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Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Breastfeeding, my hardest decision


Breastfeeding is a huge and hot topic in the parenting world. To breastfeed or not breastfeed, that is the question.

I breastfed for three weeks exclusively before taking the decision to phase it out and change to formula.
It has been one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make. 

So I wanted to share my story and reasons in the hope it will help another new mum make her decision, whatever it may be.

Henry and I have had a relatively untraumatic breastfeeding journey. He took to it rather well. The support I received at the New Forest Birth Centre was outstanding and probably wouldn't have done it at all. I don't have a horror story to tell. No cracked and bleeding nipples. No supply issues. Yes we had latching problems and pain that made me squeak in discomfort and my toes curl but it wasn't as bad as some stories I've read.

For me the whole journey made me unbelievably anxious. I was calm about every other aspect of parenting, but feeding got me worked up. Especially on the side which was uncomfortable. I developed a split which though it wasn't exactly painful made me so anxious to feed that I'd be in tears trying to psyche myself into it. I was just unhappy. I was not myself at all. I faked it for visitors but Dann could see the toll it was taking.
I dislike the idea of feeding in public. I've got no problems with others doing it. In fact I'm kind of in awe about it because I wish it didn't affect me. But personally it made me feel very self conscious just thinking about it. Plus Henry has a habit of playing and the idea of that in a coffee shop just made me want to hide away which isn't helpful or good for a socialable person like myself. I love to talk and be with people and go places, and breastfeeding made me feel closed off.

I can cope with sleepless nights but the whole combination made me a shell of my old self.
So after advice from two people who's opinions I truly value I took the decision to leave breastfeeding behind. I'm gradually going reducing my supply by dropping feeds. I'll either stop entirely or maybe keep a feed or two a day but I won't know til I get to that stage. I considered cold turkey but the discomfort sounded awful so I'm going to do it slowly and phase it. Then Henry still gets some breastmilk for a bit longer!

I don't want to look back at those first few weeks with Henry and only remember pain and tears. Yes there will be some tears, probably of frustration and lack of sleep,  but I don't want it dictated by pain and unhappiness. I want to remember the cuddles, the newborn smell, his sweet sleeping face. It doesn't last long at this stage where they're so dependent on you so I want to remember it fondly.

At the end of the day I still truly believe fed is best. It doesn't matter how you do it. Formula wouldn't exist if it was bad for babies. And breastfeeding is hard work and isn't for everyone. I tried and I'm glad I did and I don't know how long it will take me to wean to formula as a whole. I'm quite happy to do a few feeds from me especially overnight, so we'll see how things go. But I'd rather keep my mental health and sanity by adding formula now. 

Henry will turn out fine, because really it won't make any difference how he is fed. What matters is that he is loved and cared for. And for me that means making sure I'm happy too because I want a happy family as a whole.
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