Being pregnant with my first child wondering if I would ever be able to breastfeed successfully and managing to breastfeed my little girl for 6 months (along with some formula feeds) was an incredible achievement for me. Although I did struggle tremendously with breastfeeding my first baby.
My 2nd baby, a gorgeous little boy, is now 8 months and I am still breastfeeding. He was breastfed exclusively until nearly 6 months old when he started on solids.
With my first baby there was so much fear and uncertainty around the breastfeeding – was she getting enough milk? OMW is she really staying alive only from my boobs? Due to not knowing much about breastfeeding I started topping up her feeds with formula because I was too worried she wasn’t getting enough to eat. I have since learnt that was a big mistake and the main reason why she became a bottle baby by 6 months old.
I have found my experience feeding my little boy incredibly different and quite an amazing journey, although also intensely frustrating and tiring at times.
So what wonderful things have I learnt along the way? One of the best things is that I am free to feed my baby wherever I like whenever he is hungry! I always hid with my daughter. I’d shut myself in a bathroom or if I couldn’t be completely alone I would cover her head with a blanket and turn my body away from anyone around me like I had something to be ashamed of.
I also started carrying a bottle of formula wherever we went in case I couldn’t breastfeed “privately” in public. I decided to exclusively breastfeed my son for at least 6 months – no formula this time – and it was a great decision. This meant I would have to be with him almost every minute of the day and night and feed him wherever we were. It was not long until I couldn’t be bothered to hide every time he was hungry. The tricky thing is that I am not the most graceful person at the best of times and the more I tried to be discreet the clumsier I became. In the end it was easier and looked better for me just to feed my child without bothering to cover up than it was to fight with a baby, a boob and a blanket.
Another awesome thing I realised is that the bond with my boy is so strong. I can see when he looks at me that I am the centre of his little world. It is amazing to be the person that he always turns to for comfort. It is, however, rather tiring and frustrating being the only person that he wants for comfort and the only person that does all the feeds and putting him to sleep! It is tiring in so many aspects but I just keep reminding myself that this time of him being a baby is so short that I must enjoy every minute. These baby months will be over so soon.
Being mom a second time around is wonderful and so different from being a new mom. With my daughter I never seemed to know what she wanted and I didn’t know anything about breastfeeding or comforting her. I learnt from making mistakes with her and the transition to being mom again was like second nature. If he cried I could tell immediately if he was tired, hungry, overstimulated or just wanted to be held. I could comfort him in seconds. I knew about swaddling (love it), the “shush/pat” method and what position to breastfeed in. It made everything so easy and such a pleasure. We have gotten into such a rhythm that often I just have to start walking towards him and his whole demeanour changes from upset and crying to a relaxed “oh here comes my mommy” look.
At 6 weeks when he went from being a great sleeper to being niggly and waking up constantly I understood it was just that he was going through a growth spurt. I knew that I needed to climb into bed with him and let him lie close to me and feed almost constantly for 2 days.
I also knew that when he fed like that it wasn’t just hunger, it was a way of him making sure I had enough milk for his growing needs. I knew that in just a short time it would be over and my milk supply would be hugely increased and everything back to normal. With my daughter at each growth spurt I panicked and even though I had been told about growth spurts I was sure she was not getting enough milk and gave her a lot of formula too, which I now know just landed up with me not having enough milk for her.
Now I find myself having achieved my goal of wanting to exclusively breastfeed my boy for 6 months and I have an 8 month old that is a “boobie addict” and won’t take the bottle! I now have a new set of problems in that I don’t want to be breastfeeding a walking, talking child, but my boy takes such pleasure in breastfeeding.
With him now teething and not sleeping very well we have plenty of nights (umm ok almost every night) with my 3 yr old in the bed, my hubby and baby boy all packed in like sardines. My baby would be on my boob all night nibbling, chewing and sucking and using me as a dummy. Once again I must remind myself that this time will go very fast and I must just push through the exhaustion and trying times.