From the minute you find out your pregnant it seems to be a question on everyone’s lips. Are you going to breastfeed or bottle feed? You are inundated with information on why breast is best in every Drs surgery, and health clinic you attend. Posters in the labour and antenatal wards on the best positions for the best latch. Great pieces of information to have, it was really helpful for me, but there was nothing on bottle feeding. The only thing that even mentioned bottle feeding was why it wasn’t any good compared to breastfeeding.
What did I choose?
I decided to breastfeed with both my babies, however in the end both babies were bottle fed. When I was pregnant with my first, it was completely unexpected, and I was living with my now ex mother in law and had very little money. So the biggest appeal to me was that it was free. It was one less thing to pay out for, and it was there for whenever my baby needed it. So it was a no brainier, I was defiantly going to breastfeed. Being a young and first time mum I didn’t really know all the other benefits to breastfeeding like I did second time round. I was more clued up on what breastfeeding had to offer, and Why it was the best milk for my baby. Second time around I was really wanting to do everything as natural as possible, from the pregnancy to labour and breastfeeding. It all had a massive appeal to me. I seen all these incredible mothers that looked like goddesses, and embraced everything about pregnancy and motherhood. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out like that for me, read Why I didn’t enjoy my pregnancy here. My breastfeeding journey didn’t turn out the way I wanted either both times, and that makes me incredibly sad.
Breastfeeding my son
When my son was born it took us a while to get the breastfeeding thing down. I lost count how many people had touched my boobs and nipples! Including my ex mother in law 😳 you really do loose all dignity when you have a baby. Once we got the latch right he took to the breast like a champ! Latched on great and fed every 2 hours! He’s defiantly going to be a boob man 😆 When the midwife came out to do his first weigh in he had gained! Usually newborn babies loose a percentage of their weight, but not Ben. He was getting a great amount of milk. He loved his milk, and the closeness it gave me with him was amazing. I felt incredibly proud, I was doing it. I was one of these goddesses that I looked up to.
Unfortunately I didn’t last long, after 2 weeks of breastfeeding bliss my milk dried up and disappeared! Just like that. Overnight. My boobs weren’t even sore, the milk had just gone! Strange isn’t it. It wasn’t until after I had my daughter and speaking with the midwife, and she explained that it was most likely down to me suffering from postnatal depression and being in a really bad place in my life. She had explained that my emotional state would have had an impact of my hormones and that could have caused my milk to stop producing. So not only did my relationship stop me from enjoying the first year of my sons life, but it stopped me from being able to breastfeed him. That will forever frustrate me! So I moved onto formula, I felt I had failed him. Like I failed as a mother. Everywhere you go and every health professional you speak to, tell you that breastfeeding is best. Yet I wasn’t able to do it anymore. So wasn’t I doing the best for my son?
Breastfeeding my daughter So when Darcie was born I knew I wanted to breastfeed her too. As soon as I could, I wanted that closeness with her straight away. I remember the midwife asking me if I was breastfeeding, and when I said yes, she replied with “good girl.” Does that mean if I said no, she would have looked down on me, said I was bad for not feeding my daughter myself? I wish I knew the answer to that one. So as Darcie was born really quickly, she wasn’t able to clear all the mucus out her lungs properly. I touched on her birth story on her one month update . She latched on straight away, but had struggles because she couldn’t breathe through her nose properly. The midwife said she would have a big vomit and clear her lungs and would be fine. We had issues with Darcie latching on and she was constantly on and off my breast, Darcie has an incredible suck on her. My nipples were in bits, I was in pain, and I dreaded each feed. This is not how I wanted breastfeeding to go. People make it look so easy on Instagram and Facebook! All these videos and photos of mothers really enjoying breastfeeding and I dreaded it. I was so jealous. I wanted more than anything to be able to successfully feed Darcie myself. So I decided to express. Even though I wasn’t able to directly feed Darcie from my breast, I still wanted her to get the breast milk. For some reason though, it’s not seen as breastfeeding, even though you are still feeding your baby breast milk. Why is that?
Expressing was difficult. Darcie is a hungry baby and I was struggling to keep up with her demand. I eventually got a supply going, although that was with me getting very little sleep. In the early days, Darcie could take up to an hour to feed, then it’d take me another hour to express, and then she’d wake up again, restating the process. I did all the night feeds as her Dad works long hours, and I could sleep when she did during the day.
I was getting more and more exhausted, to the point I was starting to feel ill. I just put it down to being tired, but when the health visitor came to visit me, she looked at me and said oh I think we need to phone a Dr. I felt like I had the flu, I had a fever and I genuinely felt the worst I had ever felt.
Turns out I had mastitis and quite a bad case of it. I had always thought there’d be a lump on my nipple where the milk was blocked, but my left boob just felt bruised. I had no idea that’s what it was. I was given antibiotics and anti-sickness tables and was sent home. However a couple days later I felt worse and ended up back at the hospital. With some new antibiotics and an anti-sickness injection, I started to feel myself again.
But during all of this, I started to feel my mental health deteriorate, and I just knew for me to enjoy my baby, I had to enjoy feeding her. I wasn’t any use to anyone especially my children being that tired. So after a long chat with my fiancé, we decided that moving onto formula would be best. I felt a lot better about my decision this time around. Although I am incredibly sad that it didn’t work out the way I wanted, I knew having a healthy baby that fed well, and my kids having a mother who’s mental health was in good condition was far more important to me that struggling through breastfeeding.
With the experience I’ve had feeding both my children, I feel as though there is an incredible amount of support out there for woman who choose to breastfeed. There are breastfeeding groups, advocates, lots of online groups. There is very little support out there for woman who choose to express. There are some online groups but that’s really about the extent of it. I personally found expressing harder, and feel that there needs to be a wider support group out there for these woman. Finally there really is no support out there for woman who choose to bottle feed. That in itself comes with many challenges, from which type of formula to use, which bottles. How to support your baby if they don’t feed well, if they have reflux (I know they can get that with breastfeeding too) it almost feels as though if you don’t breastfeed you get looked down upon. I know many woman who would have loved to have breasted and just couldn’t, and woman who just wanted to bottle feed their babies from the start. I personally think fed is best, but that’s just my opinion. What’s everyone’s experience with breastfeeding. I’d love to hear about other mothers challenges and success stories. Leave a comment below.