Thursday, 21 April 2011

My breastfeeding story

I have been meaning to write about this for a long time now and Maundy Thursday seems to be a good time.

I stopped breastfeeding around the time when Little A was three weeks old. I stopped because I had had enough. I was at the end of my tether and I was not in a good place because of the breastfeeding. I had infections in both my breasts with a accompanying high temperature and because A wasn't nursing for more than 10 minutes at a time he didn't get enough food and my breasts were never emptied. The whole thing was very painful and I was more much focused on my breasts than on A and that wasn't fair. I dreaded when he was getting hungry again because at first it was really painful and then he would fall asleep and not finish the job and I would be left with breasts that got stimulated but not emptied.

I made the decision to stop together with my husband and he was very much in favour of the bottle because he could get more involved in that way. My reason to stop was that I felt that I had given enough of my body to A. I experienced my pregnancy as quite hard, even though there wasn't any complications and you would probably say that is was an easy one. However, for me it was at times very hard to have him growing inside of me. It was of course a great effort to get him out, although the birth was a very positive experience and after the pregnancy and the birth it was like I was done caring for him with my body. I wanted to care for him in all other ways but to keep giving him my body was too exhausting and draining for me. Also, when I was pregnant I was very concerned with that I was the one that was soley responsible for him. I was the one who could tell if he was moving as he used to and it was up to me to let people know if I thought that he wasn't all right. I felt it was a huge responsibility that I didn't want. When he was out of my body, I felt a great relief as I was not the only one who could take of him. If I was hit by a car it would not necessarily affect him (physically).

When I think of what I have could have done differently, I come up with many things. First of all I could have done some more research about breastfeeding. I had read next to nothing about it, which wasn't the case with pregnancy and birth. The reason I didn't research the topic more, was because I was scared that there wasn't going to be a baby. I can be very pessimistic sometimes and I was not convinced that we would come home with a baby. According to my logic, I didn't want a lot of knowledge of breastfeeding lying around in my head, if I wasn't going to use it. More information would have calmed me and would probably meant that the infections didn't get as bad as they did.

Secondly, I would have had an electrical breast pump already at home and used it to empty my breasts when A wasn't able to.

Thirdly, I would have gotten somebody to help me and my husband for, say the first three weeks after birth with all the practical stuff. It was chaos and people tell you to relax about the cooking and cleaning, but you bloody well need to eat don't you? That was a major stress factor for both of us.

People have asked me if I would breastfeed if we had another baby. I probably would have a go, being a lot wiser now, but having said that I am so happy with the bottle that I probably would want to do both.

Luckily I haven't had any bad reactions to not breastfeeding although people take it for granted. I have had lots of mums sort of telling me in secret that they would rather not breastfeed. I don't know why they keep doing it as they do actually have a choice.

With regards to what is the healthiest for the baby, I think the jury is out on that one. There are lots of research telling us how good it is, but I have also heard that research being questioned and that the benefits currently being associated with breastfeeding are actually due to other factors, such a social background, educational background etc. which affects the way one take care of a baby.

At the end of the day, we don't know and they are advantages and disadvantages with everything. There are so many decisions to be made when you're a parent and the best way to know what to do is to listen to yourself and be true to yourself.
I am very grateful that I had the possiblity to give him something else than breast milk and I took advantage of that possibility. I am definitely a better mum not breastfeeding as I feel more centred and more true to myself now. Things could have gone differently but I didn't have the calm to keep trying and I don't regret it one bit. I did what I was able to do at the time.

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