After seeing the incredible Kirsty from themummysomniac post on Instagram about National Breastfeeding Week I thought it was about time I shared my feeding story. I don’t know why I haven’t done this sooner, I think I’m still recovering from the months of heartache. But here it is;
Firstly I admire women who stick it out and persevere with breastfeeding so fucking much, you women are my heroes! I wasn’t strong enough and changed to formula after 2 weeks to save my sanity. Looking back I know I probably made the best decision for me and Chloe at the time as with her silent reflux and my PND it probably would have done my sanity much worse if I’d continued to battle through breastfeeding.
I was never too concerned if I would be able to breastfeed or not, the baby being fed was the most important thing in my opinion and as my sister was unable to breastfeed her 3 children due to poor supply I knew it sometimes doesn’t work and I was at peace with that. But I had no idea just how hard it would be. I really wish they would put more emphasis around the difficulty you can face in the parenting classes, rather than just skimming over it like it would be as easy as buttering toast. It’s not, it’s hard and it can take some women weeks or even months to get into a good rhythm with it.
The only one time I successfully breastfed was at the hospital with the lactation consultant just hours before we were discharged. I was sobbing in pain as Chloe wouldn’t latch properly, the lactation consultant was holding her neck in a vice grip and shoving her face into my boob while I was laying on my side with Chloe laying beside me as that was the only way we could get her to partially latch. My nipples were already raw from hand expressing into a cup for 2 days and unsuccessful latching. The consultant looked at me and said ‘it’s that easy’, I just looked at her with tears filling my eyes and nodded. I knew it didn’t feel right but I didn’t want to say anything, I was a first timer – what did I know?!? I thought the pain was normal and that I would just have to suck it up. When she finally caught on that it was hurting me, probably by the wincing of my face and twitching as Chloe tried so suckle, she suggested a nipple shield and expressing. So as Chloe got her congratulatory leaving hospital shot (yeah, wtf! Can’t they do that before I’m about the leave the hospital as a terrified mess of a woman with a new baby and no instruction manual – I think I was terrified enough without seeing my 3 day old infant getting her first needle) my hubby rushed to Baby Bunting to get a breast pump and some nipple shields.
After a week of expressing and feeding a new born every 2 hours around the clock I was exhausted, sore and did I mention exhausted. I started formula feeding Chloe at night if I had run out of expressed milk just so I didn’t have to pump every few hours too (I had pretty much given up on trying to breastfeed as I just couldn’t get Chloe to latch and she would just cry and cry as she wasn’t getting what she needed from my boobs directly). Then at about 2 weeks my milk started slowing down, probably due to not expressing regularly enough, so I gave in and switched to exclusively formula feeding. Chloe was happy, started sleeping longer stretches and I was able to get decent chunks of shut eye too.
Although I was fine with the possibility of not breastfeeding before I had Chloe I got major mummy guilt after giving up. I thought I had failed by not being strong enough to continue trying. Then at 5 weeks old Chloe started showing signs of silent reflux. The next 6 months was a whirlwind of emotion and trial and error. 4 different formulas (one prescribed by a paed that Chloe hated!), every type of bottle imaginable, different feeding positions, tears tears and more tears (from me and Chloe), 2 Ngala day stays, several mercy calls to their help line and all consuming frustration that I couldn’t feed my child – the main thing she required from me and I couldn’t even figure out how to feed her from a bottle. I was broken, I had tried everything and I was tired. It sent me a little crazy and literally a little too, the mum guilt turned into PND and at least once (more likely 3 or 4 times) a day I would sit with Chloe in my arms with her screaming in pain and three different bottles I had grabbed in desperation beside me tipping milk from one to the next trying to get her to Feed while I sob and mumble “Why, why won’t you just eat. What am I doing wrong?!? I can’t do this anymore!”. It was horrible, I felt like I had lost my connection with my baby and I dreaded her waking as I knew I would have to feed her and I just wanted to give up. The time was dark and long and hard, so extremely hard.
At about 7 months Chloe’s silent reflux started to improve and by 8 months she was off her medication and drinking from a bottle with minimal fuss, she had some feeding aversion from the months of reflux pain but that didn’t take long to subside. Feeding can be hard, breastfeeding as natural as it seems is so fucking hard but bottle feeding can be hard too. Every time I see a post or story about a woman getting breastfeeding shamed in public my blood boils, I have so much respect for woman who do it and I want nothing more than to fist pump every women I see breastfeeding in public but that could be weird so I just flick them a smile. As long as your baby is fed that is all that matters, ‘Fed is Best’ no matter the method!