I remember, just over a year ago in fact, the first visit with the midwife after finding out I was pregnant. It was all very surreal having wanted a baby for my entire adult life but just accepting that it wouldn't happen for me...it's not that I couldn't concieve, just never met anyone who wanted to have a baby with me.
So there we were discussing various baby-related topics when she asked me about feeding the baby and what were my plans. She had a whole speech ready about the benefits of breastfeeding but it wasn't required. Myself and my siblings were exclusively breastfed (until at least age 2) and I was 100% adamant that I would do the same. It's nutritious, ready-mixed, always available, just the right temperature and totally free. The midwife seemed very pleased, (probably as she didn't have to reel off the long speech about breastfeeding), and she said I would be surprised at the number of people who bottlefeed. I remember thinking that there must be a lot of lazy people around and even uttered the words "it should be made illegal not to breastfeed". Seriously, this was my attitude and it's one that I feel very stupid for now...so narrow-minded and judgemental.
Fast-forward now to my ante-natal classes and the demonstration on breastfeeding, (bottle feeding wasn't up for discussion it would seem). A small marble was used to illustrate the size of a new baby's stomach and we were told that if we bottle feed we would have to stretch this stomach to 5 times it's size in order to get enough nutrition into the baby.....I was horrified and very glad I would be breastfeeding.
Small fast-forward to the birth of my son. 23 hours of labour, (very drugged up), followed by a C-section were definately NOT part of my birth plan but I'll post my full birth story another time (once the nightmares have stopped...lol). By the time they'd sewn me back up I was sooo exhausted and shaking so much I barely knew where I was. I got a quick peep at Bubba then they gave me a drink of water and they tried latching him on but I can't really remember much at this stage.
Back on the ward I took Bubba in my arms and tried to latch him on again. He didn't really take much and it was a bit sore but I had expected that. We spent that first night just staring at eachother....shell shocked!
Over the next few days I invested all of my time and energy into getting him feeding but he was having none of it...he just screamed. At least 10 different people helped me latch him on but he just came straight off. He was getting some milk but I could tell he wasn't happy at all. I stuck with it through 5 of the hardest days of my life...we both cried non-stop and the midwives even topped him up with formula through a syringe to try and ease the stress but it didn't help for long.
On day 5 the midwife came to visit me at home. I had just finished feeding him for 4 hours straight and was in excruciating pain. The midwife very helpfully pointed out that he was crying as he was still hungry and I burst into tears. What more can I do? I was getting zero sleep and he screamed almost constantly as he was so hungry. She told me to stick with it but also observed that he was a very lazy baby and suckling the breast was too much like hard work for him. That day I went out and bought formula and bottles. That was the day our lives were transformed. Finally I could sleep again and, more importantly, my baby settled with a full belly.
I will always be sad that I'm not breastfeeding him but I will never regret the decision to switch to bottle feeding...any benefits of breast milk must have been negated by the stress he was suffering.
So, here I sit as a bottle feeding mum trying to spread the word that bottle feeding mums aren't lazy and we're well aware that 'breast is best' thankyou very much. No-one would chose to bottlefeed, it's a logistical nightmare and very expensive.
I am absolutely delighted for anyone who can breastfeed quite easily or are able to weather the storm of the first few weeks but spare a thought for those of us who simply can't and try not to judge us too much.....I really did try my breast.