Fed Up: Game for when the Boob's a Bogey
Breastfeeding my second left me feeling less than perky: BOOB OR BUST. These are my pointers for practical action, for anyone struggling after ceasing breastfeeding.
With breast advertised as best, it is really no wonder that a failed attempt to breastfeed can result in guilt, grief or a sense of failure.
Life is often about striking a balance. When the balance is tipped in favour of the milk source, rather than your mini or your mind, something isn’t right. Making sure your mini is well fed is a big part of the mama job description, but if you’re fed up, being the best mama version of yourself can be tough. Understand that making the decision to stop breastfeeding in favour of being a better mama is not failure, the opposite is in fact true.
Read, BUT don’t believe all you read! My twilight ‘goggling’ (as it's referred to in our house) brought me unhelpful thread delights such as ‘undersupply is a myth all women worry about’ and ‘healthy mammals can’t not feed their offspring’. Fuel for my insecurities and entrenching my sense of isolation. Clearly I was useless and looking for a pathetic excuse for my crapness at breastfeeding. Luckily a lovely lactation consultant gave me the label I needed to be able to tackle the way I was feeling: breastfeeding grief. She also recommended 'Healing Breastfeeding Grief'. I didn't relate to the whole book but the power of knowing I wasn’t alone was huge. Reading the words of other women that could so easily have been my own, I cried the tears I had bottled up for too long.
Talking is great, but sometimes people don’t hear or just don’t understand. Writing can be a bit like talking, but with no interruptions and no need to apply censors. In the thick of it, understanding what is at play can be difficult and feeling out of control can dominate. My advice, get it off your chest and down on paper. By writing our story, I was able to gain a better understanding of what the hell had happened in those early months with my boy. Where had it gone wrong? Were there things I could have done differently? Independent to the answers, I started to regain some control over my story. Writing allowed me to put my feelings down on paper and more importantly leave them there. It was cathartic, helping me unpick my story and put it in perspective. Helping me find the words I needed to be able to talk.
And finally be kind to yourself, find some 'me' time. I'm better able to focus my attention on my minis when I've had some time to focus on myself. My New Year's resolution is to give meditation a go, stay with me, I'm talking in the simplest sense of the practice. Finding a place and time in the day where I can have five uninterrupted minutes (succeeding in this alone will be a triumph, good for the self esteem) to focus on my breathing, counting with each inhale, up to a count of ten, and repeating, until my time is up! My toddlers regularly have me counting to three in a day, so I think remembering there are numbers and a mindset beyond three will be good for me. But in all honesty without a purpose I am unlikely to make the time for myself.
Celebrate..............with a bottle for yourself, now a tipple won't interfere with the nipple. Embrace all that is on offer now you’re no longer breastfeeding. Treat yourself to a cocktail, a spa day, a solo trip to the supermarket, a wardrobe item that isn’t feeding friendly, an uninterrupted bath or a hot coffee, whatever floats your boat.
Regardless of what approach works for you I’d say work it, so you don’t treat the next mini like a ‘do over’ or worse let the fear of failure put you off another one altogether. Taking some inspiration from Carrie Fisher and her lovely mama, I think we need to start concentrating less on surviving and more on sur-thriving this journey of mamahood.
Bottled Up; Suzanne Barston
Healing Breastfeeding Grief; Hilary Jacobsen