We often get asked about how we feed our babies and if we have any advice to pass on and the truth is, we aren’t experts, we are totally winging it and luckily managed to work out fairly quickly what was best for us and our babes. Here are our stories:
I desperately wanted to breastfeed Leo. But I was also desperately unsupported when it came to it. When I was discharged from hospital with a great latch and sent on my way I thought I was winning. When 48 hours later we were sent back to hospital as he’d lost 11% of his birth weight and hadn’t slept longer than 30 minutes at a time I was terrified. A new, naive, knackered mum that only heard the words “tube feed” and I panicked. I spent the next two days cluster feeding, desperate for him to put on weight and to sleep. Neither happened. I called helplines and no one picked up. I googled and nothing helped. A vague friend asked me how I was getting on on Facebook Messenger and I was honest. “Give him some formula”, she told me, “Nothing bad will happen and you’ll get a break.” So I did. And he guzzled it. And for the first time in five days he zonked out in a milk coma and slept peacefully. And I slept. And I felt better. And the fog lifted. Happy mum, happy baby is what I stand by. I was too frazzled, too unsupported, too anxious to be happy and enjoying my baby. My nipples were red raw and I winced when he was passed to me to feed every half hour (or what felt like it) and had he been putting on weight and been happy, fine. But neither of us was happy. From that first formula feed we combination fed for the next two months. And then by 9 weeks, he was fully on formula. Was I bothered? Maybe a tiny bit. Social media does funny things to you and every picture of a mum with their baby on the boob made me feel a bit of a failure. But was my baby happy, thriving, sleeping? Yes. As was I. Leo is three this week and has formula affected him? Not one iota. He’s funny, clever, advanced. When Alfie was born I had every intention of giving him colostrum and then moving onto formula. How on earth people breastfed with a toddler needing a snack, a poo, your attention I couldn’t fathom. But when Alfie was born, he took to it. Part of the reason behind my decision to go with the Placenta Capsules was because I heard it increased milk production and I thought I may as well give it a go, in light of my past experiences. It worked well. We were working well. And then, I thought I was dying. Three weeks in and I actually thought I had Australian Flu. I’d never felt so ill. I had a fever, I was shaking, I felt sick, I couldn’t move, my skin hurt, my head hurt. I had acute mastitis. The thought of having to feed through it was unfathomable. I wasn’t so desperate to breast feed that I’d put either one of us through that. I had to get better quick. I had Leo to look after as well. So I quit the boob. And Alfie is wonderful, thriving, hilarious. He slept through from six weeks. He’s happy. I’m happy. We’re all happy. And that’s all that matters.
I’m a secret hippie at heart. When I fell pregnant with Belle, I decided that a natural birth and breastfeeding were very important to me. I know these things don’t always go to plan. Depression runs in my family and I was always concerned that PND would come for me, so I personally thought that breastfeeding would help me bond more with my babies. Therefore I did everything in my power to make them both happen. I did a hypnobirthing course which transformed my mindset (mainly about birth but I used the skills I learnt from it for so many aspects of life, including when I was starting to breastfeed,) and I tried to research about breastfeeding as much as possible.
When Belle was born she took to the boob quite easily. I remember the first few foggy days thinking that it was really easy and I didn’t know what the fuss was all about. After my milk came in properly I started to feel pain so I researched online for lactation specialists near me and off I went with a 7 day old baby, and Breegs, to a local breastfeeding clinic held in someones home. I got the fright of my life (although I think Breegs got an even bigger fright than me!!) when I went into the home to see 15 women sitting all around the house with their boobs out trying to feed. It seemed like a commune. I was then told that Belle had tongue tie, and that was why I was in pain and someone in the kitchen could cut it for me for £200. Oh and they only accepted cash!!! We made a run for it, and then my best friend who is a nurse, put me in touch with the most wonderful doctor called Marissa (from Doctor Today) who was my total saviour. Although I had 5 weeks of AGONY (which I found more painful than birth!) it was the biggest help having step by step instructions on firstly how to get a good latch, secondly how to keep her on, and finally how often to feed/ when to pump. I know I’m fortunate enough to have had the help, as without it I would have given up. If youare as stubborn as me and don’t want to give up then please get in touch with her!! All of a sudden, one day, it just clicked, the pain disappeared and I breastfed Belle for a year. Oh and also, she never had tongue tie!!
I found it super easy after the initial few weeks, got my boobs out pretty much everywhere and because Belle turned out pretty great I decided that Ace had to have the same start in life.
14 weeks in with Ace, 2 bouts of mastitis, plenty of blood, sweat (what is that gross hormonal middle of the night sweat that happens?!) and plenty of tears, we are now at a great place. I know I’m lucky and its been MUCH easier second time around so we are going to keep going until we’ve both had enough. This time around however, there will be no pumping because with 2 kids there are just not enough minutes in the day to do a wee, never mind to be sitting with a machine that makes a weird moo sound. I like the convenience of breastfeeding, I haven’t had to take a steriliser out my cupboard and the bottles I bought are still in their packaging. We went to Canada when he was 8 weeks old and not having to bring formula/bottles made the trip so much easier. I know I’ll have to give him a bottle at some point but at the moment it’s not been an issue that I’m the only one that can feed him. We got him into a routine pretty early on where he would feed every 3 hours and now we are onto every 4 hours, so I have plenty of time to escape in between. I’m aware that it might be tricky for him to take a bottle if he only knows boob, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it – I’m glad I’ll be trying when I’m in a clearer head space, compared to the hormonal foggy head space that I was in with a brand new baby.