Yes. BESTfeeding. Not BREASTfeeding not FORMULAfeeding.
BESTfeeding is about what works for you and your baby. Not what your midwife tells you is the best thing to do. Not what the health visitor says you must do to give your baby the best start in life. Not what your family and friends think you should do. It’s about you, your partner, your children and your lifestyle; as always, Bounty has excellent articles and advice surrounding parenting and their post regarding breastfeeding is equally significant.
With Josh, back in 2005, I was adamant I was not going to be breastfeeding him at all. I had already been a hotel for 9 months, I was not about to become a milkmaid for the foreseeable future. With Finn, back in 2007, I was planning on giving breastfeeding a go, but after two days, he was refusing to latch on and then I was in agonising pain; with a 2-year-old (under assessment for multiple learning and social difficulties) and a newborn, I was in no position to spend hours struggling and him being constantly grizzly, frustrated and hungry.
Knowing Austyn is our last teeny person, I really wanted to give breastfeeding a go. However, I am incredibly lucky to have a husband who genuinely LOVES night feeds. He enjoys the quiet, particularly the one-to-one time he shares with our children, and he relishes the moment he can give them a cuddle, a little song, talk to them and enjoy them in that blissful state of not really awake but not quite asleep. Experiencing all that, as well as taking in those special moments of their big bright eyes staring up at you helplessly, primarily when he works all day and misses so much is so magical.
There is no way I am going to take these bonding moments away from him so my intention is to co-feed. I have no desire to express – the thought of it makes me gag.
The sad thing about the “breast police” is that from the second you give birth, you’re bombarded with feeding questions. No wonder women suffer from postnatal depression and feel inadequate. No wonder we struggle to know what indeed is best for baby, but what about what is best for us?
Austyn was born with a divet in the roof of his mouth and a recessed chin which makes feeding quite difficult (whether it is breast or bottle feeding) and while he latched on directly after birth, he was struggling with his next feed. Three breastfeeding experts later, a couple of women squeezing my boobs like fecking stress balls to get colostrum, and me awkwardly perched on the side of the bed with my fanny on fire and my newborn alligator snapping around my tit just made me feel violated. It is enough to put anyone off.
Even Beard sat there a little dazed and confused and telling me to not worry about booby juice if that is what I needed to go through every time.
Despite this, I do want to persevere with breastfeeding, but not here and not right now. I want to do it in the privacy of my own home when we are both calm and comfortable. That’s the downside to all of this. I was told I am unable to be discharged until he has had a full breast. So what do I do now? I either give him an ounce of formula and be frowned upon for giving up within a matter of hours (which I wasn’t doing, but it would be perceived as that) but then get discharged immediately, or I have to sit there and be pulled and tugged about making me pissed off and little man even more pissed off. Plus, we need to get back to our boys – they are desperate to meet their little brother.
I decide that the best thing to do is be honest with the midwife on duty… honesty isn’t always the best policy it turns out, as she reiterated that I was unable to be discharged without Austyn taking a full breastfeed of at least 40 minutes. When I pushed for another way, I was told I could hand squeeze the colostrum as she collected the valuable nectar into multiple syringes. Yes. After hours of labour, I am required to do this before being let out of this prison. That was what I was told and that was what I had to do to get out! It was incredibly uncomfortable and made me hot, bothered, anxious and sore; the whole process was wrong but it did get us discharged. But I was not a happy bunny. It was barbaric!
When arriving home, within minutes of being together, me and my little man had mastered feeding. We had some skin-to-skin time and took things slowly – it would have been so much easier (not to mention nicer) if we had been given this opportunity in the first place. If I had been a first time Mum with a masculine midwife maltreating my boob like a water balloon and shoving it in the face of my new little cherub, I would be scarred for life!!
The next hurdle to overcome was breastfeeding in public. Recently there has been a media frenzy surrounding what is socially acceptable, and a whole range of opinions on feeding babies in public. I am petrified. Beard even more so. What if people stare? What if someone comes and says something? What if I can’t get him to latch on properly and my giant boob splats out on the table?!
Luckily none of these things actually happen and the whole experience is ok. Why? Because I have one thing every breastfeeding mother should have – The Birthing Shirt Company has a fabulous Nursing Scarf and it is absolutely amazing. Not only can you wear it as a scarf and then simply pop it over your head as a cover-up when you’re feeding but its lightweight organic cotton fabric keeps feeding free from distractions and cooling for your little one.
Using this put me at ease when feeding, it really built my confidence and allowed Austyn to be fed whenever he needed, in peace and quiet.
And yes, we did go against the grain and co-feed from the offset, and I am so glad we did. I have witnessed first hand how solely breastfeeding has led to 2-year-olds refusing to take a bottle or sippy cup later down the line, but equally loving milk at the end of the day before bed. For some Mums this works, but not for me. Austyn is breastfed during the day, and Beard feeds him his formula from a bottle in the evenings. It works perfectly for us. BestFeeding; whatever is best for your baby. No one else but you, your family.