I apologise it’s been a few weeks since my last post but between recovery, several medical appointments, health visitors and family coming and going time just ran away from me. Let’s get underway with this weeks blog topic: Breastfeeding – A topic which is always in the spotlight.
YUP, this is a sentence I said out loud when trying to make a decision about what to have for tea one day. Safe to say, lately it definitely feels like my baby is sucking all of my smart out. Turns out whilst breastfeeding you can get baby brain just as you did during pregnancy. This would explain why my brain cannot retain information for longer than half an hour, I can’t remember simple tasks or instructions or really understand anything post 9pm. Still totally worth it!
When a baby’s gotta eat, a baby’s gotta eat!
Breastfeeding is one of those wonderful natural things. It is totally magic. Each woman’s milk is tailored to their baby providing the perfect cocktail of nutrition and support to help their baby grow. It can help strengthen the bond between a mother and baby. It’s also one of the hardest things you face as a mother; just knowing you’re solely producing the food that’s keeping your little bundle of joy alive… So why is it one of these crappy taboos!? When did someone decide somewhere that this topic needed to split the nation in two!? Why do you have to be either pro breastfeeding and nothing else or all anti-breastfeed?! There is that subcategory of people who think breastfeeding is repulsive and you feel the need to shame the mamas that are confident in feeding their child in public BUT we won’t include them in this discussion as they’re super mean – NO MAMA SHOULD EVER BE SHAMED. EVER. Whatever your own personal decision is, it should be just that: PERSONAL. Somewhere in the middle of this ‘breast or formula?’ discussion there is those mama’s who are stepping forwards paving the way for future attitudes by being confident and comfortable (LIKE EVERY MAMA SHOULD) about both breastfeeding and not breastfeeding. Sometimes this is through choice but other times thus choice is made for you. Some mothers are unable to breastfeed, others find it difficult and some have been shamed for it. There are some super mama’s out there breaking down those taboos about breastfeeding and formula feeding and today I’m going to talk about our personal experience with breastfeeding and formula feeding and what we did to make it work for us and how we made sure we are all happy and healthy whilst doing so.
For me, breastfeeding didn’t start off all plain sailing. It didn’t come naturally and was difficult. Little Rory was very fussy and it left us both rather distressed 99.99% of the time. Every attempt ended in intense screaming, trashing around and tears – my daydreams of bonding with my little boy seemed very far away at this point. We continued to try feeding which was hard but eventually it lead to latching on which unfortunately lead to falling asleep having after having a feed for all of two seconds – NOT IDEAL. Despite this, I chose persevere which was a really difficult decision to make. We took all advise offered and engaged in many hours of skin to skin which resulted in a few feeds but not really enough. After everything that’s drilled into you by either family member, friends or midwifes around ‘breast being best’, you can’t help but feel rather uneasy when the word ‘formula’ is mentioned. Why is it that you instantly feel like you’re failing when breastfeeding doesn’t pan out like you imagine!? With such lack of information around what breastfeeding can really be like in the beginning, I feel many like myself are left feeling a little unprepared. Luckily for me, the midwives who cared for me whilst I was in hospital spent every moment reassuring me I was doing all the right things and that I should keep plodding on and Rory would eventually just ‘get it’. This is when I decided to stuff feeling like I wasn’t enough. My body was doing all it could so I took a deep breathe and took that formula in my stride. I never went for the tin of powder you mix yourself and heat and wait and TOO MUCH FAFFING – My inner lazy-gal went straight for the ready-made small 70ml bottles complete with steralised teat. Safe to say within seconds of assembling the two parts, he was guzzling down the formula at lightening speed – YAY! The happiness you get when your baby is finally feeding, whichever method you chose, is unreal. He only had a small amount of that bottle to start with but he slept like a dream afterwards. This left me time to express my colostrum to syringe feed him in between formula feeds and then my milk when it came in on day 4. I was not giving up without a fight, I really wanted breastfeeding to happen for us and I wanted to at least try every option and combination to help get there.
Once again, luckily for me when my milk came in, Rory became less fussy and latched on like a dream… BUT only for all of 5 minutes. My thought process immediately went to ‘hopefully we have started the route towards successful feeds!’ – At this point we were alternating between the boob and the bottle meaning I could pump when he had the bottle and dear Daddy could join in whilst feeding too which he really enjoyed (even at 4am!). Our aim was to eventually swap the bottles for breast milk in bottles in hope that the breastfeeding would become more regular and then only be breastfeeding. This was an open ended plan with no time frame but we managed to achieve this within a matter of three weeks, which was a dream! He knew exactly what he wanted and finally the boobs were the answer. I’m sure like many, even though we had lift off and a great result with breastfeeding, in the beginning it was rather uncomfortable. It stings, throbs and is sometimes just god damn uncomfortable. Why is it whilst feeding on one boob your other boob feels left out so you get the sensation of feeding in both? And can we talk about the leaking?! Even with breast pads in, there are many times where I have been caught out with overactive milk supply leaking through pads, bra and even my top – Just what you want whilst taking a countryside stroll with no spares, no privacy and no shops!
My journey taken to get us where we are now hasn’t been an easy one. Looking back now there’s a lot of advise I would give myself: I’d start with ‘it is all going to be ok’ and that each day will get better and yes it will hurt and yes you’ll have good days and bad days and yes it’s easy to give in and find an easier route but just bring it in and really focus on you and your baby and do what is best for you. At the end of the day no one can tell you what will work best for you.
What have I learnt from my journey into breastfeeding? So. Many. Things. Here’s my top 5:
- Don’t fret or worry. Things didn’t start off easy for me but worrying about it didn’t help at all. Which leads us on to…
- Don’t be afraid to seek help. I spoke to my midwife, my health visitor, had a call from the nursery nurse from my local children’s centre and even researched Facebook groups and Mother and Baby groups in the area. You are never alone!
- Pumps are handy to have. Even if you can’t bare the thought of pumping in between feeds, all it takes is one extra long nap for your boobs to fill up to the point of explosion. They are fantastic for relief and there are so many to choose from. Plus you never know, it mighty come in handy when you finally get a night off!
- Be prepared! Carry extra supplies – I now keep extra breast pads in my handbag or the nappy bag for when life loves to surprise me.
- FEED WHEREVER YOU PLEASE. Even if formula or breast DO NOT let anyone let you think feeding your baby is something for behind closed doors. If your baby is hungry when you’re out shopping or, yes you can find the nearest family room to feed or you can go for the nearest bench/seated area. Wrap or no wrap, you feed your baby however you want!
What are my preferences? I LOVE my Tommee Tippee manual pump. It’s comfy, easy to use and comes with a microwavable sterilising box. It was one of my many bargain buys brought on sale for 10.99 down from 21.99! You can find it here at Boots online – http://www.boots.com/tommee-tippee-closer-to-nature-manual-breast-pump-10205689 – It’s currently on sale! (This may change. Price true to date of published post)
Who has inspired me? Instagram has me hooked! These ladies are my heroes and inspiration. They are my daily reminder that it’s ok to have problems, ok to power through, ok to breastfeed wherever whenever and to never shy away. A reminder that every mama should be a proud mama!
(Photographs are screenshots / I OWN NO COPYRIGHT / all originals are copyrighted and owned by said women)
- TESS HOLLIDAY (@TESSHOLLIDAY)
- EDEN GRINSHPAN (@EDENEATS)
- KAT (@LITTLEBIRDDOULA)
We have reached the other side. Our breastfeeding problems are slowly but surely disappearing and we have bonded with every feed. We’ve overcome every difficulty thrown at us and learnt that FORMULA IS OUR FRIEND but that breast is what is best for us.
ALL FEEDING IS GOOD FEEDING.
Love to all!
One Curious Mother x