Emily and Nell.
"I remember I always thought breastfeeding was a simple choice, and yes I was going to breastfeed. I would say "I'm going to 'try' and breastfeed" while I was pregnant, but always felt a smug confidence that it would all work out. I knew that i could deal with sore nipples in order to feed my little girl, and that's the only hurdle a breastfeeding mother comes across right?
Then I had my daughter- and she wouldn't latch. When she did she wouldn't feed for long enough, and wow did my nipples hurt. Then came the dreaded "percentile" drops. 50th... to 25th... to 9th... to 2nd. I wasn't prepared for that. I though every tantrum was hunger. I questioned everything... if she was hungry surely she'd just feed? I went to groups, spoke to my mums friends, spoke to my Mum, had my latch looked at, and eventually saw a much in demand and over-stretched feeding consultant. I saw my friends formula feeding their babies and felt only envy. I powered through regardless. I pumped miserably and unsuccessfully to up my supply. I made "lactation cookies". I set my alarm for every 3 hours at night. I couldn't give up this late in the game, it had to improve eventually.
And of course, (and I'm not quite sure when), at some point it did improve. She got bigger, her latch improved, I realised formula wasn't bad for my lovely baby, and filled her up when she seemed hungry. Feeding finally became something I enjoyed. Breastfeeding was the only way she got to sleep for months, and was and still is often the only way to comfort her when she's upset. My husband resented this initially but found his own ways to bond. Wearing her, bottles, baths.
Now 9 months in and we've got this, me, my husband and my little bubs. I can confidently say that I wouldn't still be breastfeeding without unending support from pretty much anyone who cared to listen. I've fed in the car, in the bath, on a park bench, on a sofa in Ikea, while walking the dog, at the doctors, whilst mini golfing, and I've only ever had positive responses to public feeding. I'm genuinely proud to do it. I've been brought so many glasses of water, received countless appreciative smiles and (my greatest joy), haven't had to prepare a bottle out of the house for 4 months now! This is a great thing for someone as unorganised as me.
Boobs are magical. Breastfeeding is wonderful. But if I could pass on any advice it would be to find your support network. Take advice from people who have been there, and don't have unrealistic expectations of your breastfeeding journey."
Mother Nurture is an ongoing portrait series created to celebrate breastfeeding Mothers. If you would like to take part drop me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org