When I was pregnant with L, I decided that I really wanted to breast feed. At this point, I can understand you thinking I am crazy. After 3 failed attempts, I was unsure at first, but those pregnancy hormones... and I was carrying around guilt from failed attempts and I knew this is the best way to feed my child. My reasons for breast feeding hadn't changed. I know that God makes our bodies and he has made me to have children. I prayed alot! I wanted to experience this. I researched breast feeding alot. I went to the support groups, I had all the numbers and leaflets, determind to make it work this time. I spoke to experienced breast feeders, as I was determined to go for it. When L was born he latched on. He fed beautifully and regularly. It was such an answer to prayer. I loved sleeping with him and feeding him. He fed all the time but I thought this was him getting the milk in. It was amazing, I loved it.
However, after the milk came in, it got tougher. All he seemed to do was feed, due to the problems with labour I was so tired and not properly rested. I think that this effected the quality of my milk too, hence why he was always hungry. After a week of hourly, 40 min feeding, the pain of cracked sore nipples and no sleep - due to the nightmares etc, I decided to re-examine breast feeding and look at my motives behind it. Although I enjoyed it and loved being with L, I also had 3 other children that I hadn't really seen after giving birth. The pain of breaking my body in was taking its toll. It was becoming clear that learning this new skill was not really practical at this time. Jon would soon be back to work and I'd be needed a lot more. Also I was so emotional. The toll of giving birth, infections etc I just needed to get back to being healthy. I decided that bottle feeding would be the best decision for our whole family. I still ummed and arred over the decision for the follwoing weeks and thought about combination feeding. I spoke with the breast feeding counceller and decided in the end it was not for us.
Putting to rest the guilt.... Well I know from bottle feeding previous children that they are not ill, poorly children, obese & suffering with low IQ. I know of breastfed babies that went on to have fillings by age 3, that as soon as they were weaned - ate junk, so although they were doing their best by feeding their newborn - the guilt I had felt for thinking I had failed, was unfounded. As breast fed babies still have health problems and were not necessarily set up for life, health wise, as I had believed. A few weeks after I had made my decision, I met a mother of 6 children. She was feeding her baby, now over a year. We were talking about feeding and she said the first few months have always been concentrated on feeding but thankfully as her children were older the family pulled together so she was free to feed. My other children are so young that this could not happen and it confirmed to me that I had the breast feeding experience but learnt that it was not right for us as a family at this time. I also really like watching the duggar family series. I had bought the book and Michelle Duggar (mother of 19 children) didn't actually have a positive breast feeding experience until child 15! This made me feel better....
If we had another child, I may try breastfeeding again. I think it would depend on our circumstances at the time. It would certainly be my preferred choice but I know its not the be all and end all of parenting. I am a happy bottle feeder. I know what I am doing, I know how much my baby is taking and I am very much bonded with my baby. Bottle feeding is not necessarily a time consuming exercise with lots of faff. Its really simple and its easy if you get in a routine. Through my experience, there is a lot more to parenting than how a baby is fed for the first 6 months of their lives - or is that 4 now? (they keep changing the guidelines) Also hormones settle down after a couple of weeks and what seems like a big deal at the time, soon fades. I certainly think breast feeding is not as simple or as easy for some people and it needs lots of time and patience to learn this skill. There is a lot more support available now for breast fed mothers compared to when I had my first child, which is brilliant. My mother and mother in law did not breastfeed so I could not ask them for advice - I needed to learn elsewhere. Also I have learnt so much from each experience and from the research. I think it is definitely worth researching as much as possible and having people that you can talk to, regarding feeding questions, as and when they arise.
I am glad there is a choice and that formula feeding is available. I just hate the way it can segregate new mothers when we should be building one another up. I had carried so much guilt around for my feeding choices and am glad that I have put it to rest now. I would have loved to of been that person where it worked perfectly but it didn't and regardless of that fact, I'm still a good mummy!