I tried breastfeeding I really tried. It wasn’t a pleasant experience and it didn’t release any happy hormones in me. My beautiful boobs were made for men – but not this one. So a few days after birth, once my son had the creamy goodness of colostrum, I changed my plan. Boo would be combination fed.
You see naïvely I hadn’t realised that if you wanted to breastfeed you would have to commit to it like a drug user to heroin. Every few hours, relentless, so baby can get his fix. This wasn’t ever going to be for me, but good on any woman that has the endurance.
Then I experienced the sort of pressure women talk about. The ‘just persevere’ line, the ‘breast is best’ comment and so forth. Now, I’m strong woman and aint no one going to make me feel bad or guilty. In fact I felt proud of what I had achieved especially as I had expressed for a good month. Being a strong woman, people are scared to challenge me, and I got on with it my way. But seeing some of the girls I know, who don’t have my confidence, being coerced into something they found challenging was hard to see.
The other thing that struck me is the lack of information available for women who want to combine or bottle feed from day one. It’s as if it doesn’t happen, so no one writes about it. My health visitor told me I’d have to express eight times a day to be able to express so early on. I ignored them, and you know what – I managed twice a day to get about 200ml. My baby had breast milk this way and no other for his early life, and I was very proud of it. I was also very proud that my husband could feel him using the bottle, which he mostly had.
Good on anyone who can breastfeed, whether that’s exclusively or a little, but it was not for me and I feel no shame or guilt saying that. Noone knows my body better than me, and I’ll continue to listen to myself.