When I was pregnant with Mason I found breastfeeding was pushed so strongly I never really thought about giving him formula. At my midwife appointments, I was given things like ‘breast is best’ magnets and booklets, the option of using formula was never really discussed.
I was completely naive and completely underestimated how difficult breastfeeding is, especially in those first few weeks when I was feeding on demand whilst absolutely drained. I felt I was doing the right thing. I was giving Mason the best possible start. All the midwives praised me and told me to keep going even though I was absolutely on my arse and Mason was losing weight.
My Breastfeeding story
My breastfeeding journey started well, Mason crawled up my chest and latched straight away which was a magical moment. Feeding was mine and Mason’s special time where we could cuddle up away from all of the visitors and bond. My body was giving him all the nutrients he needed and that felt amazing but something wasn’t right. On my first midwife visit, Mason was weighed and he was dropping weight but this is normal at first so there wasn’t any concern.
Every time the midwives looked at me feeding they said his latch was perfect and everything was great but Mason was constantly hungry and kept crying for food. I kept a feeding log for the midwives,
He fed 22 times in 24 hours
Mason looks malnourished. It breaks my heart looking at this.
My weight dropped to 6st 13 and I wasn’t getting any sleep. My heart sunk every time he cried, I didn’t have the energy to feed him anymore.
At the next appointment, Mason had lost even more weight so I was sent to the breastfeeding specialist. She said his latch was shallow and he had a slight tongue tie. The poor thing, he was so hungry. Even then I wasn’t told to switch to formula. I was encouraged to keep trying with different techniques.
When we got home, I burst into tears. I couldn’t carry on like this. Mason & me were both suffering so it was time for the formula. At the time I thought it was an awful thing to do which is ridiculous! I left the room when Dave gave him his first bottle and cried. I was ashamed that I couldn’t give him what he needed. I felt like a bad mum.
We tried combi-feeding for a bit but Mason wasn’t interested and wanted the bottle. He regained the weight and was a much happier baby which made me a happier Mum! This also meant me and Dave could split the night feeds. Dave loved being able to feed Mason and I got a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.
The formula feeding stigma
There is such a stigma about formula feeding and it needs to end. I felt like I was whipping out a bottle of poison in public when feeding because society has made it feel this way. I agree that Breast milk is nutritionally better but some Mums can’t or don’t want to breastfeed and that is ok.
We have a choice
There is so much pressure on Mothers to breastfeed and no advice given on formula feeding. If I was given more information on formula and told that it was ok, it would have saved a lot of heartache.
I look back and I think I was stupid to struggle on for so long. Do what you think is best for you and your baby. You should never be made to feel guilty about feeding your children. As long as your baby is not hungry, then that is the most important thing.