Hey lovelies, I hope you’re all warm and well.
Before I start this post, I just want to point out that I am not slamming or shaming anyone for how they choose to feed their baby. I genuinely believe “Fed is best”. As long as your baby is being fed and is growing well, that’s all that matters. I just wanted to create a post on the pressure around breast feeding and share my thoughts/experience.
It begins during pregnancy.
For me, the pressure around breast feeding began during my pregnancy. It was something I really wanted to do. Midwives and doctors speak to you about breast feeding from quite early on. You’re given advice and leaflets on breast feeding ante natal groups. They actively encourage you to make the decision on feeding your baby before they’re born. But not once did anyone speak to me about formula, bottles, expressing or combination feeding.
Looking back now I was so adamant I was going to breast feed. I watched hours and hours of videos on how to boost your supply, getting the perfect latch, the science behind milk your body produces, the lot. Formula feeding never even crossed my mind, it never seemed like an option because everything around feeding you hear from the professionals you see is about breast feeding. I’m not saying that’s completely wrong, I just think other options should be explored too. Especially with first time mums like myself.
Breast feeding and gestational diabetes.
At 30 weeks pregnant, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes (GD). During my first GD midwife appointment, it was mentioned that from 34 weeks I begin to hand express and collect colostrum. This was because babies who’s mamas have GD might not be able to keep their blood sugar stable and once born it could lead to difficulties. Now, because my diagnosis was quite late on, they didn’t know how much it would affect baby so it was quite important I did this. They provided me with 1ml syringes and 5ml pots to collect the colostrum.
During the evenings I would hand express what I could. Some nights I got 3ml, some nights I got nothing. Those nights of zero milk but hours of trying became mentally quite difficult. Why body wasn’t producing what I needed for my baby and it made me feel quite inadequate. I think in the end I managed enough. It was labelled and stored in our freezer, ready to take to hospital for when he needed it (not that they wanted to give it to me once he was born but we’ll get to that later)
Within 45 minuets of being born, I was encouraged to feed him on my breast. That was fine by me and we gave it a go. The student midwife showed me how and soon after he latched on and fed a little. I thought that was it, how easy. I was wrong. Throughout his first night in the real world, I offered him my boob and he wasn’t latching. Asking for help felt weird because it’s meant to be such a natural thing. We struggled for a while until I asked for help. The midwife suggested a few different techniques which half worked. He latched but did nothing. I began questioning myself. Why can’t I do this? Does he not like my milk? Are my boobs not right? This continued and we tried often to feed.
I resorted to asking for my frozen milk to feed him, because he needed something. One midwife denied me my own breast milk to feed my screaming hungry baby. She told me that if I syringe fed him, he’d become lazy and expectant. So what was I meant to do? Continue trying to feed him without success and let him starve? She was so insistent I kept trying. “Well he should just be doing it” She told me in a frustrated tone. Well yes bitch, I know that. Just get me the damn milk!
We finally got to go home 2 days after he was born. Still struggling to feed my baby, we made the decision to give him some formula. It wasn’t what I wanted and I felt like a failure. So I continued to offer him my breast, but he did nothing still. The community midwives visited the next day and asked me how breast feeding was going and looked a little disapproving when I said we’d been giving him formula. Again, what was we meant to do, let him starve? They suggested I continue offering my boob and try to express milk for him. Bottle feeding was going well but I took the advise.
So I felt that I should still be trying. I got my pump out the day my milk come in and tried to express something. I wasn’t expecting a lot. Nothing came out. Again, I felt like a bit more of a failure. Oliver seemed to be struggling with the Dr Brown’s bottles we got, so we switched him to MAM bottles and he took to them perfectly. All I needed to do was express the milk to fill them. But I couldn’t. Nothing was coming out with my pump. I tried hand expressing too and that only produced a few drops. It all became a little too much and we decided to just exclusively formula feed. The second I changed my mind set from “Breast is beast” to “Fed is best” I became much less tense and upset. Oliver was feeding fine and things just seemed much easier.
Fed is best.
So, feeding my baby formula wasn’t part of my plan, but it has it’s perks. We could monitor how much he was having. Shane could be involved in feeding. Feeding out and about became less daunting. All around is was the best decision for us and I’m glad we made it. Yes it would have been nice to breast feed but my boy is happy and healthy which is all that matters to me. However you decide to feed, it’s okay. Fed is always best. Try not to let the pressure around breast feeding get to you. If you manage it, that’s amazing, if not, that’s also okay.
Kisses and Love