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.

 

10 Things That Change When You Have A Baby

  1. You want to better yourself for your baby.
  2. You silly dance and sing publicly for your baby like no one is watching.
  3. You become less self-conscious. I am talking bad hair day, shaving strike, nude face… You name it !
  4. You talk about poop and puke like it is the most natural thing in the world. It is, really.
  5. You see the world differently. You have new priorities.
  6. Stronger bond with your husband/partner.
  7. Get out of the door quickly. Well, actually, according to my husband, I never really did. But it’s gotten worse.
  8. Being addressed as —‘s mother. It is the best feeling in the world.
  9. Guest contribution from my husband: You cherish your free time.
  10. New found respect for your mother. Our relationship has grown a lot since I became a mother myself. I appreciate her more and all she did for me.

Let’s make this list a longer one, share !

Big Eyes and Polka Dots

Milestones: 4 month-old

Today is Sixtine’s month-day. She turned four months. To celebrate the occasion, I decided to open her handprint/footprint kit and mark the occasion. It was very easy to use and I am very happy with the result. It will take a couple days to dry but you can see how cute it looks on this picture. Her foot looks really big on this but it is only tiny, really.

Milestones and everyday life accomplishments:

  • She drinks 5 to 6oz/per bottle.
  • She sleeps from about 8.30pm to 7am.
  • She smiles and laughs a lot.
  • She pushes or pulls Mama or Papa’s finger when being fed to say no more or ask for more.
  • She babbles a lot.
  • She enjoys playing with bright-colored toys.
  • She pays attention to very small objects.
  • She puts everything in her mouth.
  • She has fun pulling her own socks and generally playing with her feet.
  • She can move her legs enough to rotate on her playmat.
  • She pulls her soother out of her mouth and tries (sometimes manages) to put it back.
  • She loves pulling Mama’s hair.
  • She doesn’t enjoy being on her stomach much so she will put herself back on her back.
  • She recognizes Mama and Papa’s faces.
  • She enjoys other children.
  • She loves music.

She’s grown so much ! I can’t believe my baby girl is already four months old…!

Infant Stimulation

Sixtine has been very alert since birth. I have read some books and some online sites about stimulation in infancy and I have been doing some activities with her hoping to help her develop her full potential.

I started with black and white flash cards when she was about two months. It included different shapes (squares, triangles, circles,…), but also faces (smile, surprise,…) and animal shapes (cats, ducks…). I would flash them when she was happy, fed, and rested so that she was fully alert and interested.I also put some of the flashcards above her bassinet, and changing table and she has stared at them numerous times.

Now that she is a little older, I am going to introduce colors, numbers and pictures of everyday life objects/people with matching words. I am also working on a fabric/texture basket that she could play with.

I also sing in French and English to her. She seems to enjoy old classics French music and nursery rhymes better than anything and often sings back. Her favorite song seems to be “Petit escargot” which always get her smiling.

If you have read the post I wrote entitled “When baby says Mama” , you may know how important it is to talk to baby and listen to him/her above all. I enjoy talking to her and asking her questions and wait for an answer. She usually stares at my mouth very carefully, and moves her mouth at the same time, trying to reproduce the sound. She sometimes answers, sometimes not. But she knows I am interested in what she has to say.

I let her smell my food, perfume, and flowers and touch different temperature objects.She actually had lots of fun pulling the petals off the rose Papa had bought for her for Valentine’s day ! She loved it !

As for motor skills, she is a great little mover ! I put her on her stomach – which she doesn’t enjoy much – and she will put herself back on her back after a few grunts ! I let her grasp my fingers and pull her gently until she reaches a sitting position. She also rotates on her playmat by moving her legs like Elvis ! I have the feeling that she will be all over the place in a few months !

She also enjoys watching Sparkabilities 0 to 6 months.

What are some fun things you do with your infant? Anything you would like to recommend?

Introducing Solid Food

The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends breastfeeding baby (exclusively) until he reaches 6 months of age.

After 6 months, baby needs more nutrients and this is when most people start introducing solid food to their baby.

My daughter is turning 4 months on Friday so we are not there yet but I was talking to my mother this morning

and she suggested giving cereals to the baby – as I was telling her how frustrating her reflux was.

There seems to be a change of guidelines every year or so for baby care and I find it really hard to keep up.

I have been asking around and everybody seems to say the same things:

“It is best to start at 6 months but I started mine at x months of age for this particular reason (…)”.

She was prescribed Zantac, then Prevacid which don’t seem to make much difference and I was starting to think that thickening

her milk (with whatever would be good for her) would make a difference. But I guess I am going to have to wait a little longer.

Here is a list of signs that baby is ready for solid foods by BestStart.Org:

Your baby is ready to start eating solids when she:
-is six months old;
-holds her head up;
-sits up in a high chair;
-opens her mouth wide when you offer food on a spoon;
-turns her face away if she doesn’t want the food;
-closes her lips over the spoon; and
-keeps food in her mouth and swallows it instead of pushing it out.

Make sure your baby shows all of these signs of readiness before you start solid foods.
At first your baby may not accept new foods. If she shows you that she does not like the food by closing her mouth or turning her head away, stop feeding her that food. Try it again another day. Keep feeding time pleasant. If your baby feels pressured to eat, she may not want to try other new foods.

Each baby is different. Try not to compare your baby to other babies. Follow your baby’s signs of readiness for food. Talk to your health care provider to help you decide if your baby is ready.

Read more here: http://www.beststart.org/resources/nutrition/pdf/feeding_baby_rev2010.pdf

I would love to hear about your own experience in introducing solid food to your baby. When? How much? And where you live as there seem to be differences across countries/cultures.

On The Sleeping Scene

When we brought our daughter home from the hospital, we decided to co-sleep with her as it was easier for me. I was exhausted and having her by my side while I was breastfeeding was our best option at the time. Long story short, I stopped breastfeeding and my husband was able to help with the feedings but after a month and a half, I started to feel overwhelmed. I couldn’t do anything as my daughter was only happy in my arms, on my chest or her father’s. I couldn’t rest, and I couldn’t get anything done.

So one night, I decided that was the end of it. My daughter would sleep in her own bed, in her own room. We bought a set of three baby monitors and when my husband was away for a couple days, I started “sleep training” her (I am not talking about sleeping through the night here – she still needed to eat every 3 to 4 hours). The first night was really hard for both of us. She was missing me, I was missing her and I felt guilty. After about an hour, I took her back with me. The second night, I waited three hours. And she was less unhappy about it than the night before. The third day she made very little noise and seemed ok with the idea. After a week: the “sleep training” was over. I missed her at first but got used to sleep better very quickly !

About a month ago, I started to space out the feedings by putting her soother back in her mouth instead of feeding her. 15 minutes the first time, then 30…and so on.

Now, she usually goes to bed at 8.30pm and won’t wake up until 5 or 6am in the morning. She does wake up some time during the night, but it is rare enough. She has been a bit off lately – teething ! – and her routine has been a little different but she slept from 8.30pm last night to 9am this morning. I was on duty for early feeding this time and didn’t have to wake up early ! Haha !

I am hoping that this post won’t turn against me and make my baby girl a night owl…I know that sleeping routines are not set in stones, especially at such early age (growth spurt, teething, etc) but I will do my best to make it easy for everyone. She seems to enjoy life much better after a good night sleep, just like we do !

How about you and your little one(s)? Have you tried co-sleeping? Did it work for you? Do you have any advice for other parents?

Learning to Move Around

Mama’s morning smile

…Our daughter changed position by herself today ! She was playing nicely on her playmat, batting at toys and all that, while I was gone to the kitchen for a couple minutes. When I came back, she had rotated 180 degrees ! I called my husband and said: “Come see! She moved ! She moved !”. And I cried. My baby daughter is not a newborn anymore. She is a big girl now !

Edit: She rotated 360 degrees a couple days later and enjoys now using her feet as an extra pair of hands. 😉