Today’s guest post comes from Vilma over at Free but Fun. Vilma is a mother of two toddlers who lives in Helsinki, Finland. The following post is one she sent me as it flowed from her. English isn’t her first language, and while there are some grammatical errors, I didn’t want to edit/correct her post (even though she gave me permission to do so) as I think the way she wrote it shows how she feels about breastfeeding and I didn’t want to take away from that. Thank you Vilma for your contribution. I hope everyone enjoys the read!
Love, hugs and more to come later!
The most important that I have learned is, in my opinion, that all babies are different and all mothers are different, don’t stress about it! Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes you have to work to get it working, sometimes it just all goes easily and smoothly, and sometimes it does not work even though you wish it would. One way or another, it is not crucial for being a good mother.
I breastfed my daughter for 6 months without giving any solids because it was so easy. We were travelling a lot too, so having the food with us in the right temperature and not having to wash bottles was easy. She was also super easy in the way that a long feeding with her was 20 min. Also, she was happy to take the bottle if I had expressed some milk and at about 7 months she also took formula. At 6 months we started giving her some solids, and at 9 months I suddenly realised I had forgotten to offer any boobs, and she had not asked for it for a couple of days. I was already pregnant with baby number 2 so I was happy to have my boobs for myself for a while.
After 3 months of just breastfeeding my son, I was completely fed up with breastfeeding. One feeding with him would take at least 1hr, from 10 weeks on he ate 6-7 hours a day of which 2-3 hours *without a break* before going to bed. With that amount of food he did, luckily, sleep through the night though. But I was knackered every evening. I guess it didn’t help that this time around I didn’t really have the time to sit that long with him, I also had the 1 yo little big sister. Gone were the days were you could sit comfortably on the sofa supported by pillows when watching a movie while breastfeeding. I fed him on the floor while playing with legos with the older one, I sat on the bathroom floor when sister was on the potty… It is amazing how many things you learn to do while somebody is sucking your boobs! We tried to get him to take the bottle but he wouldn’t so I kept breastfeeding him almost until he was 9 months too (Obviously he started to gradually eat solids before that). I stopped the breastfeeding completely mainly because he then, after having slept through the nights, started to wake up every 45 minutes wanting boobs. My husband decided that it was time this boy learned to fall asleep without boobs, and when hubby started to put him he learned quickly. Even the first night he only protested for like 30 minutes! As I was away from the bedroom for almost a week, he lost interest in suckling me even at daytime.
So two kids, and two very different ways of breastfeeding. The similarities have been through, that they both to start off with had a good grip and new how to eat, we also immediately found good positions for the breastfeeding. I also always had rather too much than too little milk.
The problem with mixing breast feeding and bottle feeding was for me that I had so much excess milk that I could not jump over a feeding. If I did that, I had to express it or otherwise I was covered in milk in only a few minutes (also when somebody else baby cried, my boobs started to flow…). Once I missed the first part of my sons evening feeding (he was already eating then) and expressed the excess milk, which was about 4 dl…
If one wants to start breastfeeding, it is good to remember how the “system” works: the more the baby sucks, the more milk you get. When the baby is born, it will be crying and sucking on your boobs for the first few nights almost nonstop, and it is important to let the baby do this so that the milk will rise. When the milk rises, it can be very uncomfortable before the amount of milk settles. If your breasts are too full, it may also be difficult for the baby to drink, so you may have to “empty” a little first yourself (e.g. by striking softly but firmly with your warm hand towards the nipple for a little while). Also, if there is a problem, it may be that the baby has a bad grip which can be helped with e.g. different breastfeeding positions (here in Finland they only teach you to breastfeed lying on the bed at the hospitals but let gravity help you if needed, and breastfeed sitting up) or equipment. At least here there are breastfeeding support people you can call up, if it doesn’t work so well or you have your doubts. Also, there will be certain periods when your baby wants to drink more (e.g. at about 10 weeks) for a few days. It does this to accumulate the amount of milk in your breasts.
For me breastfeeding was never a really sentimental thing. I did it because to me it was natural, easy with my daughter, and it was something my kids needed. Obviously it was great to hold my babies close too but to me holding them in my lap was just as satisfying. I have friends who describe that breastfeeding bond as something so amazing one can’t put words on it. I think the experience is individual for everyone, and it is a good one as long as Mum is not too tired or too stressed.
Hopefully it all works out well for your friend!
PS. One more practical tip: As I am one of those Mums who breastfed everywhere (hmm, there might be some cultural differences here? How does it work over there, can one breastfeed e.g. in a cafe?) I invested in proper breastfeeding tops. They look nice and they enabled me to breastfeed discreetly. Also, I often had a scarf, which made it a bit more discreet, and later on it was good for covering the baby so it couldn’t see too much and could better focus on the eating. Not so nice when feeding at a dinner table and baby suddenly lets go to see what is going on and your milk squirts out in somebodies coffee… 😀