There are many different ways to feed. There is NO wrong way.
I really wanted to breastfeed. I was adamant I would do it. I read everything I could to inform and prepare myself for it. But there is only so much you can do before hand, it is very much a hands on thing to do.
I ran into problems. I have flat nipples and a baby that was too sleepy from the birth experience to actually latch on. They say you have to establish breastfeeding within the first two hours, this is because this is when your baby is most alert. They are so responsive that if you stuck your tongue out at them they would try to copy you. After these two magical hours however, it’s like they forget everything and start all over again only slower this time.
It isn’t impossible to breastfeed if you didn’t take advantage of the first two hours but it does make it more difficult. When I got home it was worse, he found it harder to latch on and eventually I cracked out the nipple shields. They were a God send! It also meant that my son would take a bottle if I needed a break and my other hand wanted to feed, as the nipple shields were similar to a bottle teat.
For us however it got more difficult as we went on. I became too tired, too sore. It got to a point I would dread feeding because it hurt so bad. I needed a break. I took two weeks for my nipples to heal, during this time I expressed and gave him my milk via a bottle. He also went through a growth spurt and I wasn’t making enough milk so I ended up having to supplement with a bit of formula. This didn’t last long and I managed to go back to breastfeeding and giving expressed milk in a bottle at night. Then I got mastitis. I had to breastfeed during this as it was the most effective way to unblock a milk duct, but wow did it hurt. One of my nipples became misshapen and still hasn’t returned to normal. I would spend endless nights crying about how I felt like I had failed at breastfeeding. I was starting to break. The week following my mastitis I got another blocked duct. Luckily I managed to sort it before it turned into full blown mastitis. This happened again the following week and again I sorted it. However each time I got a blocked duct I found I produced less milk. Instead of pumping 25oz I now pump an average of 16oz. I have gone back to supplementing with formula. I give half and half in each bottle. We found this was better than giving a bottle of formula then a bottle of breast milk for the following feed, when we did it that way our little man would suffer from constipation.
I am now waiting to get hold of a bigger sized nipple shield as I feel that is why it was still painful even while using them. Once I have them I will retry breastfeeding and pumping. This is to help pick my supply back up as well as just for the sake of breastfeeding. I am determined. I know it is not how I envisioned but I have learnt a lot from this experience. Next time round I will wear my nipple shapers from 32 weeks of pregnancy and before feeding. I will have the correct nipple shields on hand and I will be more aware of how to position and the correct latch.
Don’t let anyone make you feel bad with whatever choice you make. It is your child and the way you feed has to fit in with you and your life. Formulas are good, they have everything a child needs to be healthy. Yes breastmilk has certain magical qualities that formula can’t. It will change as baby gets older, it is tailored for your baby, if your baby is ill it will create antibodies, if you are ill it will help protect your baby from getting ill and it can be used to treat ear and eye infections. We can’t deny it is amazing, it is also a massive commitment, some babies won’t take a bottle if they are breastfed which means you cannot leave them with anyone else and you may be feeding for an hour at a time every two hours. If you are getting ill trying to feed then it is not worth it. For your baby to be happy and healthy you need to be as well. There is no point you having a break down and feeling like you’ve failed because you haven’t. The most important thing is that your baby thrives whichever way it is fed. Don’t let anyone every tell you otherwise.
I’ll update after I get my other nipple shields on our progression.
I will also do a separate post about mastitis!