When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Work Out Please Don’t Feel Guilty
During my first pregnancy I was asked if I would be breastfeeding my baby. My answer was always of course I will. Why wouldn’t I? I assumed that breastfeeding my baby would just happen. I ‘d been around women who breastfeed or who were breastfeeding it seemed natural and I thought natural meant easy. The plan was to breastfeed for twelve months so I didn’t buy any bottles or any formula. However, breastfeeding doesn’t work out all the time and lead to guilt.
I was given a breast pump and containers for storage and put in the back of the cupboard thinking I probably wouldn’t use them much. If going out I might express but apart from that I would feed from the breast. I read every baby book you get in pregnant baby packs. I paid extra attention to the nutrition I would need after baby was born to supply the best milk possible.
Fast forward a couple of months and I had my son. I got to do skin to skin contact and I had read his first feed would happen in the next hour. However he was taken to the nursery due to his temperature being a little high. After this I started to haemorrhage and was given a blood transfusion so feeding him was delayed.
A nurse came to see me and I was asked if I would allow them to give my son some formula to boost his blood sugar levels. This would be his first feed since birth and since so I agreed.
Dinner time. Eight hours after his birth I finally got to hold my son again and we were moved to the post natal ward. This was my first chance to breastfeed him. They showed me how to hold him and get him to open his mouth and he attached but it hurt.
I didn’t expect any pain form from breastfeeding till his teeth came in so this was a shock. This continued through the night. I let the midwife know how painful this was and my left nipple was already cracked. The offered me cream and new position to feed him lying on my side. This didn’t help it was just as painful as in the other position.
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Breastfeeding Doesn’t Work Out – The Start Of My Guilt
The second night the midwife tried to syringe colostrum from my nipple as I cried. It really hurt and my nipple was cracked and bleeding. The midwife told me that I just given birth this should be painful for me. I was upset and hurt by that. Was I being a wimp? I was a mother now I just needed to do it right?
With no success I was given formula to give to my son and a lecture on the benefits my son wouldn’t get since I wasn’t breastfeeding. This was start of my breastfeeding guilt.
Day three I was given a book on how to prepare formula. A different midwife came to explain how much my son was to have. I was sent home. When I got home I realised I didn’t have any formula or bottles or even a steriliser so my ex-husband went to shop to buy what we needed. He ran is into his mother and sister while there and got him to buy three sashes and three little bottles.
I knew when he got this it wasn’t going to be enough. But I had a breast pump so I thought I could pump and use the formula when needed.
Using the manual pump I pumped for an hour only getting 5mls. This continued for the next two days till the nurse came out to do a check. My son was gaining weight and was healthy. She used an electric pump to increase my output. We managed to get only 15mls. We had a few more visits and my no luck with getting any extra milk.
Breastfeeding Guilt – I Cried A Lot
I cried a lot as I was supposed to be able to breastfeed my son. It made me feel like a failure as a mother. I kept thinking back to the lecture in hospital. My son would be obese and he would have health issues. How could I do this to my child?
Every woman who came to see me or ring reminded me of how important breastfeeding was and told me to do it. This didn’t help and I knew they were trying to help but it made me feel worse.
After three weeks I was admitted back to hospital due to large blood clots. A midwife came in and asked if I need to pump since my son was starting to grizzle and I said yes and told her the whole story. She said to me ‘you poor thing no wonder you can’t feed your body doesn’t know whether is coming or going. Is it worth is putting yourself through this to feed your baby.’
I was shocked. Did she just give me the okay to not breastfeed? Is it OK when breastfeeding doesn’t work out?
Back home after three days and now my son was fully formula fed. He was a healthy weight meeting milestones and doing what babies do. But my guilt from not breastfeeding didn’t end. I was judged by family and strangers for not trying for longer.
Sometimes I still cried and I still felt like a failure. I didn’t overcome this till my son was about one. . Now he is six years old and he is healthy and not obese and just like every other six year old.
Parenting is about more than just feeding. I still think breast is best and if you can breast feed that is great but if you can’t its OK. You’re not a bad mum your feeding you baby and that’s what’s important.
I made the best decision for me and my child and for us that was formula feeding.
Bio Kelly Smith At YumFree
Edited By Mummy It’s OK
Hi! I’m Julie. I write about all things related to mum life. I’m also a postpartum depression survivor. I love helping mum start their mum blog journey and I have step-by-step guides to help!