I was sitting in my sons rocking chair nursing him to sleep earlier and thought to myself ‘god I can’t believe I was told NOT to do this’. I have loved every single moment that I have been able to feed my son, and especially the feeding him to sleep. It really gives me the shits that new mums (in fact all mums) can’t catch a break. Pretty much everything we do, there is a for and against. I am all about doing what feels good for you and your baby and stuff what everyone else says.
For me it was a no brainer, breastfeeding produces the feel good sleepy hormones – plus its an amazing bonding experience. As someone who works with children who don’t get the best start to life I was all gung-ho at doing anything and everything I could to build a secure base and strong primary attachment with my son and give him the best start to life that I possibly could. As a new mum we get hit with a lot of ‘of you can’t do that’… I am pretty sure it isn’t a matter of IF but rather WHEN we stuff up our kids lives (you feel me right…) and feeding to sleep is high up there. In fact, I reckon feeding and sleeping are every new mums nightmare and a major cause for anxiety and depression. Every single appointment with your midwife leading up to your precious babe being born and then every appointment with your child and family health nurse after the birth surrounds the famous duo of sleeping and feeding.
I remember taking to breastfeeding quite naturally but boy was it hard in the beginning. My nipples were cracked and bleeding (lansinoh ladies – get on it!), every time he attached it bloody hurt and I had no idea what I was doing but I wasn’t giving up for quids. I was determined to feed him from the boobies for as long as he would/will allow me. In the beginning they sleep all the time, then not so much, and it becomes a balance of ANYTHING that works. Many a times I said to myself ‘You have to stop this’ out of fear of him developing a sleep association or some kind of ‘bad’ habit (as per Dr Google, all the books and ALL your neighbours. Many times I felt like a shit mum because I wasn’t teaching him or giving him the skills to do it [fall asleep] on his own. Then I would remind myself he was just a baby and we had plenty of time if we needed to to break any kind of habit. Then as time went on, there were periods when he self settled but then he went back to feeding to sleep, obviously because he too enjoyed it as much as I did so I let him because it was easy and it provided me with the most amazing opportunity and endless moments with him that I still look forward to at the end of a long day.
Now let me tell you something – he NEVER developed a sleep association and is able to fall asleep on his OWN. He has a different routine at home to daycare and we very much go with the flow regarding times.
He will be 1 (ONE I tell ya) soon and I still nurse him to sleep when I can. Sure there have been times when I had to wait exactly 10 mins (not a minute less or a minute more) before I could move and lay him in his cot but now we have it down pat. He feeds, often nods off and I pop him down. Sometimes he doesn’t fall asleep and sometimes he just isn’t in the mood – on those occasions I feed him and pop him down where he will chat himself to sleep and settle on his own. But in those moments when I do get to nurse him to sleep and I see or feel his little lips waver and he falls off the boob; where he lay there snuggled in his safe place, his soft spot and the spot where he is content and comforted; I know I would do it all over again.
As a mum I have often been challenged in not being able to ‘control’ what happens. As a major control freak I hate relying on others, find it difficult to not have a plan and struggle when things don’t go as planned. A major thing I have been working on over the last few years is releasing a lot of the need to control things in my life and becoming as mum has done wonders for this.
Just recently when I went back to work I was hell bent on continuing to breastfeed and pretty much gave up my life to spend it pumping (any mama out there who exclusively gave their babies expressed breastmilk I friggin’ bow to you!). I lasted about 2 weeks at work pumping in my lunch break before I cracked. I was due to go away for work overnight, I was panicked I wouldn’t have enough and I was struggling at work ‘cos it took close to an hour each day to pump enough for him while he was at care. Late one night, on a bloody public holiday of all things, I gave in. I decided I would take the pressure off myself to be his all (he was 10 months by this stage and eating a very healthy sized portion of solids) and get some (organic) formula ‘just in case’.
I had told myself all along that I wouldn’t give him formula or even cows milk – that mamas milk was all he needed and it was my job to do that for him. SO, late that night on a public holiday I ran down the street (in the rain) to get said (organic) formula – low and behold the shops were shut. THEN I go to the late night pharmacy to find ONE brand of formula. You guessed it, it wasn’t organic. I almost cried. BUT – I knew this was a big loud message from the universe about control and letting go. I literally said out loud “I hear you universe, I hear you LOUD and CLEAR’. I then bought the flipping formula and went home. I made up two bottles for day care for the following day mixed with some breastmilk and he drank every ounce. Funnily enough, almost 2 months on and he’s still not on organic formula (we still have the same tin actually) and in fact he is now on lactose free formula ‘cos the other stuff didn’t agree with him (but that’s another story for another post ;|).
So mamas – trust yourself, trust in the universe ‘cos she has your back and do what feels right for you.
I’m off to get my babe up from his beautiful afternoon slumber. We might even go have a play at the beach.