Breastfeeding – as natural as it may seem is often overwhelming. Needless to say, the expectations of many first-time mums are often very different from their reality.
I must admit I did not overthink it when I was pregnant and assumed my milk would come and I would soon get the hang of it. I remember looking at different brands of bottles in work one day and a colleague walked past and said ‘you wont need those for ages’ and I realized then that it just automatically assumed that ‘Breast is Best’ and I automatically felt pressured into breastfeeding. For something that I had spent the majority of my pregnancy not too concerned about as I assumed it would come naturally, I then started having doubts ‘what if I cant produce milk and if I do, what if I don’t produce enough’.
When I attempted to feed Sienna for the first time, the midwife looked at my breasts and noted that my kind of nipple may make baby latching and thus breastfeeding difficult. I thought – difficult, not impossible. She took my breast and helped Sienna latch on and with that, my dying dignity was totally out the window!
So when Sienna cried I’d put her on my boobs to feed. By the second night in the hospital, she woke up with an unusual scream. Nothing comforted her and the midwife came in at 4am and told me she would take Sienna and give her some formula and let me get some sleep. I was exhausted and defeated. The way she drank the formula all up made me feel so bad – like I’d been starving her.
When my pediatrician came on his rounds the following morning, he reassured me that there was nothing wrong in substituting her last feed at night with formula as I need to build my strength and milk supply up.
Midwives are so different though, in my experience that is. Some are really supportive and others are adamant that breastfeeding is the only way.
A few days later I learnt what mastitis and in as much pain as I was with this and recovering from a caesarian, I kept looking down at Sienna and knew I had to push through.
So we kept breastfeeding throughout the day and formula at night and then at 4 weeks I still wasn’t producing enough milk and the cluster feeding was getting harder. Concerned, I went to my midwife and she recommended switching to formula as Sienna had not gained much weight.
I was so conflicted and felt like I was failing at being Sienna’s Mama – it’s crazy what articles you find yourself reading in the middle of night stressing yourself out event more.
The came the mother and baby groups!! Again, this is only my personal experience, but for someone who is so extraverted at work, out me infront of a group of new born mamas and I froze..I lasted four weeks and every week I came home crying about something different.
I hadn’t downloaded the vaccination app! I dressed Sienna in little outfits as opposed to the latest wondersuit that on trend then, I didn’t have a capsule and just transferred Sienna from her car seat to her pram..I had make up on!! Yes, I was even asked ‘how on earth do you have time to think about yourself and out make up on’ and then the dreaded question/comment ‘ Oh you bottle feed?!’.
There were 12 new mamas in that group, one twin mama who in my eyes was Wonderwoman and I was the only mama that had a bottle for Sienna. I know it was probably all in my head but I tried to feed Sienna before the session as I felt so judged when I took out her bottle.
I decided that at that point, mother and baby groups weren’t for me which was sad as coming from the UK, all out family is still there so I didn’t have the security of family and friends to fall back on.
Sienna started daycare 5 days a week at 7 months and I returned to work. Just over three years on and my daycare mamas are some of my best friends. As much as daycare can bring all the nasties home and constant cycle of sickness, it’s also brought lot of positives into our lives and we have many friendships because of it.
With Rocky I lasted 8 weeks, which was quite a personal achievement for me from my experience with Sienna and yes, I avoided those mother and bay groups too.
Love Monochrome Mum x