Stacey writes to us:
“In regards to breast/bottle feeding, I have a story that might benefit mothers…..
When I was pregnant with my first baby, I was adamant that my baby was going to be exclusively breastfed. I was open to the idea of bottles as long as it was only breastmilk in the bottle! From the second trimester onwards I was producing colostrum so I thought breastfeeding would be a breeze. However, once my daughter was born, I not only had no idea what to do with a baby, I had no idea how to feed her either.
The nurses at Palmerston North hospital spent ages trying to help me when I was told that I had flat nipples and that it would be trickier for me. Well I had no clue that there was even such a thing as flat nipples, let alone how to help make breastfeeding easier. I tried all sorts of things, from nipple shields (which I have since been told should be a last resort), to pumping my breasts every hour to try and draw the nipple out. Using the breast pump I was able to collect breastmilk which I then fed my daughter with a soft cup, but after a week or so of trying to look after a newborn and constantly on the breastpump I was near exhaustion and developed mastitis, which required me to be hospitalised.
After being released from the hospital I kept trying and trying to feed my baby myself but after another week or two I was back in hospital again. This time I was asked all sorts of weird questions which I later discovered was due to me showing many signs of post-natal depression. A lovely nurse told me that not being able to breastfeed was not the end of the world especially since I had tried so hard and that if I kept on trying my own health was going to suffer, let alone the health of my baby.
I felt like such an utter failure! I couldn’t believe that the one thing I wanted to do for my child I just couldn’t do. Some people might have “tried harder” but at 20 years old, in hospital twice within my daughter’s first three weeks of life and at the point of breakdown we decided that it would be best toswitch to formula. Within a week the change in both of us was remarkable. By doing bottle feeds my partner was able to help with night feeds and my mother did day feeds giving me all the time I needed to recover. My daughter changed from an upset, screaming monster into a content wee baby whose hunger was finally satisfied. I was able to relax and enjoy my daughter for the first time.
The worst part was other people’s judgement of me. Whenever I fed my daughter in public with a bottle I got dirty looks. It got to the point where I wanted to scream at everyone saying “Do you know what I went through TRYING!!!!” and the worst WORST part was hearing a close friend remark to another friend “I really wish Stacey had given breastfeeding a better try”. Again I felt like such a failure, like I had robbed my daughter of the best start to life.
In the end, you just need to have confidence that was is right for everyone else may not work for you, and stand tall when others judge you. I am pregnant again with my second child and this time my midwife is helping me with ways to make breastfeeding easier for me. I will try my hardest to breastfeed but at least this time I know that if I can’t it isn’t the end of the world.
I hope my story will show another side of the feeding debate. Of course breatfeeding is best for your baby but at the end of the day its up to you.”
I got chills when I read Stacey’s story for the first time. What a harrowing ordeal. I am so pleased that she has shared this story, and hopefully other mums will read it and find the encouragement that their own decisions are the best decisions for their child. “