Before I start this, I want to make it clear that I am a firm believer that when it comes to feeding your child, fed is best.
However that works for you, there should never be any judgement, expectation or opinion from anyone else.
I know so many new mums who have felt huge pressure which does absolutely nothing to pave the way for successful breast feeding and in fact in many ways has the opposite.
All I know is what worked for me.
With Sebastian, my eldest son, breastfeeding did not come easily and continuing was mainly down to the fact that I felt much more strongly about needing to do it than I thought I would.
It was, despite a rocky start, such an overwhelmingly special and magical thing that instead of any judgment either way, I just felt incredibly lucky to have been able to do it.
Once it was working, I felt that he and I were connected in a way that I had never felt with another person.
Breastfeeding was part of an intense love both for my firstborn child and for motherhood.
I was 36 weeks pregnant with my second child when Sebastian’s blood tests came back abnormal, when Duchenne was suggested as the most likely diagnosis.
Leading up to Toby's birth, I was plunged into a kind of grief that is difficult to articulate.
I felt heavy with darkness that threatened to overwhelm me. Despite my very pregnant body, I was empty in every other way. Having loved feeling my baby move within me, I then felt nothing but a numb, cold fear.
And my biggest fear was not that he would also have Duchenne, but that either way I would not find a way through the darkness to love him. I didn’t feel capable of it.
And then he was here. And a light flickered back on.
He latched onto my breast within minutes.
He arrived knowing me, and I knew him.
In feeding him, I felt the jolt of a purely physical connection which brought me back, of my body which had so failed to keep Sebastian safe giving his brother life. I clung to it.
The darkness subsided because only he and I existed in the times I fed him.
I could close my eyes and drink him in, drink in the simplicity and purity he brought to the world which no longer made any sense to me.
Breastfeeding him connected me to the love I felt for him which could so easily have been buried beneath the fog and the grief.
It brought my focus back to him when so much attention was needed elsewhere. My mind slowed and let my body be at peace, transferring all the love I had into him along with my milk.
So I will never pretend that breastfeeding can work for everyone, that it’s even an option for some people, that it isn’t painful, exhausting and challenging in many ways.
I promise you will wake up covered in milk on multiple occasions and that you will feel you have showed your boobs to more unsuspecting people than you’d like.
But I am so incredibly lucky to have been able to successfully feed both of my boys.
Both journeys fulfilled me in ways I hadn’t predicted.
But breastfeeding Toby during what was the hardest year of my life healed a little part of my shattered heart and cemented it to his.
I honestly believe it saved me.