The first time I was pregnant, I honestly didn’t know if I was going to breastfeed at all, which seems remarkably strange now – having fed both my older children until they were nearly four. That’s years, people, not months, and guess what? I don’t own clothing made of hemp, light incense sticks or play the guitar. Stereotyping? Well, yes, indeed I am – because that’s exactly what everyone else does when they realise you’re feeding a child old enough to have teeth, talk and argue with you about why they should be allowed a touch of boobie-cino!
HOW?! I’m asked… WHY?! That’s another one!
And the answer is always the same and nothing to do with being a ‘natural parenter’, because I’m not. Or I am. Depending on your way of defining it. What I mean is, I don’t necessarily breastfeed because breast is best or because that’s the way nature intended it. I breastfeed because it’s way easier than getting out of bed and making up a bottle of formula. And I breast feed to extended levels (as ‘they’ call it) because, yet again, it’s easy. I am, my friends, what is known as a lazy so-and-so!
It wasn’t easy in the beginning, mind; I’m sure for some it can be, but for me it was weeks and weeks of battling with a baby who didn’t want to do it, battling with a tube of nipple cream (when actually the word ‘cracked’ didn’t really cover what had happened to my hanging-on-by-a-thread nipples) and battling with a bout of mastitis diagnosed by the pharmacist as ‘Ahem, oh I dunno… Maybe you should take a Paracetamol?’ But it was a battle I won and had been determined to win once I’d realised it might not ‘just happen’ as I’d thought it would.
Of course there are the health benefits for both me and my bambinos, but essentially I do just think that it makes my life much, much simpler.
These days, I’m a pro! There’s not many places I haven’t done it (that sentence would have a WHOLE different meaning to those fresh-faced, party-hard, non-with-child of us, wouldn’t it?) I’ve breastfed on the toilet WHILST using it (a pleasant experience – not!), I’ve done it on the tube, in the bath, unbuckled and leaning over the car seat as we speed at 70mph down the motorway… Heck, I even do it as I walk around the supermarket, with the baby in a sling. It suits my life and I knew when I had my third that it was the choice I’d make again.
Of course there are the health benefits for both me and my bambinos, but essentially I do just think it makes my life much, much simpler. It cures every bumped knee, it soothes the hyper, not-even-remotely, eye-winkingly tired to sleep, it’s on tap, there’s no sterilising and it’s blooming FREE!
I don’t judge anyone who doesn’t do it, of course, not now anyway! I have judged, in the beginning, when I had claimed this trophy of BREASTFEEDER, I took it very much to heart when people chose to not even try. Why? Good grief, I have no flipping idea, because frankly it’s no-one else’s business how you choose to feed your baby… I think I just felt so amazed that I had managed to do it and I loved it so much that I misguidedly thought everyone needed to know and if they weren’t doing it too then they were missing out. It was born from a good place; it just came out very, very badly!
There’s enough feeling rubbish about parenting without turning on each other over how we feed.
Time grows us, thankfully, and that fool is now gone, replaced by someone who still loves breastfeeding and knows it’s right for her, but also by someone who knows it’s not cool to make other people feel rubbish for their parenting choices. There’s enough feeling rubbish about parenting without turning on each other over how we feed. At the end of the day, I wasn’t breastfed myself and aside from a few sarcastic tendencies, I think I generally turned out OK… Likewise, I know utter deviants who very definitely got their mummy’s gold top, so really it’s of no long-term consequence!
And I think that we’re learning slowly about acceptance (or not) of breastfeeding in general. I find more and more breastfeeding-friendly places when I’m out and though I HAVE come up against people with something negative to say (there was an incident with some lads on the train once – let’s just say that being threatened with a squirt was enough to put them off challenging me further). But on the whole people don’t care either way. Why would they?!
But, boy, I wouldn’t miss this experience myself and tying though it can be, it’s a journey which fills me with loving and good memories. I don’t think back to the older ones howling in the supermarket that they WANTED SOME MILK-MILK or the times they clawed at my clothing during a wedding or some other important moment, like the climatic ending of a week-long EastEnders special… I think back to the adoring looks between us (gushy but true) and the fact we did that together and it’s ours alone. I feel incredibly and beautifully lucky to be a breastfeeder again now and it’s just a bonus that it allows me an extra 5 minutes in bed in the mornings!
Ruth Davies Knowles
I’m a 38-year-old Mummy of three from Norwich. A one-time actress turned social influencer, I now run the blog Rock’n’rollerbaby and social platforms as part of my business Rocknroller Baby Ltd, whereby I both delight and irritate my family at varying degrees by roping them into helping me with it. I have learned many things in the 8 years since we had our first baby, Florence, and our middle child, Jimmy, and now finally with our third baby, Raffie, I am beginning to realise that less is more and an easy life is the thing to strive for. I spent the first 4 months on the sofa just looking at him and plan on doing a whole lot more of that, thank you very much!