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My Experience of Breastfeeding

By September 17, 2017 ,

Woman sitting on floor with baby feeding baby. A cot mobile hangs to the side of them

I went into my pregnancy adamant I was going to breastfeed my baby. None of the women in my family had ever breastfed their babies so I wasn't encouraged to do it, but at the same time I wasn't put off from giving it a go. 

I knew it was the best thing for baby and would save on formula, bottles, sterilising equipment etc. I'd be able to feed baby whenever and wherever without having to prep anything. It was a no brainer, surely?

Except doubt crept in when I was 28 weeks pregnant when I met my health visitor for the first time. She came to our house, asked a few questions then proceeded to spend 20 minutes telling me how awful breastfeeding was and how I'd probably hate it. I found myself confused and shocked. If breastfeeding was that good for baby, why had my health visitor just harped on about what an awful experience it was?

From that moment, I started questioning my decision to breastfeed and I really wasn't sure whether I wanted to give it a go after all.

As my due date grew closer, I confided in my mum that I wasn't sure that I wanted to do it, the health visitor's words still ringing in my ears, but she could only give me her experiences of bottle feeding, so I was none the wiser as to whether to try it or not.

As the weeks passed, I still wasn't sure but I refused to pack bottles and formula in my hospital bag, therefore forcing myself to attempt it. So, when our little lady was born, I persevered and breastfed her straight away. It wasn't so bad after all I thought, in fact I couldn't see what the issue was. I could do this! I was doing this!

About six hours after she was born we were moved from the birth room to the ward with all the new mothers and their babies. By this time, both me and my other half had been up for 16 hours. The midwifes and nurses regularly came round to check on us and I grew more and more frustrated as every time they checked on baby they told me she was showing signs of hunger and that I needed to feed her, making me feel like I was neglecting her needs when in fact I had been feeding her constantly.
'I did 10 minutes ago,' I told them.
'Put her back on for another 10 minutes,' they told me.

And so I did. On this went through the night and into the early hours of the morning until it got to the point where I'd been up for 24 hours, baby was crying and disturbing the other newborns on the ward and I just couldn't do it anymore. I was so tired, I was scared I was going to drop her if I left her on me to feed, fearing I would doze off from exhaustion as I hadn't slept since going into labour. My other half was just as tired and obviously couldn't give her what she needed either.

A nurse came over and offered to take her off me for a couple of hours to allow me to get some rest.
'Yes please,' I cried with relief.
'She looks hungry. Do you want to feed her first?' She asked.
'I just did,' I snapped.
'I can give her some formula if you want me to?'
'Yes please,' I jumped, not even considering her offer.
The nurse left with baby and I fell straight asleep, waking an hour and a half later. I asked for the little lady to be returned to me and saw that was sleeping for the first time that night. It was such a relief.

Fast forward a few days and we were visited by the midwife at home. She briefly asked how I was getting on with feeding.
'I'm mix feeding,' I told her.
Since bringing her home, the only way baby would settle was to give her a bottle, but I continued to persevere with the breastfeeding too, knowing all the goodness I would pass onto her from my milk.
'She'll sleep better on formula,' she told me. 'It's like concrete in their tummies.'

No one seemed interested in whether I was breast or bottle feeding which I found strange. Surely these health professionals were suppose to be encouraging breastfeeding and providing me with support? If anything, they were all telling me the benefits of bottle feeding.

I'll admit I didn't seek any further help and slowly over the next couple of days as baby was less and less satisfied by me feeding her and was instead thriving on the bottle, I stopped breastfeeding altogether.

So, did I do wrong?

I did what felt best for us at the time. The day after I stopped breastfeeding, I picked up an infection and was put on antibiotics. A week later I got another infection and was given more antibiotics and was told that I wouldn't have been able to carry on breastfeeding anyway due to all the antibiotics and medications I required.

Does that make me feel better?

No, not really. I wish that there had been more support and that I hadn't been put off by my health visitor long before we even got going. However, I don't have any regrets, as at the end of the day, I'm happy and baby is happy and that's all that matters.

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