#NBW (ie The One Where My Tits Are Out)

#NBW (ie The One Where My Tits Are Out)

In honour of National Breastfeeding Week (i’m still waiting for National Waffles and Bacon Week, Mr Calendar Printer Man *evil eyes*) I’ve decided to write this week’s post on exactly that, in particular the troubles that can come with it. This is far from a Breast vs Bottle debate and if you’re breastfeeding then great! Good for you. If you’re bottle feeding then great! Good for you. If you’re like me and combination feeding, then guess what. Great! Good for you! All three can be tricky, in fact just keeping a small human alive in general is terrifying and doesn’t come without tribulations so as far as i’m concerned if you haven’t managed to drop the little quirt (but hey it happens- no judgement) and they’re still alive then you’re doing an okayish job and should be proud. If your baby is happy and healthy and loved more than Brit’s love tea then that’s all that matters and to be honest, I don’t really give a shit about how you’re feeding. All I care about is whether MY baby is getting what’s best for her so please let’s not drag this into WW3 and round two of the Battle of the Boobie Traps. Some people believe that tits are the key to happiness but whatever, this isn’t about that.

I feed predominantly Breast. I say predominantly because for my own bloody sanity in knowing I may sleep a little and also to keep up her weight gain, we give her one bottle of formula at night. Before the judgement descends, hear me out. Because mainly, I used to be one of these people who was dead set on only breastfeeding from birth til she was 18 years old if that’s what she really wanted, but then i actually gave birth and realised that other’s judgement and stigma wasn’t the most important thing in the world. It was that she was getting the best START in life. It’s not that I’m being lazy, or that I can’t be bothered to get up an extra few times in the night or even that I’m being a shit Mother. Unless you spend every single second of the day with us as Family then you won’t fully understand why I have chosen to feed my baby 80ml of formula a day but i’ll give you an insight because I know there will still be judgement upon reading this post.

Week 0-5 of life: Baby purely breastfed. Mummy’s boobies bleeding, weeping, pussing, whatever was going on. Ie, bloody hurt but we carried on because I LOVE breastfeeding and my daughter is soothed by nomming on my tits. WE ARE HAPPY.

Week 5-7: Baby falls ill at the same time as having her tongue tie cut. Lime green diarrhoea, huge amount of reflux, pale and bloody mucus in poop. Cue tears from all three parties, a prescribed diet of purely Dioralyte for the little one, non-stop expressing from my side to keep up milk production and a breastmilk ban for her due to my medication & her sore gut. Baby starving so GP suggests formula. Happy baby. Tongue tie cut = baby can no longer latch. In other words, she forgets how to drink milk and so after we’re given the all clear to feed her breast milk again, it’s a f*ck up. She becomes frustrated, angry, gives up after 2 minutes of rooting and starts to lose weight. Enter the Infant Feeding Team and the suggestion that I’m not trying hard enough. Ok, cool, thanks. Real supportive. By this point, despite expressing ALL THE TIME, my milk seems to go. Just vanish. Real thumbs up for Mummy. Baby starts to go hungry so feeling like a bad Mother, I begrudgingly revert to formula 3 times a day whilst I’m maintaining the constant pumping in order to give her the best from my breast. Just as we’ve got back a little nipple drinking action, I have an operation. Back on formula for two days and I’m pumping and dumping. Milk supply just vanishes again. Formula 4 times a day. Zero Mummy Milky. Now my milk’s slowly coming back in and I’m breastfeeding her what feels like every 30 minutes so that she doesn’t feel as hungry and then formula once a day. All the while, this towing and throwing of milk isn’t helping poor baby’s gut and she doesn’t seem to be getting any better. We’re now awaiting a paediatric referral for a possible lactose allergy but we can’t stop the formula because she’s not feeding enough and not getting much fat. It’s exhausting for everyone and I cry daily. But she’s feeding now, so good.

According to one Midwife who came to see us at 4 weeks postpartum, she was surprised that I was still breastfeeding. “Your baby is thriving!” she had said. And given me a hug – that was nice. Apparently most women stop after 3 weeks for ease and she was in awe that at 4 weeks I was still going, despite also having Crohn’s. Having the disease definitely makes breastfeeding harder and although I’ve tried not to let it affect me, it’s proving to be difficult recently. The energy that my body exerts in order to make the milk is draining and I’m struggling to function without needing 3 cat naps a day. Despite this though, I’m still determined to breastfeed; it’s hassle free, no sterilising, no expensive formula and no boiling and cooling kettles all day long. I think it’ll break my heart a little if she does have a lactose intolerance or if I find i’m struggling too much that I decide to stop feeding at 3 months. For now, I’ve given myself a deadline of her 12 week birthday to establish feeding as best I can. The fear I feel every time she cries in hunger and I know that my nipples can’t take much more of this struggled latch, makes me feel sick to the core. More so I feel that way because I don’t want to let her down but then if she’s ill already because of me, then surely that’s even worse?

 

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