Happy World Breastfeeding Week 2013! How are you finding it so far? Have you seen much promotion for it and read something new that will help you on your breastfeeding journey? I hope so, because there’s so much wonderful advice out there if you’re looking for help or trying to gather information. At the end of this post, you’ll find a selection of blogposts I’ve written myself about my own breastfeeding journey with my son. It was a wonderful 14 months and I look back on it fondly but it wasn’t without its bumps in the road and dark, long nights which we all have as parents, no matter how we choose to feed our babies. Continue reading What’s wrong with this picture?
It’s nearly three weeks since myself and Pip finished breastfeeding. It’s been an odd few weeks I must say. I suppose I’ve been taken aback by the level of change because it’s something I never thought to plan for. I didn’t really consider what the implications of no longer breastfeeding would be or how I would feel about it.
The biggest surprise has been to my poor boobs who didn’t know whether they were coming or going. Even though we had slowly cut down the feeds in the preceding weeks to ease Pip in to the idea of stopping and to manage my milk supply, my boobs panicked at the end and went all comicbook superhero on me. I spent two whole weeks in a medium level of discomfort with my trusty breast pads making a reappearance in my daily wardrobe. I can only imagine the patchy horrors my colleagues were saved from without their steely protection. There were a few tricky days there where I would watch my cleavage grow as the day went on and seriously wondered if I might take someone’s eye out in a meeting. I also had to perform a number of very sexy manual expressions in the disabled toilets which isn’t the best for morale.
Every day I was massaging in the shower to try and alleviate the fullness. This was way more uncomfortable and very much less salacious than it sounds because they were quite lumpy and sensitive to the touch. I really had to work out those little knots to avoid blocked ducts. It felt like such a waste watching all that milk disappear!
The discomfort and engorgement went on long enough for me to get concerned until a timely post by Jill at Properfud suggested the lactation-reducing properties of sage and a lovely link through Kellymom which pointed out that it takes one to three weeks for breast discomfort to alleviate after weaning. The Internet saves the day again. Maybe it was a coincidence in the timing but two days of a few cups of sage tea seemed to do the trick nicely although I made many, many trips to the loo in that time! It was almost as if my body was peeing away any excess fluid from my body.
Emotionally it has been tough but not as tough as I thought it would be. I do have to admit a moment of desperate weakness where the best laid plans nearly came undone while I was staying with my sister for a few days. Pip was having a very unsettled night and after being awake and upset for well over an hour no matter how I tried to comfort him, I was seconds away from offering to feed him when my sister knocked on the bedroom door to see if she could help. If she hadn’t, I’m not sure what I’d be telling you now because I was this close…he wasn’t looking for it, mind but in my tiredness and helplessness it was my fall-back method of soothing him. He fell asleep about five minutes later.
Now that we’re not nursing any more, in one sense I feel like I have lost a superpower. Breastfeeding was so much more than a way of nourishing my baby. It was his sleep aid, his comforter when he was upset or hurt himself, his medicine when he was sick and an emotional support when he needed it. To have that disappear takes some getting used to. My husband even commented that he felt its loss. He also feels that we have a level parenting playing field now, be that both a good and bad thing. Pip has been doing great though. He’s in flying form and as I mentioned before we’ve been doing lots of cuddling. He’s also just grasped the concept of kissing which is great fun. Lots of mwahs going on!
It’s been nearly two years since my body has been my own, where it’s been working just for me. I ask myself now if I feel liberated in some way, which I thought I would, but I think it’s probably too early to tell. I was never resentful of being pregnant or breastfeeding but some days it did get on top of me or I felt I was giving too much of my sense of self, if that makes sense?
I haven’t been out on the absolute batter yet although I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon! (Not worth it anymore I think, at least at the moment. Is this an Irish thing? Do other mothers think about getting terribly drunk when they stop breastfeeding?) I am enjoying wearing clothes that don’t button down at the front and the odd turtleneck. I’ve also had to root out my old pre-pregnancy bras because during the two days of sage tea, my boobs literally deflated and my nursing bras had swathes of access material flapping around.
It’s nice to be back in my perky, delicate bras but tell you what, boy did I have an overinflated idea of what my pre-pregnancy cleavage was. What a MASSIVE disappointment. My husband must be raging 🙂 No more boobs HD, just regular 34C boobs. No biggy.
Watch this space for how my ass reacts. I need to keep reminding myself that I’m 500 calories down a day. By the way my hand keeps ramming the tasty snacks into my gob, my stomach clearly hasn’t realised. Some self-discipline is definitely on the cards…tomorrow maybe…
You may have noticed that I’ve made my old TMI post a permanent page up on the menu bar. This detailed post on my lumpy breasts etc prompted me to stick it up there! I thought I should forewarn new readers. You love all the gory detail really, don’t you? That’s why you’re here 😉
Today is the last day of World Breastfeeding Week for another year. I thought I’d top off my trilogy of breastfeeding posts for the week by looking at perspectives of breastfeeding in public. When I say perspectives, I’m specifically talking about sitting on one side of the fence as a woman who has yet to breastfeed a baby and what that looks like and then hurtling over that fence to sit and see the view from the other side as a mother who, above all else, has to feed her hungry baby who doesn’t necessarily know whether he’s in public or not.
Before Baby S came along, I always thought that I would breastfeed. I can’t really put my finger on why because I wasn’t breastfed myself nor had any exposure to breastfeeding growing up. The first real interaction I had with a breastfeeding woman was when a friend of mine had her first baby and when she fed him in my company, whether it be in the comfort of our respective homes or out and about, I was always super keen to be seen to be supportive. I wasn’t 100% sure how to do this and maybe in hindsight I should have asked her but in my mind I was actively concentrating on treating it as perfectly normal, carrying on the conversation or doing whatever it was that we were doing. The one bit that used to throw me was where to look: should I be making eye contact with her and not look at the nursing baby? Or should I move between the two? Or should I have been looking at her breasts to acknowledge the nursing going on? The things we tie ourselves up in knots about when we’re aiming for political correctness! From the other side of the fence now, I wouldn’t even notice this careful positioning of the eyes of my companions.
When it came to my first “public nursing”, myself and a new friend also with a tiny two week old decided we’d provide moral support to each other and headed to the local coffee shop to try it out. Nobody paid a blind bit of attention to us and we were only delighted with ourselves. Although in fairness, we live in a part of Dublin which I might go as far as saying could be the, if not one of the, breastfeeding capitals of Ireland, so we were not an unusual sight by any stretch.
After that initial success, myself and Baby S found ourselves out and about quite a lot and very quickly my concern about other people’s reaction to my breastfeeding dissipated when it became obvious that the needs of the screaming, starving baby – who literally went from nought to ravenous in seconds – seriously outweighed my concern to be mindful of passersby and I now think there isn’t a man, woman or child in the whole of Dublin who hasn’t seen my breasts at this stage. There is nothing like the sound of an insistent hysterical infant to focus your attention and block out all else around you.
I’m an old hat at it at this stage and I couldn’t care less where, when or how I feed. Not that Baby S gives me much choice any more as he has become adept at launching himself at me across a room and nuzzling his head between my breasts! Only on one or two occasions have I felt uncomfortable but I think I might have been picking up on a vibe from people around me. I’ve often wondered how I would react if anyone passed a comment to me and I was always poised with my speech about my legal rights and threatening an establishment with a hefty fine, but the opportunity never arose :). I know this comfort with public nursing isn’t something that everyone experiences and some woman prefer not to do it at all. Each to their own, I say but for me, it was pretty, pretty handy.
What have your experiences been as an observer or a nurser?
Have I mentioned before that I love breasts? My friends will happily tell you that I’m obsessed with other women’s cleavage. Seriously, they’re so beautiful. I was a healthy and disinterested 34A until I hit my mid-20s and then suddenly out of nowhere I got myself some curves and grew a pair of generous 34C’s and they were magnificant! They gave me great pleasure by virtue of just being. Pert, voluminous, firm, globe-like and yet so soft to the touch. They were such a novelty and I was very appreciative. I do love a good pair 🙂
I think breasts are one feature of women’s bodies that they really know well. We know what they look like, we know what they feel like, we know how to dress them up and dress them down. We know how we feel about them. You know now how I feel about mine but as another example, a colleague recently told me that she can’t stand the thoughts of anyone touching her breasts and she was pretty sure too. She’s happily married and the mother of three strapping boys.
The really interesting thing for me about my breasts is I never knew what they were capable of when I was busy admiring them. Yes, as a part of your body they are a beautiful thing to look at and touch but oh my do they come into their own when mother nature calls them up to the front line. It’s like they’ve been sitting there patiently waiting for their potential to be unleashed. Boobs HD.
I didn’t suffer from breast tenderness in my early pregnancy. Or maybe I did but I was too busy puking to notice. It wasn’t until I was about three or four months in when my breasts started to change: growing literally like water balloons with royal blue veins appearing and spidering under the surface of my skin. But the biggest change, and surprise really, was in the few days after my baby was born and my milk started to come in. Suddenly my breasts had a scale of textures. Whereas up until that point in my life they always felt the same, now as they filled with milk they could feel literally rock hard and when the baby finished a particularly long feed, they could feel like a flabby belly and there were many levels of texture in between. I remember when my sister came to visit not long after Baby S was born, I burst open my shirt and said “Look! Feel my boob!”. She looked at me like I had two heads :). I was mesmerised – and I still am – by how something that had been the same for so long had now sprung to life so to speak, to fulfil their true destiny.
Breasts are amazing. Women’s bodies are amazing. Men must be so jealous of us really. We are amazing.