Confessions of a Formula-feeding Mum or My Breastfeeding Experience

Sixtine is formula-fed. Discuss.

Breast-feeding vs formula-feeding seems to be a very hot subject lately. I want to tell you the story of my breastfeeding experience.

I became a mum on the seventeenth of October, at 9.08am. My body was naturally ready to feed my baby. Me, not so much. I never really gave a big thought about breastfeeding. I had breasts, I would produce milk, breastfeed my daughter and all would be well in the world. When Sissi was born and they had made sure she was fine, they put her on my chest. And we cuddled. It was a very special moment. She was so little. This skin-to-skin experience was amazing and I will always remember it. Then they put her to my breast. And she started to suck. It felt different but in a positive way, and I felt happy and empowered to be able to provide for my daughter. It wasn’t always easy to find the right position to feed her, but the nurses and lactation consultant were there to help. I started to feel confused after a few hours when different opinions were voiced and that the lactaction consultant told me that if baby was awake, she was hungry which led to a 6-hour (I may be exaggerating but slightly – I was tired so my memory is a little foggy) feeding (on and off) or at least, she was on the breast for those six hours. She was not sleeping, so she was hungry?

We returned home and the real challenge started. Oh dear…! I was beyond exhausted and baby was eating every 2 hours. I wasn’t always confident in the way I was doing it (is she getting any, is she latched on properly…) and it started to hurt. It went from mildy painful to oh-my-god-she-will-probably-wake-up-in-ten-minutes-please-don’t-wake-up-yet.

I loved the emotional aspect of breastfeeding but it wasn’t comfortable for me at all. It hurt a lot. I was always wet. And was somehow disturbed by that new function on a physical aspect: nipple hurting when seeing baby, extreme leakage, wet bed, shirts, everything…

It became very stressful, and extremely painful as in tears and ahh-ohhhs, and sobbs and crying so much one night I had to call a friend. I couldn’t keep my calm and told her how hard it was for me (she was still breastfeeding and I felt comfortable “confessing” myself. She’s not the judgemental type. That helps.) and she advised phoning Public Health which I did.

A nurse came in and checked me out. I felt very vulnerable at that time. Labor and delivery, an episiotomy and breasts in fire, anything she would have said would have made me cry. Even the word “sandwich”. Anyways, she checked my nipples and said: “no one could breastfeed with nipples like that.” It made me feel better because I thought I was being a “baby”. I saw a Dr who prescribed a cream Dr. something (can’t remember – baby brain anyone?), nipple shells, I was all geared up. The plan was to pump for a couple day until my nipples would get better so I could go back to breastfeeding Sixtine. I did feel better. Much better. So I decided to give it another try. My mum was home with me for the first two weeks of baby Sixtine’s life and saw how I was struggling and really highly suggested I formula-feed her seeing me in such pain. When I put Sixtine to the breast after two days off, I said to my mum: “I am scared, she is gonna bite me.” She answered: “You are scared of your own child” and laughed it off. I tried and she made a funny face. A look that said: “don’t want it”. After a couple more times, I assumed she didn’t like being on the breast anymore and I felt hurt but relieved. I decided then to pump my milk and give her expressed milk in a bottle. It worked wonders ! Didn’t hurt at all (anyone has noticed how big nipples get after pumping !?) and I felt good about the fact that she was still getting expressed milk. I was very good at it and was even able to freeze some. After a bit, I wasn’t home much and wasn’t able to pump as much as I used to and ended up producing less milk which made me wonder if I should buy my own pump or stop pumping completely. (The pump I was using was borrowed to the Public Health.)

I decided to stop. Formula was introduced once the frozen breastmilk ran out. I felt guilty at first and slowly, I started feeling somewhat ok with it. I think the feeding choice is a very personal one and I wish it wasn’t looked up or down so much.

My baby got a month and a half of breastmilk and I just want to hear: it is ok, you did your best.

 

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Comments

  1. I actually want to give you a big hug! Breastfeeding is hard work, emotional and exhausting. I have had friends who refused to do it, and I have friends who nurse until their child is 3. Whatever your decision is, it is yours and there is nothing to feel guilty about. Don’t let anyone, even in the medical community make you feel any other way.

  2. Deb it’s OK you did your best!!
    (and oh my god she’s already so big and so pretty in her “marcel”! 🙂

  3. I too had extreme difficulty breastfeeding my first son. Unfortunately, the difficulties & personal hurdles of breastfeeding some women face is never discussed by those who make judgements on others for using formula. We are led to believe it’s the natural way so it will work and generally, you only hear the ‘easy-peezy-cheezy’ renditions of breastfeeding saga.

    I breastfed my first born son for 4-months. I still feel guilty for stopping because I’m a SAHM and I’m supposed to have all the time in the world (right?). Well, my son wouldn’t latch on and had difficulty sucking from the get-go. We left the hospital with a case of small tester bottles of formula and a finger i.v. My husband and I had to feed him with our fingers and stimulate the sucking reflex at the roof of his mouth. After a few weeks, he finally began to latch on, but only if I used a nipple shield. We rarely got out of the house because feeding him was so laborious. Although he was growing, I supplemented with formula the whole time. I felt like the biggest failure as a mother, was experiencing post-partum depression and finally gave it up.

    When my second son came along, he latched on immediately at the hospital and even held my breast between his hands like a bottle. I fed him on demand so I didn’t get a lot of rest & trying again and succeeding with him helped me get over some of my guilt from letting my first baby down. 😦 But it’s all good now. Both of my boys are healthy so far and I do not notice any developmental differences between the two.

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’m sorry that you had to experience so much pain and difficulty. As soon as I experienced a let-down with breastfeeding, I wanted to let new moms know it’s okay to struggle and giving up breastfeeding is okay too. You’re not neglecting or abandoning your child by using formula. I hope many moms who need a ‘hug’ will find your post.
    🙂

    Cheers!
    ~ Amy

  4. It’s ok – you did your best! 🙂 I don’t think anyone should ever be judged for such a personal decision. I had to bottle feed both my daughters and they are now healthy 15 and 8 year old girls. They weren’t sickly, or overweight or any of the other horrible outcomes you hear and they excel at school. I felt horribly guilty at the time because of the judgmental comments that I would get but I did what was best for my kids and it was ok.

  5. thinkwriteblogtoronto says:

    K i’m testing to see if I can post anything again…before I write a detailed note 🙂

  6. It is hard enough to be a mom without all the extra judments people will outwardly or inwardly direct at us. Good for you to know what works for your family. Sanity and feeling at peace with your decisions, is so important. It is difficult when you feel like you have to make a choice between you or the baby. So many mums feel guilt. And if not because they didn’t breastfeed, because of something else. I know I have had my share of guilt too. We are not perfect..and yet the opportunity to experience motherhood allows us to become the confident and wonderful mothers who we are ultimately meant to be. Your duaghter is beautiful and happy. You obviously are doing something right 🙂

  7. Wow, I didn’t realise our babies were so close in age! (13th Oct for mine)
    I too, tried to breastfeed, then express. The health visitor told me I needed to express at night as well and express I did. Falling asleep with a pump in your hand at 2am? Not good.
    Then came thrush. Had medication for it but the breast pads made it worse, so I had to stop. My nipples were sore and so was his little mouth.
    You did your best and stopped before you burned out, which in turn was doing the best for little Sixtine

  8. Breastfeeding is hard and I think many women don’t realize that! I actually just posted about our trials and tribulations, my little man is 6 months old next week and still breastfed, but it took me a good 3 or 4 months until I really figured it out. Now I’m working to stop clamping my jaw every time he latches. Congrats on breastfeeding as long as you did-only you know what’s best for you and your little one!

  9. Thanks for sharing your experience! I am pregnant with my first baby and I haven’t even started thinking about the challenges I may face once my little one arrives. From what I hear, all new mothers face different obstacles and it is really helpful to share them!

    • …PS: Your daughter is beautiful!

      • I am glad this was helpful to you in some ways. I don’t feel as an expert at all and it still feels like I was pregnant yesterday. I never really gave a lot of thoughts to breastfeeding so this came as a big surprise ! Thank you for dropping by and congratulations on your pregnancy !
        How many weeks are you?
        ps: Thank you for thinking she is. She’s my baby so I have to agree that she is pretty cute !

  10. You’re doing the right thing! I had *no* milk with my oldest daughter, but it took me two days to figure it out . . . by which time she had begun to dehydrate. Scary. At any rate, we’re now on our fourth happy, fat, healthy, formula-fed baby. I’d hug you if I could.

  11. You did great! I tried it with my oldest, got mastitis, and the whole thing was always painful! I would dread her waking up too because we were no sooner done with one feeding and it was time for another. So tired!! She got dehydrated when I wasn’t producing enough and started peeing uric acid crystals. La leche league rabid defenders of lactation were completely unavailable, and I had no visiting nurse by that time. Chose to bottle feed and never looked back. It’s not for everyone. If moms literally too stressed and exhausted to care for her baby then all the benefits of breast milk don’t mean a thing. My girls are 19 and were formula fed and absolutely fine – well except for the third eyes- just kidding!

  12. debut dad says:

    Deb, you’re an incredible mum to such a beautiful daughter! You did and always will be doing your best 🙂

  13. Thank you so much everyone for showing so much support. It was really heart-warming to read all your comments.

  14. my little guy has been formula fed since day one and hes just fine. dont let other peoples opinion make you think youre doing things wrong just because its not the way they would do it. also, his birthday is October 28th… theres a whole lot of October babies around here, lolz

  15. Ok, so I am totally weirded out right now. I just checked in on your blog today to find that you wrote this post on the 29th March, I wrote a post 2 days later about the EXACT SAME issue, not knowing you had done one too!! THATS WEIRD!! Right??
    “Its absolutely ok, you did a great job!” – Just so you know 😉

    Louise xo

  16. bellissimom says:

    I think you did all that you can do. You try your best but it just isn’t meant to be sometimes. It is amazing how difficult breastfeeding is and know that you are not alone – it is very hard for many people. We are currently struggling with it but trying to make it work. My mom breastfed me but only for a short while because she had to go back to work and I think I turned out ok so don’t beat yourself up about it. I personally think that touting the benefits of breastfeeding is kind of a “trend” right now. I see it in the news constantly. But, it is hard for women who just can’t make it work not to feel judged when you are constantly being hit with statistics on how wonderful it is. Know that you are doing everything you can for your daughter and raising her the best you can. There are going to be things that don’t work for you two and that is ok. You are a good mommy!

  17. Deb, I think we were meant to meet because we are the same!!! I had all the same reactions as you, it is so weird: TJ was breastfed exclusively for a month and then we gradually introduced formula until I completely stop breast-feeding at 10 weeks. I loved it at first on the skin-to-skin contact at birth then I was exhausted and did not like getting my clothes, my sheets, everything milky wet. My breast was sore and I was dreading each feed because I know it would hurt more. TJ would take 1 breast than the second for like 40 min in total, and then 1h later he would be hungry again! I was lost, did not know if he was hungry, if he was actually getting nutritious milk, if he was getting enough. His dad wanted to help and felt powerless, and I hated the fact that it was always me who had to feed him. Like you, I tried expressing but it was very tiring and time-consuming : a time I could use to just sleep and get some rest. We are good mummys and our children are fine! So don’t feel guilty at all. 🙂

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