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Breastfeeding in General
Member Name: sandemp
Breastfeeding in General
Advantages: Everything your baby needs on tap
Disadvantages: Not always easy
It had never even crossed my mind that I was going to feed Freddy myself, in fact all through my pregnancy I was adamant that I wasn't. I'd had a terrible experience of trying to breastfeed my eldest eighteen years ago, which had left me determined that I was never going to put myself through that trauma again. So why now am I feeling so sad that I couldn't keep up with Freddy's demands, was advised to top him up and am now only giving him one feed a day? Because feeding Freddy myself has been a wonderful experience, that's why.
I'm not going to go into all the health benefits of breastfeeding, for both baby and mum. We all have those forced down our throats from the very first booking-in appointment. So you already know that it reduces baby's risk of allergies and mum's risk of cancer. What this review is going to focus on is my experience of breastfeeding, the highs, the lows and everything in between.
===Put Off For Life===
Eighteen years ago, breastfeeding was no-where nearly as high profile as it is now, formula feeding was the norm, with the only question being which brand you wanted the hospital to supply post-birth. Even in this atmosphere, I still wanted to feed my eldest myself, I was sold on the idea of no sterilising. But there was no support, I was left to it, the baby wouldn't feed, I ended up with extremely sore nipples and after four days the midwifes gave the baby formula as he was so hungry. The whole experience left my baby screaming with hunger and myself exhausted and in floods of tears. I swore never again, and my next three children were all formula fed, with not a thought of feeding them myself, after all, a happy mum and formula fed baby is far better than a screaming hungry breastfed baby and devastated mum.
===Someone Had Other Ideas===
As I said, I had no intention of breastfeeding Freddy, in fact he was formula fed for the first four days until my milk came in and he tried to latch-on through my clothes. Even though I was told the chances of him actually feeding were pretty low, I couldn't resist those eyes looking up at me and decided to let him have a go at my boob, even if it only gave him comfort. Then the small miracle happened, Freddy latched on and started feeding, slowly at first and then within a day he was only feeding from me and refusing the bottle.
Feeding Freddy myself has been a wonderful experience, there's nothing like the feeling I get when he comes off the boob and gives a cheeky little grin. I've got an extremely close bond with him, and our body clocks seem to be in-tune with each other, even now he is mostly formula fed, we still wake at the same time during the night. I loved that only I could feed Freddy, you know those extended family members and friends that want to hold and feed the baby even though you're not keen. Well it's pretty unlikely that they're going to be producing breast milk, isn't it? Even now, when Freddy's upset and feeling unwell, there's only one thing that will settle him (well two, he doesn't mind which he has).
Breastfeeding is also considerably less hassle than formula, it was brilliant not having to sterilise bottles and make up feeds. Freddy didn't have to wait around for his milk, it was there on tap whenever and wherever we were. I thought I'd be embarrassed feeding him in public, but soon got over any nerves. That's not to say I flashed my boobs about, (although if you'd have looked hard enough you might have caught a glimpse of flesh), I was as discreet as possible, but I didn't care where I was when Freddy was hungry, I found somewhere to sit and feed him. I can't say I ever got anything other than positive comments, although one grumpy old man gave me a dirty look, he wisely kept his mouth shut. Once you've breastfed in front of thousands at a music festival, anywhere else is a breeze.
I've got to say, I much preferred Freddy's nappies when he only had breast milk. Yes, they were explosive, but they didn't smell nearly as bad as they do now and he was only pooing twice a week, bonus. And yet another bonus, is that in the last 12 weeks I've only had 2 very short periods, most breastfeeding mums don't have any, but I'm quite satisfied with 2 short bleeds lasting only a day.
Although breastfeeding was a wonderful experience, it wasn't one without a few problems. I was extremely lucky that Freddy was a pro and we got the latch right straight away, so I didn't suffer from cracked and bleeding nipples. But I did find that it hurt for a few seconds when he first latched on, quite an intense pain because his suck was so strong and again when my milk let down. This did ease after a few weeks, and in the meantime nipple cream was wonderful for soothing the pain. Don't believe those that tell you that breastfeeding doesn't hurt if you get the latch right, because it can.
Then there were the times when I felt trapped, Daddy could go out all day with Freddy, but I couldn't be away from him for more than an hour. It wasn't that I actually wanted to be separated from him, more that I couldn't even go to the shops on my own. It's hard to explain and only worried me occasionally, but there were times when I felt that all I was, was a human cow. And if Daddy took Freddy out for a couple of hours to give me a break, I'd soon have to call him back as my boobs filled, leaked and became very uncomfortable because I needed to feed Freddy. After the first 6 weeks, I started expressing milk, which helped with that particular feeling.
But the absolute worst and hardest thing about breastfeeding, was something I was totally unprepared for, cluster feeding. This is a prolonged feeding session which in Freddy's case would start at about 6 in the evening and continue for up to 12 hours. These mammoth sessions would see him emptying one boob, going on to the next and then back to the first and so on and so on, leaving me physically and mentally exhausted. I had quite a few crying sessions, I can tell you, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, at about 6 weeks they started tailing off and had disappeared by 8 weeks.
===Breastfeeding And Daddy===
Now you might think that as I was the only one feeding Freddy, that Daddy felt totally left out and useless. While it's true that Daddy doesn't have quite the same bond with Freddy as I do, he still has a fantastic closeness with the little man. Although he couldn't feed him, he still gave Freddy plenty of cuddles, bathed him, played with and changed his nappy. He even got up in the night to make me drinks while I was feeding. Yes, he does love that he can now give Freddy bottles, but was still fully involved when he couldn't actually feed him.
===From Breast To Bottle===
Even though I've absolutely loved feeding Freddy myself, sadly due to his slow weight gain I had to introduce formula top-ups. And as he found it easier to get milk out of a bottle he began to get frustrated with the breast and refusing to feed from me. I do still express him a bottle's worth a day, but the majority of his milk is now formula. I think both of us miss the closeness and so we also have a couple of comfort feeds a day that only last a couple of minutes but leave us both with a smile on our face. I think I found the change harder than Freddy, it was hard to accept that I wasn't good enough. But as he put on 16oz last week, I reckon I would have been hard put to keep up with his massive appetite.
===A Few Tips===
Even if you haven't put baby to the breast straight away, and have given bottles of formula it is possible to begin to exclusively breastfeed (I've done it)
Make sure you have a drink and snack beside you when feeding, you will get incredibly hungry and thirsty.
Wear loose fitting tops when out and about, it's much easier to just lift them up and feed baby.
It is illegal for anyone to ask you to stop feeding a baby under 6 months in public, if they do then they are breaking the law.
Join a breastfeeding support group, sometimes you can just feel the odd one out when breastfeeding and it's lovely to meet with other mothers whose babies are a range of ages.
Invest in some nipple cream, even if your nipples don't crack they will be tender to start with.
Enjoy your special time with baby, they grow up all too soon.
Don't feel guilty if you do end up putting baby on formula. Formula will still fill baby's tummy and isn't bad for them.
===My Final Words (I promise)===
For making it this far, you deserve an award, but there was just so much to Mine and Freddy's breastfeeding journey. Even though while pregnant, I would have laughed at the idea that I would be upset at giving Freddy a bottle, breastfeeding has been the most wonderful experience of my life. I'm sure it's contributed to the extremely close bond that I have with Freddy and given him the very best start in life. What I would say to anyone who really hasn't considered breastfeeding (for whatever reason), to give it a try. Although I hadn't succeeded with my older children, I did exclusively feed Freddy for nine weeks, giving him the best start that I could. Yes it has been difficult, and I can understand why people give up within days, but it does also get easier and I'd better go now as even writing about feeding has made me leak, so I'm just off to express.
Summary: A wonderful experience that I wouldn't have changed for the world.
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