Sunday, 14 August 2011

The Milky Way

In the not so distance past I was of the opinion that breasts were aesthetically pleasing, sexual objects that happened to live on my chest. I was never a girl of over sized jumpers; instead I enjoyed flaunting them to men, women...animals. I was proud and relished the attention they recieved- even if it was at times unwanted. Is that not what most teenagers think? We can't wait to grow our boobs, the bigger the better and the earlier the better. Society tells us so.
 So one can only imagine my reaction, a goods few years beyond my teenage ones, when I found myself in Boots, with my Mother and accidentally pregnant looking at the many things on offer for expectant mums when my mum casually asks 'Are you going to breastfeed?'. My chin hits the floor. What? Pardon? Excuse me? 'I think it's something you need to consider?' Shell shocked and slightly sweaty I follow my Mother to an aisle full of bottles, tins of formula, sterilisers and right at the top some totally alien products related to breastfeeding. This was the first time in my life, I can honestly say, that I considered my own breasts as anything other than sexual aids.
 I'm a fairly well educated person, lacking in Mathematical skill and signs of genius, but am pretty impressed with my educational  achievements, so why, oh why oh why am I so, well ignorant about breastfeeding? How does it work? What do you do? What's a nipple shield? You can extract it? What does latch mean? Formula milk isn't good for babies? I think secondary education has a lot to answer for, I mean P.S.E lessons for example, really handy in telling me that because I like animals I should be a butcher, but in terms of real knowledge, why didn't breastfeeding come up? Isn't the health of the future generations and the welfare of Mothers important enough to be included in the National Curriculum?
 It was only in the trying and subsequent failing in breastfeeding my daughter that I finally found out the truth behind breastfeeding. It comes down to a few simple points; It's not easy and is a skill to master, you're not a failure for finding it difficult, it does not make your breasts sag, you don't need any special equipment, you don't need to supplement with formula, you do produce enough milk and most importantly it is the very best start that you can give your child.
 Two years on, I've mastered the art of breastfeeding, I regret not being able to manage feeding my daughter for longer but am still feeding my one year old Son. My only problem now is figuring out how to stop?!