It’s not quite 6am. My body, not yet having registered the caffeine being pumped into it, fights with my eyes to close. You sit grinning from your highchair as you play with your raggedy eared, rattle belly dog; your toy of the morning. Good morning, sweetheart.
I always wanted to breastfeed. Breastfeeding fits alongside our parenting ethos of bringing up baby in as natural a way as possible, but before M was born, I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to. as a first timer, the amount of information about babies failing to latch, of milk not coming in, of jaundice or colic being triggered from mothers unable to feed…it was overwhelming and easy to see how women opt for formula first…if you’re convinced the odds are you’ll fail, why set yourself up for a fall?
Have we been lucky to have established a good feeding relationship, or are the difficulties simply more hyped than the successes?
I’m sure the attitude of our doctors and nurses helped set us up on the right course, and for that once again am thankful M was born in Turkey. M’s first feed was at 5minutes old. Not even. As soon as the nurses had wiped him down and wrapped him up, he was held to my breast. While the doctor finished sewing up my stomach, my baby was feeding at my breast! The most incredible experience and I cannot thank the nurses or doctor enough for helping me share that moment with M. Not only am I convinced it made feeding him since easier as it really was what came naturally to him, but the act of feeding him after an emergency section removed some of that pain at not having delivered him myself; it helped us bond. M fed again as soon as he was brought back to us, all 3.5kg of him and hasn’t stopped feeding since.
It is so important women can access help and support if feeding is difficult to start and there are some wonderful support groups doing a great job. But it’s just as important that women feel empowered to feed before those problems arise. It saddens me to think that women, simply through a lack of encouragement and support, miss out on feeding their babies naturally. It saddens me that women teetering on the edge, unsure whether to breastfeed or not, may be put off for fear of ‘failing’; fear of not providing the best for their babe. It frustrates me that formula companies have the power to dominate ‘advice’ websites, are able to manipulate advertising laws to make bottle feeding seem the best, most logical choice and are able to reach those women teetering on the edge of a feeding decision simply because they have the money to send a message at them. It frustrates me that in so many societies, bottle feeding is becoming the norm and to breastfeed your child, especially post 3months, is seen as an old-fashioned thing to do. It angers me that to feed in public women have to overcome prejudice that says breast are for sex not feeding and reading of breastfeeding bans makes my blood boil. And I find it sadly ironic that it would be more difficult for me to feed my child, that I’d face more prejudice, more formula pressure, in the UK or US…”developed” countries…than I do here, in a society where people are striving to be modern.
I am so grateful that I’ve been able to feed my baby. So thankful for the support of my family, for friends who don’t bat an eyelid when I feed M when we’re out and about, for the nursing staff who showed us the way.
Any minute now, Doggy’s going to loose his appeal. M’ll look at me and grin, before shoving his thumb in his already sucking mouth. The message is clear and he knows that I know. It’s my favourite time of day. Good morning, babyone; it’s breakfast time.