So my last post was about what happens after you’ve had a babba. I just wanted to do a post about feeding – what worked for me, what didn’t, how I felt, what products and tools I used and all that jazz. (Tools..Like I’m on 60 minute makeover 😂).
OK so we all know there are 2 methods to feed your sprog. Breast or bottle. Each one has pros and cons, each person has their own views on both. It often leads to mums and parents being judged for their preferred or chosen method. Which i think is totally WRONG. But we’ll get to that later.
When I was preggo I was very undecided about which method I was going to choose when the chosen one made his appearance. I had friends who had breastfed and loved it. I had friends who didn’t want to entertain it at all. I had friends who tried and it wasn’t for them. I had friends who wanted to but for one reason or another couldn’t. I gathered their advice and stewed on it for a bit. Me and norms spoke about it but I was still undecided. I don’t know what it was, I just wanted to make sure I was making the right decision for me, my baby and our lifestyle. Norms works away you see, so I wanted to know that when I was going from be on my own, sometimes for 5 nights at a time, I was going to be able to manage and do the night feeds without any extra agg.
Of course, the professionals, the midwives, health visitors, antenatal class leaders all recommend you breast feed if you can. And they literally do try to push it on you. In all the leaflets I got throughout my time up the duff, there were pages and pages of advice and information on breastfeeding, and like 2 pages on formula feeding. It’s wrong really. What happens if you can’t feed your baby from the breast because of medical reasons? You shouldn’t not receive the same amount of information just because of that. Everytime you had an appointment, they would ask, “and how are you planning on feeding baby?” It puts a lot of pressure on you, your fat, swollen and can’t walk, then you have this big decision to make about this human your going to squeeze out your fanny and somehow keep alive.
With all this in mind I wanted to get more information so went to a few antenatal classes and also a breastfeeding class. If you are pregnant and it’s your first time, I’d deffo recommend going. Some stuff was a crock of shit, like how to dress a baby after its bath. Of COURSE it’s going to be easier to dress a doll. A doll doesn’t flail it’s arms and legs around and squirm around all slippery after you’ve lathered them up like a slithery Johnson’s Baby smelling slug. I digress. But do try go, they are free and I happened to meet one of my lovely friends there. It’s a good opportunity to meet other mums who are due around the same time as you, and feel your pain, waddle the same as you, have to use the loo 875489 times a day like you, and have the same questions as you.
So I went to these classes and still came out none the wiser. I went to the breastfeeding awareness class hoping this would help me make my decision. It did. The way they describe breastfeeding is wonderful. Like it’s the most amazing and natural thing, that you and your baby are going to have this amazing special bond that you just can’t get with bottle feeding, that the baby will just know what to do, your liquid gold milk is something that Jesus Christ himself has sent down from heaven and blesses your child’s soul with every little sip it takes. It sounded lovely. It sounded natural, and women had been doing it for millions and trillions of years, and still do do it, so why should I be any different? I was going to do it. I had bought things for bottle feeding just in case, but I wasn’t going to need them. I was going to do this.
So when we went into hospital, I had packed some of the aptamil little starter sets, in case anything happened in labour and for some reason I was not going to be able to give our son the boob, for example if i had a traumatic labour, had to have surgery afterwards etc etc. I was adamant I didn’t want to use them.
After William was born, me and the midwife tried to put him onto my breast to feed, and for that all important skin on skin contact. He wouldn’t do it. I moved position, she moved my tit here there and everywhere, but nope, he just would not suck on my nipple. She explained it might be because he wasn’t hungry and the trauma of labour needed to wear off, or that he had enough fat stores to see him through a few hours so we should try again later. I was so pumped with adrenaline I didn’t really worry. Besides what did i know?
So about 4/5 hours passed, we had moved from the labour ward to our own room, and William still hadn’t fed from me. I asked the midwife if this was normal. She said we should try to feed him and she would help me. I cannot begin to tell you how weird I felt, I was so unsure of what to do, it’s not like how you imagine it. You see women on telly or in films or in a coffee shop who just whip their baps out and the baby is there suckling away. I felt stupid asking how I should hold him. So we tried again, holding him in different positions, getting me to move my boob this way a touch, move it that way a touch, lean forward, lean back, don’t just put it in his mouth make him work for it, can’t you try to get your milk going a bit, have you tried to express, why don’t you try the other breast…In the end I got so hot and bothered and sweaty I started to cry. William was getting agged the fuck out being poked and prodded and manoeuvred more than a Dodgem at Hull fair, he was trying bless him, but for some reason he just wasn’t getting it, and my milk just wasn’t coming out enough for him to smell it and his instinct to kick in and him search for my boob. I felt defeated. I was so tired and all I wanted to do was feed my new little baby, experience that bond they had told me so much about. But instead I had to sit there holding him while this woman I had only just met had hold of my right tit, and taught me how to self express, and while we did that she caught the little amounts of the colostrum in a syringe and we fed William that way. I was reassured that this was perfectly normal, not to get upset and just to persevere, it’s not easy but when it happens it just happens. In our hospital we have breastfeeding peer support workers, who are lovely people who volunteer and go round the hospital teaching and helping you to breastfeed, answer any questions etc etc. The midwife said she would pass my details on and get them to come see me so they could maybe help me and give me some tips and advice.
I felt so shit, like I was supposed to be able to do this natural thing and I couldn’t. Why? What was wrong with me?
Anyway, the more I tried with it, the better it got for a while. He latched on, but just wasn’t getting much milk. The peer support people came round and they were lovely, but it was much of the same, getting your boobs out, someone you don’t know riving your tits around, your baby’s head being forced into positions, getting hot and sweaty, getting frustrated, feeling embarrassed, the list goes on. I was just told that maybe he didn’t want anything, he was latching on fine, it can take a few days for my milk to come in and not to worry. So I didn’t. But then when Norms had gone home and I was all on my own, I started to worry. What if William was starving? Why couldn’t I feed him like all the classes and midwives and health visitors said I would be able to? I was dreading him waking up for his feed. What if it doesn’t work that time too? What do I do? If I press the buzzer will the midwife think I’m wasting her time? Will she think I’m a shit mum?
Anyways, he woke up an hour or so later, and I changed him (the meconium- see previous post for THAT delight) and I tried to feed him again. And again it wouldn’t work. I tried for about an hour. In the end William was so hungry and Confused with all the different positions I’d put him in, he might as well of done a bloody baby yoga classes bless him. So I pressed the buzzer and this amazing midwife called Nicky came in. I told her what I’d been doing and it wasn’t working, and got upset again. She was SO supportive. Like honestly, I was so overwhelmed and tired, and she just expressed some of my colostrum for me, gave me a cuddle and a really good talk. She honestly was like an angel. I’ll always be thankful to her for coming in and being so nice and also being honest. She made me feel like I wasn’t losing my mind and gave me the reassurance to be patient and keep going. So I did. And again, William seemed to latch on and I actually felt him start to take some milk. This was it. I’d got it. He’d got it. We’d done it.
The next day was much better, we spent the day in hospital just the three of us, in our little bubble, William was getting better at feeding and I was becoming a little more confident. The breastfeeding support people seemed pleased with how I was getting on and so did the midwives. When norms left at 10pm on the Tuesday night I didn’t feel half as worried answer I had the night before.
But I should of been. Honestly. It was the worst night of my whole fucking life. It started off so well, William had fed just before norms left, I was all set to have a couple of hours sleep before he woke for his next feed and seed infused peanut butter nappy. But that was not to be. Honestly, it was as if William had been possessed by that girl off the film “The Ring”. He was just non-stop crying from about 11.30pm. He cried all the way through me trying to feed him, wouldn’t latch on, wouldn’t suck when he did eventually latch on, wouldn’t take to any of the positions. So I tried to express some milk, but I couldn’t do it. When you’ve expressed by hand loads your nipples are so sore. Like red, inflamed raspberries on your tit ends. And when you think of expressing, you think of milking a cow. It’s not like that. It’s only the very end of your nipple which you use. You literally are pulling it off, or so it feels.
So I’m sat there, my baby is crying and I’m trying to express with one hand, which is impossible, and soothe him with the other. I sat like this, embarrassed and ashamed that I couldn’t do it myself, until about 1.45am. In the end William was so beside himself I pressed the button and slumped on the bed, him next to me crying and me crying too. Now some of you might be reading this thinking I am being dramatic, it can’t be that bad, why didn’t she press the help button sooner? I can’t tell you how much I wanted to be able to feed my baby myself, be this amazing mother and woman that you see with her baby attached to her bosom, smiling and all goddess and natural beauty-like. The woman that the magazines, teachers at the classes want you to be, and you see on Instagram, looking all goddess like, proud to be boob feeding their little cherub. I know now, looking back, that I put FAR too much pressure on myself.
So this lovely midwife came in, and we hand expressed again, and the tiniest little dribble of colostrum came out. He took that little bit from a syringe again. She calmed me down and told me not to worry, and If i needed any help not to leave it so long. I felt better, William was asleep in my arms and that was that.
However, about half an hour later he started crying again. So I started the whole cycle again, changed nappy, and tried to offer him my boob. Again he wouldn’t take it. He seemed hungry, he was doing all his cues, searching for my nipple etc etc. so I tried again, put him in all these different positions, he got more and more Aggy, so I pressed the buzzer again after a good 40 minutes of trying. The lady who came in wasn’t the same as the previous one. I was greeted with “what do you want?”.
Fucking charming. I nearly spat at her.
I explained the problems I was going through and she kind of sighed, and said she would be able to come help me but I’d have to wait as she was with someone else and everyone else was busy. I nodded feebly. I mean what else was I supposed to do? I was really struggling and giving myself a really hard time, and to be honest William was finding it hard too and making it difficult for me. So for this midwife assistant to come in and be so rude and abrupt, it really knocked me for six.
So she came back about 10 minutes later, and we went through the same thing again. In the end, she ended up just expressing some milk for me again, and I sat there numb and blankly staring at the wall, feeling ashamed that I couldn’t do this simple task for my own baby I had grown for 9 months. The awful woman left, and William just wouldn’t settle. He cried and cried, wouldn’t go in his crib, wouldn’t wind, and would only settle on me. So I held him for a while, let him fall asleep on me and tried to put him back in his crib. By this time, it was about 5am. I was shattered. I hadn’t slept all night, with trying to get William to feed for such a long time. He was over tired, and wouldn’t settle unless he was on me. A midwife came in and heard me crying (and him, screamer) and she got me a bedside crib and made a little towel pillow for him to feel like I was still holding him. I eventually fell asleep with my hand holding his asleep cross our bed about 5.45am, and they wake you up for breakfast at 7am on the ward. YAWN.
I felt so defeated, really down in the dumps. I had put so much hope on breastfeeding that when it didn’t work as I thought it would do, I felt like a failure. Especially when I couldn’t even express for him. I felt like I didn’t want to do anything for him as I wouldn’t be very good at it. When norms came at 9am, I sat and cried and cried. I made him give him a small bottle of formula as I couldn’t bear the rejection and humiliation and awful feelings again after that terrible night, and people coming in and judging me, looking at me with pity because I couldn’t feed my baby. I even made him change him. I couldn’t do it. I felt so shit.
We went home that day, I couldn’t face being there for a third night, I wanted to be at home and do things our way, experiment with what worked and what didn’t. So when we went home we decided to try express using a manual pump. I managed to express 2oz of milk. But he wouldn’t take it, I tried a bottle, my finger, a syringe, a cup. He just didn’t want it. I had had enough. I was fed up of the crappy feelings, people telling me it would get easier, random people coming and riving my boobs around, we were at home and we decided to go onto the bottle. I cried and cried as I gave him the formula. I felt like such a failure. I felt like I wasn’t a “natural” mum. But William took thay 2oz of milk and was so much happier. So we never looked back.
I can’t begin to describe the relief. But also the guilt. And when the health visitors come over I was met with their disapproval at changing to the bottle, but I broke down in tears each time I explained how I was feeling and how horrible it was today they quickly reassured me that a full and happy baby no matter how they were fed is what’s important, but also a happy mummy is very important. It really is true true that your little ones pick up when your feeling down, stressed etc.
We were met with another challenge. William for some reason did NOT enjoy the tommee tippee bottles we had bought. He just wouldn’t suck the fucking thing. We tried different teats, different positions. He just couldn’t get on with them. Bloody typical. We switch to the only other option and he doesn’t like the bloody device it comes in. My child is so picky. Fuck knows where he gets that from (norms. Me. Both of us. I couldn’t possibly say). So off I went onto Instagram and looked at what bottles other people were using. I read a lot about MAM bottles so decided to go with them. They have this square-ish shaped teat which is silky coated, and they have holes in the bottom of the bottle covered by a rubber cover thing, to help with avoiding colic. Tried him on them….and he TOOK IT. HE FUCKING TOOK IT. GUZZLED IT DOWN LIKE IT WAS HOLY WATER. Praise Mary, Jesus and Joseph.
Because he’d not taken a lot of my milk in the first 2 days, and because he then decided to veto all the bottles we had spent a hundred million quid on, he lost about 12% of his body weight. We had to get him weighed every day for a few days, then take him every other to get him weighed to see how he was doing. Thankfully when we changed to the MAM bottles he started to put weight on again and now he is thriving, if anything he’s a TANK now.
One other thing I wanted to just mention is about when your milk comes in. Whether your decision is to use the booby juice or not, either way your milk will come in after you’ve had your baby. Mine came in about 4-5 days after he was born. Let me just say…when it comes in, YOU KNOW. Your boobs go rock hard. And I mean, rock hard. As in you can’t touch them, look at them, if you knock them of something or someone it’s as if you’ve been run over by that herd of wildebeest in the Lion King when Mufassa dies. It’s HORRENDOUS. I got a fever when my milk came in. Shaking cold, but sweating like a pig. I felt as though I was getting the flu. Make sure you have paracetamol in just in case you have a similar experience. I thought I was off my head. It made me feel spaced out. Something else to look forward to. You push something the nice of a melon out of your Minnie, then you are blessed for are few days with two honeydews on your chest. What’s mother nature’s obsession with melons?
Basically this post is just for all you mums to be, or new mums maybe having a hard time feeding your babbas to know your not alone, and just to be prepared that it is hard work. I have friends who persevered and are having an amazing experience. But the feelings I felt, how low I felt, the guilt, that was not ok, and I just wanted to share that, and to say that whichever way you decide to feed your babies, do what’s right for YOU, your BABY and your BODY. Don’t get yourself in a rut like I did, ask for help. Don’t be embarrassed. These midwives, breast feeding support workers, health visitors etc have seen boobs and arse holes and everything before. And they actually aren’t judging you. It may feel awful at the time, but whatever happens along the way your always going to do the best for your baby. It’s your natural instinct. It’s what suddenly comes alive in you when you give birth. You become a MOTHER.
Don’t feel like you’ve failed, your baby doesn’t think you’ve failed, they think you are the most wonderful and beautiful person on this planet.