Breastfeeding, what an experience that is. Until you have done it you cannot begin to understand. For the most part Henry and I have had it smooth sailing and I am beyond grateful for that. We are now almost 8 months into our breastfeeding journey and juggling pumping and feeding at work along with a day each with Grandma, Dad and a bottle. Plus, a copious amount of mashed food in there now! Breastmilk goes into absolutely everything for Henry including his morning porridge.
We have also been fortunate enough to donate milk which is something I am also grateful for. Grateful to my body for providing me enough milk for Henry and more. Paying it forward and helping other families out there is something we should all do more of when we can.
I feel however when we discuss breastfeeding week, there is also this undercurrent of not only celebrating breastfeeding and all its glory but some women actually feeling guilty for being able to breastfeed. I know I have. On every post promoting breastfeeding there are comments referring to formula, fed is best and many other statements. When in fact as mothers, parents, women we should be able to let breastfeeding week be just that, a week to celebrate breastfeeding.
There is so much more to breastfeeding than just feeding your child, for how many days or weeks or years. No one should feel less, threatened or the need to defend their decisions and how they feed their child for whatever reason simply due to the fact we are celebrating breastfeeding. We should all just celebrate breastmilk and our bodies for the amazing vessels they are.
Appreciate motherhood for the exhausting, challenging, frustrating and emotional time it is and high five breastmilk. Whether you breastfed for 1 minute or 1 year, whether you donated or received donated milk. Whether you pumped or fed exclusively. The thing that has stood out to me the most during my breastfeeding journey is the level of support I have had all around me from fellow women. Whether they are or are not breastfeeding. Why can we not do this for each other online?
That support has come from my mum who fed 30 years ago and guided me through my first weeks, my colleges who sit and listen to my loud, electric pump while they are trying to work and tolerate it (its bloody annoying I get it), from my husband who has listened to my frustrated ranting and encourages me to keep going at 3am when I’ve had enough, from my amazing coffee group girls who have all had different experiences with a mixture of bottles, formula, mix feeding and breastfeeding. The support I have had around breastfeeding and navigating this life changing road has been something which has truly changed me, and this is what I am celebrating this Breastfeeding Week.
Breastfeeding for me has taught me more than just being able to feed Henry. It has helped me accept my body for what it is and learn to love all my imperfections. To be confident in my own skin. It has taught me the importance of food and nourishing my body, when for most of my life food has been a battle of how I look. Putting into my body a calculated and controlled number of calories I could burn off to fit my jeans. I now understand that food is fuel, the food I eat is nurturing my baby.
So, let’s just appreciate breastfeeding week for what it is. Breastfeeding does not make you better, it does not make you more of a mum, more of a woman.
Breastfeeding week is not a judgement on anything else, and it’s about more than just breastfeeding. So to all the woman out there who have become more confident in their own skin, overcome fear or self-doubt and learnt to love yourself a little more because of mother hood. You are amazing and we are all in this together.
Happy Breastfeeding week!
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