When I had my first baby I only just turned 19, I was inexperienced & lacking confidence when it came to breastfeeding, I didn’t get much support. I don’t know if this was because I was a young first time mum or because breastfeeding just wasn’t ‘pushed’ so much thirteen year ago. I was just handed a little bottle of SMA with a disposable teat in the hospital after giving birth so I just went straight onto bottle feeding, after all the professionals know best.
When pregnant with my second child twelve years later I decided that this time I was going to breastfeed. At every appointment we saw flyers & leaflets informing us that Breast is Best, the best start you can give your child in life. I was ready for this, we’d stocked up on muslin cloths and didn’t even buy a single bottle. Breast is best and that’s what I was going to do.
After giving birth Archie latched on perfectly, he nuzzled into my boobies and guzzled away, it was perfect & I felt like I was being a ‘good mum’ and doing the ‘right thing’ but it didn’t take long for things to start to change. He was feeding constantly, for up to an hour at a time with only half an hour breaks in between and projectile vomiting after most feeds so then the cycle started again. I was exhausted, breastfeeding was so hard but I was told to persevere. The Health Visitor insisted I keep trying, he mustn’t be latching on properly if he’s feeding so often, perhaps I’m not doing it right. The guilt was incredible, after all breastfeeding is meant to be the most amazing experience, bonding between mother & child but I began dreading each feed. Constantly having to switch from one breast to the other due to the pain of severely sore & cracked nipples.
Archie’s weight began to drop & the Health Visitors couldn’t believe he was feeding so much but not putting on any weight, obviously this was down to his severe sickness but as I kept being told, most babies get colic just keep persevering. But I couldn’t, and the final straw came when my poor little baby had blood around his mouth from my boobs but still I wanted to persevere, this is what I’d been told, this is what is best.
My hubby thankfully stepped in and went out and bought bottles, a steriliser and formula. The guilt was incredible and the tears flowed as I gave him that first bottle at only four weeks old. I felt a failure, only four weeks! What sort of mother can only breastfeed for four weeks?
But the sickness didn’t stop, he was still projectile vomiting after most feeds and his eczema worsened so instead of speaking to the Health Visitor I went to the doctors. After discussing his feeding habits, the doctor first suggested we try Infant Gaviscon for reflux and he would also refer us to a paediatrician. After four weeks and more weight loss we finally saw the paediatrician who instantly told us that he suspected Archie was either Lactose Intolerant or more likely to have an allergy to the protein in cow’s milk. I then explained about my issues with breastfeeding and he was referred for more tests.
The tests showed that he was severely allergic to the protein in cow’s milk, hence the severe eczema flaring up when he fed and the constant sickness. As I had been drinking & eating milk & milk products I was passing this through to Archie in my breast milk hence why he also had issues with breastfeeding. I’ll be honest, I was so relieved to hear that. He was allergic to my breast milk, it wasn’t me being a failure or giving up on my baby, I just couldn’t breastfeed him due to his health problems.
After receiving a prescription for new formula Archie’s feeding habits literally changed overnight. His sickness pretty much stopped immediately and his eczema cleared up after a couple of weeks, he didn’t even need any creams at all after those first two weeks.
I was force fed that breast is best and I force fed my child breast milk that was damaging to him, so sometimes breast isn’t always best and women shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for ‘giving up’ or choosing to bottle feed. We need to do what is right for us and our babies, and it should be our guilt free choice to make.
I applaud mums that breast feed, it’s wonderful and I’m a little jealous, but for those of us that can’t or choose not to, please don’t make us feel like second class mums because we’re all just trying to do our best.