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What is breastfeeding really like?


Photo: Christy ScherrerOne of the questions I see asked on forums over and over again, is “What is breastfeeding really like?”.

The experience is very different for everyone and the answers usually tend to extremes so, from a very personal perspective…

On a good day…

Breastfeeding is the most satisfying, life-affirming experience. You are cuddled up with a child (or children) you love more than life itself, staring into each others’ eyes and providing them with everything they need to thrive. It can make you realise how amazing your body is, whatever its faults and oddities, giving you the same sense of womanly, earth-motherly power and pride as pregnancy and childbirth.

Good breastfeeding days are the reason that mums (and dads) photograph their babies feeding, and post them all over Facebook to the horror of those who think of it as a private act.

On a bad day…

It is a trial of endurance, as the small object of your affection pulls out your hair, while sticking needles into your swollen and aching breasts and kneeing you in the ribs. Your partner, who you thought loved you, proves otherwise by constructing ever more devious and calculated tortures with each passing feed – the cup of tea, just millimetres beyond your grasp; the TV remote next to it, with the channel preset to turn to Jeremy Kyle the minute he leaves the room… Midwives, health visitors, family, friends and passing strangers all offer unsolicited and conflicting opinions on what you are “doing wrong”, making you alternatively terrified, guilty, grief-stricken and murderous, sometimes all at once.

Most of the time…

It’s somewhere in between, with the days getting better as you go on. One day, you find yourself able to feed baby one-handed. If your other half still hasn’t learned about optimum cup placement after a couple of weeks, you figure out a new stretching technique, and sometimes even manage to drink tea before it gets cold.

Sooner than you ever imagined possible…

Breastfeeding is unremarkable – just something you do. The bad days become manageable, and the good days become normal. If you’re still breastfeeding after a few months, you’ll probably find yourself spending less time staring into each others eyes and more time juggling books, mobile phones, crochet hooks and TV remotes, squeezing in a little me time while your baby concentrates on the job in hand. Breastfeeding starts to fit around the rest of your busy social lives, wherever and whenever, making quiet, sleepy night feeds seem precious despite months of sleep deprivation.

But that’s just me… How would you describe breastfeeding to a mum-to-be?


7 thoughts on “What is breastfeeding really like?

  1. For me, breastfeeding is a chance to have some down time – I know that I’m going to be sitting or lying down for 15-20 minutes and I just enjoy the quiet and the snuggles. Life is pretty hectic, the rest of the time!

    1. @Mummygadgetgeek, Yes. It’s nice to have a damn good reason to slow down for a few minutes!

  2. I think breastfeeding is a proud and happy thing to mom.

  3. very tiring very rewarding

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