By Natalie Roberts
When I found out I was pregnant with my first child at the age of 20 I was very excited. It was a planned pregnancy and my boyfriend John (now my husband) and I were over the moon.
I started reading articles about breast feeding versus bottle feeding and the majority of them leaned towards breast feeding being the better option for my baby, and bottle feeding only being used if there was a medical reason. After a discussion with John I decided that breast feeding was the way forward and I couldn’t’ see any reason to spend money on formula when I could get milk for free.
I went shopping for breast pads and nipple creams and I also bought a breast pump and bottles for when my baby was a little older. I was quite excited about the prospect of bonding with my baby through breast feeding and having one to one time.
When I was on the labour ward my (not so friendly) midwife asked me if I would be bottle or breast feeding. When I said breast she seemed quite shocked and told me not many mums opt for breast feeding anymore. I found that quite surprising. I had just assumed that most mums breast fed unless there was a medical reason not to.
As soon as my son was born the midwife helped me to get in the right position for him to latch on. He did immediately and I was delighted. He did it again for the next two feeds but after the third I could feel my nipples becoming sore. He was waking for a feed every two hours and it was getting more painful each time.
I told one of the midwives how painful it was and she told me that it could be because he wasn’t latching on properly and she helped me try a new position and advised applying nipple cream.
When I looked around at the other mums on the ward I couldn’t see anyone else breast feeding and I felt quite isolated.
I was discharged from the hospital the next day and tried to persevere with the breast feeding and talked to my health visitor. Nothing I tried seemed to work and I began to get really upset and irritable. Obviously lack of sleep wasn’t helping. All the excitement of one to one bonding had gone out of the window and I just wanted John to be able to help me.
He said he would go and buy some formula so he could help but this made me more upset because I felt like I had failed. I tried expressing milk but it was taking too long and I had a screaming baby waiting to be fed. I gave in and John went to buy formula.
When I watched John feed by son my guilt went away. It was lovely watching them bond and when I did a bottle feed I felt so much more relaxed.
When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter I wanted to give breast feeding another go. I came up against the same situation again and ended up bottle feeding her too. It didn’t help that in the first week she was born I developed an infection which meant I was throwing up a lot and my son got chickenpox!
Despite all the problems I faced, if I ever had more children I think I would still try breastfeeding again. I do believe it is the healthiest option, however making myself ill with worry isn’t good for anyone so I would make sure I had formula at home just in case.
What has your experience of breastfeeding been? Did your midwife and Health visitor give you support? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us