Breastfeeding: 10 things I wish someone had told me before I had a baby
One of my most favourite things about breastfeeding was how, once we got going, utterly convenient it was.
I mean, you have your baby's food right there with you, all the time. It is always ready, always at the perfect temperature and there is no need for bottles or bottle warmers or sterilizers – it is flat out truly awesome.
But convenient as it was, that doesn't mean it was always smooth sailing or that there weren't a few challenges along the way –double mastitis, anyone?
Still, when it came to weaning my babies when the time had come (they were both around 12 months old when I stopped breastfeeding them), I will be the first one to admit to it being a bittersweet event. And by event I mean era, as we didn't stop cold turkey, but rather stretched the weaning out over a (good) few weeks.
Because much as I knew they were ready, and I was ready (sort of, at least), I also knew that I would miss these days of feeding my babies from my body so very, very much.
If you have ever weaned your breastfeeding baby, I am sure you are relating by the bucket load to most of these things I found terribly bittersweet about being done with breastfeeding.
1. My milk-enhanced boobs
Disclaimer: I am not shallow, I know breastfeeding is about more important things than they shape and look of my chest area, but seriously; I have never, ever had boobs as fabulous as when I was breastfeeding. Bidding farewell to them was more than a little sad both times.
2. The way they would clutch my shirt when they fed
I will always remember how both my babies, when nursing, would clutch a fistful of my shirt in their chubby little hands. I loved the feeling of their hands against my chest, the way they would be almost asleep, but not entirely, casting little glances up at my face every now and again, reminding me that we were, at that moment, as close as only a mama and her baby can be.
3. Having my body back
Yes, I did enjoy the feeling of my body yet again being mine and not – to that extent –being at someone else's beg and (booby) call, of course, but then again; once you have children, do you ever really get full body autonomy back?
I mean; I now shower with an audience most morning, answer some rather intrusive questions about my body every time they see me undressed and can't really remember the last time I slept without someone sleeping so close to me I constantly have to move little toes away from my face and untangle sticky little fingers from my hair.
4. Packing away the breast pump
You will never feel more like a dairy cow than when you are attached to a breast pump, whether manual or mechanical. And while I will always miss breastfeeding, I can without a doubt say that I will never exactly miss my breast pump.
5. Sleeping on my front again
I have always been a front sleeper, but my enormous, milk-inflated boobs made this impossible.
6. Buying new bras
I am not going to lie. Being able to wear sexy lace and underwires and flimsy, unpractical bras again after a year in sturdy cotton did feel AH-MAZING.
7. The way they looked at me when they were feeding
Much as I was ready in many ways to give up breastfeeding when I did, it was also one of the hardest things I have ever done. Just the thought of not having these quiet moments with my babies was enough to send me into floods of tears, and I still get a lump in my throat every time I look at pictures where I am feeding them.
8. The "Just Us Two" feeling of it all
All the times we escaped visitors and crowds to have some quiet moments together to feed.
9. The way my boobs were their favourite thing in the world
My boobs, even if it was just the smell or touch of them, could instantly calm my crying or upset babies. Heck, even just the proximity to me and my boobs made them calmer and happier. How's that for power?!
10. Those quiet midnight moment when it was just them and me
The sweet 3am midnight feeds, when the house was so quiet, when the world slept and when I was cradling babies to my boobs, singing whisper-y lullubies and trying to freeze time a little.
I honestly can't remember the exact last feed on any of my babies as we were involved in very stretched out weaning-off processes, but I know I for those last few weeks would look down on them and will myself to always remember that exact feeling of feeding my babies from my own body.
Pure mama magic.