1: Why did you choose boob over bottle?
Down here in Brighton, breast is the Tina Turner of milk. Time and time again I was told it's "simply the best". When I started to struggle at four months with my first daughter, I was even offered a wet nurse! (link to my blog post)
I never even considered bottle feeding. I felt, and still feel, that my body makes bespoke milk for my babies, which formula can never replicate. **
2. How long did you breastfeed or are you planning to breastfeed?
I nursed my first daughter till she was nine months old, and then she stopped being interested (sob!) My second daughter stopped being interested at about eight months. I think that was because I was pregnant again with my third daughter, who I am still breastfeeding now at almost five months, and plan to do so for as long as she wants (but not like the lady still breastfeeding her eight-year old).
3. What is the best thing about breastfeeding?
How instinctive it feels. The convenience. The way it always comforts, soothes, quietens. The way it makes me feel like I am semi good at this mothering lark. I love seeing my babies put on weight, all down to me. It's empowering.
4: Did you have to overcome challenges on your breastfeeding journey?
Yes. Emotional and physical. After a hideous encounter when I was a teenager, I have never liked anyone going near my breasts. Even the thought of it made me gag. One of my biggest worries before I first breastfed was if I'd be able to handle the sensation.
The sensation turned out to be bloody painful, which was my second battle. I didn't latch my first daughter on properly and ended up with bleeding nipples. She used to come away from a feed with blood running down her chin, like a baby vampire. I remember curling my toes in agony, and dreading the next feed.
I never considered stopping at this stage though. No midwife or health care visitor suggested it either. I forgot bottles were even an option, and just stuck with it till it got easier.
5. Who supported you the most with breastfeeding?
A dear friend, who bought me Lansinoh and shared her own painful experiences. My husband, who bought cabbage leaves to put in my bra and ran hot baths for my to dangle myself over, and the health care team who reassured me that bleeding cracked nips were normal and would pass.
6. How did you feel when you first breastfed in public?
The first time I breastfed in public was a bit scary. I used to hide in disabled loos for ages, but then I mastered the two tops technique (a vest pulled down under a top pulled up) and realised I could be discreet enough for no one to notice. I have small breasts though, so it's pretty easy for me to hide what we are up to.
Third time round I don't really care if people catch a flash of breast, but I would never "wop it out" for the world to see.
8. Have you been questioned for breastfeeding?
My mother-in-law was amazed I was able to breastfeed as I have "such small breasts". I remember her bragging she could have breastfed the whole street from hers, but then, they were much larger than mine.
She openly fretted that my babies were not getting enough milk from said small breasts and commented "If you bottle feed you will be able to see how much they've had" or "You are too skinny to be making any decent quality milk" and most recently she told me my milk must have dried up because I got my period back (it hasn't).
9. Has breastfeeding made you feel different about your body?
Breastfeeding has made me stop hating my breasts, but I've been pregnant or nursing for so long now, it's hard to see my body as anything other than a babies house or food supply. Three (almost) 9lb babies in 3.5 years has taken it's toll on me, and it shows. While I am proud of myself for a good job done, I find it very hard to feel attractive in my (saggy) skin. My breasts belong to my baby, not me and deffo not my husband ;)
9. What do you wish you had known before making the decision to breastfeed your baby?
How much it might hurt and what to do about it before it got too bad.
** I would like to state that I have been very lucky as a breastfeeder. I have never suffered from low milk supply, or any other problems. I wholeheartedly believe Breast is NOT best if it's causing tears and stress.