Maidwellway Blog

World Breastfeeding Week, A modern mums story is unique

Breastfeeding, each story is as unique as you.

As World Breastfeeding Week 2023 draws to an end, I write my blog reflecting on the unique story of Breastfeeding, and thinking to myself how each mum has their unique story. From the delights of seeing your beautiful baby smile while they feed to the tears of nursing through the cluster feeding phases.
Day 3, my milk has come in! Am sat on the sofa, both breast free, full of my milk. Charlotte won’t feed from me. I try and I try, but for hours she is telling me wants milk, but she will not latch. Every time I bring her close to me, she screams more. Why won’t she feed!!! And that’s it, I break down in floods of tears. My boobs ache, they leak with desperation to feed Charlotte. My heart aches more that she won’t feed from me and my mind panics that our journey is over so quickly. The tears keep coming. This can’t be it, surely not. Can it?
My hubby walks in to find me in what I can only be described as a new mum emotional wreck, a woman on the edge, seeking in desperation for her baby to feed.  To his credit, he was straight on it. He walks into the room and sits next to me. He doesn’t remove Charlotte from me, but consoles me, whilst I try to console her. He reminded me that it was day 3, and my milk has come in and it might be that very change Charlotte can sense in me.  Richard hugs me, wipes my tears, and simply is just present in the moment with me. Instantly, having the love and warmth of someone else calms me.  After I’ve calmed myself he suggested getting the breast pump out…..my heart sinks a bit. He follows up, let's see if we can pump a bit of milk out and let Charlotte taste it, then we can see if she’ll latch.  So we do just that. I pump a small amount, and Richard feeds it to Charlotte….naturally, it was gone in seconds. He hands Charlotte back to me.
She latches instantly!!!  Happiness and joy fill my heart and soul, whilst milk fills Charlotte’s tummy. The tears then return. But, this time it is pure tears of joy. The journey was not over, it had only just begun. 
Fast forward a week, it was time for my first public feed. Now, I’d never thought much about public feeding but clearly, my subconsciousness had. I had purchased one of those cover-ups to wear. As we ate our breakfast in a cute Cleethorpes Cafe and sipped our morning coffee the time arrived. I faffed about with my cover-up and slipped Charlotte underneath to feed. I hated it! I couldn’t see Charlotte, I could watch her, Her view of her world was blocked. Off came the cover-up and never went back on.   As I sat sipping my coffee, watching Charlotte enjoy her own breakfast I felt so empowered. I felt amazing and I didn’t care what the rest of the world thought or felt about my choices as a mother. And so it went on and on.
I would walk down the high street feeding Charlotte. I feed her in the park, I feed her whilst I had lunch and I would feed her when I got my nails done and I would feed her whilst we lie in bed on a winter's night.  What I had come to learn about feeding Charlotte, is that whatever I did someone was going to look and someone was going to judge. Whatever I chose to share with the world, someone was going to say something or think something that I just didn’t agree with.  I was not in control of others, their feelings, or their actions. But, I was and I am in control of myself, my feelings, and my actions. I choose to don’t hide my breastfeeding choices. I chose to sit in public spaces, I chose to share pictures on social media and I still choose to advocate, support and encourage mums who want to try breastfeeding to give it a go. 
I quickly found myself joining a local breastfeeding support group. It was a small group of new mums and mums who were well-established in their breastfeeding journey. I found the mixture of characters to not be quite for me. I think in my head I had visions of a group of empowering women coming together to change the world. It just wasn’t that kind of group, and the visions Id had in my head around creating some lifelong new mum friends just never happened. I was clearly on a different page. I can remember talking to a mum about combi feeding, and how having that as an option was something I loved when thinking about things longer terms and having to one day go back to work.  This went down like a lead balloon!  Don’t get me wrong, there was some greatly received support, but there also was some not-so-greatly received pressure to do as they do. They meant well, but for me, I needed a more holistic approach to sustaining my breastfeeding journey. 
As time progressed Richard returned to working away. I was home alone, and our wonderful Nanny B stepped in to do Nanny duties twice a week for a few hours. I got a few hours to myself a week, and Charlotte got to spend some quality time with her beautiful Nanny…who she now has the most amazing bond.  After some discussions, we opted at about 4 months to introduce formula on occasion to ease the pressure of pumping and feeding upon myself. It became a good balance for our little family. I breastfeed when Charlotte was with me, I’d pump when I could and we had formula to use when we wanted to.  This for me became a great balance.  It took some of the pressure I’d placed upon myself away, whilst giving me and our family flexibility.  It was a scary move, as I’d be overloaded with horror stories from both support groups and the health visitor about Charlotte getting confused, and turning down breastmilk. None of them came true for us, Charlotte continued to grow and be loved by everyone.  
Over the coming months, our Breastfeeding journey phased out for a number of reasons, but I am so glad I did try and am so glad for the time we spent together nurturing each other. I may not have breastfed for years, but one thing is for sure. I gave it my all. I really mean that. I didn’t know when Charlotte was born what I was capable of, but I knew I wanted to give everything my best. Not only for Charlotte but for me. If anything was not going to work out, it was not going to be for my lack of effort or interest in trying something out.  A principle that has stuck with me when it comes to living the mum life. 
Over time, being surrounded by beautiful, intelligent, inspiring, empowering women, who are also amazing mums rubs off on you. You being to see and understand that your role in life is not to appease the world, it is not to conform to standards in society set by people who do not live your life, but, it is to simply live your life in a manner that makes you happy. Whatever your choices the world will look at you, it will judge, and it may even tell you what it thinks. But, you can’t control that…you can control how that makes you feel, and the impact those feelings have upon you. Even when you don’t know it, you are in control of what you listen to and you choose how that affects you.  I get that it is easier said than done to brush aside comments and glances, but it really is your choice what you choose to see, listen to, and be affected by. 
This to me relates so much to Breastfeeding and many mums' experiences.  So many mums feel and see the pressure of the rest of the world in their breastfeeding journey. This pressure and the feelings it creates, add to what is already an overwhelming time in our lives. We get drowned in the sea of voices that aren’t important to us or our families. We feel scrutinised by the eyes of those who wear a different lens to us.
From one mum to another, I can’t tell you that there is any wrong way or right way to enjoy and embrace your own breastfeeding journey. What I can tell you, is that if you want to try, give it a go. Don’t let the fear of the world stop you from trying something new. The world will always have its view of what you do, but is that really important to you? If the answer is no, then stop letting something that is not important to you influence your thoughts and feelings. Think about how amazing you are going to feel trying something new. How amazing you will feel when you look back on your achievements. How amazing you will feel being able to share your own stories that will empower another person. How amazing you will feel that you trusted yourself, and all you can do. 
Think about how amazing your heart will feel sitting on the sofa talking to your 6-year-old about how much you both loved such a special time together in those early months, the time you became their mum and they became the most beautiful treasured soul your heart never knew it needed or wanted to join your world. 
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