I have become a bit of an advocate for breastfeeding. It started with the birth of my eldest daughter in 2011, at a time when my close friend was training to be a breastfeeding counsellor with the National Childbirth Trust. She shared her training experience with me, and I had watched her breastfeed her own son a few years before, so she was essentially my mentor in the whole process.
Before I got pregnant, breastfeeding was not something I really thought about. I know that my mother breastfed me for a short time as a baby, but I also know that my generation was largely formula fed, because that was the recommended way to feed babies. It seems that now there are huge divisions between mothers who do breastfeed and those who do not. I am not here to be judgemental, because I know how hard it can be, and I have friends who have been unable to breastfeed and subsequently feel guilty for resorting to formula. We are very lucky to have access to healthy feeding alternatives when the need arises, and I appreciate that.
Ultimately I will always recommend breastfeeding when people ask. I happily breastfeed my children in public, although I am discreet about it. I have never encountered any negative responses from strangers as I know other mothers have. In fact, on several occasions I have been approached by strangers who commended me for openly breastfeeding my child and doing what comes naturally. It is a wonderful, nurturing process, and I thoroughly enjoy being able to provide for my babies in the most important way.
Now, following the birth of my second daughter, I am experiencing a whole new aspect of breastfeeding. My eldest daughter is two and a half, and she is still breastfeeding. This is beginning to bring a few comments from my family, although mostly they are all very supportive of my decision to continue. People ask me when I will stop feeding my older daughter, and I simply tell them that it is her decision. She still needs my milk, and I am happy to provide it for her. She is healthy, she eats solid food very well, and she doesn’t feed from me very often any more. She simply takes a little milk for comfort once or twice a day.
Last weekend I had my first experience of ‘tandem feeding.’ I had my newborn daughter on one breast, and my toddler on the other. It was bizarre, and strangely exhilarating! Yes, I am exhausted. It takes a lot of energy for my body to produce so much milk, and I feel physically sore and uncomfortable as a result. But I wouldn’t change it. For me breastfeeding my children is a very important part of their development, and my own well-being. We all thrive as a result of my natural mothering capability.
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