Breastfeeding

Apart from the odd photograph here and there on my Instagram and Snapchat, I rarely talk about George on my blog, even in my Birthing Story post, I didn’t go into that much detail. Although I told myself I would never write a post on breastfeeding I have finally caved. After reading another bloggers post, I learnt that Jamie Oliver, is starting a pro-breastfeeding campaign and I have mixed feelings. Not regarding his campaign per say but just peoples reactions to it in general. I just can’t keep my thoughts in any longer. I’m hesitant to write this post as I won’t lie, I’m scared I’m going to get attacked by airing my opinion but never mind, here it goes…(grab a cuppa, it’s a long one)

Like I said above, Jamie Oliver’s campaign isn’t what is annoying me, it’s people’s constant comments that are unwelcome and totally unnecessary. Like most people have pointed out, his campaign could help a lot of mother’s who need extra support when breastfeeding, as long as it’s not rammed down everyone’s throats then I’m all for it. I’m also all for breastfeeding, I have no issues with it whatsoever, however I also have no issue if people don’t want to breastfeed, it’s none of my business or anyone else’s for that matter.

I wanted to share the full story of what happened for me and my feelings regarding those choices. When I was pregnant I had such a fear about doing the most natural thing in the world. I was so petrified I would cry on Brent with just the thought of breastfeeding. Would he latch, will it cause horrific pain, how the hell do I even know if he’s had enough? I worried about everything and I worried about being pressured into doing something that I wasn’t 100% comfortable with doing. During my pregnancy, I read a bloggers post and I thought it was brilliant, sticking up for mother’s and their choices *fist pump* but then she added a comment along the lines of, “For the women who don’t even want to try breastfeeding, I have no time for you, do you even know what breasts are for?” And I remember thinking, your whole post is now pointless as you’ve gone from supporting women’s choices to slamming women about their choices just because it doesn’t match your beliefs and the fear and guilt hit me once again. I’m well aware what breasts are for, thank you, I’m not an idiot. But why should I be pressured into something that makes me feel uncomfortable, that will not only cause me stress when trying to breastfeed, it will also cause stress in my baby, something I don’t want to do. In the end, I decided that I was going to try as I wanted to experience it and I know that the first lot of milk is the most nutritious for them. I was so grateful when I explained to my midwife that I wanted to breastfeed for the first 2 weeks then pump for the rest and she was so understanding and giving me tips on how to get the most out of my milk, how and when to pump etc and a huge weight was lifted. Because I was being able to feed my child how I wanted.

Fast forward to the birth of George and after three hours of pushing, he finally arrived, I had to be stitched up (TMI but I did, it’s life) and once I was allowed I breastfed him. After about 10 minutes of struggles he latched on and we were left alone. I breastfed for about 45 minutes. It was weird, it felt strange and it hurt but it felt wonderful. Wonderful knowing I had been so scared about something but I just tried anyway. Exhaustion hit after he had finished and I was given antibiotics. I then formula fed him because I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open and the pain from my stitches was just unbearable. No one pressured me, no one made me feel guilty. The next day I fed him myself again, we struggled but he managed to do it for a while on each breast.

If you read my birthing story you will know that I had a severe reaction to the antibiotics given, turns out I’m allergic to penicillin and I had to rush to A&E as my throat was closing up. There I was put on steroid medication to help bring the reaction back down. Whilst taking steroid medication, you are not allowed to breastfeed at all, but that was okay, I could “pump and dump” until I was better. The next day I was even worse, swollen body, bright red rash from head to toe and horrific itching so my doctor sent me straight back to hospital where I ended up staying another three nights. By this point I resembled Shrek, my face so swollen my Grandpa didn’t even recognise me, my left hand was triple the normal size, my breasts and tummy covered in blisters, and the itching just.wouldn’t.stop. The three doses of disastrous antibiotics I had been given after birth were given to me by an IV drip, this means it enters directly into the blood stream and therefore the reaction is far far worse and takes longer to leave the system.

I pumped and dumped for about two days, sat on my hospital bed, with such swollen hands I couldn’t even grip the pump properly. Sometimes sat there for an hour (each breast), other times more. Everyday the reaction got worse, my skin became more inflamed, the blisters even worse and filling with fluid (grim I know) and I got to the point where the thought of putting that pump on my already swollen and painful breasts was making me cry. They were raging and so sore because they needed to be relieved of some milk, but I couldn’t even put the pump on me. Here I was with a 5 day old baby who I couldn’t even formula feed because my hands couldn’t bend to hold the bottle and his body heat would cause my itching to flare up. Once things calmed down I was told that I would be on steroids for another six weeks at home, even the Doctor’s and nurses said George would be so used to a bottle by now that breastfeeding wouldn’t happen. I had done something that had petrified me to then being told that I couldn’t do it and I just couldn’t believe it. It was taken away from me and I hated that. After this news, I made the decision that I just couldn’t face pumping and dumping for another six weeks, so I stopped and let my milk dry up.

On a post on FB about the Jamie Oliver campaign, someone had commented this and I quote;

“Some women don’t want to breastfeed. Not that they can’t, but they don’t want to. I think that actually needs to be acknowledged. Some women genuinely don’t care about what is best for their baby, and just about what is best for themselves. Those are the women Jamie was reaching out to. Not the women who are already trying their best and are genuinely loving and selfless.”

Woah!! These are the people that really get my goat, the closed-minded people that have absolutely zero knowledge on other peoples lives or choices and then calling them selfish and that they don’t care about their child….their child. After reading this comment I was so angry I saw red, however it made me think, “Was I selfish because I couldn’t bare the thought of six more weeks of agony?” “Should I have tried harder?” and I realised that this stranger had made me feel guilty about my lifestyle choices, and she had no right to make me feel that way. So what if women don’t want to breastfeed, some women can’t, some women tried, some tried and thrived, others just don’t want to, but none of these women have failed and none are being selfish and they certainly don’t care less about their baby just because they decided to formula feed. How dare you judge someone on something that has no impact on you whatsoever and has absolutely nothing to do with you.

2 1 George - breastfeeding - LifestylePIN IT!

At the end of the day, fed is best. Formula is not going to kill them. So much science is behind the making of formula now that they are nothing like they were when they first came about. If they were that bad for babies, they wouldn’t advertise them, they wouldn’t sell them. A midwife said to me in hospital, “Don’t listen to people that try to make you feel guilty or people who tell you what to do because all your baby needs is your love.”

We live in a society where everyone just has to be in everyone else’s business. A women in the street is breastfeeding her child and she’s told to cover up and have more dignity. A women may be bottle feeding in the street and she’s told she’s poisoning her baby. When will it end? When will people keep their noses out of other peoples business? That bottled milk may actually be breastmilk. Maybe that women tried her very hardest but it didn’t work out for them. Or maybe, they couldn’t face pumping from their bright red blistered breasts whilst crying in pain for another six weeks. I wanted my body back because I wanted to get better for my baby. The most crucial time of his life when he was new to the world and I couldn’t even hold him and therefore we hadn’t formed a mother son bond. I stopped because I wanted to concentrate on getting better and not fretting over my milk or how I was going to feed him. I wanted a clear mind and not have to worry. I wanted to make sure I was as happy as I could be around him, not a tearful wreck. But am I selfish? No. Would I go back and carry on pumping and dumping for another 6 weeks in-order to feed him my breastmilk when I was able to? No I wouldn’t. Apart from my two feeds I did manage, George has been formula fed without any issues. He’s thriving, growing perfectly and has yet to be ill, he hasn’t even had a snuffle yet. He’s a hungry baby and loves his milk, he doesn’t care where it comes from, he just wants to be fed.

I wanted to share my story in depth as I do feel guilty that I couldn’t feed him myself. When I see pictures of breastfeeding mothers I do get sad because I was unable to but in no way shape or form does it make me a bad mother. Although these comments aren’t aimed directly at me, they still have an impact on me, they still hurt me. I already feel guilty enough as it is and have a constant battle in my own head about whether I am a good enough mother, I don’t need a stranger adding to my misery. I love George with everything I have and all I care about is giving him the best life. When I have my next child I will breastfeed them, if I’m able to, but then I may decide I don’t want to but who care’s?! I can feed my child how I like. I will never judge another women on how she feeds her child, the comments I have had or read targeted to other mothers are just unnecessary, unwanted and painful.

So, to all the people out there that say formula is poison or slate another mother over her choices, take a step back and think about how your unwanted comment will impact them. Being a mother is hard enough as it is without strangers making us feel worse about ourselves. How another women feeds her baby is none of your business, and yes it’s freedom of speech and you’re allowed your opinion, but would you go up to a complete stranger and say “Wow you’re ugly.” No, you wouldn’t.

Lets all take a breath, a step back and just concentrate on our own children. At the end of the day, fed is best and most importably, our love.

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Comments

  • Emma

    Love this. No mother should ever feel guilty about how she takes care of her child. He is a lovely happy, healthy little man who benefits most from a happy mummy. I was bottle fed as were all my siblings. I had a terrible time feeding Isobel to start so we mixed fed most of the time until she was nearly six months and then I got ill and couldn’t face it so she switched completely to formula. I got comments from health visitors and other mothers about how I should be able to feed and I wasn’t being patient enough with it at the beginning and then I got comments about stopping too soon. Everyone will have an opinion, sadly they often don’t keep them to themselves! X

    • Claudia
      Emma

      Exactly, no mother should ever be made to feel guilty about their decisions. Couldn’t agree more about them benefitting mostly from a happy mother, that’s so true. It’s a shame that women just can’t support other mother’s choices instead of going against them. xx

  • Charlie

    Do what is best for you and your baby and just ignore the rest. You are right though, it seems like new mums can’t win… It all comes down to “Fed is Best”. Well done for showing the other side of breast feeding.

    • Claudia
      Charlie

      Thank you. New mums can’t seem to win. It’s as though someone women have one baby and think they know everything and that they are always right. It’s so sad that there’s a lack of support around women’s choices. Glad you enjoyed the post Charlie, thank you for reading it 🙂 xx

  • Gemma

    This was so beautifully written. There is so much stigma attached to those who can’t breastfeed, and people who are pro-breastfeeding assume that those who don’t breastfeed simply chose not to, but that’s rarely the case. The most important thing is that your baby is fed – not how, and aslong your baby is happy, healthy and loved I’m not sure anything else really matters. I hope you don’t get attacked for this post and if you do, I would just delete them as this post will help so many other mothers that are in the same position xxx

    • Claudia
      Gemma

      Thank you so much Gemma. That is so true, they don’t stop to think about that person’s situation or how they may have tried and struggled, they just jump to the conclusion that they obviously don’t care as much as mother’s that can/do breastfeed. I hope I don’t too, I get nervous with every new comment haha! I hope so! Thank you so much for reading and leaving a lovely supportive comment! xxxx

  • Kat

    Brilliant post Claudia! I personally chose to bottle feed Oscar from the very start and didn’t want to try breastfeeding at all. A midwife asked me after I’d just given birth about breastfeeding him and made me feel pressured into giving him a feed off me after a few mins of delivering him which I really didn’t enjoy and felt delirious after having gone through labour and birth! I only did it for 10 mins or so and then stopped and from that point onward he has been formula fed and a very happy baby and healthy toddler.
    Now that I’m pregnant with my second, I don’t plan on breastfeeding her either because I was happy with how formula feeding worked for our family and for Oscar. I was bottle fed as was my sister and we were both fine. My issue is that making the choice like I have to not breastfeed AT ALL seems to be really frowned upon (or it makes me feel that way), rather than having attempted it but it not worked out for you for whatever reason then it’s deemed “acceptable.” Women should be able to choose to feed their baby however they want without having to feel they have to have an excuse as to why they couldn’t or didn’t breastfeed. You did an amazing job of doing your best for George and trying the breastfeeding because you wanted to.
    There should be no reason to feel ashamed of having to go for formula after that or even picking formula as your only option if you have a 2nd. I agree with you on reading comments about bottle-feeding and how “awful” it is by some people, even when not aimed directly at me, it makes me feel defensive of my choice. I think it is no one’s business to make a rude comment on how you feed your baby as I have even seen some breastfeeding mums say they have felt victimized by bottle feeding mums for breastfeeding for X amount of time etc.
    At the end of the day, a happy mum = a happy baby and as others have said, a fed baby is best for baby.
    Sorry about the super long comment, but I completely agree with everything you’ve said 🙂 x

    • Claudia
      Kat

      I was so so scared at first, I just thought I would feel like a cow being milked and at first I was adamant I wouldn’t even try, I just decided to at the last minute really, about 2 weeks before I was due. One of my best friends bottle fed both her children and they are both happy, healthy and thriving. I don’t care how she fed them and whos to say next time, I might change my mind again and not want to breastfeed, but that doesn’t make me a bad mum who doesn’t care about my child. I’m waiting for the “Should have tried harder” comment. Whatever we choose to do never seems as though it will be accepted or good enough. As long as we are comfortable and happy, no one else’s opinions matters. Couldn’t agree more, I’ve gone into a lot of detail about my journey for just that reason, I feel like I have to justify my actions in order to not get slammed and that’s not fair. Thank you, and thank you for leaving such a brilliant comment. I wish you all the best for your second baby, and how you feed is your choice, don’t feel pressured by anyone, no one else matters. A baby being loved and fed is all that matters. Good luck! xx

  • Annie

    Lovely well thought post! I have struggled in establishing a supply thru a traumatic EMCS birth, Baby special care unit, blood loss, incubators and PND. I only feed my little one once a day at the night and even then some days I have to give her a bottle after you have to just do your best. I remember crying at the pump because I hated pumping with a passion and so I decided to just feed what I can and when I can and once I stopped stressing about it we got our groove. Everyone is different and breastfeeding doesn’t always work out (especially so in nature) these folks who comment saying “everyone can do it with enough effort” really get my goat! Not everyone can do i, but we all do the best we can and we are so fortunate now days that we have the best available formula nutrition for our babies. otherwise we’d all still be using wet-nurses!!

    • Claudia
      Annie

      Thank you, so glad you enjoyed it. Sounds like you had a very traumatic time so I’m very glad it worked out for you in the end. Completley agree with you, not everyone can do it, not everyone wants to do it and that’s okay because it’s our body, our child, our choice. xx

  • Kiss & Make-up

    It is just insane how much pressure there is on women these days regarding breastfeeding! I know several women who’ve been judged by family members and friends for choosing (or switching to) formula and were made to feel really guilty about it. Fact is that even though breastfeeding is a wonderful, natural thing it’s not for everyone. If for some reason you can’t breastfeed or choose not to do it there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s a decision that every mother has to make for herself and people should just stop meddling.

    • Claudia
      Kiss & Make-up

      I don’t know what’s worse, being judged by complete strangers who know nothing about you or your life or your family/friends. I couldn’t agree more with your comment! xx

  • Maria Elena

    I love this post SO MUCH! Thank you for sharing your experience. I had my son in March and the nurses in the hospital tried to make me feel horrible. A little science: newborns need to feed in order to level out their bilirubin count. Otherwise, a baby can become jaundiced. Well my son wasn’t getting enough from me and they wanted to administer all sorts of tests and treatment. I told them I was just going to formula feed him and if it didn’t resolve the problem then they could go ahead. I swear they acted like I was going to give my baby poison. Sure enough, in the end his levels were normal and no tests or treatments were necessary!

    • Claudia
      Maria Elena

      I know they are only doing their jobs and they are told to push breastfeeding but it’s so wrong and uncalled for when they pressure the mum or make her feel guilty, they are our children and we should be allowed to do what we want without them making us out to be something terrible. It’s especially worse when they have literally given birth a few hours ago, everything is so scary and overwhelming, them being judgemental is the last thing we need! one bottle feed certainly doesn’t mean they will never breastfeed again.

      Good for you for standing your ground!!! Imagine the stress and worry on both you and your newborn if he had gone through all those tests if a tiny bit of formula was the solution?! So glad to hear he was well afterwards and I hope you are both doing well 🙂 xx