My Own Experience
When I was pregnant with my little one my plan was to breastfeed for as long as possible and if I couldn’t then I was happy to switch to formula. However, in reality I lasted three weeks. They were three of the most difficult weeks of my life for a few different reasons.
I was suffering from severe post-natal depression. Depression was expected as it is featured prominently within my day to day existence but this was another level. The only thing keeping me going was that I had a beautiful son who needed me.
Initially the ‘latching on’ process was difficult. I was in hospital for 3 nights and during those first few days we occasionally had to opt for some pre made formula just to make sure he actually ate something. I was a new mum who didn’t know what she was doing but who was trying desperately to feed her child in the ‘[breast is] best way possible.
Of course babies cry a lot and my child had turned it into an art form. I was told that I would soon learn to differentiate his cries and needs. They were wrong. He cried and I had no idea, I just had to try everything. One solution was to stick my boob in his mouth. I didn’t know how much he was drinking, if he was getting enough, getting too much. Regardless, he just kept crying.
For me depression is about my lack of self-worth and therefore feeling like a failure at breastfeeding was not helping the situation. It was a very stressful time.
It was clear that I was very unhappy in the first few weeks to the point that my midwife, who continued to visit after his birth due to my underlying condition of depression, said to me “you don’t have to do this you know.”
She didn’t use the actual word but she was referring to breastfeeding. It was as if she wasn’t allowed to say it outright. I gave it about another week and then switched to the bottle and it was as if a dark cloud had been lifted.
They say breastfeeding helps you to connect with your baby but for me it was the opposite. Neither myself or my son took to it, it was miserable. When we switched to bottle feeding I would look into his eyes during every feed knowing that he was being nourished and not worrying about whether I would run out of milk or if he would be able to latch on properly or not.
Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to feed your child and if I were to have another child I would definitely give breastfeeding another go. It is offered as the healthiest way to feed but may not be the best way for you.Formula feeding is a more than an acceptable method of feeding your child, so instead of listing the positives of breastfeeding as is normally done I’m going to list five points in support of formula feeding:
- It is your body to with what you like. You may have had a child but your body is still yours and it is your right to decide how you use it.
- The Formula of today is advanced. Your child will not succumb to severe illnesses by formula feeding. It is a healthy way to nourish your child.
- You will be able to measure exactly how much fluid your child is consuming and monitor their weight accordingly.
- If you wish you can split the feeding between you and your partner. Not only will this give you a bit of a breather but it will enable your partner to become a greater part of those early months.
- Happy mum equals happy baby. It is my philosophy that in order to have a happy child you need to have a happy mum. If that means not breastfeeding then go for it!
Whichever method you choose, do what is right for you and your baby. No one else matters.