Getting to grips with breastfeeding

“And are you planning on breastfeeding?” asked the midwife in the antenatal class. I patted my bump and replied, “Not today!”
Oh we were having the craic already! As annoying as I was, trying to be the funny girl in class, I was sincere in my wish to try and breastfeed my first baby.

I was lucky in that my sister Zoe had three kids before me and had breastfed them all. No big deal. No drama. No horror stories. Long before Instagrammed pics of celebrities breastfeeding their babies at photoshoots, I’d seen my sister nurse my nieces and nephew…and it was just normal. So it was a no brainer that I would breastfeed my baby when he arrived.

Though I did get a bit worried that it wouldn’t work. That my boobs wouldn’t work. It felt like all you heard about were the mums who were plagued by mastitis & cracked nipples or those who loved it so much, they breastfed their kids til they started school. I didn’t want to be either. I just wanted to try it and take it feed by feed, day by day.

So I did a bit of reading, took an extra class, and hoped that when the time came, my humble 34Bs would step up to the plate.

I remember learning off a little phrase like I was reciting my eleven times tables (always the trickiest I thought).

Tummy to tummy, Nose to nipple, and lob the gob. Sounds stupid, but I’m glad I had it in my head that first night in hospital with Finn. The midwives in The National Maternity Hospital were amazing, and were literally hands on in getting me off to a good start with the feeding. Because it’s insane really. Your body has just been through the most physical experience of your life, waters breaking, contractions, pushing, delivery and that’s just if you have a text book labour.

After all your sweat and tears, you then meet the child that will become the love of your life…and just when you want to snuggle with him and fall into the deep sleep which your worn out body deserves, it’s time to get familiar with a whole new bodily function. And yes it can be weird. Though after the whole birthing a human escapade, nothing is surprising to you anymore.

I remember being worried about this weirdness when I was still pregnant with Finn. Would I be able to have a baby attached to me without being a little freaked out? Would it feel strange as the milk came in? Would I ever feel like my old self again? But once he arrived, it was amazing how normal it all felt.

Luckily we made a good team when it came to feeding. And it really is a team effort. We’d a good start and that was probably the reason why I’d a good experience overall. Finn was born at 3.24pm on New Years Eve 2014.  And so, as the new year dawned and the midwife told me it was a minute passed midnight, I lay in bed, nursing my son, amazed how my body was still able to nourish this human even now he was out of my tummy.

I went on to breastfeed him anywhere and everywhere. I couldn’t bear to hear him cry out in hunger so I actually never felt embarrassed feeding him no matter where I was. His need overruled any mortification on my part.

I’ve since fed both my little lads in carparks, in supermarkets, at the playground, on park benches, in the hairdressers, once while I was getting a pedicure, cafes…I never had any negative experiences thankfully.

Though just this week, I thought I was about to have my first uncomfortable encounter.

I was in Arnotts and JJ started kicking off. I sat down at a table in the cafe, draped a large muslin scarf over us, and fed him. An older man looked over at me and did a double take. “Here we go” I thought, “this is gonna be weird”.

Then he said, “If you need me to get you anything, just ask”. Wow, that’s sweet I thought. “I’ve no dinner in, so could you do a food shop for me”? Oh the lolz.
He told me his first grandchild was on the way in August and we had a little chat. And it was lovely. No weirdness.

Then when I went up to the counter to order my bagel, the staff told me to sit down, they’d bring it over, and did I want a glass of water? Small things, but they make a difference when you’ve your hands full (a phrase any mum pushing a double buggy will hear ten times a day).

So that’s why I was delighted to sign up to this initiative. Mums should feel welcome anywhere they go. It is so important to get out of the house when it’s just you and the baby. Yes it’ll take two hours to make it as far as the car, but you’ll feel all the better for seeing the outside world. Its kinda like the gym, you never regret going.

But please be kind to yourself too. Don’t feel like you’ve to say yes to every visitor. It is also great to bolt the door, take to the couch, watch old Kardashian episodes, and feed your baby.

Over the last year and a half, I’ve learned that motherhood will test you, thrill you, make you feel like you have superpowers one day, and can’t remember your name the next. And it’s that heady cocktail of emotions that makes this experience addictive….and the reason why I’ve got two under two

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Karen Koster

Karen Koster is the anchor of Ireland's primetime entertainment news show, Xposé which is broadcast on TV3 every weekday. She is currently on maternity leave after welcoming her second child, JJ (John James), on February 29th this year. She is also mum to Finn, who was born on New Year’s Eve 2014.

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