Mama, you won't regret this (part III)
One year after weaning, Lucy Mullens looks back on her breastfeeding days with fondness, pride, but has no regrets about embracing the next stage of motherhood.
The latest in our series of life lessons from nursing:
BY LUCY MULLENS, GUEST WRITER
It has been one year since I officially reclaimed my nipples!
I was worried about so many things as my breastfeeding journey came to an end. I felt so reliant on breastfeeding when my daughters were sick or injured, when we travelled or to get them back to sleep on bad nights, that I didn’t know what I’d do without the boobs.
On the flip side, after five years of nursing I had struggled to shift the remaining baby weight. I was really hoping that my boobs might reduce in size and I was keen to be able to wear a real bra, with lace maybe even with some underwire, that didn’t have clips to open top down!
So how has the year panned out?
In all honesty, at two years six months, M wasn’t ready to wean. I went abroad for 10 days to see a friend who'd just given birth. I told M that I was giving my milk to my friend for their baby. On my return she asked me for ‘booby’ every day for weeks. Sticking to my guns was hard but backtracking made me a liar.
I held fast and the world didn’t end.
The good news is that she still loves me and doesn’t seem to have been affected by my refusal to feed her, though my monopoly over her affection came to end. I have to share a lot more of her with daddy. The bad news is she still holds a large grudge against my friends baby!
I was pleased to discover that despite her craving for booby crack the sleeping was no better or worse than before. M was never a great sleeper but she was just as happy to settle with a snuggle and her dummy (a battle for another day!) once she truly believed the milk was gone.
Flying without boob was also not as bad as I'd feared.
I managed to travel back to Britain last August flying solo with the 2 of them without any issues. The fact that they were both of an age where they were able to focus on the TV or IPad helped, as did snacks and a degree of resignation about how little sleep I'd get.
Then came the day that a fever struck.
It was difficult to watch her whimper and not be able to comfort her with mummy’s magic milk. Of course the cuddles were still wonderful and Calpol did the trick. The hand sanitiser, face masks and social distancing of 2020 has also mean that sickness has fortunately not been something we have had to contend with as much - with no nursery, there's been less lurgy.
The older they get the easier it is to manage sickness without turning to a boob too.
As this is an honest account of my boob reclamation though, I have to tell you that as I write this I am wearing an old, comfy nursing bra. It turns out the underwired lace bras were hard to go back to. I did not remember them being so uncomfortable!
Unlike many of my friends I did not experience a significant change to my breast shape or size once I stopped feeding so I actually still spend a lot of my time in sports bras or my favourite nursing bras. I save the wired monstrosities for work (sometimes) and dressing up!
I also didn’t particularly lose or gain any weight as a result of stopping feeding.
People often say that nursing helps you lose weight, but I never found that to be the case and was sure breastfeeding was actually, as is the case for many women, the reason why my body was holding on to some extra curves. But it turns out my favourite excuse was not the issue, it was my favourite snacks.
So do I regret ending my breastfeeding journey?
All in all I’d have to say no. I think it is easy to remember the delicious cuddles, the smell of her hair as she suckled, the love in her eyes as she looked up at me and to miss all of those things. But, I suspect much like the agonising horror of giving birth subsides (no I did not have the lovely water birth I hoped for) I am looking through rose-tinted glasses.
I was ready to stop and I did what was right for me.
I felt I had given enough and I needed to make a change. My daughter is still a wonderfully happy, funny and mischievous little girl and our bond is as strong as ever. It would be a lie however to say I don’t look at mums and their babies with a little envy and sentimentality.
Enjoy the special moments mamas - this time won’t last forever.