“I fucking know!” I yelled out with tears running down my face as I listened to my mum gently tell me that I needed to give Zephaniah a bottle as Zephaniah laid across my lap screaming. This is not something I wanted to hear or something that I had thought I would ever have to hear. It had been 4 days since I gave birth and my milk still hadn’t come in and my colostrum wasn’t enough for my hungry baby anymore. I sat in the same spot for 2 hours breast feeding my baby and when I weaned her off my boob she screamed and screamed and screamed. I realised then that I wasn’t producing any milk and she was starving.
I sobbed and looked at Aiden and gave him a look and with this look he started sterilising a bottle and reading up on the formula tin about dosage. We brought formula many months before Zephaniahs birth, as realistically I knew there was a 50% chance I could breast feed my baby and a 50% that I wouldn’t be able to. The odds against me were that I am one of 8 children and my mum couldn’t breast feed any of us due to lack of nutrients in her milk, I have also had a breast reduction therefore there was a decent chance my milk ducts had been cut during the reduction. However even with these odds I assumed I would nail the whole breast feeding gig and I would smash it, however I was very wrong.
After we fed Zephaniah her first bottle she slept a solid 8 hours straight through and this is exactly what I needed after a very stressful and tiring day. The next day the midwife came to check on little Z and I, and I told her what happened and she said to me she wasn’t surprised that my milk hadn’t come in as I lost so much blood on the operating table which often results in a lack of milk supply. As she told me this I thought to myself someone could of at least told me this before discharging me from hospital as I wouldn’t of felt like such an awful mum for giving my baby a bottle of formula last night. Formula beats starving her right?! That same day my milk came in.
After a few days of my milk coming in things still weren’t great with breast feeding Zephaniah, she would cluster feed for sometimes 2 hours at a time and when she would fall asleep on my boob I would try to wean her off and she would scream so back on the boob she went. I felt like I was confined to the couch and that I was a paralytic as all she wanted was boob, boob, boob. Not to mention my nipples were completely severed and blistered, no amount of nipple cream and breast milk would help heal them. We knew something still wasn’t right so I went and brought a milk pump, I would feed Z and then I would sit after a feed and pump.
After pumping for the first time it became relevant that my breasts weren’t producing enough milk to feed Zephaniah my first pump I only managed to squeeze out 10ml. I waited 2 hours then I pumped again and both boobs only produced 60ml. I pumped and fed for a week and the most I ever managed to pump at a time was 100ml.
Aiden came home one afternoon and Zephaniah was laying on our bed next to me crying as I sat beside her crying aswell, he was only gone an hour “what is going on?” he said looking at us both with total confusion. “She isn’t feeding, all she does is cry and cry, she has been on my boob for an hour and my nipples are bleeding and so sore and she is still upset”. That night we decided that we would introduce formula as my breast milk wasn’t enough for our growing baby. It was a decision that took a few hours to make a decision that wasn’t made lightly and a decision that I beat myself up over the next few days. All it took was two days and my milk dried up.
I cried to Aiden saying that I was a bad mum, I felt awful, I felt like I was neglecting my baby and depriving her of a natural source of nutrition. The feeling got worst as I seen multiple posts on my social media of mums feeding their babies with their breasts, I felt like I was missing out on forging a motherly bond and I felt like lesser of a mum.
But that feeling changed 2 weeks later when two midwifes came out to visit Zephaniah and I. They weighed her and measured her and it all looked great then the question came “How is breastfeeding going?” one of the midwifes asked. I looked at her and exclaimed that breast feeding hadn’t worked out for us and I was bottle feeding, “how do you feel about it?” was the next question I was asked. I said that at first I felt awful but I am slowly starting to accept our decision as we now have the most happiest baby. The midwife looked at me and smiled and told me that fed is best and sometimes the mum being happy and rested can be more beneficial to a baby, she also told me that Zephaniah was tracking great and she is alert therefore she thought that the bottle feeding was working out for the best for the both of us.
From that point on I decided to look at the positives about bottle feeding my baby, she was currently sleeping through the night with no wakeups, she was happy, she was alert and so smart. Heck I was bottle fed and I turned out fine and its not like we walk around in our society asking each other if we were breast fed or bottle fed.
I now stand firm in my decision and I don’t regret it, I don’t envy other mums on social media who breast feed their bubs instead I think “good on them” and “what a beautiful moment they can share with their babies” and I also share a beautiful moment with Zephaniah when I feed her and I can also share that moment with Aiden. Each morning Aiden gets excited to sit and feed Zephaniah her morning bottle before he leaves for work and this makes me even more sound in our decision as I see him forge such a beautiful bond with his daughter not with a boob but instead with a bottle.
Fed is best no matter which way you swing it.