01 Feb I WAS A WALKING MILK STATION!
Do you or don’t you? I am referring to breast- feeding and of course (before I had children) my answer would have been “ yes absolutely” breast is best but how shallow and naïve I was.
I am sharing this with you because I truly believe there is no right or wrong way to feed your baby anymore. It’s only taken weeks of agonising over milk flow, hours and hours of breast pumping, tears, a trip to a lactating specialist and a pair of boobs that now resemble cows udders to fully appreciate how fucking hard it is to breastfeed and pump.
“Before I had given birth to my two children I had this ridiculous image in my head, and believed, that sleep and breastfeeding were supposed to be easy and would just come naturally to me. I had no idea just how hard both were and I salute anyone who cracked it!”
I thought I had cracked it. I thought I was doing ok until day 4 crept up on me. Nowhere in the books, that I remember, did it tell me that the milk would come in and I would start to feel “ blue”. Well this is an understatement. I could not understand why after having a beautiful healthy baby I was feeling so down and tearful and would burst into tears at the slightest thing. Already feeling like all dignity had gone out the window for wearing an adult sized nappy my husband took one of my nipples into his hands squeezed it and said, “ that’s why!” Bless him for being so hands on and telling me this as I honestly thought I was losing it.
I was lucky, and I honestly do know this, to have been able to get my baby to latch on at the start but it wasn’t without some trial and error of positions to get it right. It did feel wonderful and I spent hours just staring down at my daughter who would fall into a deep sleep on my boob. But this was all she did. My boobs had become her comforter and as soon as she latched on she would fall asleep. I would try to feed her in a noisy room by putting the TV on or blow lightly on her face to try and wake her up but it didn’t work. She loved my boobs for one thing only and that was not milk!
I started to obsess about it and I remember watching my NCT friends all breastfeed their babies with ease (well to me it looked easy, it may not have been to them) We would all meet up at someone’s house or in a café and I always remember feeling like I was failing as I just couldn’t fill my baby up. I would obsess with the milk intake other babies were getting from their mums boobs and was too worried about what anyone may think if I was to get a bottle out. I know now that there would have been no judgements from my new mum friends but there was always that feeling in the back of my mind that I wanted to nail this and get it right because breast milk was so much better for my baby.
What was actually better for my baby was to feed her properly so she felt nice and full. I would spend hours a day sitting on the sofa with my boobs hanging out because all I did was feed all day!
“I will never forget answering the door to a deliveryman with my left boob still poking out as I had forgotten to put it back. I was a walking milk station”
Not long after I had a visit from the health visitor for the usual check up which resulted in me bursting in tears because the weight of my daughter has dropped quite significantly. It was one of those moments where I just felt like I wanted to give up. The sleep deprivation had kicked in and I dreaded the evenings because all I did was feed. It got to the point where I would get annoyed with my daughter and plonk her in the middle of the bed letting her cry out for me. I would put my hands over my ears and say to my husband “ I can’t do this anymore, I am too tired” He replied to me “ You have to babe, you are keeping her alive”.
The health visitor advised I use an electric breast pump. I was prepared to try anything and hoped this may increase my milk flow, but more importantly it would give me a break from feeding. My husband was feeling incredibly left out as well as there really was nothing he could do about feeding so this definitely felt like a great solution.
Again having had no experience with a breast pump (my husband found the whole thing hilarious) I didn’t know how long I was meant to pump for and how much milk I would get. I would spend up to 45 minutes on each breast and get a measly 2oz! I felt deflated (my breasts certainly looked it after that amount pumping) but didn’t want to give up. I was convinced if I kept it up I would be able to produce a full bottle of milk.
Unfortunately that time never came…
I was kidding myself and working myself up into such a frenzy and neither myself, or my daughter were happy. I was trying so hard to do, what I thought was right, but the simple fact was I didn’t have enough milk. Maybe I did (I don’t know) but something wasn’t clicking and my husband and I agreed to try some formula one evening .
In one of the baby books called “ Your baby week by week” AKA the Bible it said to introduce a bottle at about 3 weeks so the baby could get used to a teat. The breast milk I had successfully pumped went down in seconds using a bottle and when we tried Formula you blinked and it had gone. I had never seen anything like it. She guzzled down the formula so quickly! She was one hungry little girl and I wish I had fed her this sooner
Things got so much better and both mummy and daughter were happier. Both got more sleep and we had a fuller baby. The weight went back on and I switched to formula at night and would breastfeed in the morning so we got the best of both worlds
“I remember in one of my pregnancy classes our teacher said (and I quote) “ I would rather you drank a bottle of wine and breastfed than feed your baby Formula”
Having had no previous experience of breastfeeding this comment I took completely with a pinch of salt and laughed it off. Had I have known what I do now then perhaps I wouldn’t have been so naïve.
Having learnt from my daughter I decided to give breastfeeding a go with my son but if he wasn’t getting enough milk I would switch to formula and not give it a second thought. Breastfeeding lasted 3 weeks and when we switched to the formula he was so happy and content. We got into a nice routine much earlier and he slept for longer so I was much happier.
Everyone is different and how you decide to feed your baby is completely up to you. I have so much respect for all you mums out there because what we put our bodies through is immense and those first few months are TOUGH!
We all get there in end and I look back at photos very fondly of my kids sleeping soundly on my boobs. Just need to get them back into shape for my hubby now 😉