Yes, I know breast milk is best, but…
I tried breastfeeding, I really tried. I wanted it to work, I know how great it is. But I wasn’t prepared to do so at the peril of my sanity. I’m sad to say for me it wasn’t a pleasant experience. It didn’t release any happy hormones, it didn’t aid bonding.
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 (trust me, I struggled with that too), 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 milk fiend. 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. I have nothing but utter respect.
Preservation over Persevering
Then I experienced the sort of pressure women talk about. The ‘just persevere’ line, the ‘breast is best’ comments 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 serving breast milk when they found it challenging was upsetting 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. Stupid really when you think it could encourage breastfeeding, if that’s the end game.
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 to express 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 feed him using the bottle. As did my parents, as did his parents.
What’s right is what’s right for you
There is simply not enough done to support women’s personal decisions. And it must be personal, not what some nurse is shouting at you.
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.