Hi, my name is Mrs T and I live over at the Midlands Estate (http://themidlandsestate.blogspot.com). I have two beautiful little boys and two very different breastfeeding stories.
Toddler T joined our family when I was 25. I was so adamant I was breastfeeding. I’d read all the books and paraphernalia on it. Every time my mum asked if I wanted her to pick up a tub of formula ‘just in case’ I said no – all the books said formula in the cupboard was just temptation to bottle feed.
When Toddler T arrived I put him to the breast and he didn’t seem bothered. Fine – it was 2am, I was shattered after 18 hours of labour so I went to sleep. He started crying to be fed in the early hours of the morning and after a half hearted feed the midwives took him away to give me rest. I was shown how to feed but every time he didn’t latch was told he wasn’t hungry. I don’t think a single midwife watched me feed.
When I got home things seems to be going OK until my milk came in and the balloon boobs arrived. He couldn’t latch at all. And at 2am I’m in Tesco trying to buy formula because nothing will get him to feed off my boobs. The following morning I found a set of nipple shields I’d been given which I figure might help him latch. And they did. So I started feeding him that way. However I got berated by breastfeeding groups and midwives as it wasn’t the ‘proper’ way to breastfeed. The next idea I had was to express to bottle and feed him that. And I kept this up for 2 weeks! I was shattered. I ended with my pump breaking (from overuse!) and Mr T telling me to let it go. So we formula fed. And Toddler T is fantastic and healthy.
When Baby T came along I still wanted to breastfeed. Mainly to save money to be honest. However I prepared myself for the worst, bought nipple shields, formula, breast pumps and bottles. Baby T was induced for 20 hours but came 45 minutes after labour began (and before I’d had the epidural!). I was in a bit of a mess, but I put him to the breast and he fed well. I had a fab midwife check my positioning and went home confident I could feed.
When my milk came in I expressed off a bit, latched on with a shield then took it off once I’d softened up. Almost immediately we offered the expressed milk in a bottle and he didn’t get nipple confusion. Once the feeding was established we had no issues.
Unfortunately his health soon became a problem. He’d been possetting a lot so I’d taken him to the GP. Whilst he wasn’t concerned about this, he did see signs of jaundice (he was 6 weeks old). I’d spoken to a midwife about this as toddler T’s jaundice only cleared up once he was bottle fed. She had advised me that method of feeding didn’t make a difference.
We were admitted to hospital for tests. A lovely midwife spoke to me and advised me about breast milk jaundice. The facts on breast milk jaundice can be found here – http://pediatrics.about.com/library/breastfeeding/blbreastfeedingh.htm . Unfortunately many midwives won’t mention it for fear of putting women off breastfeeding. In my personal opinion this has the opposite impact. I was convinced I was under-feeding baby T and had I not been expressing so much would have moved onto formula. I’m really keen for women to be informed about breast-milk jaundice and also feel that the ‘super health benefits’ need to be played down a little. If you breastfeed a baby and they do have colds or infections you do start to worry that you aren’t feeding them properly, because we’re convinced breast milk is this super potion that will cure all diseases. Sadly that’s not the case.
The blood tests confirmed Baby T had breast milk jaundice and I continued to feed him until he was four months old, by which time I was ready to stop and he was ready for hungry baby milk! I was so much more confident about stopping and when anyone asked why I simply said – ‘because I was ready to stop’.
I’m glad I breastfed, however I don’t think the health benefits are worth beating yourself up about. Toddler T is definitely the healthier of the two despite only getting 4 weeks of breast milk. The main benefit to breastfeeding for me was the amount of money I saved (on average £30 per month)! I’d definitely recommend new (and second or third time) mums just try it, but do be open minded (and unless you fancy wandering the aisles of Tesco at 2am – have a backup in!)