With my first, I was a young (18) mum, zero support and no clue what I was doing. NOBODY told me some women are unable to/dont want to bf- for whatever reason. I have inverted nipples, nobody told me that would make bf'ing even more difficult. The midwives in hospital treated me like a massive inconvenience, were rough and told me to pretty much suck it up when both my baby and I were visibly distressed. Then they sent me home. Still absolutely no support not even a phone call. My first night home ended in my daughter not feeding at all and both of us bawling our eyes out until the next morning when my mum gave me a breast pump and bottles. I felt like a total failure. I switched to formula at 3 weeks and that's when I spiralled into severe pnd. Nobody told me I was doing the best for my baby in our circumstances. I was attacked by a couple of mums in a parents room for not bfing.... the whole experience just completely broke me. And a lot of it comes back to the total lack of understanding and support from the hospital.
My second and third however...
Dd2 I attempted bf'ing for the first day/night. But switched to formula when I got home. The midwives were brilliant. Offering so much support while in hospital and even when I told them I had switched to formula. My midwife asked how I felt about and when I said I actually felt relieved, she smiled and said I was doing the best for my baby and myself and as long as I was happy and bub was fed thats all that mattered. That small comment made the world of difference. All the guilt I felt from dd1 was lifted.
Dd3 was amazing again- I decided to ff from birth. When I was about to give her her first feed my mifwife asked how I would be feeding her and when I said formula, she asked what type I had at home and went and supplied me with some and a bottle (in the rush to get to the hospital I completely forgot to take it!). There was no judgment, just support. Maybe the fact it was my third and I was very sure what I wanted made a difference, I don't know.
My 4th I wanted to give bf'ing another go. My midwife was brilliant, sh is also a LC anf gave so much support and encouragement but never pressured. After 3 days bf'ing I wasnt coping with the pain, I was ripped to shreds and bleeding from bub trying to draw my nipples out. When I got to the point I felt physically ill even thinking about feeding her I knew I couldnt do it to myself. I was stressed and she was picking up on it. So I went to formula. I knew my midwife would be disappointed but I knew I had to do what was best for me. And told my midwife that. She made a comment "well you didnt exactly give it a good go", but that was it. Then she went on to comment how much more relaxed I was and how much kore content bub was and that I was obviously making the right choice for us. Even though I was comfortable with my decision, hearing that still made a difference. As she said, at the end of the day breast isnt always best for mum and bub. If it is taking such a huge negative impact on mums mental health, they need to be supported in their choice to change if that's what theu want, not criticized and feel pressured.
And tbh I love ff. It works for our family dynamics. I dont find it difficult, I dont find it extra work. Its what I know and what I need to do for my family.
I am all for encouraging bf'ing, but not at the expense of a mothers mental health. If a mother is obviously not coping, they shouldn't be made to feel like a failure or that she is doing her baby harm by using formula. At the end of the day it doesnt matter how a baby is fed, as long as baby is being fed.
He + Me = dd1 (July 2007), dd2 (July 2010), dd3 (August 2012), dd4 (May 2014)
Embrace the chaos