(excuse my legs, I did not get around to putting on some tan!)
My daughter is 10 months now and I breastfed her for 9 and a half months, until one day I lost my supply due to restarting work. When this happened, I felt a big sense of regret and sadness that my breastfeeding career had come to an end. But at the same time, I was excited and relieved.
Breastfeeding was not easy for me. The first few days after she was born was the hardest days of my life. My nipples were sore, cracked and it bled. The pain was excruciating every time she latched on. As a first time mum, I was obsessed with ‘getting it right’ so I persevered and one day, it stopped hurting and breastfeeding wasn’t so bad anymore.
Looking back now, I realised that I hated breastfeeding. I was so consumed with being the only one who could feed her, that I continued despite hating every second of it. Way to waste those precious newborn moments of my daughter’s life! Then the questions started pounding in my head: How do I know I’ve fed her enough? How long do I wait in-between feeds? How do I know whether or not that’s a hunger cry?
I couldn’t answer any of these questions, so, whenever she cried, I would offer her my breast first. This worked for a little while, and our newborn became an angel. She didn’t cry much; friends and family labelled her as an ‘easy baby’. Offering the breast became our first go to whenever she cried. This meant that no one could look after her, except me. My social life, my mental state and my love life, took a hit. It became a huge problem, when she turned 6 months and was waking up every 1 to 2 hours expecting to be breastfed back to sleep. Yes, my sleep took a big hit as well.
“my role as a mother wasn’t and isn’t
defined by how I choose to feed her”
When I restarted work, I didn’t express and my supply halted. At first, I was guilty and sad as I wasn’t able to have that ‘bond’ with my daughter that so many mothers often talk about. But as the bottle grew on my daughter, so did my freedom. I slowly got my life back, I was able to do normal things like shave my legs, go to the toilet and go wash my hair.
I feel that breastfeeding has somehow become a qualification for being a good – or even decent – mother. At my prenatal appointments, I was made to feel inadequate if I chose to formula feed as it wasn’t ‘natural’. Breastfeeding, especially in the first few months, prevented me from fully enjoying motherhood, often second guessing whether my milk supply was enough for her. It took me a long while before I realised that if I had chose to formula feed, this wouldn’t make me a bad mother. Fortunately for her, and me, my role as a mother wasn’t and isn’t defined by how I choose to feed her and that I do excel in other parts of motherhood.
Keep an eye out for future posts on my top products I used for breastfeeding, my review on the best breast pump machine and my tips on how to travel with a baby!