Motherhood, Parenting, mental health

Wean Rhymes With Mean

Some mothers never had the ordeal of weaning their breastfeeding baby due to various reasons/conditions that prohibited breastfeeding (or their choice to formula feed); others reluctantly weaned due to health issues beyond their control. We also hear from mothers who happily started the weaning process only to develop a void when their baby no longer breastfed. Breastfeeding Grief can happen to any mama, at any stage.

The formula feeder who thought she didn’t want to breastfeed but later felt anguish when her milk dried up. The mother who was physically or emotionally incapable of breastfeeding, desperately yearning for her baby to be at her breast. The mother who had to go back to work. The mother who was always in pain no matter how good the latch. The mother who pumps and hates it. The mother who breastfed, some extendedly, but still did not want to lose their moments of feeding… The list of mother’s affected is endless. So, we reiterate; Breastfeeding Grief can strike any mama, at any stage. Always know that Don’t Judge Just Feed are here to help you through this phase. 

In this particular article, we are sharing a fantastic piece written by Ann Card of ‘Just A Minute…’ blog. It specifically highlights the sadness mothers experience when moving from breastfeeding to formula. You’ll be happy to know this tale is not one full of sorrow; it’s a little bit kickass with a massive portion of LOL.

We are grateful and fortunate that she has allowed us to share her story; swear words and all.

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“Today is the second day, since she was born, that I will not breastfeed my baby. I won’t lie, I’m finding it hard.

Hard because last night when she cried and cried and cried I wanted to placate her by sticking a boob in her mouth. Hard because when I got up in the morning and gave her a bottle, the guilt almost overwhelmed me. Hard because yesterday, the first day of fully weaning her to a bottle, all I wanted to do all day was cry. Hard because I’m scared people are being mean about my decision to wean her onto formula.

Now, I’m not a medical professional, or even a breastfeeding or formula crusader, but I have had a very long road with this stuff and I think it’s worth sharing, because baby feeding judging is rife and I’m ready to unload some truth bombs on y’all.

So look out.

Fed. Is. Motherfuckin’. Best.

I’m going to explain what we went through but I’m going to try VERY hard not to justify our approach. A healthy baby and mother is all the justification I think we need, so please try not to search for the excuses here and just listen to my story.

Little A and I had a traumatic birth. Actually, scratch that, it was a Traumatic Birth. It deserves the caps. And as a result of this Traumatic Physical Shitfight, my milk was pushed back by around five days. FIVE DAYS. The medical advice was to keep trying and top her up with bottles as well. If she had to rely on my breastmilk, she would have been starving. Top ups were advised until she was about 3 months old.

I spent the first weeks crying on her head, doing a three stage feed (breastfeed, bottle feed expressed breast milk, top up formula), seven times a day, for about an hour. That means my feeding/crying time was about the same amount of time I used to sit at my desk, and that’s without the 20 minutes each time that I spent trying to express and getting 10ml (about 2 teaspoons). Jesus. I cried over the breast pump because I felt like I was not good enough.

At 10 weeks, she started to refuse breastfeeding (by screaming as long and as hard as she could) in favour of the formula top ups I was told she had to have. I cried on her head because I felt like I was not good enough.

At 4 months, she was so distractible that my nipples got more airtime than Ed Sheeran. On, off, on, off, don’t worry about me babe, I’m just in a café. It took forever to feed her and in addition to that, she was waking up to six times a night. I was exhausted. I cried because I felt like I was not good enough. I didn’t cry on her head, because that would wake the little bugger up.

At 7 months, she bit me and it bled and almost got infected. I cried because it hurt… and I felt like I was not good enough.

But we got there. We struggled, and survived, and struggled, and survived and in between, we had many moments of peaceful, beautiful feeds (the kind that when she was 6 weeks old I likened to unicorns; much talked about, impossible myths). Now, at 10 months, I have decided to wean her for reasons that are best for her and for me. And on the first day a feed was completely replaced by a bottle, I cried, because I felt like I was not good enough.

But – our journey is our own. Persevering with feeding was what was right for A and I. Formula tops ups were what was right for her, they kept her alive and thriving when I physically could not. Mixed feeding saved her and I and allowed us to breastfeed in the end and hopefully have all the benefits that go with that.

So breastfeed, bottle feed, mixed feed – I don’t care how you do it. I care if you, and your baby, survive.

Don’t be a weaning meanie, to yourself or anyone else. You don’t know what they’ve been through.”

These closing statements are words we hope many women can take forward with them. In addition to her story, Ann has a message for us all at Don’t Judge Just Feed:

“When my mum died, a woman told me a story about when mum attended her fathers funeral. The woman had a newborn at the time, and was sitting quietly with the baby when mum came up to her, put her hand on her arm and said ‘you’re doing a good job.’ That baby is now in high school but her mother never forgot that small kindness. We should all be this kind to each other,  and embracing all feeding systems is part of that. So to a struggling mum – you’re doing a good job. Pass it on. And thanks to @dontjudgejustfeed for helping us do this.”

Find Ann’s blog here. She’s on Instagram and Twitter too.

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