I have had a lot of friends over the last two years who have had babies. It has made us quite a close community but when it has come to breastfeeding (or not as the case may be) not one of us has done it the same. Additionally some of us are second timers and each of us has been astounded that it is not the same process. I have had friends that have exclusively breastfed for six months, not breastfed at all, combine fed, fed for the first 2, 4, 6, 8 weeks, fed until nearly two….need I say more, the options are endless. I have come to the conclusion that breast-feeding is not as simple as Marmite; it cannot simply be love it or hate it as there are too many external influences that impact on how it goes.
I personally was determined to breastfeed. I made the naive mistake that I assumed breast-feeding was this natural process, that a baby latched on, job done! Things that surprised me and that I was not warned about….
1. Babies have to learn how to latch on..some don’t find it easy
2. Your nipples can invert…this makes latching on a nightmare
3. You nipples can crack and get sore
4. Your nipple head is not one hole…it is like a shower head and sprays out everywhere if not latched on, resulting in milk in everyone’s eye.
I had all the above issues and by day 8 of very unsuccessful feeding with BB I was about to give up on it. Luckily I had the most amazing and slightly crazy midwife show up to discharge me, who saw my dilemma and stayed for well over two hours to help me. By the end of the second week we were both getting to grips with things and I was really enjoying it. I though I would be really shy about feeding but I wasn’t. I surprised myself with how comfortable I felt to just whip them out, inverted nipples and all! (Just to reassure these did correct themselves with the brilliant aid of nipple shells!)
Things started to go down hill from week seven. I have never known anything like it. BB was so hungry. He began to feed for a whole hour and then an hour later want another hours feed, but at this point amazingly he started to sleep through the night…from 7pm to 6am! I just couldn’t keep up, he would go longer after the first feed because I had all night to make stocks of milk, but after that I was not given enough time to replenish. He went from a very happy to very grizzly baby.
My husband and I were on holiday in the Lake District at the time so I had no support to call upon. I was getting miserable. In the end my husband said, let’s try a bottle. BB downed 7 ounces and wanted more! I knew I was not making enough. After nine ounces of milk he slept for three hours and then wanted 6oz and that continued every three hours for the next few weeks until his milk amount was increased again. He went back to contented little boy and me to slightly sane mother and we had routine. Plus it was totally the right decision, despite me being mournful of the fact that I had to give up. Plus my tip in future is not to go cold turkey because my breasts engorged and I thought they might explode.
I have regrets with the twins. I decided to bottle feed straight away because I had BB and knew how unpredictable it could be. I didn’t feel I was being fair being tied up breast-feeding all the time when he was only fifteen months and needed me too. But I missed it. Three weeks in and I had Zachary in the bath with me and he wanted to feed. I was so tempted.
I wish on retrospect that I had breast-fed for at least two weeks and I wish someone had talked to me about it rather than just easily accept my decision. Not pressure me but just confirm that my reasons were right. The twins are none the wiser and are healthy little toddlers. It is just my issue. It probably wouldn’t have worked anyway as Little Madam would not feed and we were back in hospital two days after discharge with her on a drip.
One of my best friends had her second baby two weeks ago today. She had every intention to breast feed, but again things did not go according to plan. Her little one had tongue tie and had to have a little op to separate it. It made feeding very complicated and both baby and mummy were getting very upset about the whole process. Again they have made the decision to bottle feed and it has made the situation so much better. She is still in grief that she can’t feed but the pressure lifted has been immense. She has kindly agreed to write a guest post for me of her experiences which I shall post later in the week.
I am so pro the idea happy mummy, happy baby! It has to be right for you and the needs or your baby and remember no baby is the same. I think the breast feeding is a marvellous experience and hope to be able to try it again next time, but I will be more opened minded this time to changing events. Breastfeeding is not Marmite. you just can’t simply love it or hate it. You learn from it, admire it, warm to it, deter from it, but most importantly you grow to respect it, whatever decision you make.