane trip.

10. I never expected to spend a plane trip covered in my son’s vomit but still chatting to the lovely woman next to me. (And I’d like to take the chance to thank her for being so understanding)

11. I didn’t expect that I would become so passionate about parenting.

12. I didn’t realise that my husband could be such a wonderful Father and that I could be so proud of him.

13. I didn’t realise that I could ever feel such love for my family. Thank you.

 

 

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Doing it for myself

It’s World Breastfeeding Week and we are celebrating at Fusion Parenting. Thank you for celebrating with us!

 

It’s a comment designed to hurt, embarrass and shame. It’s a comment that is both ignorant and absurd. It’s a comment that also seems fairly ubiquitous – I’ve seen it on blogs, forums, newspaper columns, magazines and from the mouths of people who should really know better, like health professionals. It’s a comment that is aimed at mothers who breastfeed their children beyond the age that ‘society’ has decreed as the ‘norm’ – here in Australia, that’s somewhere around the 12 month mark:

“You’re just doing it for yourself”

What this comment essentially means is that women who breastfeed beyond the age of 12 months are doing it to ‘meet their own needs’ and not the needs of their babies. The implication here, of course, is that there is absolutely no benefit for the child in being breastfed past their first birthday, because apparently everything that’s fantastic about breast milk suddenly dries up the moment they turn one. Now I’ve got a few problems with this comment, apart from the fact that it’s just plain ludicrous. The first and most obvious problem is that they’ve got the age all wrong. We all know, or should know by now, that babies should be breastfed until at least the age of two and longer if desired by mother and child. Leaving that clanger aside, the next problem I have is that it seems as if it’s outrageous to consider that a baby’s needs and their mother’s needs might actually be one and the same – my child has a need to feel safe, secure, comforted and nurtured; as a mother, I have a need to provide safety, security, comfort and nurture to my child. How preposterous to think that both of our needs could be met through the simple act of breastfeeding!

Then the other problem with this statement is that it also sneakily implies that there shouldn’t be any benefits for the breastfeeding mother. That breastfeeding should only be done to meet a child’s needs and mothers aren’t supposed to get anything out of it for themselves. But any breastfeeding mama will tell you that there’s plenty of perks to be had and there are. Lots, in fact. And why should it be any other way? Breastfeeding can be exhausting, demanding and relentless, especially in the first few weeks – the most critical weeks – so, biologically-speaking, it makes sense that it’s a win-win situation for both mother and baby (like more sleep, for example).

At first I used to get annoyed when I heard the ‘doing it for yourself’ comment. Then, I decided that actually it’s quite true (well at least it’s half-true) – I am doing it for myself. I’ve got a 20 month old daughter. We breastfeed together about half a dozen times a day. It’s a beautiful part of our day and we both love it. And I’m really proud of the fact that we have this fantastic breastfeeding relationship and I’m really pleased that I get a few kickbacks for persevering thus far. Basically it makes my life so much easier…so, I’m doing it for myself…

I’m doing it for myself because I don’t want to be getting up at night tending to a sick child – sick with gastro, ear infections, colds, coughs, skin problems, allergies, asthma and whatever else commonly ails a young child. I’m also doing it for myself because I don’t want to be paying for medications or trips to the doctor. My daughter has been sick twice in her life. I happen to think that that’s pretty good going for a child under two. Of course I choose to believe (and the research would back me up here) that the fact that she’s breastfeeding is a key factor here – especially given the fact that she’s inherited less-than-perfect genes from her parents but is yet to show signs of any of our afflictions (including asthma, eczema and allergies). The first time my daughter was sick, she had a pretty yucky cough and cold that lasted a couple of weeks. Because her nose was clogged up it was hard for her to breathe and therefore get to sleep and stay asleep. And less sleep for her invariably meant less sleep for me, making my life so much more difficult. Not to mention my misery in seeing her suffering and miserable. So I am doing it for myself after all.

I’m doing it for myself because I genuinely enjoy the fact that my daughter feels comforted and soothed at the breast. No, she doesn’t run to mummy for ‘milkies’ every time she falls over and bumps her knee, but I know that if she’s ever in real distress, a soothing breastfeed will calm her down and comfort her. And I love that and I’ll continue to offer her the opportunity of comfort at the breast as long as it works for her. So, yep, I’m doing it for myself.

I’m also doing it for myself because it means I get to stress less over how much she eats. If on some days all she’s had are a few crackers and bites of an apple, I know that our breastfeeds get her over the line – they quench her thirst, satisfy her hunger and provide everything that she needs, all in one neat little package. Plus it’s cheaper than food anyway! So, again, I’m definitely doing it for myself.

I’m also doing it for myself because when my daughter is really tired she still falls asleep on the breast instantly, so it takes me 5 minutes to put her to sleep rather than up to an hour. Definitely doing it for myself on that one!

So next time I hear anyone berate a breastfeeding woman for ‘doing it for herself’, instead of getting cranky, I’m going to remember that breastfeeding is supposed to come with plenty of perks for both mother and baby and I’m certainly going to make the most of them while I can!

Breastfeeding Week- an open letter of thanks

It’s World Breastfeeding Week and we are celebrating at Fusion Parenting.  Come back for a new post on breastfeeding every day!

 

In this, my first Breastfeeding Week since becoming a breastfeeding Mum, I would like to express my thanks to a group of women and men who helped me through the biggest emergency of my life. So below is an open letter to my friends at the Australian Breastfeeding Association…

After a beautiful 27 hour labour my little boy was an absolute natural at breastfeeding. Within minutes he had made his way up my tummy and had latched on for his first warm, milky feed. Before he was born I looked as breastfeeding as something that he and I would learn to do together, but after this, I knew that he would be the one teaching me what to do.

Our first few weeks together flew by with no problems with attachment, supply, nipple soreness….by this time I had attended my first ABA meeting and was an avid ‘lurker’ on the ABA forum. I was very proud of the job I was doing- even with my son’s love of comfort sucking, for many, many hours of the day. My husband and I saw this as a great way to catch up on some favourite tv series- with a fantastic excuse.

But when my son was just ten weeks old I was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma. Further investigation was required to see if ‘it’ had spread. The tests came back…the cancer was metastatic- it had spread to my lymph nodes and liver. I needed to have a number of major surgeries, and right now! By now, the ‘statistics’ predicted that I wouldn’t see my little boys first birthday. I didn’t know whether I would be there to hold his hand for his first day of school, or even be there to catch him as he took his first step. But there was something I could do- I could give him the best start to life that I possibly could.

And so began my journey with cancer. And with expressing. My first stop was the forum. I logged on and tearfully asked if anyone could help me teach my baby to drink from a bottle. An unlikely source of information about bottle feeding, but I didn’t know who else to ask…and these women seemed to have so much information- and compassion.

This proved to be a defining moment in my breastfeeding journey. Not only did these women provide me with the tips and hints I needed to express, bottle feed and return to breastfeeding but they gave me inspiration, motivation and strength. They didn’t just share information- every message came with love, prayers, and positive stories. Every message gave me hope- something that no doctors could.

My wonderful husband knew that focusing on breastfeeding was giving me hope and purpose and he did everything he could to support me. After my operations he was there with the electric pump, at times having to physically hold it up to my chest so I could express the milk out, ridding my body of anaesthetic so I could get back to feeding my baby. And then he would bring my beautiful baby to the hospital and without fail, Toby would latch on, just as easily as he had that very first night when he was born.

The surgeries performed managed to rid me of all the cancer and since then I have become a ‘regular’ at my local ABA meeting. I am also proudly ‘addicted’ to the ABA forum and consider the women there as friends. These are women who have seen me bare my soul, even though we may have passed each other on the street without even knowing.

I have blessed to meet some of the ‘angels’ from the ABA forum- the girls who gave me the gift of encouragement, to keep feeding my baby and to fight for my life.

Emergencies In Breastfeeding

It’s World Breastfeeding Week and we are celebrating at Fusion Parenting.  Come back for a new post on breastfeeding every day!

 

It’s World Breastfeeding Week. You may have noticed, particularly if you read parenting blogs or websites often. This year’s theme is “Breastfeeding in Emergencies”.

Being serious for a moment, breastfeeding is critical to the survival of babies in emergency situations. Breastfeeding is a complete source of nutrition for babies; it doesn’t require clean water or bottle washing facilities; it’s free, it’s always available – access to enough or appropriate infant formula is a serious issue in emergency service provision. The World Health Organisation says,

“Children are among the most vulnerable groups during emergencies, and small children are the most vulnerable of all, due to the combined risk of deat due to diarrhoea, pneumonia, and undernutrition… The best way of preventing malnutrition and mortality among infants and young children in emergencies or otherwise, is to ensure that they start breastfeeding within one hour of birth, breastfeed exclusively (with no food or liquid other than breastmilk, not even water) until six months of age and continue breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods up to two years or beyond. Even in emergency situations, the aim should be to create and sustain an environment that encourages frequent breastfeeding for children up to two years of age or beyond.”

You can read more of the statement here.

On a less serious note, though, the idea of ‘breastfeeding in emergencies’ naturally brought me to thinking about ’emergencies in breastfeeding’. Because I’m like that, you know.

Breastfeeding is one of those things. It’s like changing nappies. Well, it isn’t – it’s very different, because breastfeeding is about yummy stuff going into a baby rather than yucky stuff coming out of a baby. But nappies and poo are an endless source of amusement and “oops!” stories that parents laugh about together. We’re all in the club – we all know about it, and it’s pretty darn funny. Similarly, breastfeeding has some amusing moments too, and it comes with its own set of ’emergencies’ that you just don’t know about until you get there.

New mothers tend to be sleep deprived. It goes with the territory. It makes it hard to remember which boob you’re up to, if you’re making sure to swap sides regularly. But forgetting to switch sides didn’t worry me so much as forgetting to do up my bra again after feeding. I went into McDonald’s once, where I was served by a teenage boy. He had an odd expression on his face, and seemed a little uncomfortable. I didn’t think much about it – adolescence and feeling awkward are basically flatmates who don’t really like each other much but can’t move out on their own for a few years. It wasn’t until I returned to the car, and noticed that my right breast was hanging a good two inches lower than the other, that I realised one side of my bra was still unhooked.

Random leakages can be amusing, too. If you’re someone who leaks milk all the time, I think you get used to it – you wear bra pads all the time and make sure you always have some on hand. But I rarely leaked at all, so it was always quite a surprise when it happened. Possibly my favourite episode was the one where my landlord dropped by unannounced, and I answered the door wearing a singlet and clutching the baby. About halfway through the conversation I realised my front was very cold: the breeze was blowing gently across two great wet patches on my singlet. I shifted the position of my baby, using him like a shield, all the while acutely aware that the wet patch was spreading. I couldn’t end the conversation and get back inside fast enough!

Even at home though, the sudden leakage can be an emergency situation. Baby on one breast, hand clapped over the other in a hurry, all the while calling out, “get me a cloth nappy! NOW!” to whoever is within earshot. Because of course you can’t get up and get it yourself – even if you are at the stage where you’ve mastered getting up and carrying the baby around while feeding him (this skill is a prerequisite for eating regularly, I discovered), you’re still faced with being hands-less, as your ‘free’ hand is busy stanching the flow from your offside.

Needing to pee is a breastfeeding emergency, if, like I did, you have a baby who likes to feed for very, very long periods of time. Unlatching a baby mid-feed is never a happy solution; but after an hour or two of leg crossing and uncrossing, sometimes you’ve just got to go. I knew that motherhood would teach me many skills I didn’t have before, but going to the toilet with a baby latched on is not one I’d envisaged learning prior to motherhood. For the record, I can undo and do up my jeans one handed while feeding an insistent baby. Maybe I should put that on my resumé.

The unexpected spray of milk is always a winner. Around four months of age, my son did what many babies do – he got very interested in the world around him, and consequently if we were out in public, he’d pull off the breast constantly to look around him. It’s hard to know exactly what to do when your baby pops off the breast, and a great arc of milk sprays across the table and over the chair opposite. Do you try to wipe it off, thereby drawing attention to the fact that you’ve spray painted your surroundings with milk? Do you pretend it never happened, and keep talking in the hopes that your café companions will treat it like a fart – best left unacknowledged?

I was faced with an interesting conundrum recently. I was away from my son, actually in an emergency department of a hospital with a friend. I got to the point where I needed to express some milk for comfort, and there really weren’t too many options to hand express privately. It was not so much that finding privacy was difficult – it’s that I needed to catch the milk somewhere. I was unprepared for this, being that I don’t normally express milk… the only option I could come up with was to hand express into the bathroom sink. Seemed like a reasonable enough option, until I discovered that the bathroom was a unisex facility.

Now in theory at least, I see nothing wrong with hand expressing milk into a bathroom sink, whoever might walk in. But let’s be honest. Even given that breastfeeding is perfectly normal, no matter where you are; and even given that expressing milk needs to be treated the same way, because it’s something you do when you can’t breastfeed; if a strange man walked in on me while I had my breast hanging out over the sink, and I was manually milking great squirts out of it, aiming for the plughole… I’d feel a bit odd. I think he’d feel pretty odd about it, too, and that’s putting it very mildly.

Now I object in principle to expressing in toilets. It’s food, after all, and we don’t make sandwiches in the loo. (Well, I don’t: if you do, please let me know so I can avoid ever having lunch at your house). But in order to express some milk privately – and remember I wasn’t keeping this milk, I just needed to get rid of it for comfort – the toilet was my only option. In fact, I needed to express the milk into the toilet.

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to do this. It’s really rather difficult. The angle is all wrong, for a start. The height is really very awkward, and I was faced with all sorts of uncomfortable options – leaning over forward, basically bent in half; kneeling on the floor (and I could just imagine the reaction of anyone who entered the bathroom and saw my feet sticking out under the stall door); and sitting down anywhere just wasn’t an option.

I’m not really sure how I managed it, in the end. I think I crouched down halfway: I know I went for speed rather than accuracy.

I’m sure I have more stories, and probably funnier stories too. But tell me yours – when have you had breastfeeding ’emergencies’? When have you thought to yourself, “I never expected to be doing this – what on earth do I do now?”

Are our positive breastfeeding stories feeding the guilt?

Celebrate World Breastfeeding Week with Fusion Parenting!

 

I am fairly confident that some, if not most of you will know what I mean.

Whether it’s a news item, online news article or mainstream parenting forum post about one’s positive experience of breastfeeding, there is the barrage of insults from some women flinging mud at any breastfeeding success stories. There are cries of guilt, of indignity, of anger. How dare we rub salt into the wounds of women who couldn’t breastfeed? How dare we mention the normalcy of feeding a human infant human milk? Breastmilk as the biological norm? I would think any person could grasp the legitimacy of that. Afterall, how long has the human race survived because of the female production of breastmilk to provide essential nourishment to our young? Why else are we blessed with these beautiful and womanly vessels on our chest that contain mammary glands with milk-producing potential?

But you can’t say that in the mainstream without reprimand or disclaimer. Why is that so? What do we have to be ashamed about? Why can’t we shout from the rooftops our love of something, the amazingness of it, the feelings associated with it, the complete normalcy of it.

*long pause*…….oh….that is right. To say such things would imply that the opposite must hold true then, right? If breastmilk is the biological norm, then babies who are bottlefed must be somehow abnormal? If you mention that breastfeeding for a year lowers your likelihood of breast cancer, those women who didn’t breastfeed will get breast cancer right? And surely all those formula-fed kids must be destined to a life of obesity because in all likelihood, breastfeeding lowers the incidence of childhood obesity?? Every non-breastfed baby must be riddled with gastro-intestinal illnesses, because you guessed it, breastfed babies are less likely to have GI illnesses.

NO! NO! NO! It does not mean that at all! Every quote, every statistic, is so often taken personally- misconstrued and reconstructed as a personal affront- an insult to the integrity of the mothers who couldn’t, or didn’t. But…..you are most definitely welcome to mention the wonders of the bottle. Oh, the myriad benefits to both mother and father! Dad gets to bond with the baby! Mum gets more sleep! She is not beholden to a baby who needs her 24/7! You know what the baby is getting!  Feeding on demand?Who would let a baby dictate when they were fed?

And if you do breastfeed, you have permission to speak loudly of the difficulties. It makes you human right, to admit a bit of defeat? A rough patch? A hurdle you managed to overcome? It makes you easier to like, to relate to somehow because you did the hard yards and battled through and got to the other side. That is the stuff of back-patting- cautious back-patting mind you, because be warned- if you then go on to champion the cause, you run the risk of quickly going from acceptable sob-story to self-righteous and smug do-gooder…or even worse, to be called a bully and someone who lacks empathy for those who didn’t make it. You have crossed the invisible line of acceptability, and have now joined that so lovingly named faction-  “the breastfeeding nazi”…..you will be named and shamed, have no doubt. She who dares mention the wonders of breastmilk risks a fireball of collective outrage cast forth in her direction. You can only speak of such things in whispered tones amongst those “in the club”….you know, all the smug do-gooders that got lucky, whose breasts managed to work properly, who had the luxury of leisure time, lazing around on the couch with a baby on boob watching midday t.v………..

aaaah breastfeeding- its a very emotive act isn’t it? I guess anything to do with parenting is really. And you can never please all people all of the time! My only aim has ever been to ensure the health and happiness of my children. Most of us do what we feel is best for our kids. I don’t care how anyone else feeds their baby- but I am passionate about breastfeeding advocacy and education. So how do I reconcile those things without giving the appearance of smugness? I empathise totally with the struggles of other women when it comes to breastfeeding. I too have been there with my second son. 6 weeks of tears and uncertainty, it was a steep learning curve for both of us. But one thing I was always sure of was this- I would fight tooth and nail to breastfeed him- and there was no external influence on that decision- it was mine and mine only. Heck, I had an army of doubters trailing me all the way. “Helpful” friends who’d never breastfed a day in their life, telling me to “just put him on the bottle” “why are you doing this to yourself?” “you’ll be much happier if you stop”……umm no, I don’t think I would. I want to do this. If I didn’t want to, I would not be persisting through all this ill-conceived and unwanted advice- and there was plenty of that!

But thankfully too there was plenty of support where I needed it most- from my husband. I also sought expert advice where I knew I could find it- a lactation consultant at the local child health clinic, and the midwife who saw me throughout my pregnancy. They held my hand through those tears, showed me time and time again how to latch him on correctly. Explained the ins-and-outs of breastfeeding. How I appreciated all their help. I recall the very moment I put him to the breast, and bracing myself for the pain, all I felt was the let-down. He suckled contentedly, I leant back against my pillow and the weight of the world flowed out from my breasts…..success at last- how sweet it felt!  I couldn’t wait for the next feed- would we do this easily again? Yep- we sure did! I wanted to shout from the rooftops and run down the street shrieking like a woman gone mad “we did it!! breastfeeding is easy now!!!” yet somehow managed to restrain myself. But does any of this make me extra-special as a mother, better than the women who went through hell with the pain and could not go on? No, of course it doesn’t! I am no martyr. I just did what I chose to do, and thankfully I succeeded. 

But fast-forward to my experience with feeding my 3rd child, my daughter, and I am silenced by some fairly harsh critics. We had no trouble from the start. It was always easy. No painful letdown, no pain at all. No trouble with latch, no supply dramas, no confusion….just milky bliss from the first breastfeed, to today- where at 22 months, we are still going strong, and will continue for as long as it works for both of us. What is so wrong with saying that, publicly, with some pride attached?

I confess to finding it a bit puzzling as to why people find their personal choices or circumstances when it comes to parenting- or anything else in life really-so hard to bear when it comes to other peoples success….sure, everyone loves the underdog- I get that. But what about those who got where they are because they sought out information, armed themselves with education, and surrounded themselves with loads of support? Should they not be recognised, applauded and embraced for their proactive approach?

The same thing happens with birth…but hey, thats a whole other blog!

There have been quite a few articles recently, reporting on the “myths of breastfeeding”…and the cries of “yay, finally we are validated!” ring loudly in my ears. Take that breastfeeding brigade- strike one! Well, I have to say we have had numerous strikes against us well before this- breastfeeding rates are appallingly low in Australia at 4 months….there is still discrimination against breastfeeding women feeding in public, and try feeding a toddler or older child- you must be some weird hippie or part of some cult, or even worse, a deviant mother. And we are a minority group, without financial backing or corporate support. All we have is the health system backing us (and often inadequately), and the wonderful advocacy provided by volunteer organisations like the Australian Breastfeeding Association.

So what is the point of all this you might ask? In an ideal world I wish for mothers to support each other through the minefield of parenthood…we all have one common denominator- a love of our children, and their best interests at heart. Why do we need this great divide over one small aspect of our mothering- how we feed our babies? If you didn’t want to breastfeed, bottle feed with pride! If you tried and couldn’t and feel sad about it, I hope you get loads of  hugs and support to deal with those feelings so you can bottlefeed your baby without guilt or sadness. 

But please, please, please do not deny me the ability to profess the absolute joy I have at breastfeeding my daughter. It is mine and hers, a time of total connectedness and quiet appreciation of each other. And I will shout it from the rooftops if I so desire. All I ask for is mutual respect.

Breastfeeding – Prepared for LIFE!

It’s World Breastfeeding Week and we are celebrating at Fusion Parenting.  Come back for a new post on breastfeeding every day!

Welcome to the Carnival of Breastfeeding readers.  I hope you enjoy this piece, there are further links to other carnival posts at the bottom.

 

There’s so much that could be said on this topic.  It could be interpreted as preparing the baby by giving them a healthy start in life.  In spite of what some commentators are trying to say, breastfeeding is healthier, and it is important.  And don’t even think that all this is just something those poor plebs in the third world need to worry about – note that one of those references looks specifically at developed nations. 

It could be interpreted as preparing the baby for the rest of their life by looking at the long term benefits, you know the decreased risk for later obesity, diabetes, some cancers and increases in intelligence.  (A variety of references can be found here.)

Then there are they psychological benefits, the bonding and close relationship with their mother, which prepares the whole family for the turbulent toddler years.  Breastfeeding may be protective for child abuse  and abandonment.

Or the fact that breastfeeding decreases the risk of SIDS , which is definitely preparing a baby for life.

And there are all the ways it helps the mother, which keeps her in the best condition and prepared to look after her baby, including reducing her risk of breast cancer, osteoporosis and the (surprising?) fact that exclusively breastfeeding means both parents get more sleep

And then of course there are all the tiny little things that happen normally and naturally, because breastfeeding is the normal way to feed a baby.  So it does the whole developmental job it is designed for, not just feeding, and prepares the baby’s jaw for talking, gives the mother’s body a break before the next pregnancy, gives the baby the sleep needed for development, allows the baby to experience a wide range of tastes and prepare for family foods, and generally gets the baby ready for the rest of this adventure called life.

Like I said at the beginning, there is so much that could be said on this topic, and I’m sure it will be admirably said by the other contributors to the carnival.  What I want to talk about is Breastfeeding – Prepared for LIFE!  A life that is as big and as bold and as exciting as I can make it.  Because isn’t that how life is supposed to be?  I don’t want a boring life, a mundane life, a routine of an existence.  Sometimes that’s what I get, but it’s not the life I plan and prepare for, and it’s not the life I plan and prepare for my children. 

Because I breastfeed I can be spontaneous, just grab the keys and the change bag and off we go.

Because I breastfeed it doesn’t matter if we’re stuck in the waiting room or a queue for a couple of hours, I’m completely portable.

Because I breastfeed we can camp on whatever beaten track we like, it comes sterile and pre-warmed.

Because I breastfeed I can have dinner with friends and spend the night chatting over philosophy and a nice glass of red, a sated baby cuddled in my lap. 

Because I breastfeed I fit into those ridiculously small airplane seats for a long haul flight, it doesn’t have to be made up and mixed.

Because I breastfeed I don’t worry about the quality of water at my destination.

Because I breastfeed I can live in a cyclone and flood prone area, serene in the knowledge that when the trucks don’t get through for three weeks my baby will be fine.

Because I breastfeed I can take my one year old to a restaurant, certain there’s something on the menu that will appeal to her.

Because I breastfeed I can go to a concert or show, we’re experts at attaching quickly and quietly in the dark.

In other words, because I breastfeed we are prepared for living.  Babyhood is not something to be hidden, scheduled, confined.  It is an introduction to the whole wonderful world, a celebration to be shared, something that allows adults to step back and rediscover life as their children experience it for the first time.  Through breastfeeding we are prepared for life, prepared to begin the new journey with our children in the same way we intend to go on.

 

Other Carnival of Breastfeeding posts:

Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog: Breastfeeding in Emergencies
Hobo Mama: Prepared for Life: Breastfeeding in local and global crises
Zen Mommy: How breastfeeding has shaped my toddler’s view of breasts
Pure Mothers: Marketing away real milk
Chronicles of a Nursing Mom: Tips for consistent & long-term breastfeeding success
Cave Mother: Three moments that make me thankful I breastfeed
Breastfeeding 1-2-3: Breastfeeding as a lifesaver in emergencies

Mothering without Breastfeeding

It’s World Breastfeeding Week and we are celebrating at Fusion Parenting.  Come back for a new post on breastfeeding every day!

 

This post is really a bit of a ramble brought on by World Breastfeeding Week. It’s come at a time when my breastfeeding relationship with my daughter is drawing to a close, and caused me to stop and reflect on what breastfeeding means to me.

I’m about to lose the biggest tool in my parenting toolbox. Actually, it’s more like the magic wand in my box of magic tricks. For the past 2 years, I have used breastfeeding to solve just about every problem my daughter has had.

I used it to help put my daughter (and myself!) to sleep, and back to sleep for all night wakings.

I’ve used it to calm her down when she was having a tantrum.

I’ve used it as a nutritional filler on days when her solid intake was poor.

I’ve used it to make her forget the pain when she was hurt.

I’ve used it to keep her quiet during events/shows.

I’ve even used it to keep her in one place when it was unsafe for her to run around.

Before I became a mother, I never thought too much about how I would feed my baby. I always assumed that I would breastfeed. After all, that’s how my mum fed me, and her mum fed her, and her mum fed her all the way back until Eve. It was also important to me that I feed any child of mine for at least 2 years, as per Qur’anic guidelines.

What I didn’t know though is that breastfeeding, like everything else that is important in life, needs work. It took a bit (or a lot) of effort in the early daze to establish our breastfeeding relationship, and then I was able to sit back and experience the joy of watching my child thrive on my milk.

This was largely due to a great family support network, the Australian Breastfeeding Association, and my own determination to succeed. I vividly remember the many calls, emails and home visits I made to various Breastfeeding Counsellors and Lactation Consultants.

I also didn’t realise how much more there is to breastfeeding than just milk. And how it would become an essential part of how I view myself as a mother.

Weaning is naturally the next step on the road to independance for all breastfed babies, the only thing that varies is the time of completing the transition. For us, it started with her first taste of pureed apple at the age of 6 months.

And now that she’s almost 2, we’ve begun actively weaning. Setting limits is something I’ve been trying to do with her in other areas for a while now, and it seems strange to exclude breastfeeding from that. We’re both mostly happy with the flexible arrangement we have, and I’m trying to make the transition as easy as possible for both of us, regardless of how long the process may take.

Which means I need to find other ways to meet her emotional, nutritional, and physical needs. If she’s hurt, it’s going to take me a lot longer to comfort her and help her forget. I’ll have to pay far more attention to her diet and try to ensure it’s as balanced and healthy as possible. I’ll also have to be more careful about making water available for her to drink. And hardest of all, I’m going to have to find another way of getting her to sleep!

But that’s life, I guess. And as we both move slowly into the next chapter of our relationship,  I know that I’ve given her the best possible start to life.

No regrets.