When I had my first son I didn’t decide to breast feed I just naively assumed I would- my mum breastfed us and my sister had breastfed all of her children, it’s free and meant I wouldn’t have to get out of bed in the night, that was as far as my ‘research’ went. Turns out I ended up with quite strong feelings about it!
First son ended up being delivered by emergency section, was born ‘grunting’ and was whisked past me to SCBU. I didn’t even really see him, let alone touch him. In fact I didn’t see him for nearly 12hours. Looking back I am fairly certain he must have been given formula; I didn’t see him for 12 hours and didn’t attempt to feed him till the next morning, don’t ask me why, I have no idea, it’s just how it happened, mostly not through my choice.
I think it was my sister who sorted out a pump for me and got the nurses to help me feed. Anyway, more by luck than judgement we established feeding, came home and I was exclusively breastfeeding.
I had two lots of mastitis over the next eight weeks, and to cut a long story short, by week 11, I ended up back in hospital having a breast abscess drained and my son stayed at home. I couldn’t feed him due to the antibiotics I was made to take and I couldn’t look after him on my own as I was far too ill. I pumped and dumped for the two weeks I took the medicine, every four hours, day and night.
Just before I was admitted I fed him his first bottle, it made me cry and I hated it. I felt like I was a massive failure – looking back I can see I gave myself a really hard time over something I had no control over. My son was bottle fed for two weeks, I had no idea that I could have got breast milk for him to feed him. At the time I probably would have freaked at the idea, a shame because my sister would have almost definitely given me her milk. She did tell me after she almost offered to feed him. I don’t think I would have said yes, but I would now!
So he had two weeks of formula and then I went back to feeding him, but only on one side as the other was a little broken still! We went on like this for the next 5 months, one sided feeding, and then I went back to work, part time and within two weeks my son had self-weaned and was bottle fed on formula until he went onto cow’s milk at one.
I wasn’t disappointed as I was pleased that we got as far as we did. I wish I had more knowledge and advice in those early days but maybe not having it was what helped me succeed. I didn’t even know that all the obstacles in my way could have stopped me breastfeeding, and luckily, they didn’t!