[Tagged by Erika]

How many children have you breastfed and for how long?
One – Baby M is still at it, and is two days short of 20 months old now.

What were your reasons for breastfeeding?
Because that’s what you do. It never occurred to me to do anything else!

Who was the most supportive member of your family?
My mum breastfed both her children, but followed the useless advice that was dished out in the 1970s and consequently found it a chore, and didn’t much enjoy it, and couldn’t give me any real support. Now I think about it, in those first couple of weeks, the best support I had was from (surprise!) my Dad… A couple of times, quite late at night, I found myself getting really worked up and Baby M was totally frustrated and my Dad would make me a cup of tea, take the baby for a little while and give us all a chance to calm down and sort ourselves out. He had a gift for settling her, it seemed, even though she was only days old and starving hungry. Thanks Dad!

Were your husband/partner/babies father/significant other (male or female) supportive?
He saw it is my choice and as a Good Thing, but basically left me to it. So, no, not really!

Did you have any support from a group or Breastfeeding councillor?
YES!! I had so much support and confidence given to me by the amazing women I met at my local breastfeeding support group, BIBS.

How do the majority of your friends feed their children?
I never had any “baby” friends before I had Baby M. Now, I have lots of baby friends but most of them I have met through BIBS so they are breastfeeders. I still find it a bit odd when I see people sticking bottles down their babies’ throats.

Has breastfeeding changed the way you feel about your body?
Definitely. It’s made me feel like those squishy bumps on the front have a purpose, for one thing. It’s made me realise that within myself was everything I needed to nurture a baby from conception to birth and onwards. I feel like I have a kind of magical power inside!

What do you wish you had been told about breastfeeding?
Well, I knew all I needed to know to be successful (obviously, as we’re still doing it!) so from that point of view – nothing. But in those first couple of weeks I had some really hard feeds to get through, and I think it would have been easier if I’d had a lot more personal antenatal support, as opposed to purely factual leaflets and information, to give me the emotional confidence I needed, instead of having to survive on pure guts and bloodymindedness. The trouble is, all the breastfeeding groups meet during weekdays, when pregnant people have to go to work!

What was the most surprising thing about breastfeeding?
How happy it made my baby. (And, months down the line, how emotionally satisfying it is for both of us, and how it helps us to connect. It’s not just food, it’s pure liquid love.)

Where did you first publicly feed?
First time, Baby M was 9 days old and I fed her in the nappy changing/breastfeeding room at a shopping centre. That’s the last time I fed her in a toilet! The first time I fed her properly in public was when she was maybe 2-3 weeks old, in a coffee shop, using a muslin for camouflage. Husband panicked and tried to send me to the toilets but I refused and he got used to it, impressed by how little you actually get to see compared with what he had expected!

Is there anything you would change about your breastfeeding experience if you could?
I would love to do the first feed again, more mindfully.
I was out of it, on gas and air, being stitched up, my Mum was getting Baby M latched on and I was not paying attention. I wish I had done.

What advice would you give to someone who was about to start breastfeeding?
# Don’t expect to be able to learn to do it just from books or leaflets about breastfeeding: they are useful, but you and your baby also need to learn together, by doing it, and finding your own way.

# Don’t listen to advice from anyone who hasn’t successfully breastfed at least one child themselves. Make sure instead that you have plenty of support from somebody who has. For many women, that will mean getting yourself to a support group, antenatally if you can, but certainly as soon as you feel able to get out of the house following the birth.

Who are you tagging with this meme?
Nobody. You know me…

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