Sunday 8 December 2019

Amanda Brunker - 'The sight of toddlers being breastfed unsettles me'

Friday 02 October 2015. Amanda Brunker with her sons R to L: Setanta (8) and Edward (9) McLaughlin
Friday 02 October 2015. Amanda Brunker with her sons R to L: Setanta (8) and Edward (9) McLaughlin

Amanda Brunker

WARNING: today's column may cause offence. The words, "boobs", "snobs" and "breastfeeding activists" may be used more than once. If you consider yourself to be either of the latter, I suggest you stop reading now!

Last week, I explained the importance of fitting in some sleep, over sticking to an ideal bedtime regime. If you missed it, I basically said that grabbing a few Zzzzs - whether on the couch beside a travel cot, in the car with the engine running in your garden, or taking the tot into the bed with you - was much better than going without and playing it by the book. To be blunt, sleep deprivation can cause accidents around the home and, in some situations, marital strife.

Okay, now that you get a sense of my no-nonsense and practical parenting, let's move onto the highly contentious breastfeeding debate: to boob, or not-to-boob? That is the question that sends snobs into head-spins.

For fear of starting a class war, I'll refrain from making any comments about stay-at-home moms who tend to drive four-by-fours and let their little darlings suckle until they're sitting their Junior Cert.

Instead, I will start by reminding people that in all likelihood, many of you reading this article were not breastfed. And while pro-breastfeeding groups link this to all kinds of health issues, I think it's fair to say that those of us who are obese and drinking too much wine have no one to blame but ourselves - it is nothing to do with our mothers playing hide the nipple.

Read more: 'Breastfeeding my 4-year-old is about meeting her needs, not worrying about what other people think'

When I was pregnant with my first, I wanted a home birth. I spent a fortune on recyclable nappies (seriously) and I was all set to breastfeed for at least six months. Honestly folks, any child that can ask for the breast, (and that has teeth!), should have moved onto drinking from a cup, because the sight of toddlers being breastfeed unsettles me.

In hindsight, I was glad my hubby talked me out of the home birth. I had very difficult labours on both kids and I wouldn't want to think what could have happened if I wasn't in the safety of a hospital. As for the nappies, we immediately turned to disposable, which still saddens me, but today's topic is about breastfeeding (or not), and here is where the topic get serious.

Despite always having large breasts and the gags that my son would be the best fed baby, he wasn't. For two agonising weeks, I struggled to feed Edward; my milk was too watery. He cried constantly and got skinner every day. It wasn't until I broke down emotionally, with feelings of failure, and stuck a bottle in his mouth that he settled. He was finally full and content, as was I.

Trying to be the perfect mum was exhausting. The guilt over not breasfeeding was awful. But life isn't perfect, nor do you have to be.

In short, do what suits you and your baby. If breastfeeding works, great; if it doesn't, forget about it. Babies are fine either way. So don't be henpecked over it by anyone, you're perfectly entitled to do what's right for you and your baby.


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