Breastfeeding sounds so natural right? You get pregnant, carry them for 10months and then they are magically meant to latch onto your boobs and drink every couple of hours for at least 6 - 12 months (or longer if you have the time and/or patience). I have seen so many ladies just popping bub on and suck suck suck. I knew it would be a challenge as I have heard from so many mums just how challenging it would be, so you think I would of been prepared hey?
Breastfeeding is harder than being pregnant and PUSHING out the baby combined. Waiting for the colostrum to come out and the milk to come in to feed your child. To give your child the best start in life, to build up her immune system and give her comfort by being skin to skin and on your breast. If it so darn natural, then why is it the hardest thing I have ever had to do? You have two people who have just met for the first time out of the womb and you are expected to know what to do. Maddison did root around and try and find my breast which was good, glad one of us knew what to do.
For me it hasn't been an easy experience. Being induced and then having midwives (god bless them) milk me everyday to get every last bit of colostrum out of my boobs was definitely an experience!! I have never had so many people interested in my nipples before or felt so much pain with them milking me dry. It was totally lost on hubby as he kept walking in to find a young midwife feeling up his wife. Maddie did latch but not very well, she would get frustrated no matter how many different positions we tried with the lactation consultant, my milk just wasn't through enough for her and it was a frustrating time for all.
Leaving hospital without my milk coming through was hard, she was getting as much colostrum and a little milk as she could and that seemed to be enough for her but we got formula on the way home, on advice from the midwife "just in case". This was the best advice from the midwife, I didn't want to "give up" just yet and I wanted to breastfeed. I wanted to provide the best I could for Maddie, I wanted the closeness, the convenience and knowing that I could settle my daughter with the breast if I needed to when she was hungry, sleepy or not settling. Skin to skin is something that I cherish as it is a special bond with my child.
Christmas Day my milk came through, five days after she was born and it was a stressful time trying to feed her. She would not latch and I ended up going back to the LC and getting a nipple shield which made my girl feed so much better, but still not EVERY feed of the day, we still gave her expressed milk and then some formula to top her up. It was hard trying to trust your gut and asking for advice I felt that I was doing the wrong thing by not exclusively breastfeeding my girl. It has been a looong eight weeks. Maddie has done so well with mix feeding and she is sleeping like a champion. She has just decided to not want to bf at all, no matter how sleepy she is, hungry she screams as soon as I try any way to latch her on (even after expressing).
I hate that I am feeling so emotional, guilty and torn about giving up breastfeeding my little girl and just expressing what I can for her and giving her formula for the rest of her feeds. I had these expectations that I would breastfeed for as long as I wanted. I wanted the closeness and bonding time with my little girl, knowing I was giving her mothers milk. I imagined that is what breastfeeding would of given me long term.
I am focusing on what is important for both of us right now and that is a happy, healthy growing baby girl and a non-stressed mum! She is putting on weight, sleeping well and is happy and loves grabbing my hand when I feed her the bottle (whether expressed breastmilk or formula) we still have cuddles and she still loves going to sleep holding my finger against her dummy - it might not be the consoling I thought she would get from the boob, but she doesn't realise the difference. Only I am aware of the no breastfeeding changes. She is fed. Fed is best.
I am focusing on are the positives. I have to believe that I have NOT failed my daughter and I truly believe I have tried everything in my power to get breastfeeding exclusively but it was not happening for us. I have made lactation cookies, drank the tea, eaten the vitamins, pumped, pumped and pumped and put her on the boob so many times. She now accepts a bottle and isn't too fussy who gives it to her (win win) Daddy can give her a feed at anytime. It has been nice to have a sleep in on the weekend and wake up to the two together having a bottle - that is perfect bonding time that is important for both of them. We can leave the house at anytime and know that she has food ready to go which is always helpful for those days you just NEED to leave the house before you go mental!
My expectations have been shattered. I will not lie and say I am disappointed and sad. My expectations have changed. I have realised that we are so very lucky. We spent a long time to get our gorgeous girl and I am just happy that she is here, healthy and striving. I must stop listening to the inner critic and the BF nurses who harp on that "breast is best". Breast is best if all circumstances ALLOW you to Breastfeed! Many many women cannot breastfeed their children. Many friends I know weren't breastfed and they turned out ok (me included). I am giving her what I can and for how long I choose to express (or when the milk runs dry) and know I have started her on the right track and formula will keep her growing up to be a healthy girl.
So I am taking all the advice I have had from amazing friends (you know who you are). I am doing what works for me.
So if you are struggling to feed, if you are stressed and it is taking over your mind and putting you in a negative place, it is time to work out what is going to work best for YOU and your baby. Your mental health is important. Your baby needs you to be on the ball and there for them at all times. As long as they are fed, loved and hugged they will grow to be amazing little people.