Breastfeeding was surprisingly easy. I say surprisingly because when I was pregnant I had a lot of people warning me that breastfeeding is horrendous, painful, impossible. In fact I found it to be calming, painless and easy. I had very peaceful home births with both my children, with midwifes and a doula who gave me the support, space and respite to be able to focus on feeding and recovering. Generally, I found being able to breastfeed was a huge confidence boost in the beginning. It made me feel strong, important, purposeful. And completely autonomous – as though it wouldn’t matter what situation we found ourselves in, so long as I had my breasts my babies would be fine. Then as time went by breastfeeding just became very normal. Nowadays, it inhabits a strange place in my world, sitting somewhere between being this potently significant achievement, and just a very normal everyday occurrence.
I regularly feed in public spaces and have done so throughout my 4+ years of breastfeeding. It’s never occurred to me that I might need to hide myself away in order to feed my children. To my memory, there has been only one time when I’ve felt self-conscious about breastfeeding in public, and that was in the church during my grandmother’s funeral when my eldest was about 2. That being said, I didn’t receive any comments or looks that might have discouraged me.
I’m very aware that being in Brighton & Hove means I see an uncommonly high amount of breastfeeding happening out and about. It’s wonderful to see, and I feel proud of my community because of it (which in itself seems a little strange – feeding your baby is a very normal thing to do after all!)
With my partner – he’s no longer allowed to touch my breasts for fear of setting them off. On the plus side though, my milk has cleared up several bouts of conjunctivitis for him.
I’d certainly say it influences how I parent at night. Change seems like the wrong slant to put on it – it implies that I ought to have been doing something else. Co-sleeping, breastfeeding to sleep, feeding on demand through the night, is what I’ve done from day 1, and is what I consider to be the biological norm. It’s helped everyone in my family to sleep better than one might expect with babies and young children in the house. No crying, no fussing, no darting about from one room to the other. Simple.