From the beginning of my pregnancy I pretty much knew that I didn’t want to breast feed. I know we’re all pushed towards breast is best but honestly for me, it’s just never appealed. It’s a little selfish but I always thought bottle feeding would just be easier and when people asked me if I would be breast-feeding or not, my answer was always “I don’t know”. I guess part of me was ashamed of wanting to say “no“ straight away so I always tried to hide it.
When you go to Midwife appointments the mantra is always breast is best and I when I first saw a midwife at my booking appointment this was most definitely shoved down my throat. I didn’t even have a chance to say anything more than “I don’t think…” before she’d spun around and shoved that mantra back down my throat. She was my first impression of midwives and it really made me anxious for the next 9 months ahead, especially since I had it pretty strong in my head on how I wanted to feed my child. Luckily as the appointments went on I ended up only seeing one midwife who made the whole experience for me a hell of a lot more enjoyable but from that very first appointment I felt nervous to bring up the fact that I didn’t want to breastfeed. I know it’s natural and amazing for your baby to have but at the end of the day, it’s my body, my decision and I didn’t appreciate the judgement for not wanting to do it.
Eventually I decided to attend a breastfeeding ante-natal class to make sure that I was fully informed before deciding what I wanted to do and I was actually disappointed that when asked they didn’t give a lot of information on how I should be bottle feeding safely. I know it’s a breastfeeding class but for a new-mum it’s all a bit confusing and it would have been nice for them to answer my questions without shutting me down completely. We all bloody know breast is best but if I’m not confident with that then surely the message should just be fed is best? I was torn and even with the relationship I had with my midwife I still didn’t feel confident in voicing my opinion on not wanting to feed my baby myself. I toyed with both ideas for months never knowing what I should do but deep down knowing exactly what I wanted to do and eventually my decision was an easy one.
Unlike a lot of people (or so I’ve heard) my milk didn’t start coming in whilst I was pregnant. I tried my best to try and pump my boobs to start stimulating them and see if anything would happen but I didn’t get a single drop of milk / colostrum even once. After my 37 hour labour (which you can read about in my labour and delivery story) and it came to breastfeeding it just wasn’t really happening. Luckily, during my labour I had two really amazing midwifes that actually encouraged me to make my own mind up and a decision that I would be happy with; they didn’t deter me from bottle feeding and when I said I didn’t think I wanted to breastfeed they were completely indifferent. I genuinely thought that it would be like that first appointment all over again and I was really pleasantly surprised to have not had the added pressure when I was trying to give birth. Believe me, when you’re trying to push a watermelon out of your va-jay-jay, thinking about breast feeding really isn’t your main priority.
I tried getting Madison to latch on for all of ten minutes and although my midwife (a different one to the two I had whilst in labour) helped me for the first couple of minutes, I was so scared of holding her wrong and so bloody exhausted after being awake for two days straight (and you know, pushing a baby out of my body) that I just didn’t have it in me. I was done and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I gave up after not really trying and asked for a bottle. One was brought to me without any questions, any judgement and I felt so relieved and happy that my baby girl was being fed that I didn’t feel guilty about not giving Madison the goodness of my breast milk. She was being fed and that was all that mattered.
I didn’t even look back at my decision of bottle feeding over the next couple of days and didn’t try expressing (which was something I’d toyed with the idea of) and as my milk barely came in, I’m really glad I didn’t attempt to. My milk disappeared within a couple of days and after about 3 or 4 days Madison was regularly drinking from her bottle happily. I was so happy with the way everything was going and within 3-4 weeks she was pretty much sleeping through the night, heading to bed at around 10pm and waking at 4/5am for her first bottle of the day. By 6 weeks she was doing a full 11 hour stint from 9.30pm-8.30am and apart from a couple of poorly weeks, she hasn’t really faltered on that since.
My decision for bottle feeding isn’t one that I’ve ever regretted as by that 6th week we were in a routine with her and I’ve been getting a full nights sleep (soz to any new mums with babies who aren’t sleeping). She’s happy, she’s growing really well and more importantly than anything: she’s really healthy! The one issue I’ve had over the last few weeks is the Mum Guilt I’ve felt for not ‘giving her that best start in life’ that we’re told breastfeeding does. I see other Mum’s out and about breastfeeding or I go over to my friends houses and see them breastfeeding and I get jealous. I have a jealousy that I don’t even really deserve to have because I chose not to do this. I see mums struggle to breastfeed or see mums that are’t able to breastfeed when they really want to and I feel guilty for my jealousy. I am so happy with the way things are going but I also feel like I’ve missed out in a way and although thats 100% my fault, it sometimes really gets to me.
Bottle Feeding has been amazing for us though and with the ease of Steve also being able to feed her (or anybody for that matter), it’s been a lot easier for me to adjust to being a new mum and although I’ve felt jealous of other breastfeeding mums, I’m still unsure whether next time I’d still want to do it. I don’t know whether it’s just Madison or whether it’s the fact that we’ve been bottle feeding but Madison has been such an easy baby with sleeping and feeding and I don’t know if I want to risk that with another baby, especially with another child to run round after.
This post has been quite a ramble but it’s something that I’ve really needed to get off my chest. Hope you don’t mind.
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