I wanted to post about my issues with breastfeeding but I was scared. Scared of people being judgmental saying I was a bad mum for bottle feeding, saying I was taking the ‘easy’ way out. I was feeling guilty enough without being made to feel worse by others.
I was determined to BF with Bee, partly also because Islam says a child has the right to be BF for 2 years. I didn’t have much luck with munchkin and not much support. I didn’t realise it was normal for babies to feed little and often, to fall asleep at the breast. And living with my parents at that time added to the pressure as their health was suffering due to the lack of sleep. So I gave up within days even though I had so much milk I was constantly leaking. I tried expressing but that made me feel queasy and faint – I’m odd like that!
This time I felt I was fully prepared. I had purchased nursing clothes, bras, pillows and had read books regarding it, including the struggles some mums faced. They had persevered and overcame the pain and I felt I was ready to overcome any issues I had.
My first mistake was I didn’t BF Bee immediately. I was exhausted and feeling weaker by the minute due to blood loss so I just said to the midwife give her a bottle. She needed to feed so they could check her sugar levels.
Then when I did try to put her on the breast I was alone. Although they have special BF support during the week, they don’t at the weekends. The midwifes can help but they were rushing around as it was. Bee was quite happy to take the breast but I realised she wasn’t latching on properly as it was painful. So I ended up giving bottles more often than not.
Before I left hospital on Sunday I asked the Midwife for help. She came, helped Bee to latch on but by then the attempts I had made had led to me feeling sore. Bee latched on and then the Midwife got called away and didn’t bother to return to help.
I got home and did a mixture of bottle feeding and BF. That was probably the second mistake I made….I should have exclusively BF. But I was in agony, every time she latched on I wanted to scream in pain. However, after one feed at the breast she was particularly content and slept and I thought maybe, just maybe I can do this.
I got a call from the Midwifes to ask how I was doing. I said that BF was very painful so she suggested I come into the BF clinic. So I did. I went back to the hospital a few days after giving birth, hardly being able to sit, let alone walk after the third degree tear I had; I was that determined to master BF.
The lady in the clinic checked over Bee and said there was no issues with her tongue and also saw her latch on correctly. She noticed my nipples were a bit cracked and sore but said to continue to BF as this will help.
So I tried.
But every feed was a struggle.
I was dreading feeding her.
I was in tears at the pain.
I was losing my bond with my child. I was sinking into depression.
I was beginning to resent the fact that for 9 months I had gestational diabetes and couldn’t eat what I wanted and now I was being made to suffer again. Selfish right? But I couldn’t help thinking that.
Then one day I decided to just stop trying. I was miserable to the point where I couldn’t even face eating, and obviously if I was not eating it was effecting the milk supply.
So one whole day I didn’t BF.
And although I felt this overwhelming sense of relief, the guilt soon kicked in. I felt I was depriving my child of what was best for her, that I was an evil selfish mother. That I was putting my own needs before hers. I cried at my selfishness.
I still had milk so again, in fear, I tried to BF…..and again my appetite went and I started feeling miserable. I struggled for the day. Maybe if my hubby had been home during this time, with his support I may have continued. But alone I then made the hardest decision of my life, and decided to stop. And stop I did.
I got upset, I cried, but at the same time I felt better within myself.
The pressure was off.
My milk dried up without any pain so I obviously didn’t have much. I did feel sad, and even more guilty when she was nuzzling at the breast. But I just couldn’t face it.
Now I had to deal with all the comments; as if I wasn’t feeling bad enough.
‘She’s taken the easy way out’.
‘She will regret it when she has to pay for the milk. It’s not cheap’.
‘So and so’s kid is chubby, that’s because her mum breastfeeds. No wonder your kid is skinny.’
‘Your kid isn’t getting what’s best for her, she will get ill more’.
Although my child is bottle fed, she is healthy, she is putting on weight, and the only time she has had a cold so far was in the first 2 weeks of her life, when I was breastfeeding.
I am a firm believer that breast IS best…..but at the same time, my health, my sanity, and my bond with my baby was at risk.
And I am NOT a bad mum for bottle feeding.
I think you are judging yourself too harshly, BF isn't for everyone for many different reasons. You tried, it didn't work and you realised last this was the best decision for you.
I totally agree Foz. Nowadays people are pretty good to make you feel guilty for not breastfeeding your child. And I don't think it's right. Every mum knows what is best for her and her child.
I was 100% for BF myself and I had to stop after 3 days. It did not work. Mister Pop could not grasp my breast, it was very painful and midwives could not spend time to help me with it. Mister Pop lost 800g in 2 days. I was depressed and Mister Pop was starving. Putting him on the breast was a nightmare and I could not stop crying.
I felt guilty for some time but I realised after a week or 2 that I had taken the best decision for both of us.
You did the right thing Foz and I'm glad you shared this post with us, so it can help other mums in our situation.
Much love to you all. xxx
You are absolutely not a bad mother. You made the right decision for your situation and as you so rightly say your sanity and bond is important, all these things have to be taken into consideration and no one has the right to judge you.
You're not bad, you put the physical health of your child and the mental and physical health of yourself first, above the societal and religious pressures for breast feeding.
I'm glad you were able to talk about it and share, the more people who do, the less of a stigma there will be about not breast feeding x
Thank you for your comment… I guess I do judge myself harshly…. but so many people look down on you if you bottle feed!
Sorry you struggled too Marie. It is scary when they lose weight!
Glad you are both content now xx
Thank you for your supportive comment hun x
Thank you Tinuke, I put off this post for so long!