Firstly, and for the record, I really don't like those articles or blogs that begin 'As the proud mother of a baby boy,' so I won't go there. Suffice to say that going through breastfeeding as a complete L-plated newbie, I'd read every manual, book and pamphlet there was to read and I attended as many 'breast is best' classes a reasonably sane girl can handle.
Following is what I didn't find in any of those forums or media, but rather discovered in real time, feeding my boy, usually at some objectionable hour of the night, when I used to be stumbling home from a trendy wine bar – back in the day. Anyway, I digress...
For all of you gals out there who can stand some home truths and insights into breastfeeding, or if you are simply right into reading about your boobies at the moment, here's what I now know:
Number One. Breastfeeding is a game of snakes and ladders – get used to it
One day they're perky and bolt upright and, the next, they're sideways with gallons of milk dispensing with abandon. These are the artists formerly known as your erogenous zones! Now because of these constantly shapeshifting conditions, each and every time you feed your baby may be different. So, here's an important safety tip: try not to take it personally if your bub rejects your boobs or gives you blisters. Just remember, these little cherubs grow fast, and for now, you are their lifeline!
Number Two. Embrace your inner milkmaid
In the very first weeks of your baby's life, you will spend more time with your bangers out than all your wild nights out with the girls put together. Now, your significant other will most likely not mind this one little bit – mine certainly didn't. You, however, will feel like the local milkmaid.
Number Three. From boobies to... well...
Now, apparently, after years of breastfeeding your once beautiful, sexy nipples will likely look like elongated teats. This, told to me by my sister-in-law with three kids! Sigh. I might as well put this early on the list so there are no surprises after you've breastfed five children. Look, on the upside you won't have to buy many scarves during winter.
Number Four. Is breast really best?
Well, of course it is but breastfeeding is not always possible for every new mum. So, beware: breastfeeding zealots do exist. You'll normally find them in the form of your local, friendly lactation consultant. Obviously, most lactation consultants espouse the adage that 'Breast is Best'. Why wouldn't they? That's their job. However, if you happen to find a consultant or nurse who can actually acknowledge that there are other ways to work it, dip them in platinum and place them in a luxuriously appointed, gilded cage – oh yeah, not before milking them for every single bit of advice and information you can. And yes, I wrote 'milk' deliberately.
Number Five. Top her up, love! Have you got the bottle for it?
You may find this hard to believe but there exists among us a scurrilous subculture of breastfeeding mums who (OMG) top their kids up with – I struggle to even say the word – formula! I mean, these women actually breastfeed and then supplement their baby's diet with the bottle! The culprits only admit to this scandalous behaviour in hushed tones and with guilt oozing from every pore. And yes, absolutely right, I'm one of them. Trust me , there's no need to feel bad at all, it's perfectly fine. Just like it's fine to feed exclusively from formula if that's your situation. It's your body and it's your baby. So, do what's right for you.
Number Six. Hitting the bottle (Mark I – Baby)
Following on from number five: formula is pretty amazing these days. It's got absolutely everything that your bub needs. My husband was brought up on it decades ago and only occasionally shows signs of well, we don't like to call them problems so much but... :)
Number Seven. Did I ask for your advice?
As you wander through the murky waters of the breastfeeding academy, I guarantee that the advice you receive from friends, family, and complete strangers will conflict with every other piece of superfluous information you've ever heard. Try what you will, but remember to use that nifty thing you got when baby was born, your motherly instinct!
Number Eight. When the going gets tough
Yes, it is possible to endure Olympic-level bouts of mastitis, cracked, blistered and bleeding nipples, under and over-supply, problems latching on etc etc etc ... and still come out at the other end breastfeeding your bambino. But it's no crime or shame if you eventually throw your hands in the air and scream 'enough is enough'! After all, a distressed mummy does not make a happy baby.
Number Nine. Hitting the bottle (Mark II - Mummy)
After a day of baby joy, you are entitled to a
Number Ten. Take the pressure down
A warm shower or bath is a marvellous tear buster when the going gets tough - and combines well with or immediately preceding point number nine!
So tell me, what has been your experience of breastfeeding your baby that you never read in a book? Leave a comment and let me know.