One part of motherhood that I adored was the bond and the closeness of breastfeeding.
It’s not always easy in the beginning. You’re not always aware just how painful breastfeeding can be for some, for me it was like someone was stabbing me with a thousand pins in my nipples each time I had to feed. I’d sit there, biting down on a tea towel shoved in my mouth, whilst tears streamed down my face. It was horrendous actually. But I knew I had to persevere. I was determined.
Once you get past those initial couple of weeks, it’s the most rewarding and beautiful thing ever (and convenient).
I am, however, a big believer in respecting each mum’s right to decide what is best for them and their family. For some, that’s breastfeeding their children until they are 6, for some until they are 2 weeks old and for some mum’s, it’s not at all. Society shouldn’t make us feel bad for any decision we make regarding feeding our own child.
I breastfed 3 out of 4 of my daughters. 23 years ago when I had my first, I was young, found it incredibly painful and the thought of breastfeeding in public at the age of 17 filled me with absolute dread. I quickly gave up trying. But deeply regretted it.
I breastfed my second and third daughters until they were around 12 months old and my fourth daughter right up until her 3rd birthday.
I had never planned on feeding her that long, my other daughters naturally weaned themselves off, so I thought she’d just do the same, but she never did. She had always refused any other type of milk. Even my own expressed milk in any of the many bottles and different teats we tried with her.
As time went on, I must admit, I was met with a few raised eyebrows when I mentioned I was still feeding my almost 3 year old daughter, and although part of me wanted my body back, I wasn’t really ready to give up, I loved that closeness, being able to comfort my little girl when she was sad or hurting, to gently nurse her off to sleep every night. I loved it mostly. I do miss it. I still miss it now. But I did feel like a lot of people around me thought that I ought to be giving it up as she was past the baby/toddler stage. I’d been prepping her for a few months prior, asking her almost daily, what was going to happen when she turned 3 - “no more gook mummy”. I choose her third birthday as I thought she’d have all the excitement of her celebrations and her new toys to distract her slightly, and my plan worked. Just like that, she stopped. We stopped.
I didn’t feel the relief like I thought I would, I just felt awfully guilty and incredibly sad for a good few weeks after.
Most mums that I have spoken to about this subject, have mixed feelings when giving up, the relief of having their body back and being able to actually go out with their hubby or friends without having to rush back within a few hours with the boob! But overwhelmingly the sadness at the end of a very special stage in theirs and their babies life.
I only have one photo of this most precious time. A quick snap on my husbands mobile phone sat on the sofa surrounded by laundry and nappy bag contents. I don’t even know if it still exists.
I really regret not having a special portrait of myself nursing my precious baby girls.
Once your milk has all dried up and your boobs are all your own again, yes we have the memories, but memories can fade, prints will be always be there, reminding us of one of the most wonderful and rewarding parts of early motherhood.
I firmly believe it's something we must celebrate!
I am now going to be adding breastfeeding mini shoots to all baby/child ( 4 months+) portrait sessions as a bonus extra for a limited time or they can be booked as a stand alone mini session, 3 digitals for £45.
Of course if you are not breastfeeding, you can also have an image like this just cuddled up with your baby or child.