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.
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.