I’m sitting in baby yoga and I’m the only one not breastfeeding my baby. In a panic I’m suddenly thinking “can I reverse the last 2 weeks? can I change my mind” and realise with a sadness that no I can’t and that if this is my last baby I won’t ever breastfeed again!!
We made it to the 6 month mark. We even made it to seven and a half months. Then breastfeeding came to an almighty standstill. I say almighty, it wasn’t really. Huxley had slowly been decreasing time on the boob and was becoming increasingly agitated which gradually led to me topping him up with formula. (we were already on a bedtime bottle) That is the thing about formula, once you start down that route it is a slow downhill journey as far as your supply is concerned. The more you ‘top your baby up’ the less milk you produce. And this is what bothers me about people saying that mixed feeding is very possible. Yes, it is. It’s possible for a short period of time and is even more possible if you continue to express when you would normally have been feeding. Otherwise in the long run. No. It’s not a viable option for long term breastfeeding.
Huxley’s diagnosis for tongue tie came quite late at 18 weeks which meant that he had developed some bad feeding habits, one of which being he would feed in 5 minute spurts, enough to keep him satisfied but not enough to fill him up. Once the tongue tie was done it took about 3 weeks before I noticed a difference but by then I was so worked up about his weight that I also introduced a bed time bottle so that I knew he was getting a good amount every night. At first I felt huge relief that he would finally take a bottle but after a couple of months I came to resort to it when his daytime feeds started to shorten and he was still clearly hungry.
However this also meant as we have continued this, that tiny, little, VERY strong minded Huxley started to want less boob and again shorter feeds. I mean lets face it, he didn’t have to work AT ALL to get it. My let down was very slow and hello, here’s this plastic thing that gives him the good stuff without having to give any jaw action at all!
On the flip side to me feeling bad about giving a bottle heres an interesting one. What about all the mums that are made to feel bad about breastfeeding. I’m not really talking about the ‘feeding in public’ saga as quite frankly, how ridiculous. I’m talking about (as I mentioned in Breastfeeding part 1) being TOLD to give your baby a bottle when you know this isn’t getting down to the route of your actual problem- only making it worse. At a breast feeding support group I attended, between fighting back hysterical tears I listened to two other mums. Both having trouble feeding, both been advised by the gp to give a bottle and clearly feeding challenges had only increased. One mother could now only feed from one boob and the other’s supply was decreasing.
Or this question; “how long are you going to breastfeed for?”. Seems like an innocent question right? Long ago before I had breastfed, I myself might have thought about asking someone the same thing (probably because I was wondering when on earth they were going to start drinking again). For those of you who haven’t breastfed it’s the equivalent of this question being asked a day after you’ve given birth. “Do you think you’ll have another baby?”. What in the hell people?!?! If your baby is happy and thriving, if mum is happy then why should we be asked to put a timescale on feeding? Feed away. Follow your instinct. Do what feels natural.
But, despite our struggle, despite Huxley actually naturally dropping breast and demanding more bottle, I am sad. I see the breastfeeding mums at baby yoga and feel ashamed to get my bottle out in case they think I just couldn’t be bothered anymore. But I know really I am not being judged by them. I am judging myself. What if I hadn’t introduced a bed-time bottle? What if I had carried on expressing every night instead? I guess the answer for Huxley now is; it doesn’t matter. He had a good start with the feeding. He’s happy. He’s full. He doesn’t judge me and I know the way forward for me (and probably everyone) is to continue to be kinder on myself.
Just in case you were thinking about giving up breastfeeding I thought I would lighten the mood (not) by giving you some good reasons not to stop the breast. Sorry!
1- Underwired bras are contraptions. Breastfeeding bras are ugly but my goodness, a well fitted one is like your boobs being hugged in sweet soft candyfloss. I didn’t realise this until last week!
2- Say goodbye to happy, full, rounded boobs. Say hi to your bean-less beanbags.
3- Bottles are a faff. Full stop. Sorry but Jamie Oliver was totally right. Breastfeeding is easy in comparison.
4- Not only are they a faff but they add about another kilo of weight to the nappy bag. Can you only be out for certain amounts of time while bottle feeding unless you bring a wheel along trolley. Ever?! Never mind if you are also expressing. O.M.G.
5- Your baby doesn’t physically need you anymore. The saddest and most real problem of all.