We discovered a post by Erin of Honestly Mumma Erin which was written during National Breastfeeding Week 2017. No-one wants to take away the achievements of breastfeeding women, and of course, they have every right to celebrate nourishing their baby this way; it’s a tough physical and emotional journey for even the most expert breastfeeder. However, as a group of bottle-feeding parents, we know just how hard it can be to see the thousands of boob posts, particularly if you wanted to breastfeed but for whatever reason, it wasn’t an option or didn’t work out.
Many mums will relate to the challenges that Erin encountered, which is a sad fact because in an ideal world, we all want an easy transition into mother with a healthy and happy baby. Reality is often very different, and at times very painful and scary…
This is the feeding journey of Erin & baby Hugo;
Breastfeeding- my story…
Breastfeeding. Breast is best vs fed is best. It’s such a taboo topic. There is so many opinions out there on what is best, but sometimes I feel like people forget about the poor women out there that for many reasons can’t breastfeed and how horrible it can be to feel like your failing because of this. So seeing as it’s national breastfeeding week, I thought I’d share my breastfeeding story with you all.
Hugo was born four weeks early. For me this meant my milk supply wasn’t even close to coming in. The first time I tried to feed Hugo, I really had no idea what I was doing. I mean, I’d never done it before and it’s all well and good to go to birthing class and calm birth class were they show you, but putting it into practice is a totally different situation.
It took nearly 7 days for milk to start to come in. I had midwife after midwife pull at my breasts and nipples push poor little Hugo’s swollen and bruised head onto my breast, but he would still never latch and only four hours after he was born he had a tube inserted and was fed formula via that.
In those seven days and for the following two weeks, I tried to feed Hugo every four hours, then pump after he wouldn’t feed and pump every two hours in-between trying to feed him. I’m not going to lie, it was hell. I was so exhausted and it wasn’t until around day ten that I was finally pumping around 50ml a feed if I was lucky. I was so excited! It was hard work, but I really wanted to give my baby the best start I possibly could.
Hugo was fed both formula and what breast milk I had by tube until he was around 10 days old. He only latched by day 9, and that was with a nipple shield (more hell). By day 9 I asked if I could try to bottle feed him as Jim and I had discussed mixed feeding so that I could have a break at night and he would do the last feed before bed. Some midwives disagreed and some were all for it. We tried and Hugo absolutely loved it. This was how we were able to take his tube out. I was happy that my milk was starting to build and the fact that if he wasn’t feeding we could give him a bottle confidently. Giving Hugo his first bottle was a major stepping stone for us.
When I got home I continued to breastfeed and pump, breastfeed and pump, breastfeed and pump. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever felt tired like that before and I did a two month contiki and partied hard and still didn’t feel that tired!! We ended up giving Hugo a bottle of formula at night as I just wasn’t getting enough from pumping and I really needed a break from feeding.
I started to feel like my body was long gone to being my own. I felt like all I did was pump and feed and have my boob out 24/7. He would honestly take an hour to feed every feed. To make it worse I was using a shield and I’d tried to stop using it but I had flat nipples and Hugo had a teeny tiny mouth and struggled to latch. This meant I really struggled to feed in public as there was no way I could be discreet. I felt like this was just another stress and I felt like I was housebound. Yet I still wanted to do the best thing I could for my child and at that time I thought it was best to persevere and keep breastfeeding.
At around 8 weeks something changed. Hugo would scream and arch his back every time I tired to feed him on the breast. He would then scream all day. This wasn’t him. He was such a placid baby who slept 12 hours over night and I would generally have to wake him four hourly during the day to feed. I ended up going to the naturopath to get some help. He put Hugo on a probiotic and homeopathic drops and put me on some supplements too. This was supposed to work within a few days. The drops were amazing and Hugo’s reflux was better, but he was still screaming, refusing the breast but happily drinking his bottle of formula at night.
To make matters worse I got mastitis. Holy shit that deadly infection is the devil. I had this twice when I was pregnant with Hugo, so I was really worried that I would get it again and low and behold I did. This really played around with my supply and I was struggling to pump 100ml in total from both breasts without feeding Hugo first.
I was really starting to hit a low. I’d tried everything natural from lactation cookies to teas to try and boost my supply. It just wasn’t working. Breastfeeding was supposed to feel natural and be easy. That’s what you see and what your told. For me it was becoming a daily struggle, didn’t feel natural at all and I was beginning to loose my mind.
I ended up seeking medical advice. My doctor told me that I’d given my baby the best start I could, that I’d tried my hardest but that maybe it was time to fully switch to formula. To be honest I couldn’t have agreed more. I couldn’t look after my baby with all the love and care he needed if every time it was time to feed I would cringe and want to cry because I knew what was coming. So we put Hugo on formula every feed and my goodness the change. This little bub turned into the happiest little man, just like he used to be. He was satisfied, the reflux was gone and he was finally putting on good amounts of weight rather than just scraping by. All this and I finally felt like I had my body back to myself and that we could go anywhere at any time of the day and I didn’t have to worry about pumping or feeding.
In a sense I was free.
So to you all you mummas out there that breastfeed, I take my hat off to you! Your amazing and incredible for doing what your doing and I honestly wish my experience had of been better and I could have kept feeding.
To all you mummas out there who bottle feed, good on you! For whatever reason your still giving your child an amazing start to life and you don’t deserve to be judged for this, it’s not always your choice.
We all need to be supportive of other mummas out there. We don’t know their story or what they’ve gone through. So let’s cut each other some slack. If your child is fed, healthy and loved isn’t that the most important thing?
We couldn’t agree more Erin. Thank you for allowing us to share your story and much luck and love as you continue through this crazy life as a mother!
You can find Erin’s blog here.