Guest blog by Jenna Gibson from "My Unreproductive System"
I couldn't go past my girl Jenna for this weeks feature blogs. Not only has she been one of my biggest supporters in this blogging business, but she has begun her own blogging journey, and she ROCKS! "My Unreproductive System" is an open and honest insight into what it's like to be going through secondary infertility. Jenna has such an incredible outlook on everything, and she always manages to find the positive in every situation. So for tonight she's written a little piece for me to share about her breastfeeding journey, I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. xx
“From their very first days, your child starts to write their future, that’s why you’ve always given them the best. If you decide to move on from breast feeding there’s…”
That is from the opening line from the particular brand of formula we used to feed our daughter shortly after she was 10 weeks. There was also a judgey little information box on the side of the tin also with a similar message. My blood still boils EVERY time I hear that patronizing woman’s voice. You see it wasn’t my choice, it’s just the way it was and lady I don’t need you or your brand judging me.
I was well educated on breastfeeding. I had attended appointments with my midwife and I went to birth classes with my husband. I even attended a free breastfeeding class our hospital offered. I had seen people breastfeed and I had never once suggested they go to a toilet. My main concern was how my already quite large breasts were going to cope!
I was not prepared for just how emotionally hard it was going to be. You see my daughter and I just never GOT it. We tried, oh how we tried, but it just never once felt right. We never got the latch right, even as she got older, with every type of shield available. We never got a good flow, I never felt “let down” or even that heaviness if we went long between feeds. She was taking in too much air at feeds so had terrible wind. She never once had that adorable “milk drunk” face. She wasn’t sleeping well and I don’t mean the periods of time, she was fidgety and pained in her sleep which would cause her to wake regularly. She was skinny and while my GP assured me she was healthy and knowing that genetically my husband and I were both described as skinny babies. I just looked at all these chubby babies around me and the guilt would start. I used to dread each feed and once it was over I’d start dreading the next one I knew was coming. We weren’t bonding because I couldn’t get past the constant pain feeding was giving me. Deep down despite what everyone was telling me I really thought she wasn’t getting enough. I KNEW she wasn’t but it was my first baby. Everyone else who’d be there before assured me she was and, I mean, they are the experts right? I was sinking into a funk I can now recognize as the early stages of depression.
My mum told me it takes 6 weeks to get it all sorted and feeling completely normal and natural. Well that had been and gone. My lactation consultant had cleared me weeks ago. My friends told me it gets easier. I tried to tell people my problems but I wasn’t assertive enough. I just kept going and living in my silent hell. Then my Hen’s Day came around. The plan was for my husband to give her the emergency formula we had and if she took that he’d call me with the green light to enjoy a few drinks. He called me and proudly told me she’d smashed the whole bottle in 10 minutes and was sleeping soundly. What? She was 9 weeks old and she still fed for at least 45 minutes? How could she have had her whole bottle in 10 minutes? I checked with my friend whose daughter was 2 weeks older and she said her daughter was done in 20 at the most. Houston we have a problem.
I continued for another week with the odd formula and then one day I thought WHY am I doing this? I am so unhappy and she is so much happier with a bottle. I realized I was so worried of letting everyone down and lisenting to the “Experts” that I wasn’t doing what was best for my little girl. They might all be experts but I was the only expert in HER. I decided then and there I wasn’t going to feed her from the breast again unless I felt the need. I was concerned the sudden halt would lead to mastitis. I never fed her from the breast again, which just illustrated how little milk I must have been producing.
What a GAME CHANGER. My unhappy little newborn was suddenly sleeping deep and content sleeps. She was happy ALL the time. She seemed to overnight turn from skinny to deliciously cuddly. I stopped dreading feeds and began to really bond with this amazing little creature. As she grew she hit her milestones when she was supposed to, she remained on the chart a skinny and quite long baby. At our next appointment I worriedly let our GP know about the change. He shocked me by smiling at me and saying “Well I’m glad you worked out what was best for your both”. Those words have stayed with me ever since. Breast might be best for babies, I’m all for it, but breast wasn’t best for US. Her physical health and my emotional health was dramatically improved by moving to formula and the one regret I have is not doing it sooner. Not listening to that gut instinct I had from about Day 3. Something I will be very aware of for when we finally get around to baby Gibbo #2.
Pregnancy, birth and parenting come with so many preconceived ideas and everyone seems to have advice and opinions. However the two biggest piece of advice I can give is…
1. Tread carefully. Not everyone can breastfeed for whatever reason and that’s ok. In a society where even the companies offering you an alternative are telling you that you’re wrong, you can make a safe bet there is some guilt associated. Remember that and tread carefully. Happy and healthy babies are what is REALLY best so let’s focus more on that.
2. Listen to your instincts. You are the only one who has been there for EVERY feed and felt EVERY sensation. If it doesn’t feel right, ask the questions, seek the guidance. Ultimatley what’s best for you BOTH is what’s best.
Behind the blog...
‘The Mummysomniac’ is a lifestyle, motherhood and most recently, pregnancy blog, founded in 2015 by Kirsty McKenzie. She’s a mum of three, blogging about the highs and lows of motherhood, with a straight forward and honest approach, as well as a little bit of humour. Kirsty is passionate about sharing the realities of #MumLife, not the cookie cutter, high gloss version