Note from Naomi: Today's post is a guest post from Julie from Pondering Parenthood about her experience of not breastfeeding, but instead exclusively expressing. Make sure you check out her blog over at Pondering Parenthood.
I had always intended to at least have a go at breastfeeding. We’d been to all of the NCT classes; and heard all of the health benefits of breastfeeding. I was sure it was something that I wanted to try - while keeping in the back of my mind that both myself and my husband were formula fed - and that we’re both healthy; intelligent; well-rounded individuals.
No one prepared me for how hard it would be.
The midwives in hospital told me that Little M had a good latch - so why was I screaming in pain every time she latched on? Why were my areolas the deepest purple I’ve ever seen in a bruise?
Nevertheless, I persevered. I was even starting to feel that I might be able to do this - that I was the strong breastfeeding mama people champion - that Little M and I were a team and we could get through anything.
Then the midwife came to visit the morning after we had came home. Little M had lost weight. I was doing it all wrong. We had to feed her every three hours, offering her a second boob if she didn’t feed for at least fifteen minutes from the first.
Of course, she didn’t. My milk came in. Agony. Hubby fed me a curry. It was an expensive Charlie Bingham curry so apparently it wouldn’t matter to my IBS that it had two chilli symbols on the packet. My IBS begged to differ and I was repeatedly sick and running to the toilet.
Apologies for the overshare, but this was the reality.
I was crying and saying that I wanted to die. At that moment, I actually meant it. I couldn’t continue. Not with the rising panic that Little M seemed to be feeding even less than she was before. I was failing.
A friend of mine - who also happens to be a health visitor - suggested I try expressing off some of the milk from my solid, bowling-ball right breast. It didn’t relieve much but the pump was a double and I got a little of my left breast. In desperation, I fed this to Little M from a bottle. She took it, just like that. Relief.
That was that. I was expressing, and Little M was feeding. I could confidently tell the midwives how much milk she was getting and slowly, gradually, she was gaining weight. Despite expressing being a time consuming chore, I told myself I’d get to two weeks. Give her the best start I could.
Two weeks of exclusively expressing turned to one month. One month turned to three. Now I’ve got six months in my sights, I think it might be time to stop. I’ll have to see how things go!
Little M has never consumed a drop of formula. For this I feel immense pride.