During my time as a first time mum, deciding what was best for my baby's feeding needs was pretty hard. There was a lot of pressure to choose correctly, and i felt quite worried about what was the right choice for my son. I am not here to write about what you should choose, that choice is for you, but i am here to talk about what i went through, what i chose, and to help you understand that it's okay to choose whatever you want.
What happened to me?
In the lead up to giving birth i umm'ed and ahh'ed about what the right choice for my child would be in the line of feeding. I had different people telling me what i should do, and what would be best for my baby. The truth is, what is best for your baby will depend on your circumstances and whatever you decide to choose. For me, i wanted an opportunity to breastfeed, and after i gave birth, i had great difficulty doing so. I had never had a baby before, and needed to be shown how to breastfeed, which made me feel kind of lost. I had no idea what i was doing, and i was a larger breasted woman so i felt like i was suffocating my baby quite often. I needed to hold him steady, and hold my breast appropriately, which i found quite hard to do as a first time mum. Unfortunately my son had a lot of trouble latching, so the midwives decided to attempt to squeeze the milk out and syringe it into his mouth instead. This method sort of worked for a short amount of time, but we found that my son wasn't getting enough sustenance from the milk i was providing.
And this is where it got hard for me. I had quite a few different midwives during the changing shifts throughout the day and night, and had some different and conflicting viewpoints thrust on me. The night midwives insisted on breastfeeding and breastfeeding only, the early morning midwives tried the squeezing method. And the day midwife was the only one who answered all of my concerns and listened to my concerns. After attempting the squeezing method and having very limited success in curbing my son's hunger, i inquired with the midwife on day shift what she thought i should do next. I was a tired mumma who went through a semi-traumatic labor. I was bleeding, felt really low about myself, and was so worried about my baby and his needs that i had really lost all sense of worth. I felt like as a mother i was already off to an absolutely terrible start, and it didn't help my mental state, or my physical state to keep trying to breastfeed. Not only was the effects of labor affecting me and my ability to focus, but my breasts were absolutely ruined. My nipples were cracked, and bleeding, they were rash red and completely dry. I had no milk supply at all. Confiding in that midwife was what helped me feel somewhat better about myself and my ability of being a mother. She helped me to understand that even though i was having a lot of breastfeeding trouble, that i didn't need to feel so low about myself. She helped me to understand that whatever i chose to do, was my choice to make and no one else's. And that was honestly what i needed. I needed to hear that it was okay no matter what i chose.
After a hard think, and confiding in the midwife, i opted to choose to formula feed, at least until my milk supply came through correctly. I had luckily brought a tin and some bottles with me as a 'just in case,' and i am very thankful that i did. Because my son was a big baby and a little early, they were testing his sugars every three hours to make sure they weren't too high, or too low. And after our breastfeeding trouble, his sugars weren't climbing the way they were supposed to be. After starting formula, my son was less lethargic, settling well, and his sugars were finally at the correct level. I felt entirely better about the whole situation, especially because even though i felt like i wasn't doing the right thing, i knew that it was the right decision, and i finally felt like i had some support and knowledge. After a while, when my milk supply did finally come in, my son didn't take to it and preferred formula. I was sad that i wasn't going to be able to breastfeed him like i had hoped originally, but i was happy that i had found a solution that would mean he would be happy and fed.
Choosing for you
There is no right or wrong decision when it comes to formula or breastfeeding. It is your choice in the end, and it is important for every mum to understand that its okay no matter what choice they make. No mum should be made to feel like their choice is incorrect. It is not incorrect for you, if its your choice, make that decision and stick with it. There are too many people who think they know better when it comes to your baby. It is your baby, and you are the mum, you know what's best for your child, don't let anyone else make you feel like you aren't good enough because you've chosen to breast or formula feed. I felt quite targeted for a while about my decision, and its hard enough as a mum looking after a new baby, but to have to deal with others judgement on top of it makes all the more difficult. I had a lot of low points and i am pretty sad when i think back on it, that some people around me couldn't respect my decision to formula feed, even though it ended up being the right thing to do for me and for my son. With my next baby, who is due in just shy of nine of weeks, i will try to breast feed again, and if i have the same trouble as last time, or other troubles, i will not be scared to turn to formula if i need to. Because even though i know i may cop some judgement, its my decision to make, no one else's and my child is far more important than what others think.
At the end of the day, i am happy with the decision i made. My son is a beautiful and thriving one year old, and my decision didn't hurt him. A lot of people, like to think they know better, just because they have kids, or have read all about what's best for a baby in a book, but everyone's circumstances are different. I wish we lived in a world that was free from judgement, where i could feel completely okay no matter what decision i make for my child. But we don't and it's probably the hardest thing to come to terms with after having a baby. There will always be people who think they can parent better than you, who think their kids are better than yours because of their parenting decisions, well its not the case. Every kid is different, and every parents decision is perfectly fine for them, and their kids. Always remember that your choice is yours, and that if you need to reach out to find support, there will always be support somewhere. When i thought i couldn't find the support i needed, i found it and it made things all the much better. Find your support, speak out and communicate your needs and concerns if you have any, and most of all, always remember that you are going to be a great parent no matter what challenges you face or the decisions you make.