When my son was born, he went straight on my boob like it was the most natural thing in the world. I didn’t really think much of it, to be honest. It was only after speaking to other mums that I realised not everyone has such an easy ride.
As time went on, I made sure I was careful not to make other mums who were struggling feel worse than they already did, so I rarely brought it up, unless they asked me, and then I was honest.
I didn’t really get the stares or comments that I’ve heard many women receive when breastfeeding in public, and while it took me a while to feel comfortable doing it in front of some family members, I didn’t mind at all getting them out in public. I was, after all, just feeding my son.
My son suffers from eczema. At three months, his face looked like he’d been scalded with boiling water. We were in and out of hospital sixteen times in sixteen months seeing consultants, having skin prick tests, and seeing the dietician – even the doctors didn’t know what was wrong at first. It wasn’t until months down the line that we found out it was triggered by allergies – mostly the food I was eating, which was being passed on through my milk.
This made me feel pretty guilty, but it also made me determined to carry on breastfeeding. I’d never had any problems and I wasn’t going to let eczema get in the way. So, instead of giving up, I decided to cut out everything my son was allergic to – wheat, eggs, dairy, soya, bananas, avocado, and lemons to name a few. He also had a dust mite allergy, so hoovering everyday and washing everything at 60º became the norm, as did shrinking clothes.
I had never tried to lose weight after my son was born, I just figured my body would sort itself out in its own time, and to be honest; it wasn’t really my priority. But when I cut out all of the above, needless to say, I lost a lot of weight.
I never felt I was doing the wrong thing. In fact, I felt proud. I was putting my son’s needs first and he thrived because of it. We, on the other hand, made a lot of sacrifices, but that’s what we do as parents, right?
My son must have been around ten months old when I started to receive the ‘are you still breastfeeding?’ comment. But what shocked me further was that it came from other mums. And I often found myself justifying my decision even though I knew I didn’t have to.
Most people who make these comments don’t know our journey, or the sacrifices and life changes we’ve had to make to ensure our son gets the very best. But I can’t help but wonder how it would be received if I responded with ‘Are you still bottle feeding?’ I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t go down very well. It’s rude, and quite frankly, it’s none of my business.
Now that my son is nearly 19-months old, it’s often followed with ‘he’s not feeding, it’s just for comfort.’ Again, something I find strange when I look down at their child who is the same age with a dummy in their mouth…
What baffles me most is that these mothers are still giving their toddler milk, just in another form, usually cows milk, so what’s the difference? Apart from my son would come up in hives and be sick if I did so.
I never thought anything about carrying on giving my son my milk until he was ready to stop. In my head, that was always going to be around the two-year mark, but who knows.
The reality is, our situation has changed. I am eight months pregnant and my nipples are super sensitive so feeding has become a little more uncomfortable at times. I can’t imagine tandem feeding and I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be the picture perfect images I’ve seen in magazines. Most probably, my son would be swinging off my breasts, while I desperately tried to feed my newborn in the same tranquil way I did with him.
When the time comes, we’ll figure it out, we always do. I want to give my next baby everything my son had, minus the allergies, and hopefully, minus the comments too.