Jasper’s Breastfeeding Story
This is a long breastfeeding journey – and I’ll start at the very beginning. Jasper was born by c-section Story HERE and while it had been a long and challenging labour and we were separated for an hour after he was born, when he was handed to me, and after a few minutes I asked if I was “allowed” to feed him, as though I needed permission, with a bit of juggling and awkwardness I managed to attach and feed me little man the first time without any real trouble. My mum was there and my memory was foggy, but I’m sure she made some suggestions about how to hold him. She told me that i was doing it right. Jasper who’d been awake all of his first hour of life after a little feed fell asleep in my arms.
We were discharged from hospital a couple of days later, and he was feeding beautifully every 2 hours. When the midwife came out to see us 3 days later he’d managed to gain 400 grams in 3 days. I’d had a little bit of a crack on one nipple, my mum went and brought some Lanisoh nipple cream and the relief was instant.
A few days after that I started having intense burning pain in my nipples; and breasts every time Jasper latched, it was agony, I remember gripping the couch and toes curling for each latch. I’m grateful my mum was still staying with us at the point, because of my c-section, I still wasn’t up for going to the shops myself so mum went and told the pharmacist what I was experiencing, she came home with Daktarin anti-fungal gel as it sounded like I had thrush in my breasts. I had NO IDEA that could even happen and within a couple of days the searing pain was gone.
When Jasper was a few weeks old I woke up feeling sick, I’d been feeding him – 2 hourly, around the clock, but this was another kind of tiredness. I didn’t feel like I could move out of bed and my left breast, armpit and right down my side ached. I dragged myself out of bed and had a look at my breast and seen a red patch, about the size of a baby’s hand, had appeared on my breast. I hauled myself off to the doctor, who took one look at me and my breast and told me I had mastitis, she gave me a prescription for antibiotics. I said I wanted to wait and see, but she urged me to take them. It had only come up that day so I wanted to try to clear the infection myself, by feeding frequently from that side, gently hand expressing, warm showers and gently massaging the patch while feeding. Within a few days I felt heaps better and I didn’t have to take the antibiotics. (I would have if I’d gotten even slightly worse, but I prefer to leave them as a last resort)
All those hurdles behind us we faced a new challenged. After a couple of months family members started to suggest we formula feed. Asking when was I going to start giving him “normal milk” ( NORMAL milk meaning formula) Around 6 months old, as in older aged people, friends and family members started asking me “When will you wean him?” To the point between 6-12 months I was becoming very private about breastfeeding, because it wasn’t something I felt was acceptable to *still* be doing. On his first birthday the boyfriend of a friend who’d come to Jasper’s party asked me if I was still breastfeeding, and when I said I was, he told me I HAD to wean because it’s not right to feed beyond a year old.
This crap kept going. At 18 months a friend asked when I was going to wean, and I said I’ll probably feed until maybe 2.5 years – her response was “oh don’t say that!” like I’d said something truly awful or even depressing, as though WEANING is a greater achievement in parenting than breastfeeding.
Around 2 years I had noticed in general people stopped commenting. I became more confident, and less likely to just passively accept rudeness. I guess anyone who’d been pressuring me to stop breastfeeding in those early days had probably given up! No hope now! A few people asked if I would “ever” wean him, and while I never said it, I did think what an odd question – of course I’ll never wean him, it’ll just be a bit tricky when he leaves home I might have express breast milk and drop it off to him! Though I did unfortunately get a bit of mastitis again and when I went to the doctors the ignorant and rude doctor laughed in shock that I was still breastfeeding a 2 year old and openly expressed her surprise and confusion as to why I would still be breastfeeding him. I didn’t go back to that doctor.
When he was 2.5 we became pregnant with our daughter, which started a new question from well-meaning friends and relatives. “Is it SAFE for the baby?” One family member expressing her concern so forcefully, demanding that I stop breastfeeding immediately, I ended up having to shout at her off my back about the subject.
A few times towards the middle of my pregnancy a few people friends and family, told me I HAD to wean him before the baby came, one saying “You don’t want to be breastfeeding him when he’s 6.” (He wasn’t even 3 by then! Bit of a jump to 6!)
On our own, in our own time, we stopped breastfeeding around 38 months, and I was 7 months pregnant.
The bizarre thing about all that was at no time, except for when I decided it was time to wean, did it ever seem not right TO ME to be breastfeeding him. It felt natural, normal and comfortable. It wasn’t so much that I’d set out to breastfeed until 3 years, I’d planned to feed for 6 months and then see where we went from there. It wasn’t with any strong feelings about the benefits of breastfeeding a toddler, it was more just I didn’t see the sense in stopping breastfeeding when I was happy to feed him, and he wanted to be fed, to then do what? Give him the expressed breast milk of a totally different species when I was making my own.
Mind blowing all these people judging me for giving my human child human milk when they’d have thought nothing of an ADULT drinking cow expressed breast milk.
Funnily enough it was the friends I have made since having Jasper and complete strangers that were the most supportive. I breast fed my son in public until he was 2 (even very occasionally until he was 3) and was complimented for the good job I was doing.
I loved breastfeeding, and as bitter sweet as weaning him was, even at 3, it actually helped me knowing that in a couple of short months after I stopped breastfeeding him, I started feeding his newborn baby sister, Katelyn.