Feeling like a feeding failure

As I mentioned previously, I had an awesome pregnancy but I was worried throughout that something terrible was going to happen. I think that stopped me from focussing on what could go wrong or change with regards to the birth and also i didn’t give any thoughts as to how I would feel following the birth. I thought it would just be a blur of newborn bliss, breastfeeding and nappies. Which it was to an extent. Peter stayed off work for a week following Frankie’s arrival, which for a chef is quite a big deal as he was going to take a few days a week over the first few weeks to prolong his paternity. But after the c section I needed him, emotionally and physically. I didn’t dare change a nappy until Frankie was 6 days old, I was just a feeding machine. 

Breastfeeding was amazing at first. I absolutely loved it, the feeling of closeness and the fact that my body was responsible for nurturing my baby, it was incredible. There was a bit of pain of course but that was bearable once he was properly feeding, there were never really any latch issues. But then when he was just over a week old every time he latched I screamed and I was dreading each feed, and then in the middle of the night he went to latch on and got a face full of blood. The poor little bugger was as shocked as I was and Peter was horrified. I started expressing which was considerably less painful and was topping him up with formula which was fine for a few days. I had been checked out for an infection and the midwives assumed it was thrush in my nipples; I had no idea this was a thing, another horrible side effect no one warns you of! The GP was less than helpful, seemed embarrassed to look at my boobs and gave me some cream, which was useless as the midwife felt it was deep set and so needed antibiotics but they wouldn’t be told! During this time I had been feeling really “off” I can’t really describe it any better than that but put it down to being tired and my body having gone through quite a trauma. It turned out I also had an infection in my c section that had opened a bit (nice!) and I was given double penicillin. I wasn’t keen on the idea of passing that onto Frankie so I switched him to full formula and carried on pumping and dumping with the plan to resume feeding when my antibiotics were finished. Sadly, this was not to be, for some unknown reason my milk supply reduced dramatically and then pretty much fully stopped over the course of 72 hours. The midwives, health visitors and GP’s are still baffled as to that one. Which of course helped my feelings on it all.

I was devastated to say the least that I was a failure. My body had failed me in giving birth to my little boy and now it was failing me in feeding him. I think this must be the point that the baby blues turned a darker shade and I started to emotionally detach from Frankie and everyone else. It’s taken me so long to even be able to talk about those first few weeks without breaking down into tears. 

I’m still coming to terms with it all and certainly just writing this had helped, yet another essay, sorry! I kept getting such conflicting advice from the midwives and GP’s which was so hard and finally having one wonderful midwife and more recently one great GP tell me that formula was not poison and was now formulated very closely to breast milk (this is information passed to me, I don’t want the boob nazis on my back) so that really babies are all perfect however they are fed. 

I think the whole “normalise breastfeeding” has become something of a sticking point in that breastfeeding IS normal, formula feeding mums are made to feel like shit before the baby even comes along and we need to push to encourage and support mums no matter how they choose to feed. We should als remember that sometimes the choice is taken from us and a bit of sensitivity wouldn’t go amiss. The stranger telling me that formula was as bad for my 3 week old as McDonalds was really helpful. You dick. 

I feel better now, well done if you actually read all this. Here’s a medal for you 🏅

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