I’m currently on sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll maternity leave. And this is what I’ve learned so far.
Day in, day out, pregnant women waltz around declaring what motherhood is going to be like. Some might think they’ll be back at work in 6 months, back in shape by 3 months and back in the doggy style position with daddy by 6 weeks.
But then they enter the world of motherhood, and boomshakalaka, shit gets real.
Most specifically, the realness that is breastfeeding. And eventually, when breastfeeding actually stops.
I stupidly put a date in my head about when to wean my toddler off breast milk. I used to confidently say, “Once her teeth come through, I’ll get her off the teet”. Then 10 months came by and I said, “I need to get her off my tits by the time she’s 1 so I can get off MY tits”.
Let’s just say she’s 14 months now and still going strong.
Now I’ve totally changed my tune, and I just want her to self-wean. I just want her to look at my boobs and be like “Nah, no thanks Mama, I’d rather eat my own nappy thank you very much”.
But let’s be real here. It’s rare for babies to self-wean before 2, so that could take a while.
Leaving her to cry in a room like a tortured little mammal would probably be the only way to stop the feeds right now. Getting her off the tit would be like the scene out of Trainspotting when the guy is coming off heroin.
BTW I really wanna see Trainspotting 2. I sometimes miss going to the movies, going out for dinner with my man, seeing my favourite artist in concert… but to be honest, when I had that freedom I abused it.
I drank heavily and smoked tons of fags and the evening almost never ended there. There was always a party I could go to — and I went to all the parties. I really could write a book about my nights on the dance floor.
Maybe it’s time to close the party monster chapter, continue breastfeeding and focus on my daughter. But I want a bit more to life.
I want to be a mum who can pop to a friend’s birthday drinks. I want to be a breastfeeding mum who can fly out of town for a weekend. I want to be a breastfeeding mum who can have evenings to myself without having my eyes, ears and spirit glued to the baby monitor.
Or maybe I just can’t have it all? A friend always says, “Get creative, have people over for cocktails in the evening. Shag your man in the kitchen bla bla”. My sex drive is DEAD though! My vagina is probably dead too. It’s only used for pissing now.
Mind you, even if it took 3 attempts to watch the last 2 episodes of Game of Thrones recently (because of a frequently waking teething baby) I now have a little tingly feeling below about banging Jon Snow. Maybe there is hope for my vagina after all. Let’s have a sex update in 6 months shall we?
Meanwhile, my baby woke up extra early this morning — and for the first time she didn’t want to get up for the day but cuddle for 2 hours instead. It’s like she wanted to remind me why it’s so important to keep breastfeeding, just when I was thinking of stopping.
Among all the prepping, tidying, protecting, guiding, and entertaining, it’s important to have quiet moments like this to appreciate the bond with your baby. I love her so much for all her lessons and how much she’s enriched my life.
So what if I’ve got saggy tits and a dry vagina for now? I think the real pressure is that Daddy has to schedule a blow job one month in advance. He’s the one that gets left out. But at the same time, those hugs he gets from her when he comes home from work are pure ecstasy. He runs home for them. It’s all good for both of us. He’s cool. The pressure is all in my head.. I think.
- Tits shrink back to its normal size
- FREEEEEEEDOM TO DRANK !!!!!
- Apparently my sex drive will come back like a vengeance and it won’t go back to that “oh I must look pretty and perfect” type sex life; it’ll be that Amazonian, “I know who I am, I’m comfortable with my body, bend the knee, look at my birth wounds for what they are and worship me mother fucker” type sex!
- I could put on loads of weight
- Get regular periods again (if anyone had heavy and excruciating periods like me then you know it’s just not a good look for me)
- Lose the magical use of the breast for soothing, nourishing, healing and bonding.
You know what? There’s no point fooling myself anymore. Realistically I’ll be hanging up my disco shoes till my child is AT LEAST eating, shitting and sleeping independently. Done deal.
If you want to continue breastfeeding and attachment parenting but need reassurance, then refer to this very real list below from time to time.
1. It’s totally biologically normal that your baby needs to be close to you, rocked or held in your arms. Yes, it can be exhausting but if you’re not willing to put in the work then what’s the point in having a child? In the same way that dogs need to be walked a few times a day, babies also need fresh air and need to be walked. In the same way that dogs aren’t just for Christmas, babies aren’t just for Christmas too! Aight!?
2. Whilst we’re on the comparison to dogs: we’re advised NEVER to adopt puppies before 8-12 weeks. We are told it’s important for puppies to get all the nurture and nutritional goodness from their mother to avoid irreversible emotional and behavioural problems in dogs. 8-12 weeks is the equivalent to 14-24 months in human years. Can we at least have equal maternity rights to dogs already? Jeez.
3. Many anthropologists say humans are born 12 months too early. Apparently, evolution has made a trade-off between big baby brains and the narrow pelvises needed for bipedal walking, resulting in babies born earlier, all helpless and needy. We are born with less than 30% of our brains for fuck’s sake, so why are parents expecting babies to be independent before they can even think?
Babies need plenty of love and nurturing to thrive. They need to live in an external womb for at least 9-18 months, hence the need for rocking and support to self-soothe. They need breastfeeding, thumb sucking, finger sucking, tongue sucking, a pacifier, rocking or plenty of cuddles to soothe to sleep. Some parents opt for enforcing sleep training instead. Sleep training should actually be called “Stop Child from Expressing It’s Needs & Emotions”. That’s what it is. They feel abandoned so they have no other choice but to shut up fuck up.
4. The first 3 years are the most sensitive period for brain development. The experiences the child has in these early years will shape their character for life. Be the architect of your childrens’ lives. How you parent really matters. Help your baby grow a healthy brain for the future. The love and positive responsive care you give in the first 3 years lasts a lifetime. Make that 3-year investment or regret it forever. Nobody wants an unhappy child who becomes a massive pain in the ass to family and society.
5. They say African babies cry less than European babies. The Africans say “it takes a village to raise a child”, but if you live in a crack den area of South London like me with no family help, you can opt for the other traditional African way of raising a child which is: sleep with your baby. Breastfeed on demand. And keep your baby close to you for the first 2 years.
African women have been babywearing for centuries. Babywearing helps to comfort and soothe a baby to sleep whilst you get on with your daily activities. Strap the baby to your back or your front like an external womb. Walk around at nap time and do your housework (I took a shit once) and your baby will fall asleep in minutes. Just that movement alone will help rock baby to sleep.
6. Nurturing an infant is the hardest job in the world, physically and emotionally, but it’s worth doing a good job of it and raising happy, secure and loving beings. Western culture encourages mums to suck in that postnatal belly and get their life back within months of giving birth.
In the UK, mothers are expected to return to work within a year of giving birth and still keep up with the rocking and sleep deprivation by night. Even worse, mothers in America are expected to be back at work within 6 weeks of giving birth. One in three women in the US have a c-section, so they’re probably returning to work hobbling and bleeding.
The Swedish get it right though. Mothers get 15 months maternity leave at 80% of their pay. The Swedes understand the manual labour involved in nurturing an infant round the clock.
The world really needs to respect this crucial time in human development. Come on! If we’re not careful we might end up with a world full of Trumps & Teresa Mays. There’ll be orange and grey heads bobbing along like oompa loompas destroying the earth.
So let’s get real and save the world, one happy baby at a time, Woke Mama style.
repost. I originally wrote this article for the Wokemama Blog of