Before I start this review I would just like to state that this is not going to be a balanced debate of whether it is better to breast feed or formula feed babies as I am certainly pro breast feeding. However, I strongly believe that women should not be pressured one way or another and that they are the only ones to decide what is appropriate for them and their baby. This is simply an account of my personal experiences of breast feeding and hopefully this will be of use to someone.
- Ideas of Breast Feeding From My Own Childhood -
My younger brother and sister and I were breast fed until we were about 10 months old. My mother was a midwife so she was definitely pro breast feeding. When I was six I remember my brother breast feeding and me asking my mother if it hurt. I couldn't quite understand that the baby wouldn't just chew on the nipple like I chewed my food. When I played dolls with my cousin I remember pretending to breast feed by holding the doll to my chest and I distinctly recall thinking it would be lovely to do this for real with my own baby, I was only about seven at the time!
- Pregnancy -
As soon as I told people I was pregnant breast feeding became a topic of discussion, particularly with my own family as it was expected I would opt for breast feeding over formula. My husband and his family were also pro breast feeding. It wasn't really something I had to think about, I knew I wanted to breast feed and it was one of the aspects of being a mother that I was really looking forward to. I bought a book on the subject, attended an antenatal breast feeding class and I purchased various items I thought would come in handy for the task. For example I bought nursing bras, breast pads, nipple protectors, nipple cream, breast cooling pads and a nursing pillow. I wanted to be prepared for any discomfort I might experience so that these issues wouldn't result in me giving up breast feeding. I was also keen to express milk for the rare occasions I might want to go out without the baby so I also bought an electric breast pump and a small selection of bottles. I stated my wish to breast feed on my birth plan and that I would like a prolonged period of "skin to skin contact" with my baby when he was first born so that we could attempt latching on and feeding.
- Peer Pressure -
My mother was concerned that giving the baby a bottle with expressed milk would cause confusion and then he wouldn't latch on. On quite a few occasions she made comments about this and expressed concern about how I might give up quickly. My mother in law was also opinionated on the subject, commenting in a slightly negative way that a relative had only breastfed her baby for six weeks. I was keen to breast feed so this didn't really bother me too much but I certainly would have felt pressured had I not wanted to breast feed. At the other end of the spectrum I had a friend who I would describe as having a slightly negative attitude towards breast feeding, her reason being that so many women feel pressured to do it and it quite simply isn't for everyone. This is fair enough and probably true in many cases. However, I don't think this should make someone anti breast feeding. She told me that it was unnecessary and even weird to breast feed past six months and she bought me a pot to keep formula powder in!
- First Experiences of Breast Feeding -
Due to a complicated labour and my baby starting to get distressed, I had to have an emergency caesarean and my son was born around 10pm. There were a few concerns about my baby boy when he was first delivered but he soon recovered and within an hour I was able to have skin to skin time with him and attempt feeding. This was lovely but I was absolutely knackered! One thing I hadn't appreciated was that not only was I learning the ropes of breast feeding but my little boy was too and he didn't have a clue what he was doing! I found it hard to get him to latch on or even get his mouth to my nipple. He was so small and delicate it was quite hard to move him around and I didn't want to hurt him. I think eventually he did a little bit of sucking but by this time it was midnight, my husband had to leave the ward and it was time for me and the baby to get some rest. During the night the midwives told me my son's blood sugar levels were a bit low so they thought they should give him some formula until he got the hang of breast feeding. Although this wasn't what I wanted I agreed that it was best for my baby. I was very concerned that giving him formula would hinder his progress with the breast and that it would also affect my milk supply.
The next few days in hospital were exhausting and I struggled to get my son to properly latch on rather than just sucking my nipple. This was very painful and my nipples were red and cracked. He had to have formula to top up some of his feeds as he wasn't getting enough from the breast to maintain good blood sugar levels. After two days of this an amazing midwife gave me some tips about the way I was positioning my baby, my breasts and my hands and gave me signs to look out for that showed my son had latched on properly. This made a world of difference and by the time we left hospital we seemed to have the hang of it. I felt like had I not had the determination to persevere I would have given up at this first hurdle which would have been a shame.
- A Mother's Worst Nightmare -
We happily continued a three hourly breast feeding routine and this was going really well. My baby was satisfied and I wasn't suffering too much with sore nipples. I really loved the special bond this gave us as it was something no one else could do for him. It was exhausting at times but that is to be expected with a new baby! However, when my son was about five weeks old he became critically ill and was admitted to a special care baby unit for two weeks, even needing to be resuscitated at one point. This was the hardest time in my life by far. I wasn't able to breast feed him until the end of our stay in hospital as he had to be fed through a tube. But the nurses did feed him breast milk that I would express for him every few hours. There was a room on the ward especially for expressing milk and I spent a lot of time in there pumping away. What kept me going through this stressful and emotional time was the thought of breast feeding my baby again. There was a poster on the wall of a mother happily breast feeding her content little baby and I would stare at that longing for my son to better so we could be like that.
- Low Milk Supply -
Unfortunately my milk supply started to decrease and when I pumped I kept expressing less and less each time. I'm sure the stress and me not eating and drinking properly contributed to this but I also think pumping doesn't have the emotional connection which can also have an impact on the flow of milk. My baby had to have some formula as my supply was so low. When he had fully recovered we were allowed to take him home which was absolutely amazing but I had the new stress of trying to breast feed him when I knew my milk supply was low. He would get very agitated as he wasn't getting enough milk from me and this made it very hard to settle him. We were giving him some formula but I was very aware that this was going to make my milk supply worse so I tried to limit this as much as possible without depriving him. I was feeding him on demand every two hour as well as expressing in between which was so exhausting. I did some research online and came across a herbal remedy called Fenugreek which is supposed to increase milk supply. You have to take four tablets three times a day and the tablets are quite large to swallow but I figured it was worth a try as the only side effect seemed to be that you smell of maple syrup! After taking these for three days and continuing to feed on demand and express I noticed a difference. For the first time since we had left the hospital I had the feeling of my breasts being full and my son fell asleep on the breast, one very satisfied customer! My supply seemed to pretty much return to normal after this, although since then I have found that my left breast always has more milk than the right resulting in my son having a favourite side!
- Breast Feeding in Public -
This seems to be an issue for a lot of people. I have breast fed in restaurants, shopping centres, train stations and on a park bench. There often isn't a designated breast feeding room in public places so I don't have much choice, all I can do is cover up the best I can. You get the occasional stare if people work out what you are doing but I have never had a nasty comment. In fact on one occasion when I was breast feeding in a shopping centre a lovely young woman came up to me and said she thought I was amazing for breast feeding in public. It has got harder as my son has got bigger and at 11 months he does have a habit of ripping off the blanket and exposing us!
- Advantages and Disadvantages -
I will keep this brief as I'm sure most people know about the health benefits for both mother and baby. For me the advantages of breast feeding have been that it is free, I think it helped me lose weight quicker, it is special between me and my son, I personally find it easier than preparing bottles of formula (especially at night and when out and about), and it is my opinion that it is the best I can give my baby in terms of vitamins and nutrients.
Disadvantages for me have been as my son has grown he has pinched, scratched, punched and bitten my breasts and nipples. I don't think my breasts look as good as they used to and I haven't been able to wear many of my tops and dresses as I always have to think about quick access to my breasts! I think the other disadvantage is that it took my son a little longer to get to the point of sleeping through the night. If you formula feed your baby you can increase the amount you give during day time feeds so that they get enough to see them through the night, but this is much harder when you are breast feeding and you don't know how much they have had. In my group of mummy friends the two breast fed babies took longer to sleep through compared to the four formula fed babies, obviously this isn't a scientific study and babies do have very different sleep routines generally. My son started sleeping through the night when he started on food and got the extra calories from this.
- Stopping Breast Feeding -
I have enjoyed my experience of breast feeding so much and I think I will actually be quite sad when I stop. I plan to wean my baby onto cow's milk when he is between one year and 18 months.
- Summary -
I have definitely experienced some ups and downs with breast feeding but the positives outweigh any negatives by a long way. I think you need to be quite determined to continue if you face issues such as peer pressure, difficulty latching on, painful nipples or even infection, or low milk supply. I can see why people give up but I am so glad I have stuck with it and I will certainly plan to breast feed any future children.
When I was pregnant I had just thought I would definitely not try to breastfeed my daughter. Someone I knew had breastfeed her son everywhere (in restaurants and all while other members where eating) and I admired her for this but at the same time I was incredibly embarrassed by the whole situation. It completely put me off the idea and I decided that I was going to bottle feed my daughter.
While I was pregnant I was bombarded with leaflets and people coming out to me from community groups giving me information on breastfeeding and I humoured them but still thought not I am not going to breastfeed its too embarrassing.
My daughter was born and I told the nurses that I wanted to bottle feed her. I had an epidural so I had no feeling in my legs and was so knackered I just wanted to rest. So the nurse took my daughter and fed her for me. Once the feeling was back in my legs the next day I was curious about what it would be like to feed my daughter myself but again I was too embarrassed and couldn't cope with the whole thing. Another mother was breastfeeding her child and it had cried all night and my daughter was content so I thought don't annoy myself and pushed it all to the back of my mind.
Once I left the hospital my milk came in and a friend of mind had told me to make me feel better express some of my milk for my daughter so I did this. I ended up taking an infection and could hardly walk never mind feed my daughter and I felt so annoyed about this so I continued expressing. It was making me feel that I was doing something for my daughter instead of feeling useless. My infection was finally sorted and I could lift my daughter again and I decided to try and breastfeed her myself and she latched on first time very easily.
Now as she did latch on I found it very easy to try to breastfeed however what people don't tell you that it can be sore when breastfeeding. My advice is that if this happens just check that your child is latched on properly. There are lots of support groups to help you if you are having difficulties with this. Also your midwife can help you with this. You know if your child is getting milk and are latched on properly if their cheeks are puffed out and also you will hear them swallowing. When I was sore I just expressed my milk until my daughter got the hang of it. Three months down the line I am not sore anymore and my daughter doesn't bite me anymore thankfully!
My problem was that I am the first person in my family to breastfeed so I still had the problem of being embarrassed. In fact I haven't actually told anyone that I do breastfeed apart from my mum, my sisters and my close friends. I know this is silly on my part but I feel that everyone has an opinion on it and a lot of people advised me not to breastfeed as it was giving me hassle so I decided just to keep it to myself.
I am not one of these people who would ever feed my daughter in front of anyone so this can be hard when I am out and about. There are mother and baby changing rooms but quite often there is no seat for me to feed my daughter. So I find I am having to feed my daughter by bottle. This then has led to a drop in my milk supply as I can't get expressing every four hours. So I have only ever been able to feed my daughter half of her feeds. This then means I have to substitute the rest of her feeds with powder milk.
Personally I enjoy feeding my daughter myself and I know that it can give your child lots of benefits. I don't see any difference in children that have been breastfeed as babies to those who have been bottle fed. While I am feeding my daughter I feel more relaxed and it really helps with bonding with your child. This can be done in other ways as well. Another good thing is that you don't have to get out of bed in the middle of the night to go downstairs to make a bottle when you need to feed your child.
There are lots of benefits to breastfeeding like the health benefits. It helps the child to have less skin conditions, better immune systems, its easier to digest the milk. It also helps the mother as it means your uterus contracts quicker so your tummy goes down faster (I have to agree with this one). It can help with weight loss. Personally it only helped me lose a bit of weight but then I wasn't exclusively feeding my daughter. It can help prevent against some cancers. Another good point is that it is free.
Where all these benefits sound good I have found it hard to exclusively feed my daughter. I would love to be able to do this but it just isn't possible for me without a lot of hard work. As I won't feed my daughter in public it means I can not always find a suitable place to feed my daughter when I am out. I express my milk but you have to get well established before you can do this or you won't produce enough milk and this is my problem.
Some people judge you if you bottle feed your child but a lot of people don't realise the hurdles you come across if you are reserved and shy with breastfeeding. It is being very much promoted in the hospitals and by the midwives however it is seen as a bad thing to do in society in public or in front of anyone. I wish we lived in a society where it is the normal thing to do then I wouldn't feel embarrassed. This isn't the case though which is shame.
Since having my daughter my opinion has changed a lot about breastfeeding and I wouldn't be embarrassed if someone fed their child in front of me anymore. I go to a baby massage class and some of the mothers breastfeed in the group and I am not embarrassed that they are feeding in front of me anymore as I have got used to it and they do it very discreetly. You can wear breastfeeding tops so you can't see the breast and you think the person is only cuddling their child. Also you can wear two tops this also makes it easier and more discreet. I still haven't got the courage to feed my own daughter myself though.
My opinion is that when you have a child it is a very personal thing if you want to breastfeed or not. I feel that no-one should judge you if you do or not. I think its best to do what suits you and what works for you. If it's not working out then don't stress yourself as then you wont be able to enjoy your child and they do grow up so quickly.
It had never even crossed my mind that I was going to feed Freddy myself, in fact all through my pregnancy I was adamant that I wasn't. I'd had a terrible experience of trying to breastfeed my eldest eighteen years ago, which had left me determined that I was never going to put myself through that trauma again. So why now am I feeling so sad that I couldn't keep up with Freddy's demands, was advised to top him up and am now only giving him one feed a day? Because feeding Freddy myself has been a wonderful experience, that's why.
I'm not going to go into all the health benefits of breastfeeding, for both baby and mum. We all have those forced down our throats from the very first booking-in appointment. So you already know that it reduces baby's risk of allergies and mum's risk of cancer. What this review is going to focus on is my experience of breastfeeding, the highs, the lows and everything in between.
===Put Off For Life===
Eighteen years ago, breastfeeding was no-where nearly as high profile as it is now, formula feeding was the norm, with the only question being which brand you wanted the hospital to supply post-birth. Even in this atmosphere, I still wanted to feed my eldest myself, I was sold on the idea of no sterilising. But there was no support, I was left to it, the baby wouldn't feed, I ended up with extremely sore nipples and after four days the midwifes gave the baby formula as he was so hungry. The whole experience left my baby screaming with hunger and myself exhausted and in floods of tears. I swore never again, and my next three children were all formula fed, with not a thought of feeding them myself, after all, a happy mum and formula fed baby is far better than a screaming hungry breastfed baby and devastated mum.
===Someone Had Other Ideas===
As I said, I had no intention of breastfeeding Freddy, in fact he was formula fed for the first four days until my milk came in and he tried to latch-on through my clothes. Even though I was told the chances of him actually feeding were pretty low, I couldn't resist those eyes looking up at me and decided to let him have a go at my boob, even if it only gave him comfort. Then the small miracle happened, Freddy latched on and started feeding, slowly at first and then within a day he was only feeding from me and refusing the bottle.
Feeding Freddy myself has been a wonderful experience, there's nothing like the feeling I get when he comes off the boob and gives a cheeky little grin. I've got an extremely close bond with him, and our body clocks seem to be in-tune with each other, even now he is mostly formula fed, we still wake at the same time during the night. I loved that only I could feed Freddy, you know those extended family members and friends that want to hold and feed the baby even though you're not keen. Well it's pretty unlikely that they're going to be producing breast milk, isn't it? Even now, when Freddy's upset and feeling unwell, there's only one thing that will settle him (well two, he doesn't mind which he has).
Breastfeeding is also considerably less hassle than formula, it was brilliant not having to sterilise bottles and make up feeds. Freddy didn't have to wait around for his milk, it was there on tap whenever and wherever we were. I thought I'd be embarrassed feeding him in public, but soon got over any nerves. That's not to say I flashed my boobs about, (although if you'd have looked hard enough you might have caught a glimpse of flesh), I was as discreet as possible, but I didn't care where I was when Freddy was hungry, I found somewhere to sit and feed him. I can't say I ever got anything other than positive comments, although one grumpy old man gave me a dirty look, he wisely kept his mouth shut. Once you've breastfed in front of thousands at a music festival, anywhere else is a breeze.
I've got to say, I much preferred Freddy's nappies when he only had breast milk. Yes, they were explosive, but they didn't smell nearly as bad as they do now and he was only pooing twice a week, bonus. And yet another bonus, is that in the last 12 weeks I've only had 2 very short periods, most breastfeeding mums don't have any, but I'm quite satisfied with 2 short bleeds lasting only a day.
Although breastfeeding was a wonderful experience, it wasn't one without a few problems. I was extremely lucky that Freddy was a pro and we got the latch right straight away, so I didn't suffer from cracked and bleeding nipples. But I did find that it hurt for a few seconds when he first latched on, quite an intense pain because his suck was so strong and again when my milk let down. This did ease after a few weeks, and in the meantime nipple cream was wonderful for soothing the pain. Don't believe those that tell you that breastfeeding doesn't hurt if you get the latch right, because it can.
Then there were the times when I felt trapped, Daddy could go out all day with Freddy, but I couldn't be away from him for more than an hour. It wasn't that I actually wanted to be separated from him, more that I couldn't even go to the shops on my own. It's hard to explain and only worried me occasionally, but there were times when I felt that all I was, was a human cow. And if Daddy took Freddy out for a couple of hours to give me a break, I'd soon have to call him back as my boobs filled, leaked and became very uncomfortable because I needed to feed Freddy. After the first 6 weeks, I started expressing milk, which helped with that particular feeling.
But the absolute worst and hardest thing about breastfeeding, was something I was totally unprepared for, cluster feeding. This is a prolonged feeding session which in Freddy's case would start at about 6 in the evening and continue for up to 12 hours. These mammoth sessions would see him emptying one boob, going on to the next and then back to the first and so on and so on, leaving me physically and mentally exhausted. I had quite a few crying sessions, I can tell you, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, at about 6 weeks they started tailing off and had disappeared by 8 weeks.
===Breastfeeding And Daddy===
Now you might think that as I was the only one feeding Freddy, that Daddy felt totally left out and useless. While it's true that Daddy doesn't have quite the same bond with Freddy as I do, he still has a fantastic closeness with the little man. Although he couldn't feed him, he still gave Freddy plenty of cuddles, bathed him, played with and changed his nappy. He even got up in the night to make me drinks while I was feeding. Yes, he does love that he can now give Freddy bottles, but was still fully involved when he couldn't actually feed him.
===From Breast To Bottle===
Even though I've absolutely loved feeding Freddy myself, sadly due to his slow weight gain I had to introduce formula top-ups. And as he found it easier to get milk out of a bottle he began to get frustrated with the breast and refusing to feed from me. I do still express him a bottle's worth a day, but the majority of his milk is now formula. I think both of us miss the closeness and so we also have a couple of comfort feeds a day that only last a couple of minutes but leave us both with a smile on our face. I think I found the change harder than Freddy, it was hard to accept that I wasn't good enough. But as he put on 16oz last week, I reckon I would have been hard put to keep up with his massive appetite.
===A Few Tips===
Even if you haven't put baby to the breast straight away, and have given bottles of formula it is possible to begin to exclusively breastfeed (I've done it)
Make sure you have a drink and snack beside you when feeding, you will get incredibly hungry and thirsty.
Wear loose fitting tops when out and about, it's much easier to just lift them up and feed baby.
It is illegal for anyone to ask you to stop feeding a baby under 6 months in public, if they do then they are breaking the law.
Join a breastfeeding support group, sometimes you can just feel the odd one out when breastfeeding and it's lovely to meet with other mothers whose babies are a range of ages.
Invest in some nipple cream, even if your nipples don't crack they will be tender to start with.
Enjoy your special time with baby, they grow up all too soon.
Don't feel guilty if you do end up putting baby on formula. Formula will still fill baby's tummy and isn't bad for them.
===My Final Words (I promise)===
For making it this far, you deserve an award, but there was just so much to Mine and Freddy's breastfeeding journey. Even though while pregnant, I would have laughed at the idea that I would be upset at giving Freddy a bottle, breastfeeding has been the most wonderful experience of my life. I'm sure it's contributed to the extremely close bond that I have with Freddy and given him the very best start in life. What I would say to anyone who really hasn't considered breastfeeding (for whatever reason), to give it a try. Although I hadn't succeeded with my older children, I did exclusively feed Freddy for nine weeks, giving him the best start that I could. Yes it has been difficult, and I can understand why people give up within days, but it does also get easier and I'd better go now as even writing about feeding has made me leak, so I'm just off to express.
I'm completely in favour of breastfeeding and have breast fed all four of my children. I, in no way, wish to say that it is the right choice for everyone. I breast fed because I WANTED to and never doubted that I would. Maybe that helped the experience to be largely successful as I didn't overthink it or ever worry that I wouldn't be able to succeed.
I was a breast fed baby and so I did get support from my mum. I simply believed that was what I would do. Then I read the baby books and was sure that, 'breast is best.'
My first baby was born in January, 1982. At that time I didn't know many other mums who were breastfeeding and so I felt a bit the 'odd one out.' No matter, it was my choice.
So, as soon as my daughter was born she was put to the breast and soon caught on. I felt like 'Mother Earth!'
After a few days I was unbelievably sore. I used a spray that I believe was called, 'Rotosept' but I'm not sure if that's exactly right. This can be sprayed before feeding and it sort of freezes and anaesthetises one's nipples and helps for a while. I didn't have a problem with my subsequent children. I think usually you become more confident and more adept.
It is strange at first. I remember getting into a bath and it soon looked as if I was bathing in milk!
And not very pleasant when baby cries and the milk starts to appear. Try crossing your arms firmly across your breasts. this works.
I only fed my first child for a few months as she was slow to put on weight and I felt that my misguided health visitor wasn't giving me support but advising me to put her onto the bottle. I should have listened to my mum. My daughter, at twenty eight is still thin, whatever she eats and has always used up lots of energy.
I was more successful with my second child and more confident. I fed him for ten months and the next two for about twelve to thirteen months, although only a night time feed towards the end of this time.
I didn't really want to stop. Breastfeeding gives you that special time with your baby and the perfect reason to sit and relax with them. You look into their eyes and they look back. You are everything to each other. You have the perfect excuse to have a rest and sit with your child, to be close and to enjoy each other.
As to whether they stay healthier or not, I'm not sure. My first three rarely had a cold and I feel I passed immunity on, judging by their health in their early months, but my youngest caught colds at a very early age but then I suppose she was exposed to lots of germs having siblings at school and playgroup. But my husband, their father, had suffered with asthma as a child and my youngest two were also affected with this. I do think that may have much to do with traffic pollution. We had moved house and they were subjected at an early age to breathing in the fumes from the only route to school, a busy main road as parents drove their children to school as we walked.
If anyone asks my advice about whether to breastfeed I always encourage them but, your heart has to be in it. Over the years I've known nephews and a niece and many children in my extended family who have been bottle fed and do not seem to have suffered at all. For me, I think breastfeeding is much easier. No sterilising or warming of bottles, as breast milk comes at the ideal temperature. Baby usually knows how much to consume, and it's easily digestible, and ...it's FREE!
One thing that I do want to mention though is breast feeding in public. As I said, when I first breastfed my babies, it wasn't fashionable. There was little help. I can remember stories of mothers feeding babies on tube trains and buses to placate them and being told to stop. There was an article about a mother asked to leave Mothercare as she was breastfeeding in the store.I'm not sure who she offended. How utterly ridiculous!
It seems funny now though, but I can remember, being very modest, only feeding baby on one side if a male was present. I soon found that most men weren't even aware that baby was being fed.
I get angry when I see men openly ogling page three of, 'The Sun' in public places yet many still have the outdated opinion that breast feeding should be done in private.
Now, I'm not an exhibitionist, never have been, but I found the best way of feeding a baby is to keep a shawl or fleece handy and drape this over both of you. You're cocooned in comfort and it's completely discreet. In hot weather use a piece of linen or baby's pram sheet. NEVER, EVER feel that you should hide away when breastfeeding your child. It's the most natural thing to do and you should enjoy this special time.
To all new mums and expectant mums: Do whatever feels right for you but YOU decide for yourself. Trust your instincts and don't be afraid to ask for help. Most of all ENJOY these precious times.
In the past when my friends have had babies and mentioned that they were breast feeding, I said that I wouldn't do that. I don't know why I said that because as soon as I found out that I was pregnant, I said that I was going to breast feed, or at least give it a go.
I had an emergency C section and after being rather sleepy, my little girl latched on really well and the midwives were pleased with our progress, but when we left the hospital it all seemed to go wrong for a few days. The first few days she was feeding every two hours for about 45 minutes or so which meant that I only had an hour and 15 minutes most times before she wanted feeding again and it was making me exhausted. The first night at home was the worst when she was four days old as I don't think my milk had come through properly. I didn't feel that my breasts had filled up and they didn't look any different. My friends said that their breasts had looked like Dolly Parton when their milk had come in but mine just looked the same as usual. My daughter would latch onto the breast, then fall asleep. I kept trying to put her back in her Moses basket to sleep, then she would start screaming for more food. This went on for around 4 solid hours and I was so exhausted. It was a terrible night and I didn't think I could do it, but I was determined to keep trying.
The next day and night was better as my milk started to come through and we soon got the hang of it. The first couple of weeks are hard, but once my baby had settled into a bit of a routine things became easier. I carried on with the breast feeding, but introduced formula at 1 week old for the evening and night time feeds so that my partner could help with the feeding and my little one would go for longer on formula so it helped her through the night.
I had concerns though about how much she was getting during the day as it is sometimes hard to know when she has finished as she sometimes pulls herself off then goes back for more. I started expressing milk using a pump when she was 2 weeks old and giving her the same amount in a bottle as it says on the formula packs for her weight. This seemed to help with the frequency of the feeding and she soon settled into feeding every three hours and has stuck to that (she is now nearly 18 weeks). I give her 2 actual breast feeds a day, 2 expressed breast feeds and 2 formula feeds each day at roughly the same time as she is pretty much like clockwork and asks for it roughly every three hours.
Breast feeding gives such a fantastic bond between mother and baby, and I can't describe that feeling of closeness. It has brought me to tears (of happiness) many times when she has been sucking on me. It gives your baby the best start as it passes on antibodies to help stop your child getting ill and can assist with stopping your child developing certain heatlh conditions.
It is also free! We must save a fortune by me breast feeding, and you don't have to worry about sterilising any equipment either, unless you start expressing too.
I would advise all mothers to be to seriously consider breastfeeding if you are able to. Yes it is tough to start with, but it gets easier, and it is something very special between you and your baby. I'm glad I made the decision to breast feed.
For further information on the health benefits and anything you want to know about breast feeding, I found this website really useful www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk
When I found out I was pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed as I was well aware of the benefits, and my mum breastfed myself and my sister, so it was almost expected.
I did, however, decide to try my very best, but not beat myself up if it didnt work out for me, as there can be a lot of pressure to succeed with this method of feeding.
When my daughter was born she latched on straight away, but after that we had some difficulties as she was sleepy and disinterested after an emergency c section birth.
The hospital staff were a little unhelpful and I went home, very unsure about my technique, and lacking in confidence. I perservered and am pleased to say breastfeeding began to get easier and I gained much more confidence in myself.
From the start I hated feeding my baby in public as the lack of facilities is shocking in this modern age, and even now public opinion on breastfeeding can be ignorant and upsetting. But I carried on and found ways around it, and once my daughter started the weaning process her breastfeeds decreased and I needed to feed her in public less and less.
I know it's not for everyone, and I know some people have difficulties, but I consider myself one of the lucky ones for being able to carry on, especially as I learn more and more about the benefits.
Breastfeeding is free! I save £50 a month compared to some of my friends using formula. Although I have probably spent these savings on my daughters lovely clothes!
Breastmilk contains all the nutrients a baby needs and is perfectly balanced, changing composition as babies grow and their needs change. A breastfed baby has more immunity and is less likely to suffer from ear infections, obesity, asthma, stomach problems, chest infections and loads of other illnesses.
The benefits are also passed on to the mother as breastfeeding helps your body recover more quickly after the birth, and can reduce your odds of getting breast cancer, ovarian cancer and brittle bones.
This is just the tip of the iceberg though and there are lots more benefits to both mum and baby, hence the World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding until six months, and continuation until the baby is two.
My own experience of breastfeeding has been very positive. I have never had a negative comment, and despite it not always being easy, I have thoroughly enjoyed it all. In the early days breastfeeding gave me an excuse to relax and I used the opportunity of feeding to watch tv or call my friends.
There are lots of aids to make the whole experience easier and more comfortable, and you can buy special pillows, feeding bracelets, discreet shawls, breastfeeding clothes etc.
If you have problems or concerns about breastfeeding there is plenty of help available. The NCT is fantastic and offers plenty of support in the form of Breastfeeding Counsellors and Peer Supporters, who work on helplines and in Baby Cafes. La Leche is also a valuable resource.
All in all I am very pleased I chose to breastfeed. For me, it was so much easier and more convenient than formula feeding, and thats without taking into consideration all the health benefits. As you dont know exactly how much milk your baby is taking, you really learn to trust your body and have faith in its ability. I feel immensely proud to say that I have breastfed my daughter now for 13 months, and its up there with my major achievements.
For anyone requiring more information or a little support heres a few websites;
Hope this helps someone!
When I was pregnant and preparing for her impending birth I knew I wanted to try and breast feed my baby girl once she was born. I understand though it's quite a hot topic as some people are completely for it and some people don't necessarily think that it's the only way to go. We have all heard the phrase breast is best in terms of a good healthy start for babies and I have always taken this to heart.
According to the NHS website, breastfeeding is natural and normal and gives your baby the best start.The Department of Health recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life and can continue to benefit your baby along with solid foods for many months after. Every day you breast feed makes a difference to your baby's health now and in the future. I definitely found that in all my dealings with the NHS they really do push breastfeeding and it's benefits. In my ante natal classes we had a whole class dedicated to breast feeding and it was always what the midwives promoted and talked about. Then in hospital when I had just given birth a lady actually came around the beds visiting the ladies and helped you to breast feed if that is what you wanted to do.
I do feel though perhaps that if you wanted to bottle feed the midwives would have helped you but didn't really mention it as an option as much as breast feeding. I think I would probably feel sorry for those ladies who were not able to breast feed as I don't think they were meant to feel inferior but I definitely felt I got much more help and attention by breastfeeding my little girl. For example on the NHS website bottle feeding does not give your baby the same ingredients as breastmilk, which is designed to be easy for your baby to absorb and is perfect to help him grow and develop. Also, bottle feeding doesn't provide protection against infection and diseases.
Thankfully so far I have found breastfeeding very easy and rewarding. I wanted to do it because not only do I think it has brought me a special closeness to my little girl, it is free, readily available and quicker than having to prepare a bottle when you have a hungry, screaming child. The NHS website goes on to say that breastfeeding also allows you and your baby to get closer - physically and emotionally. So while your child is feeding, the bond between you can grow stronger.
I do feel that I am also protecting her against diseases as I have read that breastfeeding can help protect babies against ear infections, gastro-intestinal infections, chest infections, urine infections, childhood diabetes, eczema, obesity and asthma.
It's also good for women too as it can help protect against ovarian cancer, breast cancer and weak bones in later life. Also it does help you to regain your figure quicker as I believe the sucking motion makes the uterus contract and get back into shape quicker.
While these may not be 100% proven I think anything that I can do to somewhat protect has to be good as so I will carry on as long as possible.
Thankfully my baby girl was able to latch on to my breast with little fuss and she picked it up really well. We did have help though. I would 100% recommend going to an NHS breastfeeding workshop. I found details of my local clinic in the red book health record your child is given. It is a drop in class which is run my a midwife and a number of health workers and you can go and get advice, help and support. I now go every week even though we are getting on great. I find it's good to just go and sit around and talk with the other mothers, have a cup of tea and also discuss breastfeeding issues going forward, how to ween, etc and everything else. As a first time mother I think this is a great resource.
Nowadays there is not the social stigma there used to be of feeding your child in public. I think it's a thing of beauty anyway and really do not feel bad or self conscience feeding in public. Of course I am discreet, it's not like I'm flashing people in public so hopefully no one else has a problem with it. Thankfully I have not faced anyone upset with it but I think if someone did ask me to stop I would probably refuse, politely of course.
I definitely recommend breast pads as the leakage you experience is unbelieveable! It's crazy to see liquid streaming out of one boob when you are feeding from the other.
I thankfully have not suffered with sore or cracked nipples but recommend that if you do feel any discomfort to show your midwife or doctor as there are quite a few problems you could be suffering from. The only discomfort I feel is when baby hasn't fed for quite a few hours and my boobs are really full and feel like bowling balls!! One thing I found out in this last week. I was feeling a bit ill and was not eating very much and not drinking very much. This had a big effect on my boobs. They did not fill up as much as normal and so I definitely see that an increased calorie intake is needed when you are breast feeding like the health professionals recommend.
I've recently started expressing my breast milk to hopefully let hubbie have a go at feeding baby and also so I can go out with hubbie on my own for a few hours whilst the grandparents look after her. This is going well but getting baby to take the bottle is a whole other review!!
All in all, thankfully I am getting on well breast feeding and am relishing this time with my little girl
There is lots of information available on the benefits of breastfeeding and techniques to do it so I will just give my experience in this review.
The topic of breastfeeding first came up at my NCT ante-natal class where we were asked to sum up our thoughts on breastfeeding in one word. I went first and mine was 'expected'. The counsellor started to talk about expectations and pressures on new mums to breastfeed so I had to clarify that what I meant was just that I expected to do it, in fact it had never occurred to me that anyone would choose not to before the baby was even born. It took me a number of months to completely lose my naivety and realise that in fact I was in the minority by choosing and continuing to breastfeed. As my son is now 17 months and still breastfed I'm now in a tiny minority but more on that later.
I did my research before having my baby so knew in theory how to get him latched on, I can't pretend that it was easy at first and we had to have a few tries each go. After a few days I started to get very sore and assumed based on what I'd heard and read that the latch was wrong. I asked my midwife, went to a breastfeeding support group and got some Lansinoh cream. It turned out that I just needed a bit of toughening up and there was nothing wrong with the latch. Before the tube of cream had been used up the pain had gone, and I've had no pain or problems since. I'd thoroughly recommend going to a breastfeeding group though, apart from anything else its nice to get out of the house somewhere you know you're ok to feed.
I also heard that you can drink and read books while your breastfeeding. Well, that certainly isn't true in my case, I can just about manage the TV remote, so lucky that we've got Sky Plus! In the first few weeks the endless feeding seems a bit boring and limiting, but after a while when we got into a pattern, it was a welcome opportunity to sit down and catch up on a bit of tv and in all honesty this is probably one factor in me not wanting to give it up now!
I have fed in public and although I feel slightly embarassed I just pretend I don't. In fact the place I felt most uncomfortable was at a health visitor drop in as there were 20 or 30 mums there and I was the only one without a bottle. I've never had negative comments or looks (not that I've noticed anyway) and only once had a positive comment, normally people just pay no attention, or come over and talk to me thinking I'm just holding him.
When my son was about 7 months old I realised that I was the only person I knew still breastfeeding. I talked to my mum, mother-in-law and other friends and colleagues with older children and none had fed past that age but I was still feeding 4 times a day with no intention of giving up. I was starting to feel a bit isolated then saw advertised a new extended breastfeeding support group, so I went along to that a couple of times, met some lovely people, got some great book recommendations for parenting in general, but felt more out of place than at my normal groups and then work got in the way anyway. I did start to feel more uncomfortable about feeding in public, but he loves his food so from about 10 or 11 months I only feed him first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and he's fine to stay overnight at grandma's without me or a bottle, if I'm not there he just doesn't have any milk.
The pattern that we've worked out is based on both of our needs, as it is with anything else. I'm not one for enforcing a strict routine, but neither am I going to have my life completely revolving around the wants of a one year old, and it seems to have worked out well for us so far. The World Health Organisation recommend breastfeeding an infant until at least 2 years old and despite popular opinion their guidelines aren't all based on third world countries. My mum did once say that she though breastfeeding a baby past one was weird (this was before he was 1) but apart from that noone has said anything about it, it helps that its not in public but plenty of people know that I do still feed him. At the moment I intend to carry on until he doesn't want it anymore and I believe that will just happen naturally. He takes so little milk now that I'm confident that if he stopped right now I would have no physical difficulties.
Some advantages of breastfeeding -
- it's free
- there's no preparation or washing up
- I was back to pre-pregnancy weight after 9 months despite eating loads of cake and doing very little exercise
- even when my son wanted feeding 5 times a night neither of us really woke up to do it and just fell straight back to sleep afterwards (he was in a moses next to our bed, we moved him to his own room at about 4 months and he started sleeping through for 12 hours)
- you have to sit down and relax at feed times
Some disadvantages -
- when your baby is very young a lot of the time you will be the only one who can stop them crying (tough on you and Dad)
- you can't get drunk, and can only have coffee after a feed, but generally you can eat what you want
- its pretty endless at first
- your body isn't your own, but I lost that ownership during pregnancy anyway, and listening to the way other women who are mothers talk it seems that most have an element of having lost their privacy
If you're pregnant with twins, feeding them is just one thing in a whole list of things that people will give you advice on, so first, a word on advice. Everyone, and I mean everyone, knows someone who's had twins (even if it's their Great-Auntie's next door neighbour's daughter's friend) and therefore has some well meant wisdom to impart. Bearing this in mind and remembering that they all mean well, listen carefully to their advice, mine included, then ignore the bits you know you won't use and bear the rest in mind for later. It may seem overwhelming now, but you WILL find your own way through it.
You need to know a couple of things about me before I go any further. First, I am stubborn. I wanted a natural birth, with minimal pain relief and I argued with consultants and registrars until I got what I wanted. I felt the same way about breastfeeding. My babies were going to be breastfed whether they liked it or not (remember this as you read on). Secondly, I am always right. Once again, remember this as you read on...
This is my experience.
In hospital, obviously breastfeeding is encouraged. Fab. Loads of support, and yes, loads of different advice! Use your time in hospital to get as much help as you can and find out what suits you. I had six days in there. My milk came in late, both babies lost too much weight and one had jaundice. So much for always being right- they were on formula as well as breastfeeds before I knew it. Then I was expressing too. They had a three hourly feeding schedule and luckily an army of helpers for each feed. The day we went home, reality hit. Every piece of advice I'd been given swam around in my head and I was in danger of turning into a complete gibbering wreck. Then I got two pieces of advice which changed the way I felt about it.
1.They're YOUR babies
2.They are individuals
These nuggets of wisdom cleared the way for us to find our own path through the first few days, then weeks and beyond. Like I mentioned earlier, I'm stubborn. I was still adamant that I was going to breastfeed exclusively. For the first few days, I fed and changed nappies. Sometimes I fed both together, rugby ball style and sometimes one at a time. By the evening I was exhausted and the boys screamed. My husband convinced me that we should give them a formula top up in the evening. It gave me a break and the boys slept better. Hooray! Yet again, I had to admit that I'm not always right- ouch! That said, I felt bad about it. No matter how many times people told me that I was doing really well and that to breastfeed two babies was a real accomplishment, I felt guilty that I was giving them formula.
The next challenge was how often to feed them at night. One of my sons was much bigger than the other at birth and to begin with, he would sleep for longer than his brother. I had been told by so many people to wake them both when one wakes, but why? They were different sizes and needed different feeds. Five months on and they still wake at different times- one of them twice a night and one only once. If they were simply siblings and not twins, no one would even suggest that the second one was woken up at the same times as the first one did when they were that age!
Two boobs, two babies, feed them together right?! Well, you can try! It worked for me when they were tiny, but it was difficult to get them both into position on my own. As they got bigger, they kicked and scratched each other and wouldn't settle to feed. I feed one after the other now if they're both hungry at once (I feed on demand so that's not always the case). Besides, unless you are a complete exhibitionist, I very much doubt you'd enjoy trying to tandem feed in public- it's pretty revealing! Personally I like to have time with each baby on their own too.
I'm sure there's a lot more I could tell you, but at the end of the day...
DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU AND YOUR BABIES!
As for me and mine...
Five months on and to this day they have a formula feed in the evening and again in the early hours if they both wake at once and I don't feel guilty about it any more- it's what works for us. Oh, and it's OK to make mistakes and be wrong sometimes, but if you're determined, stick to your guns ;o)
This was written 2 months ago. Both of my babies now sleep through the night and I am successfully weaning them whilst continuing to breastfeed. I have no intention of giving up until they are 12 months, although one of them now has teeth and is challenging me slightly!
The benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and baby are well documented, so I will concentrate my review on my experience of the act of breastfeeding, rather than enter into the breast versus bottle health debate.
My son was born by emergency c-section in November 2009. Having a c-section meant that we missed out on the immediate skin to skin that had been part of my birth plan. Despite this I was determined to try and breastfeed as soon as possible, so half an hour after my son was born I tried to latch him on. Please do not think that a c-section means breastfeeding is much harder, or not possible. That is not my experience at all, you just have to be a little careful with your wound- I found a pillow over it while feeding was sufficient protection for those first few days.
If you choose to breast feed you will hear and read a million times that positioning is key, and that is so true. Baby needs to be turned in towards you so their tummy is against you, and they need to be far enough along that your nipple is level with baby's nose. I was fortunate that my baby had a good suck reflex, and as soon as I put him in the right position he was away. You should never lean in towards your baby to latch them on, as when you lean back they will be in a poor position. Make sure you are holding them towards you.
Five days after my son was born, I developed sore, raw bleeding nipples. Not very nice when you are feeding every two to three hours. Two things helped me get through this and carry on feeding. Firstly Lansinoh cream- apply it after every feed and it will help you nipples heal. Secondly I went to a breastfeeding class who showed me that his latch was slightly wrong, which was causing the soreness. As soon as we were shown how to rectify this, the pain went within a day and my nipples healed completely within a couple of days. I'm so glad I asked for help at this point and didn't give up. If you intend to breastfeed, or you are breastfeeding then find a support class as they really are invaluable.
There are a few things that I would say are really, really useful for a breastfeeding mum. Firstly nursing bras with drop down cups make things much easier than trying to use a regular bra. Lansinoh cream is a lifesaver to keep your nipples in good condition and breast pads are pretty essential to prevent milk leaking onto your clothes. I also wouldn't be without my glider chair- it wasn't cheap but is perfect for feeding.
I love breast feeding, I really do. The time that I spend feeding my son is so precious and I love that closeness that I get from it. Having said that there have been times when my nipples have been sore and his latching on has made me want to cry. There have also been times, in the middle of the night when I've thought how nice it would be if my husband could do a feed or two so I could get some sleep. It's normal to feel like this, but don't let it put you off. It does pass.
I really wanted to give my baby the best start in life so , I knew when I was pregnant I wanted to breastfeed.
I knew the benefits of breastfeeding, the fact it didn't cost anything to breastfeed and no faffing about with bottles and sterilisers.....but it ended there.
After a heavy blood loss, (and something I didn't know then but know now) I didn't realise it could affect me and breastfeeding, but we gave it a good try.
After giving birth my daughter latched on straight away, I thought 'fantastic, we have nailed it', but throughout the night I couldn't get out of the bed to lift her out of her cot, and didn't buzz for the midwives, thats where I went wrong. By the morning I had very sore nipples, and by the evening I was in agony. When we were let out of hospital I lied and said everything was okay.
My mum was coming to visit and I made the decision to put her on formula over the weekend while expressing my milk, and give me chance to heal...little did I know it would also affect my milk supply.
Luckily she latched on well on the Monday, but we were still struggling so she would be topped up with expressed breast milk and the odd bottle of formula....we managed this for 4 weeks, and although I was having a tough time but not wanting to give up, it took my health visitor 4 weeks to refer me to someone about lactation.
I went to the breastfeeding cafe and they were lovely, made me determined to carry on, showed me some new things to keep up my supply etc, check the latch. I got home and while feeding my daughter had to be sick, and it kept coming, then my daughter got it, I must have picked up a bug, and I decided enough was enough...
We did 2 more weeks of expressing and formula feeds, and then she went completely onto formula, which I felt so guilty for, but I instantly felt better in myself.
When I fell pregnant again, I knew I wanted to try more this time, and although we had bleeding nipples to begin with and another heavy bleed, I went to the breastfeeding cafe from week one, and still go now, and they are lovely and I am still doing well, with a daughter who is gaining weight each week. We have lots of expressed milk, which hubby gives my daughter on the 10.30pm feed to give me some rest, but I feel so proud of myself for working through it with all the help and support, we are only onto week four now, but with my first daughter I would rather reach for the bottle of expressed milk first, with my second I would rather breastfeed first.
I still don't like to feed in public and I know I am only going to do this for 12 weeks as I go back to work, but I will definitely try mixed feeding.
I really feel the support has been invaluable and I wouldn't have got this far without it. I know they say breastfeeding is natural - but it is once you and baby learn how to do it, and I know they are trying to promote breastfeeding more and more, but they need to have support networks to go with it to help us, which I am glad we do :)
I have also lost some more weight this time too which is a benefit
I had three daughters under the age of four and breast fed all of them until they were over 8 months old, the youngest probably til she was about 12 months. I returned to work when each child was about seven months and this tied into weaning them off breast milk onto solids.
I was never the maternal type, insisting that my career was going to take centre stage. At 26 I told my mum she needn't keep asking about grandkids but by the time I was 30 I'd produced three of them.
I was one of the lucky ones as breastfeeding my babies came fairly naturally, well by the third one at least! My first child needed a dummy to be honest, not me. As soon as I worked that one out I had a bit more freedom. Until that point I had been a slave to the cause. I knew that it was cheaper, perfect temperature, better for her health, more convenient - it always being on tap and all, as well as instantly silencing my screaming bundle of joy. But it took a lot of persuading that she only needed feeding every two to three hours not minutes.
In doing this I made the mistake of letting her take in lots of air while she was apparently 'feeding' and in turn, this gave her colic which was a nightmare every evening for about a month. We had to enlist the 'cavalry' in the form of my parents to give us a break. I'm sure bottled milk would have saved us all that, but I was not going to be beaten by something weighing less than a sack of spuds!
I persevered and enjoyed some of the breastfeeding quest but was secretly relieved when she no longer needed me and a fruit shoot was more appealing to her.
Second baby arrives and the whole process couldn't have been more different. Where the first one never slept, the second would sleep for the length of a BIble. I had to literally slap her awake. She fed well and I'd feel more comfortable for about an hour but then the milk supply outran demand and I could have supplied a dairy. I was convinced that I smelt of cheese permanently, not a great thought. Mastitis became my problem this time around. I was swollen, tender and a total ogress to live with. Several rounds of antibiotics later and seven months down the line the breastfeeding mission was accomplished and I could breathe a major sigh of
relief. I still hadn't spent a penny on formula milk.
Things were not as relaxed as they appeared however. I returned to work feeling strangely sick and rather lightheaded. I lost weight and noticed that my periods had not returned. This is usual for someone who has only just finished breastfeeding I hear you say. Wrong! Pregnant again, with another delightful period of breastfeeding to look forward to. But, surely this time it would be perfect.
Thankfully, it was. I had a 'surprise' package who must have known what a rough time I'd had of it twice before and she instantly knew what to do. Supply met demand and everything was wonderful. A happy ending on the breastfeeding front. Now all I've got to worry about are Uni and wedding bills!
As a first time mother I agonized for months about what I was going to do about feeding my baby.
When My partner and I attended the ante natal classes, we found that there was a real push amongst mid wives and Health Visitors to promote breast feeding as the best way to feed your child.
Their speeches on the pros and cons were almost hypnotic and weighed heavily on my mind as they reinforced the benefits of breast feeding.
I was informed that if I didn't breast feed my baby would miss out on vital nutrients and anti bodies from my first milk called Colostrum.
I wouldn't return to my pre birth weight.
my child would suffer more likely with Collic.
And that if I combined breast feeding and bottle feeding my child would become confused between nipple and teat and not feed properly and that the risk of my milk drying up was greater than if I breast fed exclusively.
Most of what they said was true but in all honesty thousands of women choose to bottle feed for what ever reason and have wonderful healthy children.
In the end I decided I was going to breast feed exclusively.
The day came and I had my child through emergency C section as she was breach, I immediately lifted her to my breast to feed and she thankfully latched on with out a bother.
The first few weeks were extremely hard for me as it was so painful to lift her and took a few weeks to totally perfect the technique but I persevered and carved out some sort of routine.
In the early days I fed every 2 hours day and night which became mind boggling, I was so tired you could see how in the war they used sleep deprivation as a form of torture!
Most people I know gave up at after 3 weeks and went onto a bottle, but the fear that I would some how confuse and upset my child drove me on.
Once things settled down I released how great it was no mess, no bottles, no sterilizing and no expense!
The only thing that was bothering me was that my partner was missing out, unable to breast feed obviously, he really wanted to feed his child.
I tried to express milk but I found that my let down reflex wasn't very good and after spending 2 hours expressing 3 oz I gave up, it also made my breasts really sore and painful.
Going out alone or getting any free time to your self is also minimized, unless you can express, as you are your a baby's food and when they need you you have to be there.
I did find that when I did go out in to town and breast feed discreetly in the corner people would really stare like I was flashing! but I did get over it and felt liberated!
When the time come to stop and switch to a bottle the transition was really hard, it took weeks before she would accept a bottle it didn't help having a deadline trying to get back to work!!
In reflection I think that breast feeding is a wonderful thing and in some ways im glad I was convienced to at least try it by the mid wives.
However if I was to do it again I would definetly combine it with one bottle feed a day, so that my partner can feed the baby and to also give me a break from feeling llike the human cow.
If you are anyway going to attempt breast feeding and want to be succesful you really need to be aware that it is hard work and time consuming, but if you are really losing the wil to live with it all then dont beat yourself up, no matter how you feed your baby, you are still important and your child needs a happy mummy to thrive.
When I was pregnant with my first child I knew I wanted to breast-feed. I thought it would be easy and really gave it little thought. However when my son was born 10 weeks early I was ill prepared for the struggle that followed. I have written A review on his early birth entitled born too soon if you are interested.
My son was born by emergency caesarean section. As the birth was an emergency I had had to have a general anaesthetic. I was very unwell in the first few days following the birth, as was my son. I had read how important it is for your baby to receive colustrum (first milk) as this contains important nutrients and anti-bodies. My son was initially fed via a tube, as he had no sucking reflex. Even if you don't want to breast feed it really is worth giving your baby this early pre-milk.
On the second day following the birth a mid-wife came to talk to me about expressing my milk ready for my baby. I was given an electric breast pump and shown how to use it. Many neonatal units have a "milk room" where you can express your milk in privacy. If you return home leaving your baby in hospital then you may well be able to borrow an electric pump. The milk was stored in a freezer within the baby unit.
Once my son was well enough I was able to tube feed him with my milk. There is a lot of research that shows that a mother's breast milk is best for her premature baby as it is uniquely suited for her baby. My son thrived and after several weeks was able to suck at the breast. Premature babies often have problems establishing breast-feeding. They have small mouths and get tired quickly. My son had problems as he used to fall asleep after just a few sucks. He would then wake every hour wanting to feed. This continued when we finally returned home. I was exhausted!
I think I would have given up if it hadn't been for all the support I received. A friend told me about the La Leche league, a support group for breastfeeding mothers. There are branches all around the country so there should be one near you. They have an excellent web site too at www.laleche.org.uk. My health visitor was also very supportive and wasn't too hung up on weight charts!
It is very important to ensure the baby is latched on correctly as this will ensure they get the hind milk correctly. Like any new activity, learning to breast-feed can take time for both mother and baby; it really is a learning experience. Many women give up on breast-feeding due to problems that stem form incorrect latching -on. My health visitor told me that the baby's nose should be lever with your nipple. If you are unsure then ask for help. Some hospitals have breast-feeding clinics that can be really crucial. The La Leche league has counsellors who will be happy to give advice and support.
On the subject of weight charts, it is useful to remember that most of these are based on bottle fed babies. Bottle fed babies tend to put on weight far more quickly than breast fed babies. However there is research that shows a human baby is meant to grow more slowly. Breast milk enables a baby's brain to grow at the correct rate, hence the research that shows breast-fed babies tend to be more intelligent than those who are bottle-fed.
Premature babies tend to feed far more often than full term babies as they have smaller stomachs and can't take much milk at a feed. Even full term babies will probably feed more often than bottle fed babies, as breast milk is better absorbed than formula. However I really think having to feed more often is no hardship. It is important to remember that the more you stimulate your breasts by allowing the baby to feed, the more milk you will produce. In the early days it can be difficult to get the supply and demand right. However for most women this usually sorts itself out after a few weeks.
Breastfed babies often feed several times during the night and can be slower to sleep through the night than bottle fed babies. This may be because prolactin (the hormone that controls milk production) levels are higher at night when you are relaxed. Once I stopped looking at the clock and fed my baby in bed with me, the night feeds became less of an issue. It does help if you have a supportive partner who can take the baby for a walk whilst you catch up on some important shuteye! Unless you baby is really wet or dirty I wouldn't bother to change their nappy at night either. If your baby falls asleep feeding then leave well alone!
On the subject of nappies, breast fed babies have sweeter smelling nappies than their bottle-fed counterparts. I was worried when my son only produced a dirty nappy every few days but this is normal for many breast- fed babies.
I continued breast-feeding my son for well over a year and we both enjoyed the experience.
My second son was born several years later and my experience of feeding him was very different. He was born at 37 weeks and fed well from the start. I did get sore and cracked nipples unlike with my first son. If this happens to you then it is important to realise this is probably due to incorrect latching. What ever you do, don't stop feeding on the sore breast. This will only make the problem worse. Once the baby is latched on correctly the problem should ease. You can always take an aspirin prior to feeding if that helps.
Breast- feeding can be uncomfortable and painful in the early days. If you are having problems then ask for help from someone you respect. There is still a lot of incorrect advice being given! Most women can breast feed successfully if they want to. However if you can't then it's no reason to feel guilty. Being a mother is so much more than how you feed your baby. Luckily there are safe alternatives available.
I found breast-feeding very convenient too. I became an expert at feeding in public without any one really noticing. I have always refused to feed my children in a loo. Well would you want to eat your meal in a toilet?! I am far too lazy to make up and sterilise bottles! Breast-feeding is instant and there are no bottles to worry about unless you chose to express.
My second son continued breast-feeding alone until he was weaned at 6 months .He still had breast feeds until he was 2 ½. Again we both enjoyed the experience and he thrived both physically and emotionally.
Breast-feeding is supposed to help you shed the baby pounds,. However I wasn't that lucky. This could have had something to do with the fact I was always hungry when I was breast-feeding! I also found I got very thirsty when I fed and always had a glass of water to hand. You can ignore advice that tells you to drink pints of liquid. Research shows that you don't need to drink pints to feed successfully! Just drink to quench your thirst.
I am really pleased I was able to breast-feed and would recommend it to all mothers. It really is the best start you can give your baby!
Breastfeeding - it is one of the first parenting choices you make - or have made for you in some cases, if it is not something that works for you. I chose to breastfeed as I thought I might as well give it a go.
This is not about the breastfeed or not debate but an attempt to share a real experience and give a bit of advice.
My experience of feeding my babies is very positive, but I accept that for some people they may not want to feed or may not be able to for one reason or another. One of the main reasons why I personally think people give up is the woeful lack of support in this country.
Only recently has a law been introduced meaning that it is illegal to stop a mum from feeding a baby of 6 months or under in the UK. Few women actually do breastfeed in this country; we have the lowest rates in Europe, an article in the Telegraph in August 2008 said this: "Less than eight in 10 new mothers breastfeed their babies from birth and only a fifth are still feeding their babies naturally after the recommended six months.".
It seems British society perceives breastfeeding as not the done thing, I would say from my own family the comments were quite negative too. I was made to feel it was disgusting both before the birth of my children, and after I had my baby actually asked by a close family member to go and feed my 3 week old in the toilets of a restaurant when I was feeding very very discretely with nothing on show - apparently it "makes men uncomfortable" - hmmm not as uncomfortable as the sight of overweight men shirtless in Summer makes me!
Also my father in law came up with the helpful advice that I should use a bottle as otherwise I wouldn't know if she was getting enough - er she was the chubbiest baby ever at this point!
I realise that I am at risk of sounding like a militant - I am not - I was just lucky enough to find that it was something that came quite naturally to my babies and was fairly easy for me though hard work at times.
Anyway in the hope it might help someone here are the things I learned on the way:
- go into it with an open mind, give it a go - you might find that your baby just knows what to do. Don't worry if you didn't understand the explanation at the parenting class or whatever - I didn't!
- don't necessarily take bottles into hospital - if it doesn't work then there is bound to be a 24 supermarket with ample supplies.
- if you don't get the support you think you should be getting from the midwife or health visitor seek more help! Phone the laleche league http://www.laleche.org.uk/ or the nct helpline http://www.nct.org.uk/info-centre/helplines.
There are breastfeeding clinics all over the country so ask for help if you are finding it hard.
When my second child was born I witnessed some shocking "help" in hospital and felt so sorry for the mums. One woman had been through an emergency c-section and was desperate to feed her baby and yet the only help she got was having her breast manhandled and shoved in her baby's mouth. I wasn't allowed to walk up and down the corridor to wind my baby - "health and safety" and overall there should have been much more help, things need to change.
A few tips, this bit for people feeding so men, you probably don't need to read this unless you are trying to be supportive of a partner:
- if it hurts badly your latch is probably wrong so reposition. It does hurt a bit at first as your womb contracts (one advantage to breastfeeding as it speeds that bit up a bit) but generally when it is established it is a different feeling but not a hurty feeling
- eat and drink plenty, you will need to. Have a glass of water by your side when feeding. Eat lots of carbs.
- don't worry if your baby isn't in a routine at first, that will come by about 8-10 weeks. Expect them to feed a lot in the evening and to be glued to the sofa.
- you can mix feed (formula + breast) but it can decrease your supply, generally your body makes exactly what the baby needs, very clever isn't it?!
- if you think you are being used as a dummy by your baby listen to hear if they are actually swallowing or not.
- expect it to take up quite a lot of time at first - this stage will pass. Meantime cuddle up with your baby and watch trash tv whilst you are feeding and take it easy (well as easy as you can). This will help your supply.
- Know that you won't need breastpads for ever, honestly. Yes they are icky but your body will sort itself out.
- Underwired feeding bras exist. They are great.
- When out and about and more confident you can feed discretely by wearing a vest under your clothes, pull the vest down and your clothes up and cover with a muslin if you want - you don't need to buy "breastfeeding tops".
- sore/bleeding nipples can happen (don't hate me but I never experienced this), buy some lanison. You can also get mastitis which feels like flu (again I avoided this), seek medical advice in this case or if you get a lump you can't massage out.
- feed however is comfortable for you, lying down or whatever.
- Take a break - if you have a partner and you can get them to cuddle the baby whilst you sleep (provided you have fed them), some newborns do feed every 2 hours and 3 is normal too - they have teeny stomachs!
- Lastly if it really truly doesn't work do not beat yourself up or think you are a failure!
That should be enough information to get you started. www.kellymom.com is a great source of information for any questions you might have.
Most often people worry that their baby isn't getting enough or that it takes a long time.
The pluses for me are that a) it is free b) it doesn't involve cleaning stuff c)it is good for your baby.
Sometimes mums can be told that formula will make their baby sleep better or that if they don't bottle feed they will be "tied". Neither points are necessarily true.
Personally I went into it with an open mind - I thought I would feed for the first 6 weeks, then 6 months and ended up feeding for over a year until my child decided to stop. I went back to work part time when she was 9 months and by then she was happy to feed from me morning and night only and I was able to supplement her milk elsewhere. If you had told me when I started I would have kept going that long I would have been suprised and probably a bit grossed out - but do you know what, when it came to it was my baby I was feeding and it was a special time.
If you are reading this when pregnant and can't envisage feeding - don't worry I couldn't either! Sometimes if you are very lucky breastfeeding can be something that just comes naturally to both mother and child; we really should support those mums who are feeding in this country and not see it as some sort of taboo or a bad joke "bitty bitty" and the rest.
Breastfeeding is something that I think all mothers who can should give a go.