Saturday, August 3, 2013

World Breastfeeding Week

This week - as I just discovered on Pinterest of all places - is official World Breastfeeding Week. And being knee-deep in leaking boobs and sore nipples as we speak, I figured it was an interesting topic to touch upon.

I have - and have had since baby no. 1 - an ambivalent relationship with breastfeeding. I KNOW that in terms of both mummy and baby's health, breast is best. I know it is by far the cheaper option. And my God; at 3.30 a.m. I am even more happy about my perseverance to breastfeed, because I get to stay in bed and just latch little L on - as opposed to getting out from my very warm and comfortable duvet and having to tip-toe downstair to heat a bottle.

But trust me, it has not been an easy ride. Not with Nahla, and in no way more so with little L. We are talking blood, sweat and tears. By the bucket-load. Nipple-shields. Every nipple-protection and treatment cream on the market. Ice-packs. Cabbage leaves. Sea-shells (I swear; old wives tale!). With Nahla I had mastites twice - an experience I wouldn't even wish on someone I really can't stand, that's how sore it was.

After Nahla finished breastfeeding at about 8 months; I must admit I breathed a sigh of relief. And all through my pregnancy this time I kept having internal debates on whether I would do it all again. Because much as I in a way loved the intimacy and cuddle-time; it really did not come as easy for me as it seem to do for some. But then a newborn Luca as put on my chest. All naked and new and vulnerable. And suddenly that mother-instinct of wanting to provide your baby with the best, healthiest and most amazing food there is kicked in. Food that is tailor-made for just your baby. Full of vitamins and good fat and anti-bodies and everything a newborn needs. And just like that I found myself back there again. Tears and bloody nipples and breast-pads.

And here we are, nearly 9 weeks down the line. The first 6 were - in terms of feeding - horrific. I cried my way through feeds. I worried and fretted and struggled. And have had to do what I also did all the way with Nahla: Give bottles alongside my boobs. Which is fine. It makes life a little easier. It means Luca is still getting my breastmilk, he is just being topped up with formula when I don't have enough myself. It means I stress less and it gives my clearly overly sensitive boobs a little rest. And now I find myself enjoying our feeds. I love the nearness of it all. The skin on skin. In fact; I find myself looking down on his little face and trying to force myself to remember these moments. Which I know I tried to with Nahla too.

My point is: Try breastfeeding. Don't give up when you can't get it right to begin with. It will hurt. But it does get better. Ask for help - and don't delay doing so. Carve out time for feeds - because breastfeeding is time-consuming. Delegate the house-work and other chores for the first few weeks or even months. Try to remember why you are doing it. Know the immense favor you are doing your baby. Don't be afraid to sneak in a bottle of two for feeds throughout the day - it is not a defeat, it is simply being clever. And most importantly: Don't beat yourself up if you can't get it right and find yourself unable to breastfeed. Babies grow up all over the world on formula - and they are perfectly fine and healthy and great. A mum who is relaxed and confident and happy is the most important thing you can do for your baby, far more important than whether their milk comes from a boob or a bottle.

Here's to healthy happy babies and healthy happy mums!

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