Breastfeeding

Midwife: “The world’s your oyster if you breastfeed, you can always stuff them up yer jumper”

Breastfeeding

Portable technology

You might even be able to wander round doing it. I enjoyed both the National Portrait Gallery and David Hockney, like a cavewoman in a centre of culture.

You feed baby, husband feeds you

Inner rebellion against being rooted to a chair, having to be brought sustenance, like an elderly person in a day care centre awaiting the tea trolley.

Risky

Answering the door while breastfeeding. Draining pasta. Drinking tea.

Feed her, feed her

Feed her, feed her, in the soothing cemetery, with her little blue eyes peering up at me.

Feed her, feed her on the shore of Weissensee lake, watching the leaves on the trees twinkle and shake.

Feed her, feed her, on a bench in the street. Or in a cafe or a restaurant. We all need to eat!

Feed her, feed her, anywhere at all. Feed her leaning up against the Berlin Wall.

Feed her while I’m eating on the the go. (Wetwipe that sauce off her babygro).

Feed her, feed her, little lamb. Feed her to stop her wailing on the tram.

(and on the historic steam train, the S bahn, and on the platform while I sit in the pram).

Feed her, feed her, under an apple tree, in a hammock. (Nothing on this wondrous, joyful earth rhymes with ‘hammock’).

Feed her while you push your other child on the swing. Feed her while you try and do every bloody thing. Feed her while you point at what you want your husband to bring.

Feed her, dream feed her, last thing at night. By the iPad’s eerie digital light.

Feed her in the early hours, lying sideways like a sow. Feed her somehow, anyhow.

Feed her while you’re awake, and while you’re asleep. Or she’s awake, or she’s asleep. Or any combination of these. Feed her any way you please.

Wake up to her smiles and her gnawing her fist, then feed her, feed her, merrily after her cheeks have been roundly kissed.

Ill advised

Feed her once every three hours, says Baby Whisperer (based, I’m told, on some studies of rabbits. Gosh, these recommendations to women are really rubbishly evidenced.)

I know that, but I still feed her every three hours. Except when I have mastitis. Then it’s like, once every three minutes.

When to stop

Whenever you’re fed up with it. Or with trying. Or when your child swipes the top off your banana. Not a minute later. No guilt.

Best analysis of NHS breastfeeding advice to feed for at least six months: Zoe Williams in What Not to Expect When You’re Expecting. (Turns out it’s based on World Health Organisation report with obesity epidemic, global overpopulation, and dyssentery stats in 3rd world countries in mind). So forget that.

My friend Elli tells how her mum stopped breastfeeding her the day she said “thank you” afterwards. I love that story.

Breastfeeding meditation sucks

Literally.

Rush of hormones

With my first baby, I didn’t like the feeling when the milk ‘let-down’ flowed: that moment when the nipple-stimulation triggered milk production. After the initial pain each time they latched onto a full breast, which felt like being pricked with a pin in the nipple. Let-down made me feel sick, turned my stomach every time, like lurching round a corner in a car. Anyone else experienced that?

Hot milk

This time, it’s been a warmer, steadier feeling. If I’m asleep and my nipple is in my baby’s mouth, sometimes I wake up to the sensation of milk flowing, which is like a lovely hot leak. Like that delicious sleepy moment I remember from wetting myself as a child, the first bit I mean, when you’re letting it all go and it’s a flood of heat in the bed. Like weeing in a wetsuit.

Comfort eating

Soothing and passifying for the baby. Strange to note that eating, cuddling, and even sex are all wrapped up in this first food experience of life.

Did you say sex?

Don’t talk with your mouthful, baby.

You know I mentioned meditating? Suddenly you become really aware of the physical sensation in your nip and it is waaaay too intense. Imagine trying to meditate during oral sex or something. It’s quite difficult to focus on your breathing, or even your nipple, because the reality of the sensation is quite overwhelming. It’s a miracle we can filter it out.

Blogging breastfeeding

Yes to surfing the internet on the ipad, voice dictating a novel, reading a book, animating, typing this post one-fingered like tapping a text message.

Or just relaxing

Looking down at my baby’s eyes while I try do this though, reminds me there’s something else going on that could involve my attention… sometimes the best is when I just enjoy the quiet of it together. It makes me stop and pay attention. To us. To her.

Tears also flow

Watching my disappointed friend deal with her decision to formula-feed, cos breastfeeding wasn’t working out. Sad for her and brave of her on that day. But when you take a decision like that, you just gave to go for it, and move onwards, soon there are so many ways to bond and be a parent that these things just fall into the minutae of history.

Mix it up

Formula is a brilliant invention, too. Grateful for that. Giving a bottle at bedtime bought me back my evenings, with my first baby, from about five months onward. I’m not a purist, not a snob. I’m dead lucky to have choice.

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Feelings about breastfeeding? Breasts? Still a lover of warm milk? Open the comment thread by clicking on the pale grey dot with a ‘plus’ sign under the blogpost.

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