Thursday, 22 August 2013

{motherhood} Be kind to yourself....

This is a rather personal post to start off with, and as with all matters concerning pregnancy and motherhood,i know many people will not share my views. But it is a subject which I find important, and having browsed the web for advice and support over the last few weeks before making my decision, I haven't come across a post sharing my point of view on the matter. So here goes: today I have decided to stop breastfeeding my baby.

Hugo will be five weeks old on Friday. When he was born, I was optimistic that breastfeeding will go well, and I would aim to solely breastfeed him for as long as I felt I could. This is despite the fact that I never truly enjoyed the experience when breastfeeding my daughter, and combi-fed her on breast milk and formula. True, it did get better after 6-8 weeks, as advised by most people. It is also true that it was a lot more convenient, as well as free. And of course, we all know that "breast is best" for your baby.

But the truth is, I always felt that breastfeeding drained all the energy from me, and as mentioned above, I never truly enjoyed it. I did it for three months last time, as I decided to stop before I returned to work full-time. And you know what? Siena has nevertheless grown into a beautiful, strong, healthy little girl.

This time round, my son, who weighed 10 lbs 9 when born, feeds a lot. I also had to give him formula as well as breastfeed him when he lost 13% of his weight after the birth (this also happened with his sister). He's continuing to grow well but I simply feel as though I cannot keep up with him on breastfeeding alone. Additionally, shortly after the birth I went to spend some time with family, several members which are battling terminal cancer, and I felt so emotionally drained that I struggled to keep up with the physically demanding task of breastfeeding.

As with last time with my daughter, when I first thought of stopping breastfeeding, I immediately felt guilty, and dare I say it, a bit of a failure. Every article you read tells you that your should breastfeed until your baby is at least 6 months old. However I can't deny that when I decided to stop, both with my daughter and this time round, there is a huge feeling of relief and as though a weight has been taken off my shoulder.

I also genuinely believe that it is important as a mother to look after yourself, as if you don't, it will be a lot more difficult to look after a demanding newborn and his sibling(s)! In my case, breastfeeding really left me feeling drained of all energy and a little faint, in turn making me grumpy and struggling to keep up with my new job as a mother of two.

Of course, my decision was not taken lightly and I have battled through various emotions when making it: guilt, relief, disappointment, self doubt... But deep down,I knew it was the best decision for me and Hugo, even though other people may not agree.

I know this is not the case for everyone. Most of the women I have spoken to appear to truly enjoy breastfeeding, and are reluctant to give it up too soon. Then again, I also know that many women do not breastfeed at all. I genuinely believe that we must follow our hearts and do what we think is best for us. After all, looking after a newborn baby is difficult enough as it is, with so many fears and the constant guilt and questioning ourselves of whether we are being the best mother we can... In any event, either way, the baby will not go hungry.

The best advice I received this time around was from Julia, the health visitor. She told me that it is normal to find it more difficult second time around, especially when already running around after a toddler. But most of all, she told me to be kind to myself... and so rather than give myself too much of a hard time over my decision, I have decided to give myself a break and to do just that.

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