Women who are breastfeeding may feel as though they need more time to simply just be.
A lot of women talk about the pressure they felt to bounce back when their baby was born. They had just undergone the profound experience of giving birth and many people expected them to be out and about, adapting to “normal life” a lot quicker than they felt ready for.
This pressure can take on a whole new meaning when you have breastfeeding
to consider on top of the normal whirlwind of change that comes with life with a newborn. Women who are breastfeeding
may feel as though they need more time to simply just be. Establishing breastfeeding is a two-way street where both mum and baby have to learn together.
To establish a good feeding routine and build a good supply, a woman must feed on demand and that can quite literally feel like feeding around the clock for those first couple of weeks. It’s completely normal but made a whole lot easier when you have supportive family and friends around you. Part of that support involves encouraging you to do what you have to do so that breastfeeding
gets off on the right foot. It also involves being understanding when social occasions or leaving the house simply is not on your radar.
I had a Robbie Williams concert ticket for two weeks after my due date. I remember speaking during pregnancy about the fact that the “worst case scenario” would be that I’d go over by ten days and would have to leave the four-day-old baby for a couple of hours to go to the concert. I said it in the most nonchalant way as though it were a given.
Of course, when the baby was born I laughed at the prospect. What was I thinking? The truth is I had no idea how I would feel when the baby arrived and I hadn’t even considered that I would be breastfeeding. I put that pressure on myself because I was none-the-wiser. These days I try to be that realistic voice of reason for my own friends who are having babies. As they tell me their post-baby plans for date nights and holidays I encourage them to see how they’ll feel when the time comes and quite often they end up experiencing exactly what I did.
Managing social occasions when you are breastfeeding can be a little tricky, especially if it is an occasion that you really don’t want to miss, such as a family wedding. This is a once off occasion and a celebration for someone you love dearly so you can’t miss it, right? Well, the first thing to remember is that you can. It isn’t easy but sometimes after you’ve gone through every possible option and agonised over the decision you will settle on the fact that actually it just isn’t possible.
You may have assumed that children would be welcome at the wedding or that by then the baby would be taking a bottle but things can work out quite differently in reality. Sometimes it is more empowering to accept the limitation and know that while you’ve explored all avenues it just isn’t feasible to leave the baby right now, even if it’s only for a short amount of time.
As a breastfeeding mum, it is important to speak up to really see what your options are. An event or occasion may seem completely “adult” in nature but if you inquire you might be surprised to find that you are more than welcome to take the baby along. The organiser may be completely sensitive to the needs of a breastfeeding mum and baby. If you don’t ask you don’t get!
In some cases, the issue may be logistic in nature. For example – the venue of the occasion wouldn’t support or allow for a travel system. In this regard, it could be a great idea to get a loan of a baby carrier or sling. It could be the perfect solution to ensure that you can attend and at the same time make sure that your baby is happy and comfortable too.
A lot of women start pumping when their baby is a little bit older. Your PHN or midwife team may suggest waiting a certain number of weeks so that breastfeeding and a good supply are well established before a breast pump is added to the mix. Regular pumping can help a mum build up a freezer supply of breast milk which will come in handy if she is separated from her baby unexpectedly.
This can be a really effective way of managing social occasions when you are breastfeeding. IF your baby takes breast milk from a bottle it will give you the reassurance that all will be OK if you want to attend an occasion, even just for an hour or two. As a general rule, a lot of people leave at least one ounce for every hour that they are separated from the baby. Many breastfed babies will use more than this though.
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.