Wednesday 3 September 2008


I really wanted to breastfeed and fully expected it would just happen without any dramas. It was actually a real shock to me when it went bad.

It all started with Noah and I being separated for 2 days and then even when I did see him he wasn't ready to start breastfeeding until day 4. It seemed to go well at first because he was really sleepy and not very hungry or demanding, however it soon became obvious he was still hungry after feeding. It was all a bit of a vicious cycle - due to his weak state I was only allowed to feed him every 2nd or 3rd feed, he had a very weak suck so my milk supply was a bit low. Due to low milk supply he needed topping up and then the supply and demand principle was stuffed up. Then he wasn't gaining weight so he required more supplementary feeds and top ups - result - loweredmilk supply and a baby who hasn't learnt to suck. It was actually a total balls up. When we tried to cut out his supp. feeds and force him to the breast full-time he would scream and thrash about the whole time - obviously not getting the amount he wanted or with the ease he was used to receiving it from the bottle.

In the end I was so stressed out and really not enjoying him at all - I had to draw a line in the sand and give in to him being a bottle/formula fed baby. I had to give myself that permission and recognise that although it's not the perfect scenario I wanted he'll still grow up to be a wonderful, healthy boy. I also had to hang on to the fact that it doesn't mean I won't successfully breastfeed any future babies. Noah is now almost 100% formula fed but I still try and express what I can so he gets some of my goodness. Occasionally I put him to the breast and sometimes he accepts and it's lovely.

During my breastfeeding journey I reached out to my girlfriends to ask them how it was for them - here are some of their responses for those of you that are interested (I've cut out their names for privacy)

Case 1

I breast fed for 7 months, and then Baby Boy just took himself off. I never used formula milk he wouldn’t take it so he is on long life milk as recommended by another mum and he never looked back and still drinks his milk!

Breast feeding was good I enjoyed it and convenient and cheap! But there was no way I would have been breast feeding longer than 12 months that’s for sure….oh and my boobies are just not the same!!

Case 2

I am still breastfeeding past 1 year old. I didn't have any problems which was amazing considering most of my friends did and rarely anyone I knew was able to breastfeed beyond 4 - 6 months. Most actually didn't get past 2 weeks. At the end of the day it is, as one nurse put it, a contract between you and bub and you need to do what is right for you and bub if it is painful or stressful is it really helping Noah or you???

It is wonderful and so much easier than bottles but on the other hand you can't go anywhere away from them for more than the next feed! I did try Baby Girl on formula at about 6/7 months when I got a bit of a cold and my milk supply was affected but she literally spat it out of her mouth and threw the bottle away so she was not going to touch the stuff. Although the other month at mothers group she picked up one of the other bubs bottles and went to town on it.

Case 3

I had no problems at all with breastfeeding and enjoyed the experience, until Baby Girl was about 6months and was not putting on any weight (was off the growth chart). I realised that my milk was running out so tried desperately to increase it (expressing, medication etc) but to no avail. I found this experience very traumatic as I had wanted to breastfeed for at least a year. However I felt a whole lot better about it all once G was on formula and putting on weight, which is the most important thing!

I think that it's important that it is emphasised that breastfeeding should definitely be the first option due to its various benefits for both mum and bub, and the fact that it is completely natural, however this strong emphasis then makes it very difficult for those that can't breastfeed as they in some way feel as though they have failed. I don't really see a way around this, apart from keeping in your mind that you have to do what is best for bub, and that if formula = growth, then that is best!

Case 4

I had a relatively easy time with Baby Girl 1, she was a good size baby and breastfeeding went smoothly from the word go. My milk came in to excess, I would wake up with the sheets soaking wet and feeling like I my boobs were going to explode, ha ha. She was able to attach properly and all went well... However with Baby Girl 2 it was completely different. She was a much smaller baby. I never felt my milk come in like it did the first time around and feeding was very difficult. I don't think I slept for the first week, she was pretty much awake and crying all night and she wouldn't sleep much during the day either. I think my poor little possum was probably just so hungry. It was thought that because her mouth was so little she was unable to get attached properly and therefore could not get the suckling action going. We tried finger feeding with my expressed milk until she grew a little bigger enabling her to possibly attach herself to me properly. I was also on medication to help with my milk supply (I can't remember what that was now) as well as Fenugreek tablets all to no avail, I never really felt the "let down" process at all. I persevered for six months expressing what I could (which wasn't very much) along with formula before putting her on the bottle fulltime. I felt a little pressured as the lactation consultant kept pushing for me to continue with breastfeeding but upon reflection, if I could go back and do it over I would have put Baby Girl 2 straight on the bottle from the beginning.

Case 5

My milk didn't properly come in for weeks (I think due to premmie baby and little girl who was weak sucker) and I also very rarely got let down. I did a combo of breast feeding, expressing and finger feeding Baby Girl for about 3 months, including supplement formula feeds. It was hard work. I was so determined and by 4 months I was feeding her full time... then at 5 months I had to go back to work!!! What a bummer. I then lost my milk at 8 1/2 months, but was happy to get that far.

My friend had mastitis 4 times in 5 weeks, she was so stressed from the pressure to keep breast feeding... then the minute she gave up she felt this huge burden come off her and she enjoyed her time so much more.

Case 6

I solely breastfed Baby Boy until 8 months and then breast/bottle fed him as I went back to work, at 12 months and he went to cows milk.I loved it! It was so convenient and I really felt a growing bond between us...except at 3 in the morning when I fell asleep (oops!). Without sounding selfish I kind of liked that it was something only I could do and that made it feel special.

Case 7

I can honestly say that before I had the kids, i was probably actually more pro bottle feeding (only because I knew it was an extremely rare occurrence for breastfeeding not to cause drama and for my own state of mind I had made the decision before babies came along that I would be very open to the option of bottle feeding or at least combine feeding).

As fate would have it, I was one of the very lucky ones that did not have any problems - I managed to attach and feed Baby Boy independently from the third day and Baby Girl was just a natural born feeder (and still is) and I managed to feed her independently from her first feed. I fed Baby Boy for 13 months and Baby Girl for 15 months. Remember though that BB was 41 weeks and 8lb 4oz and BG was 40 weeks and 8lb 7 oz - so they were fully cooked and big from the outset.

My breastfeeding experience - I have to say that I did love feeding the kids, but it did not come without the constant questioning of whether or not they were getting enough, had I exercised too much and was that going to affect my supply by the end of the day, was I too tired to be able to produce enough for the entire day, could I take a panadol for the neck pain that was being caused by my enormous boobs . . . it went on.

On reflection after receiving your email I wondered what it was that I loved about the whole feeding experience and yes I would have to say that I did have some satisfaction in being a good cow. But it was more the quiet time that I got to spend with the kids as they were feeding, the eye contact, the twirling of your hair, that look of gratitude that you are satisfying their hunger - and do you know what kirst, when I really thought about it - I have enjoyed that same feeling of pure love and bonding when I have bottle fed my nieces and nephews. Why do you think everyone jumps up when asked if they would like to feed the baby? Take the cow factor out, and breast or bottle you can bond and experience the moment exactly the same.

Case 8

My breastfeeding experience as you may recall was a nightmare. Baby Girl was early and never did get the knack of proper latching on. We went to every lactation expert around and tried everything. I was so afraid to give her a bottle or formula and wanted to do everything "right". I ended up pumping for about 5-6 months with a hired pump and was so close to having a break down that our nurse finally convinced me enough was enough.

I'll tell you that this time I will try again but I will NOT put myself through what I did the first time. I have several friends who didn't even try the next time and their kids are healthy and happy and the moms are doing way better for it. I agree that you should try to breastfeed but if it doesn't work it doesn't work. You will end up exhausted and depressed if you push yourself too hard.

1 comment:

Hi thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. It is nice to know someone is listening.


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