It was World Breastfeeding Week last week. A week in which to think about boobs more than usual (and indeed my Facebook feed seemed to consist of 50% breastfeeding, 45% Jeremy Corbyn and 5% the usual cats).
Considering breastfeeding stopped for us 8 months ago, I do still think a lot about boobs. Which I suppose is useful when you’re as breastfeeding peer supporter, which I’ve been for about a year and a half. I’m still not 100% sure why I trained when the opportunity arose. A lot of other peer supporters I’ve met had encountered difficulties with breastfeeding, which they’d overcome with support and they wanted to give something back. In some ways I feel a bit of a fraud as I was lucky enough not to really have any difficulties with it. Although maybe that’s not being fair to myself: I do remember a lot of tears, clenched teeth and desperate scrabbles for the Lansinoh in the middle of the night in those early days.
But then it got easier. And it suited me because, well, I’m lazy. And generally unprepared. And breastfeeding meant not having to remember things and sitting on my arse in front of Netflix for hours on end (the amount of Criminal Minds episodes we watched in those early days makes me worry what that small brain might have absorbed). It was easier, but not always easy. There was the time when I ventured out to get my hair cut for the first time, which was interrupted by my mum waving frantically through the window as they couldn’t get Ari to settle, so I had to haul myself home, hair dye still on (living a few doors down from the hairdressers has some benefits at least). And then there were the early days of breastfeeding in public when it felt like there were TOO MANY PEOPLE and they would all be LOOKING AT MY BOOBS. But I got over it once I’d fed in a Splott pub on a Saturday evening.
And then, after 18 months, Ari decided she was ready to finish. I felt somewhat cheated that it was such an easy end after learning about the different techniques women have had to use to dissuade a milk-crazy little one – Bovril nipples, lemon juice and, my favourite, painting scary faces on their boobs. I wanted to paint faces on my boobs! It also, again, made me feel something of a fraud to be supporting other women when it felt like my own breastfeeding journey didn’t last for very long. One thing I have learnt from being a mother is that there’s always someone to compare yourself to.
Breastfeeding group has finished for the summer now – not by choice but because when we turned up on Monday we were told they’d be closed for refurbishing for the month. (“Oh, we didn’t think you’d be here over the summer.” Babies don’t stop being born for the school holidays!) But there are bigger challenges than flaky venues for breastfeeding support. Like idiot talk show hosts ranting about “fat chavvy women” breastfeeding on the bus. Breastfeeding is ‘unnatural’ apparently. I just missed the Showstopper round on GBBO (don’t get between me and Bake Off!) emailing a complaint about Alex Dyke of BBC Radio Solent’s ridiculous rant.
I have become one of those people.