It's World Breastfeeding Week. Mum of three (soon to be four) Aisling Hamil is really looking forward to the next chapter in her breastfeeding journey.
So I have to get on board with celebrating World Breastfeeding Week. I absolutely loved breastfeeding my three littles and I’m genuinely looking forward to doing it all again soon.
On my first, I’d never have said that. I mean, to say that I “enjoyed” breastfeeding might be met with some side glances. Well now, I’m happy to say it with confidence because this whole breastfeeding lark has taught me a lot along the way!
It wasn’t all easy. I fed through tongue tie, anxiety that sprung from outside pressure to stop and colic. I sure had a lot of broken nights sleep but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The connection and love it gave me and my children is priceless!
At 22, I fed my eldest for a year which was no easy feat at the time. I introduced a bottle because I felt I had to due to the power of marketing. My second child Amelia then came along.
I thought I’d do a year as I reckoned that would be just about acceptable to the society I live in. Although, I found people asked a lot earlier than 12 months when was I finishing up? More like as soon as I’d started. It made me quite uncomfortable and I did feel a pressure to stop. But my girl refused all other liquids including expressed breastmilk. No bottle made the cut and even if it was on a spoon there was no chance it was passing her lips. If it didn’t come directly from the source she was not into it! She would be the one to push me outside my comfort zone.
Long story short, she continued feeding (albeit limited it to two short feeds) throughout my pregnancy with Nathan and for the first six months of his life, I tandem fed. Never did I ever think this would be part of my story. I did suffer huge anxiety around it and stopped feeding her in public after 13 months because I felt so much pressure to stop, as if I was doing something wrong.
I met lots of women who were doing the same and educated myself on the benefits and the WHO recommendations of extended breastfeeding. I then went on to feed Nathan for 2.5 years too and we gently weaned. Feeding Nathan was much more enjoyable because I genuinely gave less of a *insert expletive here* at this stage.
You see, my baby was only ever one day older than they were the day before. For us, breastfeeding brought so much positivity into our lives. It calmed every tantrum, it healed every fall and it gave my children a safe space to reconnect with me. So now, I see it as the beautiful, natural biological norm that it is.
I feel my next journey will be a lot more relaxed as a result. I am definitely an advocate for breastfeeding, but I do believe that fed is best, so if it’s really not for someone that’s ok too. How you choose to feed your baby is not my business. It’s not an "I’m right and you’re wrong."
I really feel less judgement is needed across the board. But for all the mamas out there who want to breastfeed and just don’t have the right support, to the ones out there who are looking for a breastfeeding solution rather than an “ah don’t put pressure on yourself and sure if it doesn’t work you can always give a bottle”. These are the women I’d love to help normalize, guide and inform. I really hope I can do that this time around using my Instagram platform. This time, if someone asks me how long I’ll feed for I’ll simply answer, “as long as it’s working for both of us”.