So I don’t think I’ve specifically talked about this before, but I wanted to share my experience with breastfeeding.
When Chloe was first born, as you know I struggled a lot. I struggled with everything from a sore vagina (thanks to an episiotomy), to coping with the enormity of parenthood.
I cried a lot; I got angry a lot; I got depression.
During this time, I also struggled with breastfeeding, which did NOT help with my building depression.
Of course it hurt; and like the majority of Mums out there, I got cracked and bleeding nipples. I remember telling my husband to “stop talking to me, I can’t function when I’m in pain” while I was feeding Chloe.
My toes would curl every time she would latch on.
I was DESPERATE for breastfeeding to work for me so I reached out online to talk to people. I Googled it. I talked to my midwife. I talked to my Plunket nurse. I talked to my Doctor. I even went to a lactation consultant.
I had swabs taken. Had chats about raynaud’s syndrome.
Everyone man-handled my breasts.
I used a million different types of creams, and used those breast shells which collect milk in between feeds to help my nipples not stick to my shirt and hurt more.
Everything always came back to “if you’re doing it right, it shouldn’t hurt”.
Which to be honest, didn’t help. All I needed to hear was “it’s supposed to hurt to start with but then your nipples will get used to it”.
NO ONE SAID THAT TO ME.
I work very well with facts. If someone tells me something is going to happen and afterwards there will be a result, I can work with that. I can work through the negative to get to the positive.
But no one would tell me that. They kept insinuating that I was doing something wrong.
So I started expressing milk and bottle feeding Chloe; which was actually horrific. Expressing took such a long time, and I’d always be worried about the fact that I was bottle feeding her and not breastfeeding her (even if it was breast milk), because of course people told me that she would get nipple confusion (bullshit BTW).
At the end of the night, when I needed to be asleep, I’d be spending 40 minutes expressing; and yes, I’ve accidentally thrown out a bottle of freshly expressed milk. I also cried then too.
When Chloe was 8 weeks old, Phil went away to India for THREE WEEKS. It was rough.
During this time my Mum came over and she gave me the confidence to switch to formula and I stopped breastfeeding.
I felt guilty. I felt horrible. I cried so much.
But ultimately I knew it was the right thing to do for my mental health.
So when Chloe was about 3 months old, I switched her over to formula and didn’t look back.
When Ronan was born, it was a different story. I knew what to expect and pushed through the pain of breastfeeding in the knowledge that it will get better; and it did.
I successfully breastfed him (without even expressing once) for 18 months. I was beyond proud of myself.
When I look back on my experience with Chloe, I actually don’t think my mental state was stable enough to deal with breastfeeding.
It felt like I was just struggling with everything, and breastfeeding just didn’t help.
I am hugely proud of myself for being able to breastfeed Ronan, but I’m also proud of myself for taking the step to formula feeding Chloe.
There are times in our lives when we have to take a step back and say “hey this isn’t working, and it’s ok to change it up”.
I am a big believer in doing what’s right for you – the parent. Which is why my blog is called “Happy Mum Happy Child”.
We all know the saying “breast is best”, and my add on to that is “until it’s not”. Now that could be that you have a supply issue, or mental health issues. It could be that your baby has latching issues, or even that you have a medical issue.
WHATEVER the reason, not breastfeeding isn’t the end of the world.
If you have breastfed – you should be extremely proud of yourself. If you bottle-fed, you should be extremely proud of yourself.
You are keeping your child alive no matter what – you should be extremely proud of yourself.