World Breastfeeding Week/Morgana Orielly/Actress
My daughter Luna is nearly two, but we finished up our breastfeeding story when she was about 16 months. If you’d asked me before I had her how long I thought I would have gone for, it would have been more around the one year mark, but my baby LOVED boobs, from the moment she was pushed out in the bathtub, she took to my boobs like she had been there before. I had heard lots of stories about how hard it can be, and I hate/love to admit that for us it wasn’t hard. There were a good 3 weeks or so of painfully tender nipples that would require my birth breathing techniques to get through the first latch-on, but once we had our rhythm down, it was as though my boobs had never been used for anything else.
Our calm birth teacher told us about her time as a midwife in Saudi Arabia, and how women there have no trouble breastfeeding because its done so closely and freely by all women, and that if you were having trouble, to lie down with baby and relax, get all snug and let baby do what baby does best.
So that’s what we did, I lay with her to breastfeed for a lot of that first month (lord knows I needed the lie down). And I think it made a big difference to our journey. A lot of the reading material I was being given by way of pamphlets and the like, detailed clinical step-by-step procedures to getting baby on the boob; sitting with a straight back, both feet on the ground. And although that may work for some, it felt to me like a very ‘heady’ way to think about it, because in general, I feel breastfeeding isn’t about the brain, it’s about the smooshy, cushy, oxytocin inducing comfort between a mother and her baby.
But, I’m very aware as I write this, that everyone is different, I hold absolutely no judgement of those with a profoundly different experience. Having a baby made me think a lot about the fact we started off in tribes and small family clusters, and figured if one mother was having trouble feeding her bub, she was probably able to pass her over to a sister or a aunty or someone in her circle who could do it for her, or help her closely, tenderly, from the word go. But these days are different and so much of those early months can be lonely and daunting.
I count my lucky stars we did ok with the boob-juice stuff (because there was plenty of other things that had me pulling my hair out).
In hindsight, I wish I’d breastfed more in that first month. I often felt baffled by how much she could drink and how often she needed it, thinking ‘surely she’s not still hungry, she only just fed’. If/when I go round two, my mantra will be ‘when in doubt, tits out!’
I love these pictures, in the first one on the left, my daughter is 7 weeks old and I was shooting a promo photo for a play I was going to be working on in 10 months time. She happily drank as I got my face done and I felt like a super woman. The other photo is the actual shot taken from that day. It looks super glamorous, but just between us, there was a point where she started crying and my boobs opened fire and ‘milked the sheets!’ They had to dry them off with a hairdryer as I fed Luna in a chair beside the bed. Ha! Oh the glamour…
I hold my memories of breastfeeding so dear. There were a good handful of times, when she latched on, that I felt the most profound sense of purpose, peace and serenity I have ever felt in my life.
Yay for boobies! Happy World Breastfeeding week everyone!
Ps. I want to say a big YAY for everyone else too, because, although I have heard plenty of stories about women being made to feel shame or exclusion for breastfeeding in public, I never did. I was always given respect and allowance to do it anywhere I chose; I was offered seats and smiles and nothing but respect for what I had to do. Thanks all. It didn’t go unnoticed.