Food for thought

I wanted to write an article about feeding. I have decided to ‘combination feed’ my children but more often then not people seem confused as to why I have chosen to do it that way and feel I am judged for choosing to feeding in a way that the person doesn’t approve of.

This article is about how I have ended up feeding the way I do. For those who don’t like poo, a warning there is an image in this article that those people might find offensive

So here’s the thing, breastfeeding is a lot harder then it looks.

Before pregnancy I thought women whack out their tit out and baby has a munch on it. Then during pregnancy I was repeatedly told about; the deep latch technique; nose to nipple and they’ll magically latch on; allow your babies head to be able to move if they need to and naively thought this will be fine I’ll get it right in no time with two. Not.

Then I gave birth and reality was a lot different. Firstly for new mums, if you’re planning to breast feed I would definitely get yourself prepared by buying an electronic breast pump. It was a big hassle having to hand pump in the early days when you’re already exhausted. It’s also vital to kick up the milk supply.

It was briefly discussed in antenatal classes that Colostrum is what babies first suckle on, a sticky substance that drips out your boob. No one alarmed me how important this stuff was for the babies or how you would be expected to syringe your nipple in case your baby can’t make a latch. I spent hours syringing that stuff from breast. Painful and tiring. It wasn’t enough and even though we were both (the hubbie and I) completely wanting to just breastfeed it became clear that we couldn’t just do that with two of them. Once upon a time I had a crazy idea that I would be able to double feed them. I soon learnt that this wouldn’t be the case.

I got help from the latching team in the hospital, but knew it wasn’t enough. I thought there was a problem with them latching and even mentioned tongue tie to them (I’ll go into this in more detail later) but was made to feel it was my inexperience that was the issue.

Eventually I got my electronic pump and pumped a lot. I gave them my boobies as well and despite the bleeding nipples I persisted and continued with formula. The girls were diagnosed with jaundice so had to feed them even more to clear their systems. Meaning we kept the bottle as my boobs couldn’t keep up with the increase needed to clear the illness.

Once you start bottle feeding it’s very difficult to let go of the measurement system you adapt. You can’t know how much milk they’re getting from breast. People said to me that they’ll come off when they’re done but it shouldn’t take a baby an hour and a half to feed one baby which happened when I was breastfeeding in the early days. I decided to get some more help and took them to a breastfeeding clinic, where both were tongue tie (as I had originally suspected).

Tongue tie is where the strip of skin connecting the baby’s tongue to the floor of their mouth is shorter than usual. Meaning it’s more difficult to breast feed and to get a proper latch. By the time we had sorted it the girls were on significant amounts of formula and I was trying hard to keep up my milk supply.

Then mucus poo started.

Out of no where Lola started getting mucus in her poo and clumpy white bits. I scrolled through Mumsnet for answers but had no such luck. Even the doctor didn’t know what it was. After a couple of weeks of continuous shitting I had had enough and decided change to Goats milk formula. I was reluctant to do so because when the girls were a few weeks old we changed their formula as they had terrible trapped wind but the formula made Luna very sick.

In an effort to completely remove dairy from the equation, I gave up dairy and I had to stop feeding Lola until both our systems were clear. Stupidly I just upped Luna’s breast intake a bit but didn’t pump. Then Luna began getting the weird mucus poo. Luckily it was in the late stages of my cleansing so just pumped when I could. However this problem pretty much emptied my supply.

Since being dairy free I have slowly been trying to rebuild my stock, trying to feed before every meal, at least five minutes at most probably fifteen minutes. Now the girls don’t like being held whilst they eat and prefer sitting in chairs once again compromising the boobs. But I’m persisting and trying to feed them breast when they will accept it without forcing them.

Some will read this and wonder why the hell I’m not just doing formula. The other half will be thinking you haven’t done enough or commend my efforts but still expect me to keep going with breastfeeding.

There is such a huge divide and opinion on breast Vs bottle that I’m writing this article to say that I’m tired of the judgement, I’m tired of not being what you expect of me and I’ll do whatever works for the girls and me. Why can’t you be allowed to feed whatever way is best for you without people having an opinion on it?

I have come across different views, most pro breast and some pro formula.

I find myself becoming increasingly frustrated by it all. I feel like whenever I’m asked about it now I’m secretly being judged or it’s not the answer they want to hear and try to advise me on what they think I should do to fit what they believe in. But I wonder whether this is just my guilt.

Yes I feel guilty. All the time. If I give them formula and don’t feed them enough breast I feel like I’m doing a disservice to my children because I’m not given them the antibodies they could use to protect them in life and I’m not bonding enough with them. If I just give them breast, have they eaten enough to not be hungry? When I feed them breast they almost always crave more food and get very agitated until the bottle in their mouth.

I don’t think it helps that I get a lot of the same remarks/advice:

‘How is the breastfeeding going?’

‘You know breastfeeding doesn’t matter after six weeks…’

‘You need to pump more’

‘Nobody wants to see a tit hanging out in public’

‘Breast is best, it gives your baby antibodies, you connect with your baby…’

‘With bottle we can all be involved, I can help out’

I guess I write this because however you’re feeding your baby let me tell you I don’t judge you. I wish society was a little more understanding. The most important thing is that your child is fed, healthy and loved, surely a breast or a bottle or both can do that?

Love B

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