Here ends another World Breastfeeding Week for me. I cannot believe I’m still breastfeeding. I really thought last year was going to be the very last time I celebrated World Breastfeeding Week as a nursing mother.
But I guess that’s the nature of breastfeeding – it doesn’t always go as planned.
In this clip for Medela I said that one of the biggest challenges for myself breastfeeding was people’s attitudes towards breastfeeding – and it’s still something that leaves me scratching my head sometimes. I don’t really understand the need for so much negativity around breastfeeding.
I love the message that breastfeeding is different for everyone, it’s a different experience. People have different challenges with it, different ideas about breastfeeding – and they have different babies! No two babies will feed the same, or need the same.
I so often see online mums saying things like – “I breastfed my babies in public I always used a cover, why can’t other mothers do the same!” They go on to imply that because someone doesn’t feed exactly the same way they did they must be doing it for some ulterior motive (to flash their breasts or some such nonsense)
As though it’s impossible to imagine that someone else’s baby might feed differently to theirs.
And I’ve also seen mothers say that breastfeeding is the most beautiful bonding experience and they cannot understand why anyone wouldn’t want to do it. Again, is it so incomprehensible that someone might have a different experience with breastfeeding?
For myself when I was struggling with anxiety and not bonding with my son, breastfeeding was the only time I felt calm and centred. It was the only time I felt like he was REALLY mine; it was the only time I could completely relax because in my near constant state of panic – when I could feel him latched and feeding I just knew deep in my heart that everything was going to be okay.
But I absolutely understand that breastfeeding can have the complete opposite effect on some mothers.
So as much as it was true for me that breastfeeding helped my mental health, I know it’s not at all helpful to tell other mothers that their experience was wrong
Though I think that mothers absolutely should share their experiences. Whatever it is. Whether it was beautiful and effortless, or whether they hated it and decided to stop. To show that there is a huge range of normal when it comes to breastfeeding.
It’s also why I think sharing breastfeeding photos is important, especially when so many women (including myself) have never seen another woman breastfeeding before they have their first baby. Not all babies like to nurse in the same position, and not all latches look exactly the same. It’s important to see that there is no one correct way to feed your baby – and to get some ideas from other mums if there might be something you haven’t tried that could work for your baby too.
So whatever your breastfeeding journey has been, or whatever it is, know that your story is your own and it doesn’t matter if other people’s breastfeeding journeys were different to you.