Before I start I just want to say HA HA HA at this title of this post. I wanted it to be different and witty and at the time I had Drake in my head who is the inspiration for this title.
So lets get straight into it… Feeding your baby
I want to talk about my experience as a new mummy on feeding my daughter. What I did, what changed and why as well as what I do now.
Breast is best!
And it is, there is no denying it. Breast milk is the best thing for your new born with it being packed with nutrients to help grow your new born, these are vital to help fight off infections and to help provide key elements for your new born to function
Even before, back in the days when I would dream about having my own baby, I knew I wanted to just breast feed. I knew it was the best thing but little did I know that it was not easy.
There was a time when I was growing up I remember, those who had babies chose to formula feed. I do not recall seeing many of my aunties even my cousins who were much older breast feeding. Times have changed and even at your ante-natal appointments the midwife tells you the importance of breast feeding.
I started off just solely breastfeeding, I left the hospital just breastfeeding, then once I was home I combination fed i.e. I introduced formula milk into my feeding routine and now I just formula feed, I stopped breastfeeding.
My journey starts at the hospital (like most haha)
I knew in my heart wanted to breastfeed so as soon as my baby was born, I can never forget when the midwife put her on my breast. It felt amazing and I just felt this closeness to my daughter that I cannot describe. Now the issue is, the midwife helped my baby latch onto my nipple correctly which was why it felt comfortable all the other times after that I honestly, to this day feel as though my baby was never able to latch on to my nipple properly partly because I felt and I think one midwife on the ward even agreed that my aereola was large so for the area to go into my baby’s mouth I guess was not easy but also I just could never get comfortable.
I remember the 2nd feed, I was in the room I delivered her in, in my see through, backless gown, with my 6 pound 9 ounce baby in my arm sucking on my breast (which one? that I cannot remember for the life of me). I felt uncomfortable on the hair but it was manageable and I felt that baby had latched on well. What didn’t help was the influx of visitors that kept popping in oh and some drama LETS NOT GO THERE!
My 3rd feed and so on took place on the ward, it was uncomfortable AF. I was on no sleep, my husband stayed the night and took over the bed which left me bed-less but it was not bad because I just stared at my baby. When I think back to this night I get angry at myself because I think about how I could have done things better and it makes me feel like an awful mum. Heck that night I felt like a shitty mum because I could not breastfeed my daughter properly. I kept bugging the midwives on the wards but I felt as though they could not see that I was not able to position myself in a away to allow Soraiya to latch on comfortably. I had the colostrum – trust me it was just doing the whole ‘get the aereola in mouth as soon as baby opens mouth’ which I could not do because my aereola was/is huge so there is this large amount of area for me to try and shove in her tiny little mouth and when ever she did latch on it hurt like hell – that is not meant to happen.
Needless to say I carried on. The midwives were all telling me I was doing a good job not that I felt it but they assured me that baby was getting colostrum so that was all I needed to know.
Whilst at home I was lucky because my mum stayed with me. It is so reassuring and comforting to have your mum over. She was such a big help. Honestly when my mum was soon to leave because unfortunately my mum has her own kids and husband AKA MY DAD that she needs to be with and when I say kids I mean my 12 year old baby brother I cried.
Upon arriving home I was overwhelmed to the max. I just had a new baby, there were all these people, my newborn needed feeds like every hour, I still had not got the whole ‘breastfeeding’ down to a T, and I had no privacy to be able to just be me and be with my baby. Having my mum there just helped so much. I had no clue what I was doing, heck I cannot remember at the time when I last even slept so the first night, my mum was pretty much up all night tending to my baby whilst I slept although I was babbling crap which scared the shit out of my mum.
Now let me just say that my mum as well as many other mums of my mum’s generation are experts after all she gave birth to me and raised me from a baby to the age I am but times are different and I totally respect the fact that my mum will only tell me tge good stuff because I am her daughter that being said there was one thing my mum kept going on about which really annoyed me.
and that is… to give Soraiya the bottle.
and so starts the combo feeding life
I WAS ADAMANT hence the upper case letters that I was going breast feed even though I was not enjoying breastfeeding because as explained I just could not get comfortable and my baby was not latching on well no matter how hard I tried. But that being said I felt I was doing a good job as per what the midwives told me in the hospital. However, being a new mum and that I was still worried my baby was not feeding and getting the food she needed. As a new mum I know it is common, heck it is new and you have no clue if you are doing a good job.
My mum was worried too now that really didn’t help. I suffer from anxiety as it is, I was already worried about that so to then have my mum worry with me and not reassure me like how I would have hoped as well to tell push me to carry on did not help in the slightest. My mum’s belief was that by feeding the bottle, my baby would stay fuller for longer. There is no truth to this, I did some research much later, when I had time that is.
My mum kept going on about it when I arrived home and I do not think it helped seeing my exhausted and frustrated with the whole breastfeeding thing too. So as any mum would she advised me what she thought was best based on her experience.
Fact: According to my mum, she was unable to breastfeed me, she suffered from mastitis in the hospital. She described the immense pain she felt and no matter, they would not allow her to breast feed me. Eventually after some days when she tried to breastfeed me I just was not sucking or latching on and so after many attempts with the help of the midwives my mum felt it was best I was given the bottle. Do bear in mind though that this was 1990 and the NHS and well everything was different then.
Anyway back to me, that night I was breastfeeding her as best as I could and then the 2nd day it was getting to me. I had no time to be able to always find a room for privacy to breastfeed because my house will rammed with people. My mum was still on my case to give the bottle soooo night 2 at home, I gave in and basically made her a bottle.
I made the formula, I measured 2 ounces. I cooled it down. I went upstairs and gave her the bottle. She drank it. I remember at first she was not liking the teat of the bottle but eventually she drank it.
I cried. I was upset. I was angry. I felt so bad.
That didn’t mean I stopped beast feeding. I still breastfed but top her up with formula where I felt my milk was not enough.
What comes first, the breast or the bottle?
I continued to breastfeed and even tried expressing which was not a success. It takes up so much time, which I do not have and not the most pleasant because I felt like a cow.
I gave up expressing and was gutted because I bought an electric Tommee Tippee one so that I could express and then store for my husband to then feed her.
Gradually what was happening was my husband and other people were feeding Soraiya when I was busy which led to her being formula fed and in the end what ended up happening was I was formula feeding her more and topping her up with the breast.
I was aware that if I was not expressing or feeding the milk production in my boobs would stop and eventually it did. I was gutted when this happened but not surprised. Let me tell you, when this does happen, your boobs become painful.
I officially stopped breastfeeding around 5/6 weeks. I remember very clearly because I wanted to continue breastfeeding as much as I could up until Soraiya was 3 months but I guess it didn’t work out like that.
6 months on…
Did you know, with baby formula you can feed the formula labelled 1, Birth – 6 months up until your baby is 12 months old. I only just found this out the other day! I always though at 6 months baby needs to move on to the ‘follow on’ formula which is not the case.
When Soraiya turned 3 months old she was solely formula fed. The use of the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep machine helped immensely. The best £89.99 I spent honest to god.
For my formula feeding was more convenient. Breastfeeding just was not comfortable for me to continue, my baby was not latching well enough, expressing was taking to long so in the end this is what happened naturally.
Now, I have started slowly introducing Soraiya to solid food – eeek how exciting!
As a mother, you know what is best
I remember how guilty I felt when I first gave Soraiya her formula made bottle and how embarrassed at my decision because all the mum’s I was talking to through the who I met via the mush app were all breast feeding. They would talk about it in the Whats App group chat I was part of and then there was me who at the time was combination feeding. Eventually I didn’t care because this was worked for me and I knew that my baby was fine and that is all that mattered.
Another thing also that I realised was other mum’s will not care either as each mum does what they think is best, does what they can and that is the truth. For another mum to judge or shame is wrong (although those mum’s are out there) the majority are not like that.
What I am trying to say is as a mum, do not feel ashamed or guilty if you cannot breastfeed or decide to combination feed because it is okay.
YES, the midwives, the NHS, the government, the doctor bang on about breastfeeding.
YES breastfeeding is the best thing for your baby
YES you should breastfeed
HOWEVER if you cannot, do not want to or are unable to, it is fine because formula milk is available which has the good stuff that your baby needs.
I just wish I was told this because the way us mums feel before giving birth is different. I was aware that I wanted to breastfeed and also knew that I might not be able to and if I need to formula feed it is okay. But after I gave birth I felt different, I wanted to breastfeed. I felt any other option was bad. My mind frame on this changed.
I hope my experience, my journey has helped in some way for those who were ever in doubt or felt guilty. I also hope for those who read this found this interesting.
Do feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or just want to talk.
As mums I think it is so important we support, empower and uplift each other.
Lots of hugs and kisses,
The Soul Tamer x