Firstly this is not a ‘breastfeeding is best’ post. Formula feeding mothers and breastfeeding mothers both get stick and it’s ridiculous. We are just feeding our babies and it shouldn’t be anyone else’s business what method we use. I think formula is an amazing thing, for those who can’t breastfeed and for those that simply don’t want to, fed is best!
I have had a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding. From the very beginning it was hard, really bloody hard. Amelia was really tired after she was born. It’s not just mothers who have a hard time in labour you know! That didn’t stop the midwives telling me ‘she must feed’ whilst trying to shove my boob into her mouth constantly. Amelia was then given a little bit of formula and was stripped off to ‘wake her up’. This only resulted in her temperature dropping and heart rate dipping meaning she was given unnecessary antibiotics just in case. So you might say we didn’t have the easiest of starts which was such a shame after a fairly normal delivery. The morning after her birth when we were all alone Amelia latched on and fed, I was so relieved and happy. If we had just been left to recover and bond properly we wouldn’t have had any issues.
When we got home the next lot of problems started. Amelia wanted to feed all the time like any newborn, but I didn’t have a clue what I was doing or if I was doing it correctly. I was so sore I sent Kelly out to the pharmacy to get me some Lanolin cream (which is a amazing!) whilst I sat and cried and winced in pain as Amelia was feeding. We went to anti natal classes and they obviously promote breastfeeding but not once did they mention how hard it could be or what to do in that situation. Luckily my friend had been through it all before and I asked her for advice. The biggest help was from a charity called FAB who specialise in breastfeeding and came out to see me a couple of times to make sure Amelia’s latch was correct and what I could do to ease the pain. They text me to see how I was getting on in the early days and I could contact them if I had any questions.
I think Amelia was about 8 weeks old when we first gave her a bottle, another useless piece of advice from our anti natal class. ‘Babies might get nipple confusion and refuse the breast if you give them a bottle any earlier’. How about the fact that if you wait this long they might refuse anything other than the real deal. And this is what we have, a bottle refusing, booby monster called Amelia! She has only ever took 2 or 3 bottles and has refused ever since. She would gag or just mess with the teat and get really upset when we tried her and to be honest when I was struggling with PND and anxiety trying to get her to take one made me so much worse. I spent my days worrying about why she wouldn’t take a bottle, what would happen when I went back to work and how I’m never going to have a social life EVER AGAIN! Obviously I was getting way too worked up and she’s not going to be breastfeeding for ever but anxiety is a horrible thing and I couldn’t stop the thoughts. As I got to speak to more mummies (and my medication kicked in) I realised that some babies will never take a bottle, and that is OK. I will have more of a social life again eventually and it will not last forever.
The nights have been difficult as they usually are for the first few months. Breastfed babies tend to not sleep for long periods for quite a while which is exhausting! Amelia sees me as her comfort and if she wakes in the night that is what she wants so although Kelly is amazing and goes in to give her a cuddle, eventually I’ll have to go and feed her to settle her. I am so used to this now though and Amelia doesn’t wake as often anymore. It does mean though that I am not up for very long as she has a quick booby cuddle and goes back to sleep. The boobs have helped with teething, temperatures and the chickenpox and in times like these I am glad I am still feeding her. We did do a bit of sleep training with Amelia and had to stop feeding to sleep which has really helped her get back to sleep herself in the night. Now if she wakes she is usually genuinely hungry or feeling unwell.
I have always felt quite confident feeding Amelia when we are out and about although there have been some comments that have annoyed me, whether they’ve been said about me or someone else breastfeeding. The first and most common one I’ve heard, ‘you’re being used as a dummy’. No, a dummy is a replacement for a boob, we have been around a lot longer than the dummy. I am being used for comfort and it is perfectly normal for a baby to need that comfort. I have nothing against people who use a dummy, I tried and tried to get Amelia to take one to give me a break but like the bottle, she wasn’t having any of it. Another one is ‘you’re always feeding her’. Some babies, especially breastfed babies don’t work well with schedules. Sometimes they might go 2-3 hours between feeds. Sometimes they might have a feed and then decide they want more 30 minutes later. Amelia was and still is a snacker. She has never ever had a feed that lasted more than about 10 minutes meaning when she was little she she fed A LOT! People seem to think babies all work the same, that what works for one should work for another and that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s no wonder that mummies get PND and anxiety, I know I was constantly comparing Amelia’s feeding habits to other babies I knew when I didn’t feel confident in my parenting. The other comment that drives me mad is ‘oh you’re still breastfeeding?’ or ‘when are you going to stop feeding her?’. She won’t take a bottle and right now I don’t feel like she’s ready to stop. It gets a bit tedious having to repeat myself!
This seems like a bit of a moany post about breastfeeding, there isn’t enough support and it is really hard but I have loved breastfeeding and I am proud that we have come this far. We’re on the journey now (how ever long that might be!) to wean off the boob. I am feeding less in the day now and I am hoping to wean her off around the 2 year mark. I will be glad to get my body back but I will miss those sleepy milk cuddles and her cheeky little grin she gives me when she’s looking up at me.