If you read my blog you will probably see that I am a shy and at times a private person. I struggle to open up and share my experiences, it’s just the way I am, yes it is hard and this post is one of a few that I have had written and never posted on my blog.
I originally wrote this post to publish last year for #nationalbreastfeedingweek but I was too anxious and very nervous about talking deeply about a personal experience. A year has passed and so here it goes…
Now I know the topic of breastfeeding is a controversial topic (which it shouldn’t be!) so before I start I want to state that I am sharing ‘MY’ personal experience, and what I felt and feel about breastfeeding and doesn’t reflect breastfeeding as a whole.
I have two children, a 4 year old daughter and a 20 month old son. I breastfed both of my babies, but I never knew until I did it how different my experiences would be.
I grew up around women who breastfed their babies, including my Mother who breastfed my little sister. I never asked questions as I believed this was natural and what everyone did in the beginning. When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, at my first midwife appointment, she asked me if I had planned to breastfeed. Without thinking I said ‘yes’ and throughout my pregnancy I didn’t think about it again, I bought a steriliser for dummies which came with a few bottles which I left in the box, I bought muslin cloths and cover ups for feeding, again not really thinking too much into the actual ‘feeding’ part. At 37 weeks I packed my hospital bag and I didn’t pack a single bottle or formula (it just never came to me to do so).
During the early hours of New Year’s Day 2013 I went into labour and after 12 hours of what felt like constant agony, sickness and one dose of pethidine, I gave birth to my baby girl. We had skin to skin for a few minutes and then I had a haemorrhage and had doctors rushing in. My baby was so sleepy from the pethidine she didn’t make any noise. She was dressed and swaddled by my mum while my husband helped me clean. Once we were moved to a bed in the ward, my baby lay next to me and slept for 9 hours! Well as a first time Mum, I had no one check in on me that whole time! I then had a midwife shout at me for not waking and feeding my baby! I panicked that I was a bad Mum, I was so upset I picked my baby up and latched her on (no idea what I was doing) she fed perfectly. Why don’t they tell you this?! I had no idea that I needed to wake a newborn to be fed! Well it turned out that you don’t! Baby’s wake up when they are hungry, oh boy, don’t you figure that part out quick! My baby was fine and fed beautifully. Once we were home and my milk came in I started to struggle, my breast were sore and cracked, I was feeding so often it felt like it was one long feed. I started to hate it, I cried everytime. I couldn’t sleep as I was worried for the next feed, especially feeding in public, I just couldn’t do it. I started getting chronic headaches, migraines and I even had an anxiety attack. At 9 weeks, I gave up! I couldn’t carry on with breastfeeding, my Husband bought some baby formula and we started weaning off the breast milk. At the time I felt like I had failed!
All my life I thought that breastfeeding was such a happy and natural journey but it wasn’t for me. I saw my baby thrive on formula, her weight increased and she was so much happier too, that is when I forgave myself.
Pregnancy number two, I was wiser and more ‘experienced’ in the knowledge of breastfeeding as I had done it before. This time I worried about it constantly while I was pregnant. I was determined to give it another go and this time I made sure to prepare myself better for the second time around. I found bloggers/vlogs about breastfeeding, I watch ‘latching’ videos, best ways to hold baby, ways to feel comfortable feeding in public.
My birth the second time around was quick, 2 hours in total, no pain killers, no time to think and prepare and thankfully no haemorrhage. My baby boy was placed on my chest and together we found each other, he latched on and fed for 20 minutes. It was one of the most magically experiences I have ever had and I was so relaxed and in control, unlike the first time. He then slept for 6 hours straight at the hospital, so I must of done something right. We went home the same day and the feeding continued to be amazing, this carried on for 4 months until his weight gain slowed down, I was feeding what felt like all the time and reflux was at it’s worst. I would feed for 10 minutes and then he would vomit it back up. I decided that I needed to see my doctor, she was wonderful, she recommended adding in a formula feed in the afternoons, it worked! As the 6 month milestone approached and the food weaning was starting to commence I completely weaned baby off of breastmilk because I became poorly and my medication was not breastfeeding friendly and after a month of refusing the medication I finally gave in and stopped breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding the second time was easy and more enjoyable but only f0r a limited time again. I don’t feel like I pressured myself to do it, I’m glad I gave it my all. I’m also glad for formula milk as this helped me feed my babies when I couldn’t.
Breastfeeding isn’t one experience for all but lots of experiences of breastfeeding. I am no expert but I am thankful for being able to do it, even for a short time, I am grateful for the bonding time it gave me with my babies. I wouldn’t change a thing and if I was to have another baby I would definitely do it all over again.
My experiences were different, they were both joyful and a struggle but they were a memory that I will always cherish, that I was able to give my babies a breastfeeding start and I don’t regret my decision to use formula milk.
I hope that by me sharing my experience it helps someone with theirs, there is no right or wrong in my eyes with how you feed your baby, but if you can feed your baby and do it happily, go for it. If you struggle and it is affecting you mentally and emotionally then do what is best for you and your baby. Health visitors and Doctors are there to help so don’t be afraid to ask and don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion too.
If you got to the end of this post then thank you for reading and if you have any personal questions you want to ask leave me a message in the comments or send me an email.
Love & Light