Breastmilk or Happy & Healthy Mum?

We published an article this week ‘The Lies within the Literature‘. We are now sharing the words of the mother who highlighted this magazine and her feeding journey.

We were frustrated and sad reading what Kate has endured during what should have been a stage of self care, bonding and enjoyment. Yet another mother suffering at the hands of breastfeeding pressure.

It is as though bullying is acceptable if it is in line with breastfeeding promotion. Why has the healthcare system forgotten that staff members are employed to help babies AND mothers?

Here’s Kate’s story.

Be warned, the photos that display ‘Mothers Guide’ may trigger those experiencing breastfeeding grief.

“Reading feeding stories that people have shared on facebook has really helped me, both when we gave our baby her first bottle at 5 days old and when we decided to exclusively bottle feed when she was 3 weeks. I would like to share mine to help you continue your important work.

For some context, I live in Spain and attended antenatal classes in both Spanish and English. The Spanish ones were very pro breastfeeding, the English ones more balanced. However, the English ones did provide me with a magazine, the contents of which caused me great mental anguish.

During the painful, emotional blur of the first few days and weeks I had the statistics whirling around in my head – my baby was going to get cancer if I didn’t keep breastfeeding, she would have constant infections… We’d been given the magazine to read at home and then discuss in the class. Ironically, I said something along the lines of “I think it’s terrible to put this pressure on new mums and frighten them with this, how will they feel if they’re unable to breastfeed?” I SAID THAT! And yet it still got to me.

Breastfeeding was a nightmare from start to finish for me and my baby. I had a long labour with 3 long hours of pushing. The first time she was put on my breast she managed to wriggle off the nipple so spent half an hour giving me a large, very sore love bite. During this time we called the nurse several times as it felt wrong and it HURT. We were told it did hurt to start with. Afterwards the same nurse saw my love bite and said “Why have you done that, that’s wrong!” Not the best start.

After that about ten different people helped me feed her over the next few days, sometimes two at once. Every time it was a hot, sweaty, stressful wrestling match. Every time it was agony. Every time I cried. Only one of these nurses told me I didn’t have to breastfeed. That it shouldn’t be a chore, I should enjoy it. I couldn’t even reply to her between sobs of pain, exhaustion and feeling overwhelmed. I wasn’t ready to hear that yet anyway. My first job as a mum and I was failing but I wouldn’t “give up”.

Our second night at home she fed for 90 minutes every hour and kept falling asleep. We didn’t know that wasn’t normal. We now know it was from exhaustion, not from being satisfied. I fed for hours and pumped when I wasn’t feeding like I’d been told to. Tiny amounts would come out, 60 ml after an hour. For a long time I felt I had “cracked” too early giving her a bottle at 5 days and should have pushed on for longer. Now, after educating myself with fed is best and your page I wish I had done it sooner. I feel very fortunate that my daughter didn’t suffer more than she did during this time.

My nipples bled and I had a long routine of shields, creams and pads to try and make the pain slightly bearable. Even the towel touching me after a shower felt like being stabbed with glass. We had a check up with the midwife when our daughter was 6 days old. She told us “There are some babies who turn out fine on formula”, before squeezing my nipples and remarking it was strange I still only had colstrum. She then told me it was ok if my daughter drank my blood, it wouldn’t do her any harm and didn’t matter. In my head I was screaming it matters to me! We went back 4 days later and by then I was able to tell her, without crying, that we had decided to formula feed because it was affecting my relationship with my baby. And it was. Several times my mother in law had tried to pass me my baby and after she had been holding her and I’d said no thank you. Post labour, every part of my body hurt and I could not deal with more pain in case she wanted to feed.

Now our relationship is fantastic. She is happy and healthy and so am I. Reading other people’s stories made me realise it wasn’t just me and that we did the best thing for he, making sure she actually got fed. My partner kept telling me that our baby needed a happy, healthy mum more than she needed breast milk. It took me a while to realise it but he was right.”

Happy & healthy ❤️❤️

Thank you to Kate for allowing us to share her story.