Before my first baby was born, if I'm honest the thought of breastfeeding didn't really appeal to me - even though I prefer a natural / organic/ free from artificial sweeteners/ slightly modern hippy lifestyle etc. As soon as my little man was born - it was a very difficult birth - I knew that breastfeeding was what I wanted to do and it just felt like the right choice for him and our situation.
I breastfed both my children until they were 18months old. I often get people telling me how lucky I am and I smile politely and thank them while masking my true feelings and the urge to give them a flippin' mouthful!
...You see, luck has nothing to do with it! Like every accomplishment - it's down to lots of hard work and sheer determination! (ridiculous stubbornness) it took NINE weeks to master the art of breastfeeding with my first born, thats 9 weeks of literally blood (cracked nipples), sweat (unknown pains) and tears (frustration and tiredness) - luck had nothing at all to do with it - sitting on the sofa at 3am and almost giving up and having people telling me it would be ok to give up and at least I gave it a try (in their "it's not the winning, it's the taking part" tone of voice) , but with ambition driving (it's all about the winning!) me forwards suddenly it all seemed to click into place and from then on breastfeeding was lovely. ( You can read more about those early weeks here http://emmainbromley.blogspot.co.uk/2009/08/biological-nurturing-cracked-nipples.html?)
My daughter took to breastfeeding instantly but I think a lot of that was down to me knowing exactly what to do from previous experience and her birth was the polar opposite to my little boy's!
I also think that however you chose to feed your baby, breast or formula is equally fine - as long as you are feeding your baby you are doing the right thing. There's no need to feel guilt over this, mothers have enough guilt in their lives without this unnecessary and forced one.
I know breastfeeding can be challenging to get going and I know that at this very tired time in a woman's life it would be forgiving to give up or not even try, But if you want to breast feed, keep in mind that as natural as it is, it's also complicated and hard work to start with so it will take time and hard work, you need to be prepared for that.
I breastfed both my children exclusively to five and a half months when they started to show interest in food and from there we did a combination of baby led weaning and breast feeding until they were 1 years old and then day feeds slowly dropped off to just a night time feed and by 18months the last thing to go was just 1 last night time feed.
My son didn't seen to even notice they had stopped. I had expected a battle from him but there wasn't any! He was such an aggressive feeder - I was always covered in bruises! I was expecting him to try for feeds but he didn't, he just seem to accept that the feeds had finished and was happy with everything else.
My daughter however, 8 months (yep! 8 months!!!) after her last feed she still fights and asks for one at least once a day! It's upsetting because it makes me question if I gave it up to soon, did she still have a need for it? I don't think she really does at 26 months old.
Sometimes when she is trying to help herself to a feed I feel like my body is reacting and I almost feel like my milk is letting down! But after 8 months would I really be producing any sort of milk? Is this purely a comfort thing or a phantom memory both my body and little girl have at various times in the day!
Emma in Bromley xx