From pretty early on in my pregnancy I had decided to breastfeed. I never bought bottles with my newborn but we were given a steriliser and bottles during late pregnancy as a gift. I never intended to use them until my return to work required it.
We planned a romantic, relaxed home birth but at 10 days overdue I ended up being induced. My labour wasn’t the beautiful time I’d imagined and I ended up having an emergency c-section. Asking the anaesthetist to wipe the sick from my face and my daughter being held by many before me was so far away from the beauty I’d imagined.
This made me so determined that breastfeeding would work for us, I struggled with it the first few days in hospital and had to be shown how to express. But my daughter had the perfect latch and I had finally got something I wanted and had planned for.On leaving the hospital after ignoring the advice for a blood transfusion it was suggested we combine feed while I recovered. Combine feeding worked well with us to begin with and I still believe now that it should be spoken of as an additional option – you don’t have to exclusively breast or bottle feed.
Unfortunately for us, a few weeks in, Isobel refused milk from a bottle. We tried again the next evening until finally we found the milk was curdling with no smell. We went from combine feeding to exclusively breastfeeding in a matter of days and it stayed that way until Isobel reached around 5 months old. We won a Born Free competition for training cups, my little one loved them and it helped her move from just mummy to other ways of feeding.
At 8 months we stopped breastfeeding completely as we’d tried to wean her gently from it but we just couldn’t get it right. I’d already returned to work and to be breastfeeding at home and then have her refuse milk at nursery was heartbreaking.
Nothing prepares you for the emotion of giving up breastfeeding, I felt guilty as well as sore and sick. I felt for a few days that I was depriving my daughter even though she was happily drinking from bottles from this point. I felt sad and like I had failed her. In fact, for her stopping breastfeeding was the best decision. She is such a happy baby with a routine and she claps at the sight of a bottle. It had never been like this with breastfeeding, still demand feeding up until the point of refusing the boob, getting upset when we tried to set a routine and not sleeping without a boob firmly in place for feeding to sleep.
I am so happy now and it is six weeks into Isobel going to exclusive bottle feeding. I see us interact in a much nicer and less stressful way. Taking away the power struggle of demand feeding has meant that we have more time with each other and so have bonded so much.
I do think that new mums should be told there is another way. If combine feeding had worked well for us we would have had so much more time for each other.
Others should be more aware of the battle mums face of choosing what is right for a child.
In our case bottle feeding helped us avoid a drastic situation and it showed us that although ideally ‘Breast is Best’ it’s not true for everyone. I fully believe that Mum is the one who knows best for her and her baby.