What are the unexpectedly brilliant breastfeeding benefits, the ones no-one really tells you about?
I’ve not really written that much about breastfeeding second time round. Last time it was a massive deal with many hurdles and barriers and highs and lows and tears and triumphs, whereas second time, it’s just been…remarkably unremarkable. It is still smooth sailing and at 20 months F shows no sign of stopping which is fine, we have no exit plan (much like politics then).
However, it’s so much a part of everyday life, so I thought why not write about it again? After spectacularly failing to post anything for Celebrate Breastfeeding Week I thought I’d do something now.
So carrying on the theme of celebration, I wanted to focus on the positives. I think everyone knows about the health benefits, so I wanted to look at the really good bits no-one really tells you about…the unexpectedly brilliant side effects and breastfeeding benefits…
You get to wear comfortable bras at all times. I wore a padded, underwired bra for a meeting the other day and you know what? It was agony. I felt like someone was poking me in the ribs at the same time as constricting them with a hot metal hula hoop. I say this as someone who used to wear a padded, underwired bra at all times. But that was before I discovered the comfortable joys of breastfeeding bras. The majority of them are pretty fugly, let’s face it, even four and a half years in I’ve not quite got round to buying a ‘sexy’ one. But SO comfortable.
You always get the baby back: One of the lovely / frustrating things about lovely lovely newborn babies is that everyone wants to hold them. Newborn babies need to be fed lots, so inevitably they will get handed back to you, the one with the boobs.
You get to sit down, a lot: It’s true. Apart from when you’re a second-time mum, when you have to feed standing up / running round / waiting on child number two, which is a skill in itself. But there’s always some quality sofa time getting really well acquainted with blogs, all of these and the whole of the internet and so on.
You get to lie down, a lot: It took me a long time to master the lying down feed manoeuvre, but with a baby who doesn’t like sleeping this has been the most useful thing ever.
Cake, loads of it: Nothing gives me hunger like breastfeeding, even pregnancy. As soon as I started feeding I was filled with the type of instantaneous ravenous hunger where you have to drop everything immediately – well, not the baby – in pursuit of some kind of food. It burns loads of calories, which makes it easy to justify all the biscuits to myself, even this many months on. I just had two iced buns for breakfast. What?
The magic of feeding to sleep: Lots of people talk about feeding babies to sleep like it’s a bad thing, a rod for your own back. I once told a doctor I fed Eliza to sleep and she did that sharp intake of breath thing and told me not too (I never even went there with the health visitor). But it’s brilliant because it’s relaxing for everyone and gets them to sleep. Getting them into the cot, on the other hand…
New clothes: You need to have easy access, so need to go shopping (see: summer breastfeeding dresses)
It’s an instant comfort, a quietener, a peace-keeper and a happy hello after time apart. Plus it helps normalise it for everyone else (why I’m not embarrassed about public feeding).
All the endorphins: Breastfeeding releases lots of happy chemicals, which I think explains all the feeding selfies I have on my phone as I’m always trying to capture some kind of blissful moment (before I get a foot in my face. Oh, wriggly toddlers).
Also, for balance, two things that are not so great…Your (my) children are always sticking their hands down your top and rummaging and sometimes as a special treat they will get a boob out too, usually in public or when you’re trying to have a serious conversation with the builder (just me…?) And breastfeeding in this HEAT. Enough said.
What are your unexpectedly favourite things about breastfeeding, your favourite breastfeeding benefits?