My Breastfeeding Story: ‘I was 100% brainwashed by the content at NCT’
Number of children: Three
Length of time I breastfed for: Four months with my eldest, one day with the twins.
Problems I faced with breastfeeding:
With my eldest, Emily, I was 100% committed to breastfeeding. There was no back-up bottles and formula at home for if it didn’t work, I just presumed it would and I would love it.
Emily was a big baby (9lb14 to be exact) and hungry. My dream of a non-drug birth was thrown out of the literal water when my waters broke before any contractions and I was on a drip to treat my Group B strep and to induce me. 47 hours later I had every drug under the sun in my system and Emily arrived via emergency c section.
She didn’t latch. She didn’t feed. Possibly due to the drugs in her system, or maybe it just didn’t suit her. Either way, her weight dropped too much and on the 5th day of being in hospital, I was put under pressure to get feeding established otherwise I would be in the hospital until she gained weight.
I felt the pressure. I was so stressed at home, but I persevered. Breast is best right? Looking back I can now see for the first four months of Emily’s life she was underfed, unhappy and I was fighting a losing battle.
It came to an abrupt end when I had to go into hospital to have a haematoma removed (I pulled an internal stitch from my c section L). Not realising I had to stay overnight due to the general anaesthetic, Warren went home unprepared with a four-month-old breastfed baby. Health visitors had already told us Emily wasn’t gaining enough weight (again), so I had tried expressing and bottle feeding her, so luckily we had some bottles. But that night she got formula.
She chugged the formula down and had a number of big bottles of formula that night. Within a week of me being home from the hospital, breastfeeding was over. Emily rejected my boob completely.
I was so sad, but at the same time relieved. No more battling in public to try and feed a very un-content baby, or finishing a feed with Emily crying for more. I was so convinced that “breast is best”, but actually any milk is best. I suddenly had a happy, content baby who has thrived ever since.
I genuinely believed that breastfeeding was the only option.
I loved NCT for making friends, my first year as a mum wouldn’t have been the same without them and I still see a few friends regularly now. But I was 100% brainwashed by the content. Scaring you with the size of epidural needles and not providing ANY advice about bottle feeding, is not helpful to any mum-to-be. I genuinely believed that breastfeeding was the only option.
Breastfeeding isn’t always a choice. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen. And after my difficult start with Emily there was no way I would put myself through it again with two babies.
The babies latched the moment we were out of surgery. Both at the same time. I fed them myself for a full 24 hours to ensure they got the colostrum and then I moved onto bottles. For my sanity, to give me assurance they were getting enough milk, but also so that other people could help me. I didn’t feel like I missed any intimacy by bottle feeding, they were still wrapped in my arms looking at me lovingly whilst gulping down warm formula.
And now, my 11 month old twins are thriving. They are walking before Emily did, they are strong and they are healthy. Most importantly they are happy.
Doing both I can confidently say feed your babies in the way that makes YOU happiest. Don’t listen to anyone else’s opinion. It’s hard enough having a tiny baby to look after, just make sure their little belly is full and you feel happy.
My advice to new mums on breastfeeding:
If you want to try breastfeeding, amazing. But please don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t go as smoothly as health providers suggest it is. It isn’t easy for everyone and it’s more important your baby gets a good feed, whether by boob or bottle.
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I’m a primary school teacher and I’m a mum to a beautiful, bright and bubbly six-year-old. I witness the ups and downs of wellbeing in children every day. Every parent faces the same dilemma – how to ensure the wellbeing of our children – particularly from a mental health perspective in a world that is more pressured than ever in more ways than one.
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