We aren’t here to take sides in the great breast feeding debate, and my what a debate it is! There will be more on this in the coming weeks. Today we all about sharing honest stories. Founder Gemma shares with us her experiences of breast feeding through the eyes of a once pro breast is best advocate!
I have always believed myself to be pretty stubborn and good at getting my own way. That was until I met my daughter. At 5 days old she showed me just how head strong she could be and in a battle of wills she came out on top, leaving me a broken blubbery mess.
I had always wanted to be one of those women I’d see sat breast feeding in a café. They always looked so in tuned, so serene and effortless with their baby as if they were one. I had believed that breast feeding was a choice made by the mother whether to feed or not. I knew it was going to be a little hard work, after all I had read the books and attended the classes, but I was not prepared for my little Devon.
When Devon was born we were both so exhausted from the labour that food was the last thing on our minds. I was so wrapped up cuddling the little squidge I never thought to offer and she never thought to ask. It wasn’t until the midwife popped into see how we were getting on that attempting to breast feed ever crossed my mind. So in my blissful post labour state I attempted to ‘pop’ Devon on the boob only for her to roll her eyes and fall into a deep sleep. ‘Not to worry!’ I was told it was pretty common for new babies.
Once we were taken up onto the ward. I was met with more of the same from my sleep loving daughter. It was like I was offering her the cooker manual to read not life supporting sustenance. It’s hard to not take it personally when the only person to ever fall asleep at the sight of your breast is your own daughter.
I was often told when pregnant that once in labour you lose all your inhibitions, I tend to disagree you don’t lose them, you willingly hand them over at the delivery ward door. Over the next three days I spent most of my time hand expressing my breasts to collect the precious colostrum and at times being milked by a midwife, (it’s not every day you get to say that in a sentence).
Not only was my daughter stubborn she was also pretty crafty. We ended up staying in hospital longer because of her refusal to feed, possibly sensing my frustration at the need for a decent shower and a comfy bed she suddenly became the perfect feeder in front of a midwife only to drop off as soon as the cubicle curtain shut. Assured that she would feed when she was hungry and knowing that deep down she could if she really wanted to we finally headed home. I had blissful visions of the three of us snuggled on the sofa, an early night and a lazy morning. How wrong I was! Stepping through the front door the feeding became non-existent, Devon wouldn’t even entertain the notion of latching on. That night and morning were spent both of us crying whilst I attempted to hand syringe my empty, sore breasts to barely obtain 1ml. Naively expecting to just be able to breast feed there was no plan B. In despair hubby went and bought a bottle of formula to tied us over until the midwife came. Devon scoffed it down like she had just been presented with a Michelin starred meal, I swear she even licked her lips after. In that instant I felt like I was failing. I had stupidly read an article whilst pregnant that suggested giving your baby formula was the equivalent of feeding them a McDonalds. Watching Devon drink her bottle I sobbed as I believed I was subjecting my daughter to a life of obesity and diabetes. I couldn’t understand why I was blessed with massive boobs if not to feed my darling daughter. I had felt so much pressure whilst pregnant and in hospital to breast feed that I couldn’t help but feel I was letting everyone down.
The visiting midwives were wonderful and instantly talked me out of the hysterical mood I had entered. My baby was hungry, I couldn’t feed her so formula was the next best option. They also rubbished the Formula McDonalds comparison. After that day Devon never breast fed and if I am honest I lost the will to try. Every time I attempted to feed her I was filled with dread from the emotions of those first 24 hours of being at home. Instead I decided to express and me and the breast pump became best friends. At the time it seemed a happy compromise Devon would still be getting breast milk but from a bottle, expressed by me. Little did I know how physically and mentally exhausting it would be and that it would lead me to sneak away in the middle of a wedding fair and after a wedding setup to express in the back of my car. There is a huge satisfaction in being to be able to feed your baby but expressing is sterile and actually meant we spent less time cuddling as I was more worried with ensuring there was enough milk to feed her with. Solely expressing is very time consuming and restrictive, breast feeding is to most socially acceptable in public however expressing is not, it’s not discrete and sounds like a cow so isn’t something that could be done in the middle of Costa. I successfully expressed for nearly 3 months before converting fully to formula.
I still look at breast feeding women with a longing and I do wonder if I gave up to easily. However my hubby managed to shine a different light on the situation, maybe instead of being stubborn it was my little girls way of making the work life and brand new baby balance a little easier. Being bottle fed meant Devon could be left with anyone and freed me up to head out to style weddings and meet brides, being bottle fed means you have more control over how much and when a baby feeds. Maybe instead of breaking me down she was actually building me up and making me stronger and Devon is thriving, I have no regrets about Formula feeding her now, she is healthy and happy and that is the most important thing in the world.
Photos by Nikkis Moments
Location: Fancy Bakery Bedford