Decision making comes with being a parent. However, choosing the best for your new baby—during the fog of those early days as a new Mum—can be hard. I knew I’d breastfeed my baby; I hadn’t really considered there was another option. Sure I’d seen Mums offer their newborn a bottle. But it was with a judgemental heart that I internally questioned why they would deny their precious baby natures milk.
One decision I did make (prior to pregnancy/baby brain) was to keep a journal. It’s encouraging to see all the choices I’ve had to make, and those that I seemed to have little control over.
Breastfeeding, for me, can be described as a rocky road; I travelled it, I enjoyed parts of the journey, but it was mostly very hard work.
My early preparations included attending a pre-birth breastfeeding class at my hospital, buying an appropriate feeding chair and wearing maternity bras. Things started reasonably well; good attachment and a sucking baby. Fast forward three months, and I’m giving my daughter her first bottle of supplemented formulae.
What went wrong? Sometimes I ask myself that. But here’s were the journal helps. The lovely nurse at Ngala had recommended I write down my reasons for giving her the bottle. One decision I did make was not to give up too easily. When the concern over my young daughters declining weight was raised, I tried more feeds, longer feeds, expressing to increase supply, then medication…
I got hold of an electric breast pump; dream fed her, offered her extra milk I expressed before going to bed, while reading every piece of available literature I could get my hands on. Over the three months I visited my GP, health nurse, lactation consultant, KEMH, joined the Australian Breastfeeding Association and took part in a UWA breastfeeding study (where samples are taken to test quality and quantity of milk). While other babies were sucking contently, mine was squirming and pounding at the breast. Her sucking was getting lighter and my supply dwindling.
On her 3 month birthday I drove to the paediatrician, determined to act on whatever advice he said. My head was swimming with recommendations, but his was a simple instruction. “You have to supplement now, her weight is just too low.” I now had peace in my decision to offer her a bottle.
But what went wrong? Well, I have questioned whether it’s related to her emergency caesarean, whether she was just a light sucker (despite a good attachment), whether giving her an expressed bottle got her used to the fast flow, whether she was just too tired to eat, whether my milk was poor quality or if I was too active to have repeated let-downs…
I had tried. I have since felt the stares of breastfeeding mothers as I’ve offered her a bottle; but I know I did my best.
Amanda (Amanda is a mother, journalist, photographer and author. Her new release She Says will be out soon, for more information see her website).
She Says is not a parenting manual of do’s and don’ts or a formula to follow. Rather, it is twenty-two conversations with real mothers. If we listen, we’ll glean wisdom from each of their lives and the journeys they’ve travelled. She Says come from those who aren’t nnormally given a stage to share their wisdom.
Thanks Amanda, it is sad to hear your journey of breastfeeding your daughter wasn't a positive one. I hope that if you have more children and want to breastfeed, you have a more fulfilling experience.