Hmmm…where to start? I don’t want to put anyone off breastfeeding but as I said in my ‘About Me’ page, I will always be completely honest. It is bloody hard.
My experience of breastfeeding wasn’t much of a happy experience if I’m honest. I lasted about 2 weeks before having to give in because I had reached my breaking point.
I suppose I should start from the beginning; before I had even had the baby I had decided that I was going to formula feed. I had read up a little on breastfeeding and just didn’t see the appeal. I didn’t like the idea of having a baby stuck to me constantly, expressing in the meantime, I was terrified of mastitis and don’t get me started on leaking boobs! My husband convinced me that maybe I should at least try so I could be 100% sure it wasn’t for me. I figured I would do the first 3 days so I knew the baby had got the good yummy colostrum and then I would just go to formula afterwards.
I had my emergency section (see ‘My Birth Story’ blog) and was wheeled down to the recovery bay. The midwife there helped me get the baby latched and Sadie was amazing and just took to it straight away. What I wasn’t expecting was to feel the intense rush of oxytocin that it releases and oh.my.god. I fell in love. It feels weird at first but in an absolutely amazing way. I was sold.
She stayed there for an hour and a half just suckling away. My husband was dying to have a cuddle but the midwives assured me that she wouldn’t be that long with it being her first feed. I think she shocked everyone. After that first feed was when it all went a bit wrong.
Sadie was just so sleepy that she didn’t wake up to feed. We had to wake her up every 4 hours to encourage her to drink milk and she just wouldn’t wake up enough to latch. My midwife asked me if I wanted to try some formula or donor milk to try and entice her to feed and so I decided to try some donor milk. I was scared that the formula would stretch her stomach too much and with only having done one feed I was worried the demand would be too high too soon. After some coaxing she finally took some of the donor milk but we had a lactation consultant come out the next day.
Because she wouldn’t wake up I had to express colostrum using syringes, then strip Sadie down to her nappy to make her cold to wake her up and syringe the milk into her mouth. It took me a good hour and a half to syringe just 2ml of colostrum and it was exhausting. My memory actually gets a bit fuzzy here because I was deliriously tired that I only remember snippets of the 2nd day. At one point I was so tired that I had Phil holding the baby to my right boob while she fed, a lactation consultant on my left who was expressing colostrum and I just lay there and tried to sleep. That was also the unfortunate time that my mother and father-in-law came to visit and I was so out of it that I didn’t even care that I was just laying there with my boobs out.
By day 3 I was ready to quit. I was so exhausted that I just cried. On top of that I had the normal postpartum hormones and was completely overwhelmed with the ‘oh my god I’m a mum’ feelings that I was in a pretty dark place. I gave in and asked the midwife for formula. She took to that like a champ and I thought I had finally cracked the feeding thing and that I should have just stuck to my gut of formula feeding.
However, I missed the feeling of the breastfeeding right away. One thing to know about me is that I have quit at everything once it gets a bit too hard. I normally don’t care. This was something that bugged the life out of me and for the next week I went back and forth trying to breastfeed and bottle feed and I just couldn’t figure out what the best thing to do was.
In hindsight I was so naive; I honestly thought that because it was the most natural thing to do then it would be the easiest thing to do as well. How wrong I was! I was under the impression that yes they may feed more if they were breastfed and maybe I was looking at every 2 hours rather than every 4 hours for feeds but that it would be easy enough. What I didn’t expect was the constant worry of was I producing enough milk, was she latching properly, why were my boobs so lumpy…I hadn’t even heard of cluster feeding and literally had no idea what I was doing. I hadn’t bothered to do any research because I honestly thought you just put the baby on the boob and that was that. At one point Sadie was feeding from my right side for an hour, unlatching, feeding from the left for another hour and then just when I thought I had time for a shower, 20 minutes later she would want to feed again. I broke after 2 weeks and we went onto formula feeding.
If you’re still reading and I haven’t terrified you then you will be shocked to see that the whole experience hasn’t put me off. I still fully intend to try breastfeeding again with my 2nd baby. I am thoroughly doing my research this time…I have bought and read 2 different, highly recommended books. I have booked onto a breastfeeding class and I have a referral in place for breastfeeding specialist support to come out to the house as well. I’m not putting any pressure on myself but I will be more prepared and have some actual information this time. At least then if it fails then I know I have tried everything.
At the end of the day, a fed baby is a happy baby and a happy mum also equals a happy baby. I would be no good to him/her if I was putting myself under so much pressure that I was miserable so I will be trying to keep this in mind as well. I am a little nervous but I’m going to try and just go in with a positive mind set and try and go with the flow.
Let me know if you have any tips or ideas that you think would be useful for me to know 🙂