Before I had my daughter, Katla, I never considered just what went into breastfeeding. I knew it was something I wanted to try, and after a few bumps in the road, we were able to do it!
I’d spoken to my sister, Hannah, my mum, and my Auntie Kaye so many times about how it felt, comfortable positions, pumps and expressing, bras, and everything in between, but we never spoke about how much time breastfeeding takes. Honestly, I don’t think it’s something we even take into consideration when deciding if breastfeeding is for us.
After Katla was born, she was in great health, but labelled a “reluctant feeder”. Looking back, I think the pethadine made her sleepy, but either way, we were going to prove them wrong! They asked us to stay overnight so they could see some feeds, but with the maternity staffing crisis, and the pandemic it took so much to get someone to witness a feed I started logging them.
I started logging feeds on an app
I downloaded a free app that allowed me to log feed times and note which boob we last used and went from there. Katla was born on October 7th, and we started logging in the app on 8th.
A few months ago I realised I could export the data out of the app. It wasn’t until this week that I actually did just that. A quick export into an Excel document, and the rows and rows of numbers were crazy! Every feed. Every minute, broken down per boob. Scrolling took forever.
A few months ago I realised I could export the data out of the app…Every feed. Every minute, broken down per boob.
After adding a few formulae and converting minutes into hours, hours into days, and days into weeks, I could see exactly how much time we’d spent feeding. From October 8th to May 11th at 8pm:
10,408 minutes / 173 hours / 7.2 days
9864 minutes / 164 hours / 6.8 days
20,272 minutes / 337 hours / 14 days
It’s hard to fathom how much time I’ve actually spent breastfeeding
At 7 months and 4 days old, Katla and I had spent over TWENTY THOUSAND MINUTES just us, feeding and bonding. (That’s like watching Shrek almost 225 times!) It’s incompressible! I looked at these numbers on the computer screen and just couldn’t take in what this meant.
At 7 months and 4 days old, Katla and I had spent over TWENTY THOUSAND MINUTES just us, feeding and bonding. (That’s like watching Shrek almost 225 times!)
I think of all the mums who feed their babies for 2+ years and what their total time must look like. I think of my sister Hannah, who’s daughter Lyra would feed for 40+ minutes on some feeds, knowing Katla feeds for between 5 and 15 minutes each feed, and I imagine her total time at 7 months must have been vastly more than 337 hours! Then I think of the mums who bottle feed their babies and share their hours with the other parent, grandparents, friends and family.
Of course, after a short while, you start to find ways to share the feeding time with the day-to-day things. I’ve fed at yoga, doing sun salutations with one arm, I’ve fed walking round Asda, and I’ve unashamedly fed on the toilet at 3am, when I desperately needed a wee. Time to myself isn’t something I’m too familiar with anymore, but as we wean Katla, I’m getting a bit more time, and it’s a welcome but strange feeling after all this time.
I’ve often had a cry at my husband about how selfish I must be for feeding and taking time away from him, but he so beautifully reminds me what this time means for our beautiful girl. 337 hours of cuddles, 337 hours of shared antibodies, 337 hours of time only I could share.
I’ve given up a lot to breastfeed but I wouldn’t change a thing
The minutes and hours in a day are usually not thought about when you have a baby. You just get on and do things as and when you need to. We breastfeed on demand (which I think is the only way, but if you’ve nailed feeding to a schedule, you’re amazing!!) And Katla doesn’t sleep through the night. I’ve done every “night shift”, I’ve given up time with friends and family, I’ve forgotten to bring my cup of tea close enough to reach and watched it go cold countless times, I’ve re-watched Friends, and The Big Bang Theory so many times. I’ve even jumped out the shower halfway through when I can hear screaming coming through the walls, but you know what, I’d not change a thing.
All the time, all 337 hours (although it’s more than that since I ran the numbers and started writing this!), I’d happily give the same over again. Of course, if this was a job that paid hourly, I’d be doing quite well for myself, but nothing is as valuable as seeing Katla’s little face light up when she knows it’s time for a snack only mummy can give.
If this was a job that paid hourly, I’d be doing quite well for myself, but nothing is as valuable as seeing Katla’s little face light up when she knows it’s time for a snack only mummy can give.
I’m hoping we can continue to feed until Katla’s birthday. I think a golden boobie badge is going to be a perfect milestone for us, and if we do get there, I’m going to run these numbers again. I can’t wait to see what it tells us.
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