Feeding babies often causes debate and conflict of opinions.
At my first midwife check, when I was about 9 weeks pregnant, I got asked if I was going to breast or bottle feed. (I had to decide this already?) I automatically said I was going to breastfeed, as this is what you are supposed to do, right? I mean after all that’s why we have breasts, to feed our children.
I was under the impression that breastfeeding would be pretty easy. I briefly worried about not getting milk, or my boobs being to small. Nobody ever really went into detail about it, nobody prepared me for the fact that breastfeeding just might not happen. You might get cracked, bleeding nipples and that it might hurt like an absolute bitch. Nobody warned me my baby might cluster feed and be attached to me for hours on end. Why on this green earth did nobody tell me?
I’m a competitive person and I hate to give up, so I don’t think knowing the above would have put me off, it would have just prepared me more. It would have helped with the first few weeks.
I only found out these things when breastfeeding became real. When my little Woozle acted like he was in a mosh pit every time he went to latch on. When I had toe curling, sickening pains with every suck, yet I was told my latch was fine. Why didn’t anybody tell me, apart from google, that it would get easier? Why didn’t somebody tell me that for a break I could give Archie some formula?
I dreaded him wanting a feed. Why did I not know about how difficult and exhausting breastfeeding could potentially be – Perhaps I had been wearing rose tinted glasses throughout pregnancy?
I was so ready to just throw in the towel, I was impressed when I reached two weeks. My milk came in after about a week, and wow! I looked like Pammy! They were huge – I’d just been given a free boob job!
During the first few weeks, Matthew would sit with me and try and distract me when I was feeding. It was so much easier to feed Archie when he was there. He would even give me foot massages to try and distract me from the pain.
Google was my best friend and my nemesis. There were so many people saying that it gets better, breast milk advocates, formula haters, formula lovers. It’s a minefield and this whole feeding issue was another pickle in my delicious salad.
I tried to express. Tried and failed. By this point, in my zombie, unwashed, drank enough cold tea state, I gave up. My mum said said to me ‘why don’t you give Archie a bottle of formula at night if expressing is making you so unhappy?’
An instant weight had just been lifted. I had been given permission to give my baby some formula. This meant I wasn’t locked to the house to try and express, it meant daddy could still give a feed at night, it meant that I instantly felt happier.
It doesn’t have to be breast or bottle. It can be both and your baby will still thrive! I felt guilty at first, but mentally it made a huge difference to me and that was the most important thing.
Everybody knows breast is best, but it is not best if your mental state is compromised, or you just have no desire to do it.
Never, ever feel pressured to solely breastfeed, bottle feed or express. I have learnt that doing things your own way, is the best way!
I take my hat off to you all. Exclusive or majority breast feeding is hard work. Feeding every two hours, cluster feeding, the leaks (my word the leaks and random milk squirts at strangers!) Having to wear breast accessible clothes. And formula feeding, well, the organisation that needs to be thought about when leaving the house, making sure you have enough bottles, finding the best way to make bottles when out and about, making sure everything is sterilised – it’s a complicated affair!
My journey of breastfeeding did get so much easier, the pain stopped, Archie learnt what to do and it felt amazing to be able to provide something so nourishing for him. I was amazed at what my body was capable of and 7 and a half months later I still give him one or two feeds a day. (Returning to work changed our pattern slightly).
Some people who want to breastfeed, can’t. And for a women that can be an incredibly hard situation to deal with. So, if you are a formula hater, before you judge, try and understand that sometimes it just doesn’t happen for people. We are all just mummies who are trying to do our best. And let’s be honest, It’s really none of your business.
This is your journey, your story and this is just one chapter.
Be kind to yourself.