Breastfeeding….the most stressful thing I have ever attempted!

So my pregnancy was now complete, my little miracle was FINALLY here and after spending the first 24 hours in special care my gorgeous little man was transferred back into the post natal ward to be with me.  Now the next chapter of my motherhood journey was about to embark, having no idea at what I was doing with this tiny little person and wishing it came with an instruction manual, I figured with my maternal instincts that we would bumble our way through it until we figured it out. Some would say “fake it until you make it”.

The main thing I wanted to share in these early days is in regards to breast feeding.  I did all of the courses and training before Lachlan was born and with the way that is it depicted in modern TV, movies and even the books that I had read that it was going to be the most beautiful amazing experience of my life and that everything would just come naturally to me and to Lachlan and he would be a great feeder and I would be a great producers because that is what the boy was designed to do. Well by George, I couldn’t have possibly been more wrong!! I can honestly say breast feeding was one of the most hideous, ridiculous, stressful and uncomfortable things that I’ve ever done in my life.  In the first 24 hours that Lachlan was in the post natal ward he spent about 20 hours on my breast trying to get some form of nutrition. By the end of this period, going through 4 different midwives, 2 lactation consultants and about 2 boxes of tissues from crying so much, I ended up with cracked and bleeding nipples, a screaming starving baby who was vomiting blood from my nipples.

I did everything that I was told to do, attempted to feed 3 hourly, and because of my lack of supply I was on Matillion (to encourage my supply) and I was expressing 2 hourly (complete over the 24 hours day period ) to try and encourage my milk supply to come in.

After 3 days of a starving baby screaming, my nipples in excruciating pain, completed exhausted from no sleep from 2 hourly expressing/3hourly feeding over the 24 hour period, I decided that I needed a break and I needed to sleep that I asked for some formula to subside his hunger so that I could actually get a break! Well you would think that I had asked for one of his arms or legs to be chopped off with the reaction that I got. I was given pamphlet after pamphlet and lecture after lecture that by giving my son formula I was not doing the best nutritional thing for my child and I had to sign a disclaimer saying I was aware that I wasn’t doing the best thing for my….TALK ABOUT GUILT!!!  He drank over 60ml (which is a lot for a 3 day old baby) and he slept for 4 consecutive hours as opposed to the 15 minute cat naps he had been doing.

I persisted with the expressing and I gave him EBM and then topped him up with formula to ensure he was getting enough of a feed after this point. However each time I asked for a EBM top up I had to sign a disclaimer.  After signing about 15 of them, I was starting to feel really guilty and awful that I was a failure as a mother that I couldn’t do what was naturally supposed to come so easily and naturally and that I was a failure as I couldn’t produce the milk he needed….then that night I had an epiphany thanks to the lovely starving baby shrill coming from the room next to me. …my ephiphany was this….

“Screw the disclaimer, I am in fact doing the best thing for my child by giving him formula. I am a better mother by providing him with the nutrition he needs through formula as opposed to starving him with my non existent milk”

If it wasn’t for this realisation, I seriously think that I could have potentially started to head down the track of post natal depression due to the guilt and pressure I received over the whole breast feeding issue….Little did I know what was yet to come that should have sent me down the PND pathway.

In essence I agree that breast is best, I’m not denying that in any way but I am saying that it’s not as easy as you think it will be, it’s hard hard work to get the baby to latch and for you both to learn what and how to do it – not to mention those women, like me, who have supply issues.  Formula is a great alternative for those who do not have the supply.

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12 thoughts on “Breastfeeding….the most stressful thing I have ever attempted!

  1. Breastfeeding is indeed very very hard. I had no supply issues but made up for it with latching on issues. I don’t know how I got through it but luckily we did and I managed to breastfeed for longer than I initially planned, but it was really hard so well done you for trying!
    You should not feel quilty at all! You gave it your best and even when things were really hard you gave him some expressed milk. You did the right thing.

    • Thanks – I know I tried everything in my power to get things happening but they just didn’t happen. If and when I have another baby, I will once again try to breast feed however I won’t have the guilt and the stress that I carried this time around with not being able to do it.
      Nobody can say I didn’t try when 3 days in I had a midwife sitting on my bed physically squeezing my nipples trying to save each drop of breast milk with a syringe…I got a massive 1ml each side day 3 after I was on medication – it just wasn’t for me.

  2. Pingback: Day 4 (Can’t believe it’s already day 4!): Breast Feeding the Unexpected | Olive Redirected

  3. I had latch issues your right its not easy nor do some of the professionals make it easy.
    I too supplemented while in the hospital. It was the best thing for both the baby and i. Once i got home he never had a drop of formula.
    I had crazy over supply issues i would pump a pint and throw it away just to easy my pain. I wish they had milk banks here. But sadly they dont.
    You did the right thing for L by giving him formula. You provided the best you could at the time. Never feel guilty about that.

    • Oh and we topped up with formula too in hospital. Had to. The poor little thing was absolutely starving. What a way to start your life…hungry all of the time!!! I’d rather top up and give bubs the relief than have him so distressed.

      • Formula top ups I would recommend in a heart beat because as far as I’m concerned a distressed starving baby equals a distressed exhausted mummy and neither of those make for an enjoyable start to this whirlwind called parenting

  4. I had many teary moments trying to establish breastfeeding with my son. Unfortunately for me it did spiral me into PND so my hubby and I decided to switch to formula. I was almost exclusively pumping for a month while trying to get the latching right.

    My son is thriving and he has a (somewhat) sane mother so I have been able to let go of the boobie guilts.

    • Boobie guilt is a great description! It’s amazing how guilty you feel over it – I guess society and media force it down our throats that breast is best….I think both your and my story shows for the well being of both baby and mother sometimes formula is best! Thank you for sharing your experiences too 🙂

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