Parenting

My Baby Is Not Broken...So Please F**k Off

Yes you are right, he does seem to be on my boob 24/7.

Time and time again, I am reminded of why we think our babies are broken. Just yesterday, I saw an advertisement in my local newspaper.

“Does your child need some help sleeping?” it read.

I cringed…I looked at the picture of the beautiful baby sleeping peacefully in his cot. And I was brought back to my feelings when I had my first baby of helplessness, of wondering, “Why is MY baby not sleeping? What is wrong with him?”

We are also told our babies are breastfeeding too frequently and we are spoiling them by holding them too often. We are repeatedly reminded by well-meaning friends and family that our baby is breastfeeding AGAIN?!

So I ask those of you who feel the need to comment and question how we are mothering…please kindly f&@k off.

Yes my baby wakes night after night…not because he is broken, but because night-time breastfeeds are important as babies take up to 20% of their daily intake at night [1]. So please, kindly f&@k off.

Yes my baby cries if I do not cuddle him when he wakes…and I disagree with you, his cries are not “protests,” they are CRIES. Babies actually continue to have raised cortisol (stress hormone) levels even after they stop crying and appear settled and peaceful following their cries while “learning” to fall asleep on their own [2].

Even as my babies turned into toddlers I still continued to answer their cries by breastfeeding. So please, kindly f&@k off.

Sometimes when I wake in the morning I am so tired I could scream. I need toothpicks to hold up my eyelids and there is not enough coffee in the world to cure what ails me…but for me there is no other way because I mother at night by breastfeeding, not by doing “responsive settling,” “sleep training” or “controlled crying.”

So please, kindly f&@k off and stop telling me there is another word for my baby CRYING. It is their only way of communicating.

My expectations were so high to start with. I knew my baby would wake frequently but didn’t know it would last so long. Thankfully I met some amazing women who also mother through breastfeeding throughout the night and I realized I wasn’t crazy…I have just been doing what we have all been doing since forever…responding to our babies.

My poll [3] of over 8,000 women found that over 25 percent of breastfed children between 0-24 months old were continuing to wake between 4-6 times per night. So please, kindly f&@k off while you try to skew my reality of what is normal for breastfed children.

Yes, I breastfeed to sleep. Yes, I cuddle to sleep. Yes, we bedshare and I barely wake to breastfeed my child. And no…it’s not a bad habit. So please, kindly f&@k off. Bedsharing actually can be done safely as there are research based safe guidelines that can be followed [3].

Yes, I know my baby is little. He has been on the 5th percentile for months. He has a slender body just like his father (genetics at play here). Please, kindly f&@k off.

Oh yes, my baby is good! He is actually the most perfect little baby. He snuggles into me all night and wakes frequently so he can get the perfect amount of milk that he needs. He usually takes little short naps unless I hold him since he likes to be close to me.

He has entered the attachment phase of development so he likes to be with me all the time, so he is right on track as to where he should be! The most important tenet of attachment theory is that an infant needs to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for the child’s successful social and emotional development, and in particular for learning how to effectively regulate their feelings [4]. So please, kindly f&@k off.

Yes you are right, he does seem to be on my boob 24/7. I’m so thankful for that because that’s why I have such an awesome milk supply as breasts work on supply and demand [5].

Sometimes he breastfeeds every 20 minutes and other times he goes for four hours in-between. But I know that by breastfeeding him on demand he is getting what he requires on any given day and my supply can keep up with him. So please, kindly f&@k off.

I know it’s hard for you to understand why breastfeeding is such a big deal for me and it’s hard for me to put it into words because it’s a feeling as deep down in my soul as I have ever experienced…

How he looks at me while breastfeeding, how I swell in pride when I look at his growing body and think, “That’s all from my milk!” or how healthy he is. How he is instantly settled by breastfeeding when he has hurt himself, is having a temper tantrum or fighting an illness.

I know that breastfeeding is always there and always works. It is our bond, it is his comfort, his nourishment and his safety. The time will come when he no longer needs to breastfeed, but I have such comfort in knowing that his needs were met in the most natural way possible, as we have been doing since the beginning of time.

Please allow me to find my own way by following my baby’s lead, trusting my instincts and mothering through breastfeeding.

1. Kent JC, et all. Volume and frequency of breastfeedings and fat content of breast milk throughout the day. Pediatrics. 2006; 117(3):387-395.

2. Middlemiss W, Granger D, Goldberg W, Nathans L. Asynchrony of mother–infant hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis activity following extinction of infant crying responses induced during the transition to sleep. Early Human Development. 2012; 88:227-232.

3. Meg Nagle. Boobin’ All Day…Boobin’ All Night. A Gentle Approach To Sleep for Breastfeeding Families. Sunshine Coast: Meg Nagle; 2015.

4. Holmes J. John Bowlby & Attachment Theory. Makers of modern psychotherapy. London: Routledge; 1993.

5. http://www.parentingscience.com/infant-feeding-schedule.html

Meg Nagle, IBCLC (The Milk Meg) is a mother, author, speaker and advocate for breastfeeding families. She can be found at www.themilkmeg.com