I wouldn’t say I’m an advocate for breastfeeding. In fact I have hardly talked about my early day parenting struggles on the blog because I didn’t really think anyone would care but I’ve read countless amount of stories about breastfeeding recently with it being National Breastfeeding Week. I’m not really sure why there needs to be a national breastfeeding week to be honest. I’m not entirely sure why I’m even bothering to write this. So many will disagree, some will agree, a lot of people really wont care but hey, why not share my thoughts and failures too. If it helps. Late to the party, as usual.
I’ve already written about how I feel like I’ve failed my daughter and all the parenting mistakes and mishaps I’ve had. Well, not all but still. I know that breastfeeding is natural and anyone who wants to and can should and should be free to do it wherever they want. I get that people want to defend the right to feed. I don’t agree that mothers should be ushered into a public bathroom to feed their baby. I think that’s appalling actually. I also don’t understand why it’s a common debate between other parents. How does the way another mother feed their baby affect you? Mothers that bottle feed feel judged, mothers that breastfeed feel judged. Surely, as mothers, we feel judged all the time about every single parenting decision we make, can we not just cool off on this one choice? I once spoke to a midwife who said I couldn’t care less how you feed your baby, as long as the baby is fed what does it matter? I wish more people had this attitude.
I breastfeed in total for 16 weeks, the majority of it was combination fed and it was awful. It wasn’t beautiful, it was exhausting. I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t have support. I didn’t want to feed in public because I didn’t want to get my boobs out in all there massive glory. I also needed about eight cushion to support Evie around my flat tyre belly and I was so scared to move properly because I was terrified I’d rip a stitch from my c-section. I don’t think breastfeeding is beautiful in the same way I don’t think child birth is beautiful. It’s just something that happens…I don’t understand comments that say it’s oh so beautiful and glorious and wonderful. I don’t think I’ll ever see it like that.
My breastfeeding journey was rubbish. When Evie was three weeks old I was told by a nursery nurse I had never met before who came to my house that I was doing a rubbish job, that Evie wasn’t gaining enough weight, that I should give up, that I was a failure. She was absolutely vile to me and I reported her to my health visitor for her attitude. I was 21, I was vulnerable, I was in a horrible relationship, a new mother, recovering from major abominable surgery and I had to face that. So not only was I dealing with the horrible cluster feeds, bleeding nipples, overwhelming tiredness that made me cry, the inability to sleep in my own bed because it was too high for me but to be told I was failing was too much. I gave in, I went to formula and I got a decent night sleep. Evie also started putting on weight. She slept through the night at seven weeks and has done ever since. I don’t feel guilty about my decision to change.
Having another baby has been a very real topic in our household for the last few months although we haven’t decided when it’s brought back a lot of feelings and questions. Do I really want to breastfeed again? Yes, because I do believe that those first 16 weeks gave Evie some goodness which stopped her being so sickly. I’m going to be less fat which will make movement easier (post birth I mean, because I am losing weight!). I’m going to have a supportive partner who actually loves me. However, I do not want to exclusively breastfeed. I don’t want to attempt to do it in public and that is a totally personal choice. I don’t care if other people want to do it, I don’t want to. I don’t want to be the only one that gets up in the night. I want to be able to go out and see family without being dictated by the boob feeds. I want to express and if that doesn’t work I will formula feed.
But I worry. I worry if I start breastfeeding that my baby will not take a bottle and then I’ll be stuck doing something that I understand is good and healthy and natural but something I don’t enjoy. Something that makes me feel trapped and scared because I might not do it right. Something that means it will completely be down to me and I don’t want to be the only feeding parent. The thought of it makes me anxious and makes me want to not even try. I don’t care that this makes me selfish, my body is mine. I know people will probably be thinking oh you might feel different next time around, it gets easier, you might enjoy it. I won’t. I know I won’t because I know that I will get those thoughts of NO in my mind so strongly that out of sheer stubborness I won’t feel happy about it if I can’t express, combination feed or use a bottle. I need options in my life.
So my message is to those that feel like you’re failing for whatever reason you’re not. Don’t let anyone judge your right to choose how you parent, how you feed. Do what works absolutely best for you. Get yourself informed, seek support from and don’t judge yourself. There is a story behind every successful breast and bottle fed baby. Seek them out.