*uh oh. A disclaimer BEFORE a post is not a good thing! As you read this post, please remember that this is MY story. I fully support women who can breastfeed successfully, and my opinion is coming from the viewpoint of having four growing, healthy children.
I was twenty-three, had a brand spanking new baby and was living in an apartment. It should have been the happiest time of my life, but when I look back on it now, I realise that I was on the verge of suffering from Post Natal Depression. Never had I cried so much as I did in the first four weeks of Chiara’s life. I felt a failure as a mum, I felt isolated from the world, and I had never been tireder in my life.
And it was all because breastfeeding just wasn’t working. From day one, I had a child who constantly cried. She demanded to feed all the time, and so she hardly slept. Every single nurse that walked through my door had differing information and advice. I stayed in the hospital for seven days because I just wasn’t ready to go home in their eyes.
I left with medication to get my milk flow happening. I left with a breast pump. I left with a baby that had lost more than her ideal amount of weight simply because of all the crying she did.
For four weeks I pumped, fed, rocked and didn’t sleep. I felt like a cow and I hated my body. Every lunchtime I would swig a stout because that’s what would make my milk come in apparently!
It couldn’t last, and it didn’t. One morning that I remember so vividly, I packed Chiara into the car and drove to my doctor’s office. As I didn’t have an appointment, I walked in, sat down and just waited. The moment my doctor saw me he asked what was wrong, and I told him, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’
He told me to come with him, and we didn’t go into his office, but to the pharmacy next door. He grabbed a can of S26, a pack of bottles, some Milton (do you remember that?) and a bottle brush and told the pharmacy assistant to bill it to the doctor’s surgery.
We went to his office, and he went and made Chiara a bottle. I never looked back. Within a week, I had a baby who was putting on weight. A baby who started smiling, a baby who slept.
Every time I find out I am pregnant, I dread going back to that place before bottles. I dread the feeling of being a failure and the feeling of being isolated. With the second and third babies, Rob and I decided before they were born that I wouldn’t breastfeed. I know.. Extreme decision. With Jacob, we didn’t even make the decision on our own. Because of Dad passing away, I was seen to be at a higher risk of PND and at my appointments we talked with the doctor and midwives about what things would make it easier when he was born. Bottle feeding was one of them.
For the first time, I didn’t feel that ‘mama guilt’ about not feeding Jacob myself.
I know breast is best, and I applaud every mama who successfully breastfeeds. But I feel that you need to listen to your heart if it just isn’t working for you. You know what is best, and it’s your body and your baby, so the decision is yours. Not your husbands, your mother or mother in law. Not your dairy queen friends. Not your doctor, not your child health nurse. Trust yourself, you know best.
I have a seven week old baby who is thriving and he knows who his mama is. He is sleeping through the night (yeah, sorry…) and I feel sane, most of the time. I know about the raised eyebrows behind my back when I pull out a bottle, and I know people disapprove and feel that I am not giving my child the ‘best start in life’. And to those people I say ‘this is my body, my mind, my child and my story’ and I am content with my choices.