I always had the intention of including important issues for parents and women in this blog. This particular issue has affected me immensely, and I wanted to share my experience with mums to be and other women, in the hope it might help them make a more informed decision about how to feed their baby, and better prepare them for the first few weeks after baby's arrival. I will do it in 3 parts, so as not to overwhelm you with my story, and to be able to give you clear facts and advice on feeding your baby. This post is about the first few days after having my baby, which were very, very difficult for me. Don't worry though, it all works out in the end.
Part 1 - My Experience
Breast is best. There is no doubt about it. We all know this fact, and during pregnancy there is a huge pressure on mums to breastfeed, leaflets about the benefits for baby, and talks from midwives and health visitors. At the end of the day, it is the mothers decision, and what is best for her is best for baby. Unfortunately, the health professionals don't give an honest or realistic picture of how hard breastfeeding can be.
I had every intention of breastfeeding my daughter, in fact I was quite determined, but all through my pregnancy there were niggling thoughts about how I would get on. The thought of feeding in public, the fact that I would have to do all the feeding, every night (having CFS, the thought of that was quite terrifying), all these things were in the back of my mind, and I just did not have the courage to discuss them with the health professionals.
17th March 2011, and my gorgeous daughter is born. Midwife from hell shoves baby to my breast (at this point I am barely conscious due to a whopping dose of Diamorphine shortly before delivery....horrible stuff, don't have it), then she shouts at me because I can't get my arm in the right place, and baby doesn't latch properly.
"have you got bottles and formula at home?" says evil midwife.
Seriously?!! My baby is barely five minutes old, and midwife has already given up on me breastfeeding. I was understandably, so, so upset. The next two days spent on the postnatal ward were no better. Little Isabelle was a very enthusiastic feeder, a little too much so, and two nights of constant suckling for 6 hours, left my nipples in a sorry state. Feeding was agonising, and I knew something wasn't quite right, but each midwife in turn, would shove her back on and say it was all OK, despite me asking for help to latch her properly.
By the time I arrived home, I was totally exhausted an in a lot of pain, yet so relieved to be out of hospital. I had sent Pete, my baby's daddy, to get nipple shields earlier that day in the hope it might help ease the pain. FAIL. One suckle later, and my nipple blistered horrifically and was bleeding. Ouch. Pete heads back out for formula, I cry hysterically, mother phones midwife, traumatised son hides behind T.V and my baby screams and screams for food. Wonderful start.
On Pete's return, I insist that he feeds Izzie the 'evil formula' (seriously, it was as if he was feeding her pure acid in my crazy hormonal eyes) and I sob my heart out at being a total failure at, apparently 'the most natural thing in the world'.
O.K - Horror story over, don't panic just yet, I was very unlucky and totally unprepared for such a difficult start to breastfeeding. I am not writing this to scare mums off, but to help you realise the reality, and help you to be best prepared for the most success. Some mums are lucky, and their babies will latch perfectly from the off, but for some of us it is a big challenge, but not one that can't be overcome.
Part 2 will be about how to prepare yourself for breastfeeding, how to get through the first few weeks, advice on expressing milk and where to get support. And I promise no more horror stories, just real mummy tips and advice.
Thank you for reading this post. Please don't be disheartened by my story, it all works out in the end. Although I don't breastfeed Izzie, I have a super healthy, super happy, beautiful baby girl. Feeding formula to your baby isn't the crime health professionals make it out to be. Yes. I'm disappointed that I didn't get to breastfeed my baby, but that is because there wasn't the support available for me. With the right support, and the right attitude, you will be able to overcome the obstacles that I didn't.
Love Edie xx