We have been overwhelmed by the incredible stories from Mama's all over the world sharing their experiences of feeding for World Breastfeeding Week 2020.
As we come to the end of National Breastfeeding Month, we wanted to share these inspiring stories for them to be appreciated all year round, whether you're breastfeeding or getting that 3am bottle ready, you got this Mama! Thank you so much for sharing 🧡
‘Just a big hug to those triggered by this week.
How you feed is your journey.
We all come to feeding with many stories. Our own unique history,
Sometimes breastfeeding is traumatic because of a prior assault.
Because it triggers low mood.
Because it hurts.
Because you just don’t like it.
Because birth was traumatic and your milk supply is low.
Because you have an undiagnosed tongue tie.
How you feed your baby is entirely up to you. What matters is you are supported in that choice, not shamed or coerced or bullied. Not forced to feed in one way or another. You do what feels right for you. What you are able to do in that moment and time. And it’s ok to feel sad and angry if you can’t feed how you wanted or expected to. It’s ok to mourn this. It’s ok to stop because you are just too tired or it’s affecting your mental health. Breast isn’t best for all. Fed baby is best for all. Supported mum is best for all. As women let’s please support other women in their choices. Let’s hear them, respect them, and honor them. Love to all today, breastfeeding, chest feeding, tube feeding, mixed feeding, cup feeding, donor milk feeding. You are amazing one and all.’
Words by @drrebeccamoore
Jem, Mama to Mila (5) & Josh (2):
'It wasn't all smiles like the picture below might suggest, but certainly helped to have my sister by my side. My experience was mixed. Some incredibly joyful moments, especially at the newborn stage (before the face scratching and boob grabbing started) and then some very frustrated ones (as they grew older and it took longer to feed because they were distracted). Having taken to long to conceive and what my body went through for so many years, I felt like it was time to have my body back for me. I started to resent that my body at the beck and call of someone else (even if it was my baby). I felt selfish making the decision to stop because I was doing it for me, not for my baby. Physically I could have continued, there was nothing stopping me; no mastitis, no latching issues, no supply challenges, just me, wanting my body back. And when I accepted that was ok, I stopped.'
Avi, Mama to Jaya (5) & Leela (2):
'I really enjoyed breastfeeding my eldest. She took to it so well and it felt 'easy' at the time... it wasn't until my youngest that I realised exactly how tough and mentally exhausting it could be! Latching with her was excruciatingly painful and had me in tears pretty much all of the time. I was given some advice to count to 10 and if it was still painful after that then to take her off and try to latch again - the longest 10 seconds of pain ever! Then having to get her off just to go through it all again! Through countless nipple shields, balms, and ice packs, the more I tried the harder it felt. I was so lucky to have an incredible support system in my friends, my sisters, and my husband who told me it was ok to stop. It was ok to not go through that pain. It was ok as long as she was fed and healthy. That realise I found when deciding enough was enough made me a better person and a better mother. Because it really was ok.'
Ellie, Mama to Florence (4) & Ottie (2):
'I exclusively breastfed my first daughter for 13 months and she self-weaned with no fuss. I thought it would be easy to wean my second daughter at about a year old too, but she was very attached at bedtime and I ended up feeding her until she was 2, as it was just too traumatic for her to stop any earlier (and for me to see her so upset when it was so simple for me to stop her cries).'
I loved breastfeeding, but exclusively doing it for so long has its downsides. I never really felt that I could leave her at night for too long and she still woke every few hours right up until I stopped and I was the only one who could comfort her. Waiting until she was ready to wean herself made the change so much easier and I knew the time was right. She also now mostly sleeps a full 11 hours a night, which is doing wonders for the eye-bags!'
Emma, Mama to Ben (4) and Zac (2):
'I really wanted to try breastfeeding with both my kids- partly because I wanted to and partly because of the pressure I felt from society. My first child had tongue tie (something I had never heard of until after giving birth). I thought I was doing ok with it until I was told he was losing a lot of weight. I wasn’t doing it properly- I felt I was failing my child even though he was still being fed via the bottle! I decided with my second, it would be different. I still wanted to try which I did however again I didn’t get far, but this time with the support of my husband, family and friends I was able to stop without feeling bad as I knew he was fed and happy and therefore I was happy!'
Chaneen, Mama to Ocean (1) and Jasmine (2):
‘It still amazes me that, although I didn’t even know what breastfeeding was up until I was 36 weeks pregnant - I’m here breastfeeding a 1yo and a 3yo (almost)! Breastfeeding amazes me because something so seemingly simple can provide so much nourishment, comfort (for them - not always for my back lol), and community. As the days unfold and I find tandem feeding a little more difficult, wanting my own space, wanting my own boobs - I will always value what I am able to do for my girls. I’m so so proud of the value and support I give to other mothers too to continue on their own journey.’
Leah, Mama to Alex (4) and Thomas (2):
'Due to a pre-existing medical condition I had always planned on stopping breast feeding at 6 months in order to restart medication. At the time it felt selfish and it proved tricky with my daughter as she was completely resistant to the change.
With my son though, I actually stopped earlier than planned at around 4 months. He would take a bottle so my husband had been able to help out. When he noticed my negative mood creeping in again he convinced me it was ok to stop. I think as new mums we always put what we think is best for our babies first, even if it’s at a detriment to our own health. In reality it’s whatever scenario is best for your family as a whole which is most important.'
Gosia, Mama to Rose (4) & Charlie (18 months):
'I really struggled with my daughter. Had a difficult birth not much immediate “skin to skin” and my daughter didn’t latch on (plus I suffered from one inverted nipple) so I felt that I was forever trying to force-feed her in the first few days. Milk didn’t appear until day 5 at which point I just broke down. I blamed myself. I have these substantial boobs for a reason and as a woman, I should know what to do. I ended up seeking advice from my NCT Breastfeeding Councillor. It was much easier from then on, so much so, I breastfed until my daughter was 16 months and enjoyed it. I started weaning her at 7 months and that didn’t work at that point she just wasn’t interested in any food regardless if it was off the supermarket shelf or homemade. I would just keep trying but also kept failing. She also had reflux so I was forever worrying if it was the food that made her have reflux and how much actually stayed in her stomach. It wasn’t until she was a year old that I felt I was getting anywhere. The demand for breastfeeding however continued at bedtime so I replaced it with cow’s milk which then turned into an addiction. She could go through a pint of milk at night which made her less hungry but also lead to anemia as calcium can prevent iron absorption so I had to than wean her off cow’s milk.
Much different to my son, easier delivery latched on immediately. I introduced him to food at 6 months and he was just keen to eat and experience new foods from then on so his interest in breast milk just faded away naturally around the age of 10 months. He’s 16 months now and still loves food. He demands it about 15 min prior to his regular meal times and if it comes to it he has now successfully located the snack draw!'
Chantelle, Mama to Emilio:
‘Breastfeeding, is something I've always wanted to do but I never knew I would come this far. 16 months in and I think back to the obstacles I faced. The early newborn phase when he was learning to latch and I was trying to find the best positions, the non-stop cluster feeding and feeling like a dairy cow. The pain of that initial latch, the negative comments, and disapproving looks. The blocked milk ducts, thrush, and the biting faze 🤐 and I still haven't figured out the no sleep issue yet.
However I wanted to do it, I have loved it and I've achieved my goals and more. I don't think I would have got this far without the support of my sister, husband, and friends. They routed me on every step of the way, gave me advice, and shared their experiences with me. It's so important to have people that have your back and support your decisions.
So to any mums just starting their breastfeeding journey, you can do it, push through and if you need support then don't be afraid to ask!’
Bunty, Mama to Ophelia (3) & Cressi (1):
'I had always planned to breastfeed if I could, I felt it was a natural thing for me to want to do. As soon as both my girls were born I put them straight on the boob in the hope it would stop me having a second thought, which I think helped me a lot. If it wasn’t for my mum who had a lot of experience with nursing her own and reassuring me, I think it would have been a lot more difficult, especially when the painful blisters came in. Once I got the hang of it and with help from the amazing midwives I found it became much easier, perseverance was good for me. I also pumped to let my partner bottle feed and give me some relief when I became engorged, my favourite pump was Medela.
The harder side to my breastfeeding journey is that I have felt judged and even been told to cover up which was probably the hardest part. Although as time went on I gained more confidence to ignore negativity towards this, especially when I had my second. I did try tandem feeding and absolutely loved it and feel more people should try it because it's not talked about very often, even my health visiter didn’t have any advice for it. I also co-feed with formula and wished I knew that it was okay and not feel pressured into one or the other, this also took the pressure from exclusively breastfeeding. If it could give one advice to a new mum or anyone wanting to breastfeed just do what you feel is good for you don’t let anyone make you feel pressured into doing something you don’t want to do.'
Bridgett, Mama to 4 Life Learners!:
'I can feel our breastfeeding journey coming to an end and ultimately this overall piece of my journey coming to an end. This laborious journey has stretched over a memorious decade. It has been one of the hardest yet deeply bonding experiences between each of my four children and me. I’ve deemed it a critical superpower so I share to encourage others and encourage breastfeeding support. Breastfeeding is one of the most natural things between a mother and child, yet we live in a society where this bond is heavily governed and scrutinized. I’m currently breastfeeding my nearly 2-year-old with no hesitation but that took knowledge and support to get here. Be encouraged ✨'
Alex, Mama to Ava (4), Hugo (3) & baby number 3 (-3 months):
'I still feel quite emotional about breastfeeding, I managed for 4 months with both my children. I needed to combo feed quite early on to keep up with their weight percentiles and eventually, the struggle to maintain my own milk supply was too much. Pumping, in particular, was always torturous! My memories of the first few months with both children are just of worrying about their weight and my supply. They both latched so well so I really felt it was my fault that I couldn’t give them enough. I’m now 6 months pregnant with my third and already feel anxious about the breastfeeding journey ahead. I’d love to be able to breastfeed for longer and ideally exclusively but at the end of the day, I know all that matters is that they are getting the milk they need. I’m very grateful for formula!!'
Connie, Mama to Macie (1):
'A huge part of me wishes I could share my breastfeeding journey with you all. I wish I had beautiful images of Macie feeding with me. I admire all the beautiful images I see of mummy’s online feeding their baby’s wherever it may be. It’s the most natural gorgeous thing between a mother & their child.
But I can’t say I’ve ever experienced it because I never breastfed Macie. I tried but for many reasons breastfeeding just didn’t come naturally to us, Macie was tiny & it was so difficult to manage it as my boobs were probably double her size. Maybe I didn’t get the right support? In all honesty, at that moment I couldn’t find the headspace or strength. I pumped and pumped all the milk I had until it was gone, so she got my milk just not directly from me.
Mirlah, Mama to Ellis (2) and Ottie (1 month):
'I remember those first few times I fed in public I was a nervous wreck. I needed a good ten hands to negotiate the logistics of feeding, supporting his head, adjusting the clothing and not revealing a nipple.
Then there was hoping and praying that you don’t happen to be in the same room as a ****head who seems to have an issue with you feeding your child and wants to banish you to the grotty toilets.
Thankfully that has never happened.
but if it did…
You betcha bottom dollar I’ve prepared a kick-ass speech to knock ’em down a peg!
It took a while for me to feel comfortable but with each feed, I felt more confident. It can still feel daunting if Ellis is having a meltdown or constantly craning his neck to see what’s happening behind him. You feel like everyone is looking at you and your nip slip but honestly they’re not.'
Gemma, Mama to Amelie (5) & Harry (3):
'Both of my babies had a severe tongue tie so I spent the first few days in absolute agony, wondering if this was 'normal'. Once sorted, I absolutely loved feeding them both for about 7 months. Having said that, I was very happy to start wearing normal bras and tops again. It felt nice to get my body back.'