In’t Milk Brill

It’s surprising how you get used to getting your boobs out in public. Maybe because it’s just the one-out-at-a-time approach when you’re breastfeeding – or maybe the efforts of the breastfeeding militants over the past few years doing their best – but I’ve not been self-conscious about feeding Tilly.

Well, apart from that time when my (very traditional) father-in-law came into the lounge when Tilly was a few months old and I was feeding her. He looked my way and gave an alarmed look. He then sat on the sofa looking in the opposite direction carrying on our conversation – interspersing his sentences with “sorry”. I did respond to his turned back but I felt a bit desperate. He’s not to blame; he’s from the generation when it became very much not the done thing to breastfeed.

A panicked drive to A&E when we started to wean Tilly at six months made me happy I worked through the month long pain barrier that was breastfeeding when she was a newborn. She was given oral steroids due to her allergic reaction to dairy. Her mouth became swollen after munching on a piece of pasta that had touched cheese in my bowl. So far, so good on the breastfeeding front.

Things people have said along the way have made me laugh. “It’s just not natural,” had me rolling about (sorry H!). Because she is a big girl some people have said (as my nipple is in her mouth): “Are you still feeding her?” Obviously yes, otherwise I would be doing a weird teething ring option…

I had planned to give it up at 12 months but her allergy has pressed me along until I am confident she is getting all her nutrients from food. The thing is now I want to stop and there’s not a great deal of advice about how to give it up. La Leche breastfeeding league recommend self weaning. Ha! This very morning after feeding on and off all night (teething makes her want more …and she seems to be teething more often than not) I refused to feed her as I needed to get ready for work. She swiped me across the face and growled. I get the feeling she is not ready to self-wean.

But I am ready. It’s been a wonderful thing we have been able to share. It’s provided us with a thing just the two of us can do. By that, I don’t want to make any non-breastfeeders feel bad. You can create the same closeness feeding with a bottle – in my case though, I think I would have taken the opportunity of passing her over to Ken with a bottle while I got on with the house work jobs.

The house has taken a back seat… although I have learned to adeptly manage tasks one handed with a baby hanging off my chest so it hasn’t quite gone to the wall. I have fed in some unusual places. Once, while walking through Barcelona looking for a particular place, I fed her when she was in the sling. And it has been great not to have had to bother with the faff of sterilising bottles and all the equipment that goes with it.

I was hoping a non-dairy milk substitute in a cup would work but she’s not interested. Anyone been here? I’d love a fail-safe plan to work to.

And looking forward to that day when I am finally able to wean her the thing I am most looking forward to is the freedom to go to my wardrobe and choose what to wear based on how I feel (rather than easy-accessibility to my chest). Polo neck jumpsuits here I come!

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