Most mama’s want to try to breastfeed their babies but I felt differently (for reasons I won’t get into now.) I told myself I wanted to mix feed but, if I’m honest, more for the calorie burn than anything else. In reality I was terrified of breastfeeding and really didn’t even want to give it a go but no one really talks about how you begin to bottle feed, do they?
When Saskia was born, one of the first things I was asked was “how are you going to feed her?” To which I responded “bottle, please.” But I was met with silence. Had they not heard me? I let my words linger in the air for a few moments before effectively being forced to change my mind. My baby was hungry, I was unable to move and no one seemed to be inclined to help me bottle feed. “Ok, I’ll try breastfeeding.” “Oh that’s really good, it looks like your little girl is going to be a natural [She’s not a natural, she has a small tongue tie that stops her from latching properly.] Here let me help you.” Wow, what a difference. And so here I was, exhausted, with this stranger sucking on my nipple against my will. I know that makes me sound horrible but that was how I felt in the situation. Not very natural and bonding if you ask me!
The next few hours in hospital were exhausting, filled with anxiety and stress. What happened if someone came to visit when Saskia needed a feed? How was I going to bond with my baby when she was making me feel this way? I couldn’t cope and the first day with my beautiful, baby girl ended with me leaving the hospital in floods of tears “against the midwife’s advice” after having my boobs manhandled in every which way possible. I was armed with an abundance of syringes to self-express and Mr G’s full support.
I tried as best as I could to feed Sassy for the first few days but once my milk came in it became impossible. I tried expressing, having been fairy successful with the syringe method, but I found it difficult to deal with the sticky mess it left you in (milk everywhere!) and with my boobs hurting so much and my nipples becoming inverted (TMI?!) I gave up pretty quickly. I would dread being near her because I felt like just a meal to her and I wasn’t even able to feed her properly. It took Mr G to say enough is enough and that he couldn’t stand the hours of having both of us in tears. He made her a bottle of formula and I haven’t looked back. Since that day I’ve been so much happier and me and the little one have such an incredible bond.
Sometimes I feel guilty that I didn’t “try harder” but you know what, Saskia is healthy and happy, never ill (except for the dreaded T word – teething!), exactly tracking her growth line and developing at the same rate, if not faster, than her friends and I’m so much happier. I’m now a big advocate for doing what is right for you. Being a new mum is exhausting and confusing at the best of time and I think it’s so upsetting that people get made to feel like they are doing the wrong thing by bottle feeding. If I ever have another baby, I’ll almost definitely be taking a bottle of formula with me and leaving before any midwife grabs my boob.
Disclaimer: I’m not against breastfeeding in any way, shape or form – I understand completely how the health benefits out-weigh those of formula feeding – but it wasn’t right for me and I believe that every woman should be nurtured and supported however she wants to feed her baby. Fed is best.
Love, Anna xox