Breast or bottle? You can choose the way you’d prefer to feed your baby but the choice isn’t always yours. Whatever way it ends up being, it’s right and you should never be made to feel any different.
During my pregnancy I always tried to keep an open mind on the feeding front. I loved the thought of breastfeeding but I wasn’t going to beat myself up about it if I couldn’t. I was aware of the reasons why not all mummy’s can and also why the bubba’s sometimes don’t want to play so if we weren’t compatible there were alternatives and I was ok with that. I’d stocked up on breast pads, a pump and formula to have all my options covered.
After Smeckle’s delivery we were thrown straight into the world of feeding. I put her to my breast and she latched straight away. A proud moment all round and a beautiful bonding experience to share with my baby. Unfortunately things didn’t stay that simple. Due to her low sugar levels and need of antibiotics, Smeckle had to spend her first twenty four hours on the Special Care Unit where at first I was unable to feed her myself. The midwives advised that they feed her formula and extracted my colostrum in a syringe so that she was getting that too. I’m not going to lie, this crushed me, not only was I separated from my baby but I was unable to feed to her no matter which way she took it. I was so overwhelmed by the whole situation, we’d so quickly mastered the hardest part of breastfeeding and it was already taken out of my hands. All I could do was trust the professionals and was lead by their advice.
The morning after, daddy and I were able to go and see the little lady. We were able to handle her and spend some quality bonding time together as a little family. This was my opportunity to try the breastfeeding again and so I grabbed the chance with both hands and we continued from where we’d left off. The physical feeling felt strange at first, the strong sensation as the milk withdrew and the dramatic heaviness of my new massive pair of fun bags but the emotional feelings were immense. There, looking like a sack of shit, I felt like a goddess! I was using what my body was made for to feed the beautiful little life i’d bought into the world.
We had to stay in hospital a couple of days more so I lapped up all the advice and information I could from the pros. They taught me how to use their industrial strength breast pump which when I wasn’t feeding, I was strapped up expressing so that daddy could occasionally share the feeding experience too. Then when it was time to leave, we felt as though we were in the swing of things and had a good indication on how this feeding business was going to go. The day after we got home, my milk properly came in… It was ridiculous! I looked like i’d had a botched up boob job, at least 4 sizes too big. My right boob was a complete joke, we named it the Hulk as it’s massive green vein pulsed angrily for some kind of release. No matter which way I laid, if there wasn’t a breast pad to shield, someone was getting shot! I was very uncomfortable for a few days to say the least until they settled down but luckily there was plenty of milk to go round so when I wasn’t feeding Smeckle, I was pumping out a good supply. We fell into a routine and for a few weeks things seemed to go ok in a blissfully, tiered haze. Don’t get me wrong, I found it extremely exhausting and I’d literally become a milk machine but I was determined to carry on. I was always told it does get easier!
Six weeks went by and it was time for my check at the doctors. I’d already had the conversation with my community midwife about contraception and had decided to go back on the pill. So with this in hand , when speaking to the doctor he advised I went back on the combination pill I had been on for ten years prior to my pregnancy. He knew I was breastfeeding and said any pill was ok and as I was used to this one, it seemed a no brainer so off I went. Five days went by of me taking the contraception, five days Smeckle was relentlessly feeding, five days I barley moved from the sofa thinking this growth spurt was horrific. By this point I hadn’t put two and two together then it suddenly dawned on me… I phoned 111 and was told that my child was starving! The pill I’d been prescribed had pretty much dried up my milk and Smeckle was going hungry. The combination pill is not one to be used by breastfed mummy’s and they couldn’t believe I’d been prescribed it. I felt like the worst mother alive. Not only did I feel incredibly selfish and stupid for taking the pill but I hadn’t recognised my baby wasn’t getting what she needed. I was angry, upset and ultimately in despair.
Smeckle needed feeding and I didn’t care by this point how, firstly she drank the supply of expressed milk then we moved onto formula and she was satisfied. In this time I was trying what I could to get my milk back on track, plenty of oatmeal, constantly pumping and offering Smeckle the breast but sadly she’d lost all interest after being fulfilled with the bottle. I was absolutely gutted. This was the end of our breastfeeding journey and the choice of letting go was taken out of my hands. I was very bitter about the whole situation but at the end of the day my baby was healthy and happy and as a mum, what more can you possibly ask for?