I know what you are thinking. You have read the title and you have assumed I am against breastfeeding! I am NOT!!
What I am against is the hype that states we MUST breastfeed, the stigma that comes from deciding to formula feed and the pressure from everyone!!!! Not everyone can breastfeed, this doesn’t make them good or bad mothers, they are still mothers, and their child is still getting all of the nutrition required to thrive.
I’ve had two children and I attempted to breastfeed with both of them, I had different issues with DS1 and DS2 but ultimately chose to switch to formula with both of them. Yes I CHOSE to do this! So shoot me down right now 🙂 I’m not a bad mother and my reasons were simple, yet I still had to fight off the breastfeeding police when I made my choice. Here’s why I chose not to breastfeed:
He was my first born, and I had an idealistic view of breastfeeding for at least a year, after all breast is best (or at least this is what they pump down your throat every single day). I had initial difficulties in latching him on, which I believe is typical with a child born by emergency section. But I pushed through it and quickly established a great breastfeeding regime. I loved it! I loved how close I felt to my boy, breastfeeding really is a wonderful experience when it’s all going well.
After around 6 weeks I developed an infection in my nipple. The pain was excruciating at every feed, but as per the advice of my ‘breastfeeding support worker’ I continued to push through the pain. I almost ended up chanting ‘breast is best’ whilst feeding, to try and convince myself that the wonderful experience now reduced to torture was in the best interests of my child.
I managed a week like that, I had topical cream to try and help, but the infection was getting worse. I remember looking at my left breast and it was red and peeling all over. My nipple had started to break away (Yes I was losing part of my nipple – and no it never grew back) I switched to a pump for my left breast (on the advice of my breastfeeding support worker) but still the pain continued.
I was miserable! My wonderful one on one feeding regime was hell. I explained all of this to my BSW and was told to ‘push through the worst of it’ I explained to her in one call that my nipple was literally falling off little by little. She laughed it off as though it was nothing…
Breast is Best, Breast is Best – Breast is…… NOT ALWAYS Best!
I made my choice to stop breastfeeding, it wasn’t fair on myself or my little man! I was miserable, he was picking up on this and our wonderful feeding time was in tatters.
You would think that upon making this choice I would feel relieved. That I would be allowed to feed my child how I chose without fear or retribution! Wrong! I received calls several times a week from my BSW and from other BSW’s that mine thought could help me! They were trying to convince me to keep my milk in with pumping, I told them straight that I wouldn’t do this. I wanted to heal, and I was now enjoying the closeness and time I had regained feeding my son (albeit with a bottle).
I was made to feel guilty! My son would be much better on my breast! I hung up on that call!
A couple of weeks went by and I thought I was free of the breastfeeding police, when I started to get more calls.
They wanted to see if I wanted help bringing my milk back in so I could start breastfeeding again now I was healed.
I (and my 1 1/2 nipples lol) told the BSWs that I appreciated their thought but could they please leave me alone, I had made my choice and that was final.
I don’t know why I put up with it for so long! But as a first time mum it is so easy to be swayed. If that happened to me now I would tell them to leave me alone from the onset.
Shoot forward 4 1/2 years, and yes I once again was planning on breastfeeding my second son. My birth with DS2 was far more traumatic than DS1 and thus is took even longer to try and get him latching correctly. But I pushed though it and by day 3 he was latching wonderfully. It does give you a real sense of achievement when you have struggled to finally have your child latched on, mother nature doing what she does best.
Due to the labour and DS2 being on an IV we didn’t get his second official weigh in until day 6. He had lost almost 20% of his bodyweight! I knew he had dropped, and losing some is common in BF babies, but I was shocked at just how much he had lost!
My initial thought was that it was due to the sepsis infection.
The hospital midwives drew up a plan of action which went something like this:
1: Feed at the breast
2: Express any excess milk – feed it via cup
3: Top up with formula
4: Repeat every two hours
Whilst this doesn’t sound too horrific the 2 hours starts from the start of the breastfeed! So I was getting literally 30 minutes before having to start the process all over again…
I was shocked at how little milk I was producing when they got me on the pump. With DS1 I could have fed 3 babies and still had some left to spare!
I had been unintentionally starving my child.
I continued with the regime for 2 days, over which my milk production continued to go down and not up as you would expect.
During this time I also had several visits from a BSW in hospital, who had great pleasure in telling me I was doing the right thing.
My milk production was now almost zero. everyone was encouraging me to continue but I chose to stop! I was tired so tired, trying to recover from a major operation, and I wasn’t getting any quality time with my new baby boy!
I think that whilst breastfeeding is a wonderful thing, that people (especially BSWs) fail to see past the fact that ‘Breast is Best’ Maybe it is for some people, but it isn’t for everyone.
As long as you have a happy and healthy mother and baby then it really should not matter how the mother chooses to feed her child.
So – Please…. Can somebody shoot the breastfeeding police!