Breast is best but formula feeding is fantastic too!

For 9 months during pregnancy I listened to midwives and doctors tell me that “anyone could breastfeed”, “breast is best” and “breastfeeding gives your child a far better start than formula”. I wasn’t worried however because I intended to breastfeed so formula feeding never crossed my mind. Anyways, they said anyone could breastfeed and they obviously know what they are talking about. Right?? WRONG!!!

The night Izzie was born I put her straight to the breast. No one assisted me with latch or made suggestions. No one offered to help me or asked if I felt ok with it. I just did it because as far as I knew, it was easy and anyone could do it. Or so I had been told. The next morning the midwife came in and said, “Are you ready to go home?” I was bewildered and thought; well I guess they feel I am ready so “sure”. That afternoon they discharged me with Izzie and we went home. For the first 3 days of her life I put her to the breast every couple of hours. She would appear to be eating for about 10 minutes and then stop. I thought this must be normal. We continued this way until on day 3 the community midwives came to see us. Izzie was yellow with jaundice and had been screaming night after night. She had lost almost a pound since birth and I was sent directly to hospital with her. Continue reading

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Breastfeeding bullies

Call me massively naive, it’s o.k I know I am, but I always thought breastfeeding would be pretty straightforward. Baby comes out and innately knows what to do, you lift it up, plant it on a nip and away it goes. I honestly had no idea it could be so tricky and the source of so much emotional blackmail.

While pregnant I found the NCT breastfeeding class made me really quite angry. I took exception to being lectured at  by a woman holding a knitted tit and was slightly horrified when she refused to accept that maybe, just maybe, there might be a reason why someone didn’t want to breastfeed. Oh and also the suggestion that you’d  be killing your child by exposing it undefended to deadly diseases if you didn’t.

Cut to when the baby has arrived and the first thing the night shift midwife dumps on my bedside table (alongside the drugs – woo) are a couple of tiny purple syringes. About 10 hours later she comes back to tell me what to do with them and the rest of my day is spent squeezing tiny drops of collostrum into them. I know it’s sad but I actually quite enjoyed the process and was pretty proud to have produced a bunch of full syringes before being told I had to have given them to the baby within 2 hours.

So the first couple of days were spent expressing and feeding with no sign of milk while also trying to encourage the baby to clamp on. Sam’s particular issue was that when he did attach he fed for maybe a minute and then promptly fell asleep. I went to the hospital feeding workshop and numerous midwifes told me to keep trying. The baby was latched on right but still wasn’t getting much colostrum/early milk and I was sore (it hurts! Get lanolin). The relief I felt when a wonderful doctor finally let me off the hook telling me to top up with a little cup of formula was huge, I could have hugged her.

The pressure to breastfeed is huge and while I agree that it’s a wonderful thing to do sometimes for whatever reason you can’t or don’t want to and that’s your decision not anyone else’s, don’t let the pressure get to you. I still mix feed, it means I get some sleep and if you knew what I’m like without sleep you’d agree that’s best for everyone.

 

Random things I’ve learnt

1.  Mummies are not allowed to be poorly.  If you tell anyone that you and/or your baby are ill, the stock response is “oh poor Hannah” (don’t get me wrong, I would do anything to take it away from her).  Your feeding/cleaning/changing duties do not stop. You do not get a lie in.  You do not have time to have a hot bath.

2. Mummies are supposed to know the answer.  “What does she want”? is the question my husband asks most.  “Where is the xxxx”? Is the next one.

3. Parenting books are rubbish.  I flicked through one the other day which I had devoured when I was pregnant, thinking it was the Bible of Babies.  I laughed out loud at the advice.  One bit said “by now your baby will be sleeping through”.  The author obviously hadn’t met Hannah.  And in fact has never been a mother.

4. You might not be able to establish the routine you wanted.  Before I had her, I was ambivalent about whether or not I would breastfeed, and when she came out I decided I definitely did want to.  I was helped with oodles of breastmilk (lucky me) which for whatever reason is no longer there.  So I’m topping up with formula and frankly it’s really nice to be able to drink from time to time, and to go out without having to get your boobs out to placate a hungry baby.

5. I’m fascinated by poo.  Sometimes she goes twice a day, sometimes once every 5 days. I have names for the different sorts.  I have names for the different colours.  I’d better not carry on with this bit.

6. Having a routine is great when you can stick to it.  Pros – I know when she will go to bed and when she is likely to get up, when she is likely to feed etc etc and can work my life around it.  She seems happier and is easier to manage. Cons – you are tied to the routine.  If she leaves it, I know about it all day for the next 48 hours.  So I can’t go out after 8pm….