If you’re looking for specific breastfeeding support, try searching above, or head over to my breastfeeding posts.
As I never tire of repeating, I’m a huge breastfeeding advocate. I fed my first daughter for about 21 months, and it was an incredibly precious time – until it wasn’t (my two have never been sleepers*!) and I found myself struggling to wean.
* If you’re struggling with a lack of sleep yourself, I have a brilliant tip for you in my post about how to maximise your sleep without employing any kind of sleep training methods.
With my second we long surpassed that milestone, and I eventually weaned her shortly after her third birthday. It was not a decision I took lightly because it was not something she wanted, but I was done. I never imagined nursing for so long, but contrary to what others may believe, by that age we are not doing it for ourselves! I was beginning to develop bouts of breastfeeding aversion and, while it was a bittersweet conclusion to our journey (I’d hoped Elfin would instigate the end), I’m convinced it was the right one for us at that stage.
Breastfeeding will always remain a very precious period of my life, for so many reasons. And I hope that the information I’ve put together here over the years will prove useful in your own journey.
There are so many breastfeeding benefits, for both mother and baby, and these are not limited to the obvious ones associated with nutrition.
Advantages of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding your baby also:
- Is cheap;
- Is convenient;
- Provides many health benefits to baby;
- Reduces the risk of SIDS;
- Decreases your risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, obesity and certain cancers;
- Encourages bonding with your baby;
- Reduces risk of PND.
And that list is not exhaustive! For example, though this may not be important to every woman (and can be problematic for those wishing to extend their family) – I saw it as a huge advantage that I experienced breastfeeding-induced amenorrhea!
One of my greatest sources of frustration because they can often be blamed for women ceasing breastfeeding before they’d ideally choose to. And there are so many!
My impression is that these are often perpetuated by older generations of well-meaning relatives, perhaps before adequate guidance was available.
But it’s so prevalent and can be so harmful; I’ve attempted to dispel some of the most common myths in my post about how breastfeeding works.
Breastfeeding Health Problems – for You and Baby
- CMPA (which may be confused with baby acne or milk spots/milia);
- Whether you can continue to breastfeed with confirmed CMPA;
- Blocked ducts / Mastitis / abscesses, etc (check out products which may help relieve symptoms here);
- Breastfeeding and dehydration
- Leaking (though I’m one of the lucky ones – I never wore breast pads!);
- The affect of breastfeeding on your diet – including breastfeeding and alcohol;
- Stigma from and lack of education in others…
The list goes on…
But there is a positive byproduct of these breastfeeding obstacles: fantastic communities of like-minded parents are forged, and they’re only too willing to support and encourage each other to overcome their respective issues.
I’ve written a lot about the subject, and even released an ebook to help educate and empower women about how to breastfeed successfully. I’ve also more recently created a food diary specifically for mums breastfeeding with CMPA and other allergies.
I wish it were not the case, but in spite of research and studies pointing towards the very great advantages of improving breastfeeding rates, we continue to deal with lack of education and support around the subject of breastfeeding.
I’ve written extensively on the topic, talking about a lack of help from healthcare professionals (particularly in reference to breastfeeding with allergies), ignorance in some silly people, and how men can be supportive without being creepy!
Breastfeeding and Alcohol
I was supremely exasperated by the lack of accurate information available regarding breastfeeding and alcohol – specifically how much is safe.
I decided to research the crap out of it until I was satisfied with what I’d learned, and then I wrote about the truth of breastfeeding and alcohol. I hope my findings – one of my most popular posts to date – is a reliable resource for those wishing to continue living their lives within acceptable boundaries and without detriment to their infants.
Breastfeeding and Mindfulness
From a personal perspective, though I can’t be absolutely sure that nursing my daughter is to thank, I believe breastfeeding helped my mental health during a difficult time. Following a traumatic delivery I suffered PNA; but over time I’ve managed to completely change my mindset and have never been more content.
I wonder whether breastfeeding truly contributed to this change in me; either way, I’m so grateful for the life I live today. In fact, this positive attitude is one of the traits I wish to instil in my girls, and is a big part of my life now. My greatest hope for them is that they will thrive in a happy and relaxed environment, far away from the stress and anxiety I have known in the past. I hope to inspire this same attitude in others too, because I know firsthand how beneficial it can be; and so my mission statement (cringe, I know, but every business needs one!) is:
Promoting mindfulness and gratitude for a more appreciative life – particularly in and of our children; championing gentle and supportive parenting which models the behaviours we wish to foster in our little ones.