The 1% club

Catrin comes bounding into the kitchen…she has been recreating Arendelle outside on the decking…”Make a boat for them to go on.”

I duly oblige with a paper boat. Catrin looks at it snootily.
“No Mummy, make a bigger one so that Anna and Elsa and Pissedoff (Kristoff) can all fit in it!”
I start making a bigger paper boat and hear the pasta boiling over.
“Can you make Pissedoff for me? And can you find a reindeer?And I need a green bit for the land and a blue bit for the sea!”
I try to save the pasta and the now flooded hob with the half-made bigger boat tucked under my arm while Catrin fires several more requirements at me and Bethan wakes up and starts crying with teething pain again.
My lunch was cold by the time I managed to eat it but I didn’t really mind…I shovelled it down regardless as Bethan rolled around on the carpet and Catrin informed me “I’m thirsty and I’m going on panda’s train”.

Today I joined the 1% club and I feel very proud and lucky…Bethan is 6 months old today and, in the UK, only 1% of mums are still exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months. I was surprised to hear that figure was so low at first but I do understand why so few women carry on to 6 months and beyond. Despite all of the positive ‘breast is best’ publicity mums-to-be are constantly bombarded with and the way in which it is portrayed as the easiest and most natural thing in the world by NHS and other parenting literature, breastfeeding can be really difficult and some women don’t want to or can’t do it or try to breastfeed and meet an insurmountable issue along the way. It can be extremely painful and exhausting at first while mum and baby learn how to get the latch right and establish a milk supply and there are all sorts of potential complications to deal with as well as some people unhelpfully airing their misinformed and ignorant opinions that breastfeeding is in some way disgusting/ an excuse to flash your baps/ not something to be done in public (idiots), so I see it as one of my biggest achievements to have successfully breastfed Bethan for 6 months and to still be feeding her.

When I tried to breastfeed Catrin I ended up in hospital 10 days later with severe mastitis and a drip in my arm for 5 days while Catrin had formula shoved down her throat to get her to put weight on. I have never felt such excruciating pain before or since (including childbirth) and I felt like an utter failure for not being able to feed Catrin myself. While the formula didn’t do Catrin any harm whatsoever, it was a horrible experience which had a bigger impact on me than I realised at the time. When I was preparing to have Bethan I found myself crying at a midwife appointment when she asked if I intended to breastfeed this time around and, later at a breastfeeding support clinic, I had to hold back from blubbing all over the leaflets when I explained my previous experience. I was extremely lucky to meet a new mum of twins at that clinic who told me about a ‘secret’ group of breastfeeding mums on Facebook who offer advice, sympathy and support to each other. I joined that group and they were there for me in the middle of the night when I needed someone who understood how knackered and emotional I felt. I hope I have been helpful to other ladies on that group since then.

These days feeding Bethan is as easy and natural as the pamphlets made it out to be…it was not a breeze getting to that point but it is worth all the long nights (we still have those), persistence through pain, worry about her early weight loss, doubts about my physical capabilities and lack of ‘me time’ to see Bethan’s happy little eyes looking up at me and to feel her hand gripping my finger. She is chunky, happy and healthy and I can put my previous bad experiences behind me now because this time it worked out and I am fully aware of how lucky and privileged I am.

Happy, healthy little wriggler
Happy, healthy little wriggler

3 thoughts on “The 1% club

  1. Hi Erica…I had to undergo an operation as the mastitis was so severe, could breast feed Amartya for only 1 month..regret it a lot till this day..guess his immunity took a hit because he didn’t get enough of the nutrients and immunity boosters present in mother’s milk…

    • So sorry you ended up with mastitis too…it’s horrible and has a mental impact on the mum as well as a physical one. I wish the potential issues with breastfeeding were more openly discussed by medical professionals so problems might be spotted and treated earlier, before hospitalisation…and surgery!

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