Prior to having LittleMonkey, I made the decision that I would breastfeed. I didn’t entertain the idea of feeding in any other way, not because I think there is anything wrong with formula feeding, but because for me, breastfeeding felt like the most convenient and natural way forward. Preparing formula, sterilising bottles and constantly having to think about taking milk everywhere I went sounded like far too much fuss and organisation and since I intended to take a year off work, I may as well utilise the free tools that God blessed me with, right?
LittleMonkey was born via an EMCS, two days after I was induced. I was exhausted and emotional (birth was about as far away from my ideal as possible) and unable to hold him for about 5 hours due to being so drowsy. I had always imagined my baby being born and immediately put on my chest and him feeding like a pro…but LittleMonkey just wasn’t interested. I’d put him to my breast and he would fall straight to sleep. He wouldn’t latch, he wouldn’t suck…nothing.
Antenatal classes had championed breastfeeding and nobody had ever mentioned the possibility that sometimes breastfeeding just doesn’t work!
It broke my heart to be told by a midwife that my baby wasn’t getting any milk and that I would need to express and top up with formula until breastfeeding could be established. I knew nothing about either and they weren’t allowed to offer their opinion on the latter! I found myself making uninformed choices about which formula to feed and had absolutely no clue what I was doing. I left hospital and immediately had to go out and buy formula, bottles, teats and a breast pump. I had no time to research and wandered around a local store tired, emotional and completely lost, trying to work out what to buy.
4 months on and 3 pumps later, I’m exclusively expressing. It’s exhausting, inconvenient, I feel like a dairy cow and I’m fed up of unnecessary comments from people who need to learn to mind their own business. “Why don’t you just breastfeed? You shouldn’t be scared to feed in public.” I’m not! I’d give anything to whip my boobs out in public and have LittleMonkey feed successfully. Believe me, Ive tried…and tried…and tried. I’m willing to put up with pain, discomfort, constant trying but quite frankly, I’m not willing to watch my child’s weight drop to an unacceptable level, just so that I can join the BreastIsBestMafia.
To those that feel the need to comment on how a woman feeds her baby, please keep your opinions to yourself. They are neither needed or wanted. As silly as it sounds, I have mourned not being able to breastfeed LittleMonkey. Even though he is getting breastmilk, I feel a sense of guilt every time that I express and bottle feed. I feel like an inferior mother. I feel that my child won’t love me as much as he might have done. It’s silly, and I know it’s silly, but that is what 4 months of unwanted comments can do to an already tired and hormonal new mum.