I have waited a long time to post my breastfeeding story. Breastfeeding is such a contentious issue; whether you succeed or you don’t, someone always has an opinion. I hope that I tell the story in a positive way, without preaching the gospel of the boob, but I want people to know that with determination and the will to want to, it can end up not being too hard.
When I had my daughter 4 years ago this week, I decided that I was going to breastfeed. I’d bought some Tommy Tippee bottles in TK Maxx of all places and someone had given me an old microwave steriliser, but I hadn’t bought any formula. I’m not sure why I didn’t buy any, it just hadn’t crossed my mind that I might not be able to breastfeed. Was it naivety or determination?
When my girl was born she was put straight on me and I fed her straight away. I needed help from the midwife, but we managed it. The next day on the ward, a student midwife sat with me as I tried and she was happy that I’d fed her ok and we were allowed to come home.
It wasn’t all plain sailing; I remember texting my mum at 6am on the Saturday morning after Evie was born on the Wednesday, and saying that I couldn’t turn her off! I’d been up all night with her crying and she couldn’t latch on. My mum turned up within 20 minutes and with a sane person in the room with us, she fed.
I had a great midwife visit me in the first few days, who gave me advice such as how to use the feeding pillow properly so that I had two free hands to manoeuvre the baby and simply to put my feet on a little step stool as I was sat on the settee so that my feet weren’t uncomfortable and it was one less thing to distract me.
Once we got through the first few weeks, we were plain sailing…until Evie decided that she would not drink expressed milk from a bottle anymore at four months old, but that’s another story! It seemed to me that I had so much stuff to cart out with a new baby, that the fact that I didn’t need to remember formula as well, just made things easier.
I tried to express milk every day and I froze as much as I could in pouches and on the few occasions that I left her with her daddy or grandma, she would have my milk from a bottle (until she was four months old of course).
I returned to work when Evie was six months old, she’d decided to drink my expressed milk by then but not formula. I continued to breastfeed her until she was 9 and a half months old. I expressed milk before I went to work to leave for her and also I locked myself away in a prep room during the day to express again at work. In fact, she didn’t have any formula until she was about 8 months. Looking back I’m not sure how I managed it, but it was something that I felt strongly about and I just did. When I decided to stop, it was the right time. My milk supply had wound itself down and I had not problems stopping. I’d done enough and she didn’t miss it at all.
When I had my son in October last year, I decided that I would feed him myself again. A strange health visitor who came before the birth was almost trying to put me off it seemed as she told me that it might be difficult even though I’d done it before…I ignored her!
Again I had no formula bought “just in case”. This doesn’t really mean much though as we are in spitting distance of any number of 24 hour supermarkets had I needed some in a rush.
I had a really (relatively) easy and quick birth this time and again I fed the baby straight away. This time it was so much easier. Even though Isaac had to learn what to do, I knew so much better this time. In fact we were so successful that he gained 7oz in his first five days!! Gained!!!
It wasn’t all easy though. When he was a few weeks old I felt really fluey and had an ache in the side of my boob. I put it down to being really engorged with milk for the first few days after my milk came in, but then I started wondering if I might have mastitis. I went to the doctors the next morning and I was diagnosed with mastitis and prescribed antibiotics. I felt better really quickly and I was glad that I had caught it early before it got any worse.
I haven’t even tried Isaac with a bottle this time. I feel that I don’t want to give him formula and I don’t have the time or the inclination to mess about sterilising breast-pumps and expressing breastmilk. I’m not in any great rush to leave him and go anywhere alone, so I figure that when I start to wean him at 6 months and he gets used to different flavours and different things in his mouth then I’ll try him with formula then. I’m not going back to work until he is 11 months old so I’m in no rush to get him on a bottle for that, so we’ll just see how I go. I might change my mind, but at the moment this is how I feel.
So that’s how it was for me! I’m not preaching about breastfeeding in the sense that I think that everyone should do it, but for me and my babies it worked and I couldn’t imagine it any other way.