Today’s guest post is by Jo at http://thoroughlymodernmummy.wordpress.com/ or you also may find her on twitter http://twitter.com/themodernmummy Thank you Jo for taking the time to tell us your story :O)
Breastfeeding – My Story
From the moment I found out I was pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed. Having suffered a miscarriage before becoming pregnant with my daughter, I felt that I needed to do everything I could to protect this baby, both through pregnancy and after she was born. Breastfeeding seemed like an obvious way to do this.
During my pregnancy I read all the books, magazines and websites that I could, and all I could find were positive breastfeeding stories. We attended both NHS and NCT antenatal classes and listened as it was drummed into us that breastfeeding was the only option. I expected it to be the most natural thing in the world for us to do.
When my daughter was born, we were given immediate skin to skin contact and I loved the closeness I felt to my beautiful baby. Shortly after we were encouraged to try feeding for the first time. I expected my baby to know what to do, but she didn’t. And nor did I. The midwife tried to help but breastfeeding didn’t come naturally to us. Over the next hours we tried various techniques and took advice from a number of midwives and although I managed to feed her it didn’t come easily and it felt stressful for us both. I was being given conflicting advice by the midwives and felt that I needed to get my baby girl home so we could both relax and practice.
We were able to show the midwife that we could manage a feed and she allowed us to go home. Over the next few days we improved the feeding and seemed to be getting on ok. My daughter was putting on weight well so I felt confident that she was getting what she needed.
But it still wasn’t easy for us. At each feed during the day we had to attempt the latch several times to get a good one and feeds were long drawn out affairs. My baby would often become frustrated and would cry during feeds. For some reason, night time feeds seemed to be calmer and easier and this consoled me as I knew she was eating well at night. I dreaded feeding in public and felt jealous of my NCT class friends who seemed to be feeding easily and naturally. But still we carried on and survived for the next 6 weeks.
I held onto the fact that she was putting on weight well which must mean that she was eating enough. However I found the whole experience exhausting. Then, at 6 weeks old my baby stopped wanting to feed. She would pull away from the breast and refuse to attempt to latch, but then cry with hunger. I didn’t know what to do.
I am not good at asking for help but I was so worried that I rang the Health Visitor and asked her to come and visit us. She arrived the next day, but her opening line was that she wasn’t an expert at breastfeeding so didn’t know if she could help me. She watched me attempt to feed but couldn’t give me any advice. She suggested I go along to a breastfeeding clinic which was being held that day which I did. I was told that we had not bonded strongly enough and that the best way to get feeding back on track was for me to spend a day in bed with her, having constant skin to skin contact and that if we did this it would all come naturally.
I left the clinic in tears, got in the car and drove. I felt that I had asked for help but hadn’t been given it. I didn’t feel supported. I needed to clear my head so I kept driving as baby was asleep. Eventually I pulled into Tesco carpark and rang my husband. I told him that I couldn’t do this anymore and he agreed. I went into the shop and bought a tin of formula and bottles. That night my husband gave her a bottle of formula and she lapped it up. She looked so contented as she fell asleep that we knew we had done the right thing.
She became a new baby. She went from a crying, clingy unsettled baby to a contented one. My relationship with her changed as there was no more stress between us. And my husband bonded closer with her as he was able to give her a bottle. We haven’t looked back.
I still wish that breastfeeding had worked for us, but I don’t regret the decision to stop for a moment. In fact I wish I’d had the courage to do it sooner. I was so fixated that ‘breast is best’ that I couldn’t accept that it wasn’t working for us. My message to new mums would be that breastfeeding is wonderful when it works, but having a happy mum and happy baby is the most important thing, however that is achieved!