Well, I managed to miss National Breastfeeding Week AND World Breastfeeding Week.  I was probably busy breastfeeding or something.

According to the latest Infant Feeding Survey, conducted in 2005, overall, only 35 per cent of UK babies are being exclusively breastfed at one week, 21 per cent at six weeks, 7 per cent at four months and 3 per cent at five months. I have it on good authority that the rate dips to just 1 per cent by 6 months. I had no idea I was in such a minority.

I know breastfeeding is not for everyone. I know too that sometimes it just doesn’t work out, no matter how much one might want it to.  But people, in England 78% of mothers initiate breastfeeding yet, of this, only 22% are still breastfeeding AT ALL at 6 months.  Something must be going wrong on a bigger scale here, surely?

I was lucky in that I had incredible support from our local midwives, for a month after BB was born – home visits, 24 hour phone support, the lot. Their advice was not always consistent, but they were unfailingly enthusiastic.  I know that doesn’t happen everywhere, which is a shame. And of course, jay’s support has been unstinting.

But honestly, the best piece of advice I had about breastfeeding was from a friend that I met up with before BB was born. “It hurts.” she said. “It hurts A LOT at first, and your nipples get sore and cracked and bleed and you’ll think you’re doing it all wrong and you’re starving your baby because everyone goes on about the perfect latch, but stick with it, because, with a bit of luck and a following wind, it will stop hurting soon enough and it’ll start to get easier and you’ll be glad you didn’t give up.”

She was right. It did hurt. A lot. But it got better and I am glad I didn’t give up.

This breastfeeding thing though has, for us, been a double-edged sword.  More than any other parenting choice we’ve made thus far, this one has been the hardest trial, emotionally, particularly for jay. There’s something primeval about a mother’s urge to feed and nourish her young and the fact that jay cannot do this one thing for BB has been a source of bitter disappointment for her, sweetened by seeing him grow healthy and strong on the milk I have been able to give him.  Feeding him expressed milk in a bottle was not a panacea for her sadness about this, particularly when he expressed his displeasure about this.  I can never really know how it must feel to walk in her shoes, but I know without a doubt that she wants BB to have the best she can give him. Even if she can’t give him that herself. But there have been tears from both of us. I hate to see my wife hurting and yet there is nothing either of us would want to change, given the benefits for both BB and myself. I won’t be giving up breastfeeding any time soon, but we’re both excited at the idea of starting to wean BB onto solid food in a month or so and being able to share feeding more equally. In the mean time, sippy cup and doidy cup practise is going well and he surprised us both this afternoon by drinking a little water from a bottle quite happily whilst we ate our lunch – him being in control of it (with a little help) seemed to make all the difference.

Thanks for the advice on swaddling and dummies over the last week or so. We’re feeling more relaxed about both, as you can see from the picture below:

foot bust

We never wrap his legs tight, just his arms, but this is the first time he’s busted his feet out! See more of the cuteness over at everyday baby.

vee xxx


7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by nutella on August 11, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    I could nto agree more about the reality of breastfeeding. It HURT in the beginning and it was a battle and there were many tears. All the BS about it not hurting was unhelpful IMHO. I wish someone had told me what your friend told you because it is absolutely right.


  2. He is so cute! Look at those feet! And no one prepared me well for bfing. My nipples were so cracked and bloody that holland ended up ingesting a bunch of my blood and puking it all up. Scary!


  3. Posted by rhetorician on August 11, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    weaning – well you do get to share and it is kind of fun, but mostly what you do is wipe and clean up and the bfing seems a model of neat efficiency in comparison. Are you going to do Baby-Led? It IS really nice for me to be able to feed C, and for R to actually have a lie-in –


  4. Bfeeding was a long road for us as well it took 3 months to get it going because we had preemies! It is harder for my wife to comfort the big guy since I have what he wants now, but luckily she still gets to feed the little guy since he gets his meds in with his breastmilk. The only downside is that I have to do both bfeeding for the big guy and pumping for the little guy ALL DAY LONG…but its worth it right? I have to keep telling myself that because there are days I’m not so sure!


  5. Posted by scarredbellybutton on August 12, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Those stats are pretty woeful. I think they are fairly similar here.

    I’m certainly in a minority now, breastfeeding past *gasp* 12 months.

    Our dynamic is clearly different to yours, as it’s not been an issue for us. DP has no desire to breastfeed (sadly fed TBB for only 2wks and didn’t want to exclusively pump, though has since said that she kind of regretted that), nor has she the desire to do a lot of the intense parenting stuff. On the other hand I do, so it works for us.

    I’m sure you’ve probably considered it before, but I wonder if an SNS with EBM would have enabled both of you to feed?


  6. I was so prepared to have to give up breastfeeding because of the pain and was shocked that it didn’t hurt like I thought it would. I am very lucky. People are shocked when I tell them that I hope to breastfeed for a year. SHOCKED. But I also am still a stay at home person right now and I know that if I had to pump during the day it would suck (heh) all the joy out.

    That photo is so so cute! Look at all of his hair! We are quite jealous of that over here.


  7. OMG he is so cute!!!! I am running over to check out the pics at everyday vbaby…


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