When I was pregnant with Micah a couple of friends asked me if I was nervous about going through labour again, and my response was “No, not at all. It’s actually the thought of breastfeeding again that makes me nervous!”. I started crying when one midwife at an antenatal appointment asked me if I was planning on breastfeeding and if I’d breastfed Florence. I simply didn’t have good memories of breastfeeding, and I still felt some sadness and guilt towards how it turned out with Florence (her breastfeeding journey is here).
I always said I would try again with Micah, and if it worked, yay! If it was similar to how things went with Florence then I’d pack it in a lot sooner and not stress about it! Florence is an incredible little girl, she gets sick less than some breastfed babies I know, and our bond certainly isn’t lacking!
So, out popped Micah on March 27th, and the fun began again! He didn’t really feed from me the first day, as he was full of mucus and wasn’t interested in latching on, so instead I hand expressed colostrum into syringes. Already there was a huge difference compared to when I breastfed Florence. I struggled to hand express colostrum for Florence, but this time it was almost pouring out (and I’d been leaking on and off for weeks)! That gave me so much hope; at least I’d have a good supply for Micah! Once he cleared the mucus out of his system he latched on wonderfully, and we were able to head home from the hospital. Yay!
Three days postpartum I nearly packed it all in (hello, hormones!). The pain was bad, much worse than it was with Florence by day three, my nipples had already started cracking and that did not give me confidence that things were going to be better this time round. I couldn’t stop thinking of how awful the pain got with Florence, and I was so scared of that happening again. He was feeding constantly that day, and it didn’t take me long to have the usual panic of “is he getting enough??”, so I gave him a few sips of formula from a cup throughout the day (and told Matthew we needed to get Florie’s old bottles and pump from the loft). Later in the day I realised that his constant feeding was to get my milk to come in, and once that happened things would get easier, so I just had to take things one day at a time.
As the days passed, the toe curling pain continued, but the nipple cracks disappeared, and Micah appeared to be feeding well. He was clearly gaining weight, and he was so content after feeds (we also gave him a dummy from day four which gave me a break from his excessive desire to suck!). At night he would only feed for 20 minutes or so (every 2 hours) and go back to sleep, whereas Florence would be on for an hour, and often woke again when I laid her back in her crib. The pain lessened to only happening on his initial latch, until my milk began flowing, and then by week 3 I realised that there was basically no pain at all. It was wonderful! Instead of being obliterated, like when I fed Florence, my nipples actually got bigger! I couldn’t believe the difference.
Despite being pain free, and Micah being well fed, I still have a love hate relationship with breastfeeding, as I’m sure other Mamas do. It feels wonderful knowing that I am Micah’s food source and he is growing and growing (gained almost 4lbs already), but a lot of the time I also find it very frustrating and just want to switch to formula for ease. I was going to give my reasonings, but that could go on forever, and there will be people who have “an answer” to all my frustrations and think I should just get on with it…
It’s funny, before I had kids I was always surprised to hear when people weren’t breastfeeding their baby. It’s the best thing for them, and “the most natural thing in the world”, why weren’t they doing it? Haaaaa. Now that I’m on the other side of the fence I fully understand why someone would choose not to breastfeed. Even if it is going well! And I don’t think they should be viewed as selfish or a bad mother for changing to formula. I believe you should do what fits best around you and the rest of your family, what puts your mind at ease and makes you happy! As long as your baby is fed and happy, go for it! Saying that, I’m still in a constant battle in my own mind about what people will think if I make the full switch to formula *face palm*.
One thing I’ve noticed in the last week is that I’ve been feeling incredibly light headed and like my head is spinning. We’re putting this down to me being physically drained every 2 hours of the day and night, and not drinking enough water to keep up, or getting a good enough sleep. So I’m trying to increase my water intake, and we’ve started giving Micah a bottle of formula before bed at night to give me a longer stretch of sleep.
For now we’ll continue with breastfeeding, but there may come a day soon when I increase the amount of formula we give him and eventually make the full switch…
…to be continued!