I don’t often post about breastfeeding, as these days it can be a contentious issue, and often social media posts about the benefits of breastfeeding are accused of trying to shame those who don’t breastfeed. That is not what I am about, and I am also not a fan of confrontation, so I usually keep quiet about how important breastfeeding is to Kaylee and I. Every family has to choose what is best for them ❤
The WHO recommend exclusive breastfeeding until six months of age, and continued breastfeeding until the age of two and beyond. New research is coming out everyday regarding the illnesses that can be prevented or minimised by breastfeeding, and the benefits to both mother and child. Breastmilk is now even used by cancer patients and body builders, with amazing effects. World Breastfeeding Week is necessary, as breastfeeding mums receive very poor support and information (often given damaging advice from health professionals who unfortunately aren’t actually trained in breastfeeding), that leads to only 15% of babies in Australia still being exclusively breastfed at six months of age.
I think that the fact that breastfeeding has most definitely not been easy is part of the reason that I am so passionate about it. I have had to fight to provide Kaylee with breastmilk, and breastfeeding is not very well understood in Australia. Society is very quick to tell mothers to “just give formula” everytime you hit a hurdle, and even medical professionals give advice which is based on their own opinions rather than science and research and best practice. I have sacrificed a lot to be able to breastfeed, to be able to give Kaylee what she needs. I am very lucky to have had fantastic support from family and friends, and access to information to make informed decisions. This has been vital, as finding correct breastfeeding information is difficult at the best of times. Breastfeeding a child with significant tongue and lip ties, laryngomalacia and severe reflux has not been easy, however it is something that I am very proud to be doing. Knowing that breastfeeding lessens Kaylee's sleep apnoea and helps her reflux has kept me going on the hardest days.
This is a link to one of my favourite articles on breastfeeding, and here is my favourite breastfeeding photo of Kaylee and I.
Taken by Tabbitha Cole Photography, at eight months old.
Motherhood is amazing, joyful and full of love. It is also lonely, isolating, mundane and frustrating. I have found that one of the best ways to combat the loneliness and isolation, and to laugh rather than cry, is to find other mothers with whom you can share these moments, both big and small, and who understand what it is to feel a constant battle for a sense of self. Within my first year of motherhood I have found that it is all too easy to forget who you are, that you are someone, not just someone’s mother. It is easy to lose your identity, and to feel that you are simply a caregiver and an extension of your child. That is how I have been feeling lately.
It is also within that community of motherhood, of lovely, generous and kind women whom you call friends and look to for support, that you can feel at your loneliest and most isolated. When your child is different, and has needs that are not the norm, it is within those mothers that this fact becomes most glaringly obvious, when your experience is not mirrored or understood. The feelings are complex. When you feel surrounded by “normal” and find yourself as “the other”, especially when that relates to the medical needs of your child, it is difficult not to become frustrated and feel jealousy, and to wonder why your child is not as “lucky”, to ask why your journey of motherhood has not been so “easy”. These words are emphasised as everything is relative and subjective, and of course everyone has their own struggles and parts of motherhood that they might feel are not comparable to others. And this is all within a middle class, first world bubble of privilege that is not comparable with much of the world. While my daughter may have complex medical needs, we also have access to some of the world’s best specialists and hospitals, and the money to pay for these when they are not free and provided by a fantastic public healthcare system, and the education and experience to advocate for the best for my daughter. Many of the world’s mothers would view this experience of motherhood as very “lucky” or “easy”. So everything is relative.
However it can be difficult not to alienate yourself from these other mothers, in order to protect yourself from the mirror that is held up between you that finds fault in your experience. And that is what I am struggling with at present.
Kaylee and I celebrating her first birthday