I have already blogged about my struggles with breastfeeding, and it is the most viewed post of mine, still to this day. For those of you who don’t know, I breast fed for around 8 weeks, before I hopelessly threw in the towel and decided I would put it all behind me and move on to better things, and hopefully better sleep. I’ve always been dramatic, obviously.
I just want to say, with the biggest heart, please do not take offence to this post if you have only fed your baby formula. I do not blame you for doing that, as it is completely your choice as a parent. These are purely my opinions based on my breastfeeding experience.
Just to add, if you aren’t a ‘fed is best’ kinda person, then I am afraid my blog is probably not for you.
For any new or expecting parents out there, and all of you mums who are struggling with feeding at the moment, here is what I wish I had known:
I wish I had known that it was normal for O to feed for just 5 minutes, and be satisfied for over an hour. At the time, when he’d come off after 2 or 3 minutes, I would be so upset and would actually try to make him take more because I was almost certain this wasn’t right and he wasn’t getting enough. Sadly, this was one of the main contributing factors as to why I gave up, because I began to top him up with formula, and it all went downhill from there. I read all over the internet that babies should feed for 20 minutes or more. It was only after I gave up that I found out there is no time scale at all for how long they should feed, and they will continue to let you know if they want more. O would feed for about 5 minutes, and then he’d go down for half an hour, and repeat.
With breastfeeding, it is quite daunting to be in the dark about how much your baby is taking, and I know I am certainly not the only parent to ever worry about it.
To be honest, I’m really not sure why I was so worried, because he was still doing the most revolting looking bird seed poos, and 9/10 times within the hour of being changed he would leak through his nappy. Let us not forget the water fountain we were presented with every time we would take his nappy off too.
I wish I had not been so nervous to feed in public. Whenever he used to wake up or stir in public, I would run myself to a changing room or toilet and pray he wouldn’t cry because I hated listening to it. I used to get so flustered and panicked. Again, I don’t know why, because I literally don’t care about that now. Not in a horrible, evil way, obviously, but I just realised that it isn’t the end of the world if your baby cries for 2 minutes when you’re out and about.
I was so worried about people staring at me, especially as a young mum, and them thinking that I probably couldn’t cope or didn’t know what I was doing. This led to me actually cooping myself up in the house throughout my whole breastfeeding journey, because I was worried I wouldn’t get to a facility in time to feed him, and he’d have a public breakdown and it would all be my fault.
I wish I had transitioned to formula slowly, and to add to that, I wish I had known how bloody expensive formula would be. Although I was topping O up with formula now and again, it was still very rare that we would give him it, and if we did, it would be 1oz, or half an oz, at a time. We also used to do this when I couldn’t express enough, and Anthony had taken over for a night. When I decided to pack in, I didn’t do it gradually because I didn’t know I was supposed to, and when we switched him over he was constipated for about a week, was sickly and just not himself. I felt like the worst person in the world, and by that point my milk supply had dried up, so I was unable to go back to feeding him myself.
If I had known how much formula we would need in the long run, especially when the amount in the bottles increased, I would still be breastfeeding now, let me tell you that. We weren’t financially prepared for the cost of it, and luckily managed to cut down a lot to make room, but it was a huge chunk of money gone per month which we could’ve saved.
I wish I had known the nights wouldn’t have been sleepless forever. As I said above, O would feed every half an hour, and at the time of my utter desperation for a long nap, one of my friends said “I know a woman who breastfed for a year and her baby never slept for longer than 2 hours“. I think that was the final straw for me, mainly because I was bloody knackered, and because I didn’t know anyone who had actually fed for a long period of time who could tell me a positive sleep story.
Of course, now I have come across many people who have babies who are breast fed and brilliant sleepers, so it is very possible.
I didn’t know what cluster feeding was, and only found out through reading peoples blogs afterwards. Looking back now, I definitely think that is what O was doing at the time I had given up. I didn’t think it was normal, hence why I just didn’t believe I could cope any longer. Sometimes I want to kick myself for not doing more research, but the formula route did work out for us in the end because he did start sleeping longer almost instantly. This obviously satisfied my sleep craving, but I missed breast feeding so much that I spent the following week pumping in order to increase my milk supply. Sadly, I didn’t get very far.
I wish I had asked for advice when things went sour (not literally, thank god). This one is the most important to me, following all of the points above. Every time I mentioned feeding to a health visitor, a doctor, or a midwife, they gave me their personal opinion on it, which meant that I was getting a different view every week. I didn’t know about the bad times at all, so when it wasn’t as positive or as life changing as I expected it to be, I thought something was going horribly wrong. This was not the case at all.
Last but not least, I just wish I had waited a little bit longer. If I had given it a couple more weeks, I may have found the experience to be completely different.
One thing is for certain, if I do decide to breast feed again next time, I will certainly not put the same pressure on myself as I did last time. A healthy and happy parent leads to a healthy and happy child, whether you choose the breast, or Aptamil. That is literally all that matters.