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.