My sister-in-law was the first person ever I knew who breastfed because on my side of the family, no-one had ever attempted it; I was determined to be the first. I was ready to possibly struggle a little bit and maybe have sore breasts, but breastfeeding was my only option.
My beautiful little girl arrived and after a quick check over, she was put on my chest and, tears in my eyes, I will never ever forget that moment when she turned her head to my breast and so naturally started sucking; oh wow, what a strange and amazing feeling it was to feel something going through my breast and being sucked by my little girl!
As she was born in the evening, we stayed overnight in Broadlands at the Princess Anne hospital and discharged ourselves early morning to go straight to the New Forest Birthing Centre (a midwives only led centre) as there was a space available. Unfortunately, by the time our little girl was not even one day old, I realised that my breastfeeding experience was going to be much harder than I expected. My little girl was happy to sleep pretty much all day – the dream of many parents – which means that feeding was the last thing on her mind. The midwives at the centre were ever so patient and we tried so many things to keep her awake (stocking her head, putting a damp flannel on her, stripping her down to her nappy, taking the nappy off and so on) but after a few minutes of sucking she would fall asleep again. After four days at the Birthing Centre, her weight was still more than 10% lower than her birth weight and despite the worries of the midwives, we decided to go home where I would be more relaxed and in my environment.
But the breastfeeding did not improve. We went twice to Breastfeeding Babes at the hospital and despite some good advice, my little girl was still not feeding much. To make things worse, she suffered from reflux which meant that I had to keep her upright for at least one hour after each feed, in the hope she would keep it down. My health visitor was coming to see us at home every two days and after two weeks of struggle and my little girl’s weight still not being anywhere near her birth weight, she suggested formula. Up to that point, I was already in tears two or three times a day and that suggestion tipped me over the edge and broke my heart. I am lucky to have a supportive husband and family but still, I had failed my daughter! To stop me going into depression mode, my husband convinced me to agree to the formula feed and within a week, my daughter started to feed better.
She now is 3 years old and still not a big eater – unless you give her cheese which she could eat by the bucket. I am still unhappy about my breastfeeding experience but I am now able to talk about it without getting too upset (but still with a few tears in my eyes) and feel it is very important for me to share my experience so that other mums in similar situations know that they are not alone. So my advice to any pregnant women is to make a list now (while you are still pregnant), with the names and contact details of Breastfeeding counsellors and find out where your local breastfeeding support groups are. Once you have done this contact list, give a copy of this list to your partner and close family so that they can ask for support if you are not in the right frame of mind to seek for help yourself. Check out www.nct.org.uk, or ask your midwife now for any of those contact details.
But my most important advice is to be happy with your choice. If breastfeeding does not work, if it doesn’t feel right, if it stresses you out too much, then use formula (or do a combination of both). If you’re struggling for options, there is a range of baby formula available at Pharmacy2u. My husband and I are hoping to have a second child and I will most definitely try to breastfeed again – but this time, I will be more prepared. I will have my support contact list ready months before the due date and I will also have formula at hand, just in case.