I thought I would share my breastfeeding journey in honour of World Breastfeeding Week (1stAug - 7thAug). This is not a how-to. I have no advice. I am not a professional…..just a mum of three. But if this helps just one mum feel seen or comforted, that they are not alone, that what you dream and hope for is not always your reality, then I have achieved my goal.
Let’s start by saying that some time back, the mention of ‘World Breastfeeding Week’ would have been immensely triggering for me. It would have stirred up feelings of anger and failing as a woman and as a mother, but time has helped me see it all in a very different light.
I once saw my attempt to breastfeed my eldest child as a failure. I went into the journey entirely optimistic. If all these other people can do it, then so can I. It was portrayed as such a natural, almost instinctual action that, of course, I would nail, but that was not my reality. I did very little research. I had no professional support and would start crying at the thought of attempting my next feed due to pain and a complete sense of failure. I ‘gave up’ within a few weeks, which felt like a complete relief at the time, but I carried a sense of failure deep down for years.
We had a big gap between our first child and our twins, almost 7 years. This gave me a lot of time to heal, but even during my pregnancy with the twins, I put off thinking about breastfeeding. I knew deep down that I wanted to, that it was something that I truly wanted to try again. I wanted the connection I had seen other mothers have with their children whilst breastfeeding. I knew about the health benefits, but I had failed before, and I was now pregnant with twins.
Towards the end of my pregnancy with the twins, I remember my obstetrician asking me what my plans were around breastfeeding. I shared my concerns with her, and she suggested that I speak with a breastfeeding consultant and gave me the number of one she worked with. I called her straight away. I knew that I needed to be armed with all the knowledge and support I could get if I was going to make this work.
The consultant was excellent, so informative and also realistic. She suggested that a one-off consult was probably not enough, especially considering my past and the fact that I was pregnant with twins. By this stage, I had also been lucky enough to secure the help of Sheree from Postnatal Care Co as my night nanny and breastfeeding expert.
Even with all the help I enlisted, it was hard. It wasn’t the long enjoyable breastfeeding journey I had imagined, but it was successful for me. I could predominantly breastfeed one twin and provide as much expressed milk as possible for the other. As I finished my breastfeeding journey after a few months, I felt content and happy that I had done my best, and I think that is all we can do as mothers- our best!
We all know the health benefits of breastmilk, and many mothers experience a completely different breastfeeding journey than I. Incredible, connected, and often enjoyable breastfeeding journeys, but for the women whose reality is different, know that you are not alone. You have done your best, and you are enough.