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As a mother i feel the urge to ensure my baby is properly nourished. I choose to do this by feeding him breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. I also choose to breastfeed.  When i began breastfeeding him as a newborn ,a whole year ago, it was expected and considered normal. No one commented or gave us funny looks if i was feeding him. I had a newborn, he was hungry, i fed him and that was that.

He was breastfed at cafes, restaurants, bus stops, parents rooms and sadly i also fed him in a few public toilets. I promised myself i would not be ashamed to feed my baby anywhere anytime but sitting opposite 3 elderly men in a doctors waiting room and in a crowded bowling club with my grandmother and all the other elderly people was too much for me. It wasn’t their fault, it was mine, i was too self conscious. I wish now that i hadn’t been. I wish that i’d had the strength and assertiveness to simply feed my baby, or at least move to a different chair so i would feel more comfortable. I wasn’t really prepared for how self conscious i would be with my breasts in the public arena and my baby was never comfortable with his face covered up – and why should he be?

When he hit 3 months it was still considered fairly normal to be breastfeeding but I had a somewhat ‘windy’ or ‘colicky’ baby who regularly appeared unsettled and would feed often, sometimes up to 10 or 12 times a day. This led others to the conclusion that he was obviously always hungry and needed either solids or a bottle of formula and once i was even told by an 80 year old woman to “feed him a chop!”  To all these people i simply replied that my son was breastfed and if he needed an extra feed or a top-up then that’s what he got. Regardless of my sleepless nights i was very determined.

At one stage we went through what i now know was reflux and he was waking hourly, even at night. When i took him to the doctor she suggested i switch him to an anti-reflux formula. When i told her that i was still breastfeeding she didn’t know what to recommend…in the end she suggested a food thickener in some expressed breastmilk, but it didn’t work. After reading the whole internet (seriously!) and using my powers of deduction and motherly intuition i decided it could be an intolerance to cow proteins found in milk and other dairy products. I went off dairy and the reflux stopped.

I guess i just felt that i was constantly justifying my choice to breastfeed and that the bottle-feeding Mums had it easy – after all no one offered them advice if they fed their baby a bottle and then offered them more after another hour or so, but if i did the same with my breasts then there must be something askew. Of course now i know i had it wrong. My realisation came when my first Australian Breastfeeding Association magazine arrived and i found that women who didn’t breastfeed often had feelings of inadequacy, guilt and constant justification, not to mention the constant barrage of washing, sterilising, boiling, measuring and the extra money needed to buy formula.

Neither group seemed to have it easy and i concluded that feeding a baby is hard work, no matter how you do it.

Well, i was enjoying feeding my baby, no matter how hard it was. I knew that either option would have its difficulties and i had made my choice, but i wasn’t sure for how long…

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