By Michaela Butler
"Look away if a woman feeding her child makes you uncomfortable. It’s not the first time this has happened for me or any mother feeding actually, but this isn’t for you, this is for me. This is for every mother that currently is, has done, will do, longs to, can’t or chooses to feed her baby alternatively. Fed is best and you do what works for you and your baby.
For me, I have been fortunate to breastfeed all my babies. What a beautiful and nurturing experience to have done so. Being able to give them liquid gold my body created just for them. That in itself is truely amazing, I created milk for my baby! Milk that changed as baby grew and needed, first colostrum then to milk. When I was sick or my babies were sick my body new that…. That communication was made between babies salvia and my breast. How crazy is that. My milk changed it’s antibodies, constant and even it’s a colour.
With feeding there was a special bond only between the two of us each time. I have able to feed on cue as needed. As they would say whip it out. And that I did. First time round I fed in public with a cover. The fear of being seen or judged… but as time passed I developed a who cares attitude that they don’t have to look. This is normal, this is natural.
Each time I breastfed I did so with more confidence and knowledge. I have breastfed in shops walking and feeding while I shopped. I have fed on public transport, at the beach, at sporting events, in a parked car, in another country during winter, and I have fed at work with an incredibly supportive company. They say breastfeeding is convenient, you save money… and yes that it is true. But what they don’t tell you is that it is hard! In all honesty, no one’s tells you the toll it takes on you. I’m not going to sugar coat it, and this is not to tell you to forget about it I won’t bother. It’s so you have the facts. During your pregnancy you will hear constantly breast is best, fast forward to when you have the baby and your expected to instantly know what to do...
They pass you your baby, and you’re wrapped in the bubble of emotions and joy. As the clock ticks by, suggestions are made that you should start to feed your baby. Bring them to your chest, nose to nipple and chin to breast. For something so natural, it doesn’t come naturally. Each time I fed for the first time with a new child, it was a new learning experience. It’s not picking up where you left off last time. Each child takes to the breast differently. Even so with things like tongue ties and more. But you kind of work it out and start to think you have the hang of it. Then comes constant feeding and navigating a postpartum recovery whatever that may entail. Milk coming in and engorging your breasts. Cracked and bleeding nipples. Fatigue from being up all night. Finding some relief during the day to then dread the afternoon coming upon you knowing that nighttime is on its way again. You worry about milk supply and is your baby getting sufficient milk. Isolation as you feel alone, although not always physically, but that no one actually knows how you are feeling at that present time. Please know that your not alone. I have been there, us mothers all have. Those long nights, where you cry after giving your everything, still feeling inadequate, that the everything you are giving is still not enough. You are enough and your journey will soon be easier. You will find your way, push through those tears you so easily shed. You will come out the other side stronger. Find your supportive people. Oh my, that sure makes a world of difference. Be nice to them, they feel low and useless themselves knowing they can’t help you more, besides those encouraging words, fetching the late night snacks, nappy changes and rocking the baby so you can get a hour more sleep before feeding is beckoned once again.
Educate yourself, do your research and be prepared. There will be times you feel like giving up, please don’t feel like you have to. You stop when your ready or when baby is. All my babies found their end to breastfeeding when we both were ready, and each time it was a different age. You do what works for you and be proud of your efforts whatever length.
You do what works for you and be proud of your efforts whatever length that is…. Because again no one else can determine what that journey looks like to you. So my message is, be bold, be strong and keep on boobin! I don’t know how long I will feed my last, so I’m sure to take photos to share knowing I’m proud that iv been able to accomplish something so beautiful and amazing. To those yet to experience this journey, I don’t share this to scare you away, I’m sharing so you know what to prepare for. It’s so worth it, the good outweighs the bad, but you have to be prepared to learn and push through to get there. You too can do this and be amazing. So here’s to World Breastfeeding Week!"