A little controversial and I may even get trolled with online abuse for this but…I’m starting to hate all the articles and pictures about breast-feeding.
Because it makes me feel like a failure.
I was only a few hours post-emergancy section, empty-armed and teary, when a nurse came in to talk to me about expressing breast milk for my tiny baby who I hadn’t met yet. So I did. This is something only Mummy could do. Something the NICU nurses couldn’t. So tiny drops of “liquid gold” trickled down a tube into my 2lb baby’s tummy. I was hopeful that at some point we could establish feeding properly if I kept this up.
The first issue was that he didn’t seem to be gaining enough weight on my milk alone so fortifiers were added to every feed. What was wrong with me?
When he was about 5 weeks old and about 34 weeks gestation, it was time to start learning to breastfeed because the sucking reflex starts to develop at this age. I tried at every feed I could. Skin-to-skin cuddles if possible and he suckled a little whilst expressed milk went down his tube. I hoped that he’d start to associate sucking and me with his tummy filling up. We tried this for weeks. Sometimes he’d latch but never properly, and never really tried for very long.
Also, whilst all this was going on the nurses had started having gentle words with me about my supply. I wasn’t keeping up with him. I tried everything. Taking Fenugreek, double-pumping, eating lots of oats etc. I failed to keep up with him.
Eventually, at around 38-39 weeks gestation, I asked if we could give him a bottle to see if he even knew how to suck. And he downed 50ml in minutes! The featured image for this post is of Jack’s first bottle, I was so proud! (Also, note the massive pump in the background, lol) I was so relieved because this meant that he could get my milk as long as I kept expressing. So on we went.
Once the illusive “home” word was mentioned I was told that he couldn’t be discharged on fortifiers so we tried again with my plain milk. Again his weight halted so it was decided that he’d do alternate bottles of my milk for the immunity/antibodies etc and also bottles of Nutriprem 2 which is a special formula for preemies. This also took away that worry of producing enough for him.
Once he was home, Jack started to reject milk that had been defrosted and started to prefer formula. He ended up being entirely formula fed by the time he was 4-5 months old.
There are so many articles in the papers and online talking about the latest celeb to share a breast-feeding picture, or the latest store to tell a mum mid-feed to leave (which is illegal, you stupid shop managers!) These stories are overwhelmed by “breast is best” comments and anyone who comments that they bottle feed gets a barrage of abuse.
Our breastfeeding journey proves that breast is not necessarily best for every mother and baby. If we had kept on with plain breast milk, Jack would have ended up not gaining anywhere near enough weight and maybe even malnourished. Fortifiers and formula saved us.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m so pleased that he got 4-5 months worth of goodness from me with antibodies and immunity. If he’d had formula when he was very tiny it could have made him higher risk for things like NEC (which affects the intestines and is very dangerous). But ultimately, special formula like Nutriprem and Infatrini were best for Jack.
Every celeb pic, every Facebook comment, every mumblog post about breastfeeding all make me feel like I failed. They alienate me and make me feel like I’m the only one who feels differently. Every mum who dares to comment that Fed Is Best gets trolled down. I want this post to reach others who may feel the same as me. It’s all to common on this journey of parenthood and prematurity that you feel like you are the only one this is happening to and the only one that feels this way. You aren’t. I am here and I understand. You are not alone.
So here’s my controversial opinion. Fed IS best. Breast is IDEAL but when it’s not possible, formula can be a LIFESAVER.
Feel free to comment! Maybe your BF journey was similar to mine or you weren’t able to breastfeed for another reason? I’d love to hear from you! My Facebook page link is here!