During my pregnancy, I always knew I was going to breastfeed. It wasn’t even something I was weighing up the options for…breast is best and I wanted to give my child the best start in life. Don’t get me wrong, I still went out about bought the bottles and the steriliser, but I bought a breast pump to go along with it. I knew that I was going to breastfeed for at least the first 6 months and express where I could so that Daddy could do some feeds. Formula just wasn’t on the agenda. Although I had nothing against parents who went down the formula route, it just wasn’t something I wanted to do.
After my c-section, I had trouble feeding. Theo just didn’t want to stay awake long enough to feed. He would have trouble latching on, and then when he did he would just fall asleep again. I am so grateful for the help and support I received in hospital, because the nurses and midwives got me to ring my buzzer every 4 hours so that they could come and help. They got me expressing colostrum onto a teaspoon so that he was getting at least some sustenance, and they just kept me at it. I’ve heard some horror stories about women being forced to offer formula to their baby if they haven’t fed after the first few hours, so they wouldn’t starve. My son was born at 1:36am, and it must have been well into the next night before he started feeding properly. They just kept me at it with the hand expressing and spoon feeding.
When we finally got the hang of it, I loved it. It was sore and uncomfortable and the gnawing hunger was worse than pregnancy hunger, but I loved it. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. He started getting fed up and fussy, and through my exhaustion of recovering from a major operation and having very little sleep, I just couldn’t cope. I sent my partner out to buy a tub of formula, and we gave Theo a bottle. He drained the entire thing and fell asleep.
I didn’t give up though. I started expressing during the day in between feeds, so that my partner could give him a bottle during the night. I spoke to my health visitor, and she came out to give me some advice. I started to rebuild some of my energy reserves, and feel more positive about it again. And then it just got worse. He started screaming at feeds, and pushing himself off the breast. It got to the point where even just seeing my boob would make him scream. I was starting to dread his waking hours, and just wanted him to keep sleeping all the time. It was ruining our relationship, and I was sinking lower and lower.
One morning (well, early hours), I made the decision to stop. I did a bit of research into the best formula, and how to make it up when out and about, and I ordered a thermos to be collected the same day. As soon as I made the decision, it was like a massive weight had been lifted. I felt able to smile again, and I looked forward to spending the day with my son. I felt guilty that I was giving in, but I just reminded myself that I’d given him 5 weeks of breast milk, and that neither of us was happy…and I already knew he was happy with bottles, so that wasn’t a worry either.
As soon as we switched him over, you could see the change. He was smiley and content and full. He was awake more often, and when he slept it was for longer periods. Althought I regret not being able to feed him for longer, I don’t regret the decision I made that day. Maybe if I’d been able to get more help and support I would have succeeded. Maybe he was just one of those newborns who wasn’t happy at the breast.
They say breast is always best and, nutritionally speaking, I’m sure they are right. There are so many reasons why this is not the case for everyone though. It is not best if it is harming/preventing the bond between mother and child. It is not best when it is causing the mother to spiral into depression. It is not best when the mother isn’t producing enough and the child is starving because there is pressure on her to continue anyway.
Did you/do you intend to breastfeed? If not, why? I’m curious to know people’s reasons.