Today I wanted to share my breastfeeding story.
It's incredible how different one child can be from the next.
With my first born Jamie, breastfeeding was hard. It didn't come as naturally as we are meant to believe. I was only 18yrs old at the time & felt very pressured by various health professions that I should breastfeed, it was best for me & my baby etc. Jamie just wasn't latching properly, I was having a hard time keeping up my milk supply & it was taking a major emotional toll on me, throw in the mixed overwhelming new mum feelings, it was bloody hard work! I just wasn't enjoying feeding him, so after 2 weeks I switched him to formula, what a relief I felt & boy what a difference it made to myself & to Jamie, we were both happier & much more content. Happy Mum = Happy Baby.
With my second born Gracie-Mae, I wanted to try breastfeeding again. But after just 5 days in I was advised to switch to formula, Gracie-Mae had lost a fair bit of weight in just those 5 days, again I had the problems with latching, I felt like a world class failure! This was meant to be the most natural thing in the world & I just couldn't get to grips with it. I wanted so desperately to breastfeed that when it didn't seem like a viable option, I broke down.
So when I found out I was pregnant for the 3rd time with Isaac, I was determined I was going to breastfeed & I was going to make it work. When the time came to breastfeed Isaac, I have to admit I was worried that it wouldn't work out again & I was ready to feel like a failure all over again. Thankfully my worries were unwarranted & Isaac had the perfect latch from day one.
But breastfeeding was still no walk in the park, one thing I didn't fully appreciate before I had Isaac was the frequency of feeds, especially compared to bottle feeding. I knew I'd be up at night feeding him, but I hadn't thought that would have been every 1-2 hours at a time. There was also the cluster feeding, which is basically where they want to feed constantly. My arse was permanently attached to the sofa with Isaac attached to my boobs anywhere from 4pm-10pm. And because of this I second guessed myself a lot! Was I producing enough milk? Was he getting enough at each feed? I found myself doing a hell of a lot of googling and joining a few breastfeeding support groups online. Which helped knowing that we weren't doing anything wrong & everything we were experiencing was 'normal'.
I loved breastfeeding it felt amazing that I could be the one that was nourishing my son, nursing him was the best bonding experience, there's nothing quite like it in my opinion. But it still didn't get any easier, was breastfeeding really meant to be this hard?
We were quite lucky we didn't experience problems like Mastitis or Thrush, although Isaac did suffer with Silent Reflux, it was the constant feeding that eventually took its toll on me & I mean constant! It was the summer holidays so I had the other 2 children that needed & wanted my attention too. So when Isaac was 7 weeks old I got myself an Electric Breast Pump, this should solve all my problems, MR.B could take over some of the feeds, giving me a chance to spend some time with Jamie & Gracie, pottering about etc.. I even booked myself to get my hair done at home, Isaac had his 1st bottle of expressed milk, he wolfed that down no problem & still wanted more, so I had to breastfeed him whilst getting my hair done, not my idea as glamorous or relaxing, but hey I obviously just had one very hungry baby.
When Isaac was around 9 weeks old, I thought something has got to give, my whole life it felt was revolved around just feeding, whether that be on the sofa, at the park, out shopping, round my parents, when we had visitors, everyone who met Isaac for the 1st time met a blue feeding scarf with little legs sticking out the bottom.
Even the pumping took its toll, I felt like a human cow, I breastfed & pumped at the same time & this was the point where I decided I needed to do something to change this or I will be heading down the slippery slope of Post-Natal Depression & I wasn't going to allow that to happen.
But I still couldn't give up breastfeeding...
- I was enjoying the most part of it, cuddling up of the evening, watching trash on tv whilst nursing my baby.
- The guilt of giving up completely was so overpowering. The dreaded Mummy Guilt playing its part again.
So we gave Combined Feeding a go, where I breastfed & formula fed.. this worked out brilliantly for all of us as a family, I felt a lot happier, the older children were a lot happier to have their Mummy back as was MR.B, he could actually spend some proper time with his Baby Son without having to hand him back to me every 5 minutes & Isaac seemed a lot more content aswell.
We did this till Isaac was 14 weeks old & eventually he went just onto formula, he was getting lazy at each breastfeed, the milk doesn't flow as quickly as it does from a bottle, so sadly my breastfeeding journey ended. A small part of me was a little relieved, I could plan our days more easily, Isaac slotted into more of a routine. I do still miss breastfeeding but I know I done the best I possibly could. That's all anyone can do.
There is too much pressure on new mothers to breastfeed & a big feeling of failure for those that want to but can't. At the end of the day a happy mummy is just as key to the well being of her baby as how he/she is fed in my opinion.