It’s taken me years to finally feel comfortable sharing my breastfeeding experiences. I’ve faced a lot of backlash for being made feel I’m anti-breastfeeding for saying fed is best rather than breast is best. That’s not me at all though, I’m just pro-choice and pro-women doing what they know and feel is best for them and their families.
So bit of background, with all my kids, four to be exact, I always gave breastfeeding a go, if it worked great of not no big deal. I was wrong though because the guilt when it didn’t work out was a big deal to me.
It just never worked out, I couldn’t breastfeed for longer than a week to be exact, that seemed to be my breaking point. At this point my nipples were always bruised, bleeding and I was so touched out and in a lot of pain. I’ve always had issues with my mental health and this just exasperated it. Everyone always said the latch was fine, no tongue tie etc so I think it was just me, my mental health means I don’t deal well with being touched and hung out of and in pain for long periods of time.
Everyone said to get a lactation consultant but they cost a lot of money and I was worried about wasting money if it still didn’t help.
People suggested tongue tie but again that costs money and time to organise and get childcare for other kids.
Another suggestion was to go to a breastfeeding meeting. Number 1 I wasn’t healed enough to go out to meetings. Number.2 I couldn’t face leaving the house with a newborn and my other kids (no childcare, himself at work).On baby number 4 I had bad prenatal depression and anxiety, I was still recovering. So those options weren’t appealing to me and I knew it would make me end up crashing and burning, something I especially didn’t need as a mom with other kids who relied on me.
I was also constantly told not to supplement with formula as it would affect my supply but then I’ve heard others did and it worked for them because it gave their nipples a break and allowed them to breastfeed for longer. I wonder had I done that would that have helped. The pumps never worked for me either, I found the sensation horrible to be honest. I found out about the Haaka pump after and I wonder would that have helped too, definitely check them out if you’re considering breastfeeding.
The BEST thing seemed to be to take the pressure off myself and go with formula milk so I could be a happier more relaxed mom to this new baby and other my kids. I wanted to, I really really wanted to but that phrase “breast is best” made me feel such a failure if I didn’t do what everyone else deemed was “best” for the baby, which is apparently breast.
The phrase “breast is best”, who is it best for?
It didn’t seem best for me who was crying every feed and feeling touched out while already suffering from prenatal depression and was looking like postnatal depression was inevitable.
It didn’t seem “best” for my 3 other kids who only had me because their dad had to work (joys of being self-employed) to pay the bills and I had no family help. It didn’t seem “best” when they were looking at me crying in pain, feeling touched out and having no time for them mentally or physically.
I wanted to do what society said was “best” but not best for me, the woman, I felt erased.
Consequently, it didn’t seem “best” on this new little baby, little Bill, that I’d already struggled to bond with during pregnancy. I was tired, sore and starting to feel resentful towards myself for breastfeeding not working and it was all affecting my mental health.
In the end I had to accept breast wasn’t best for us. It wasn’t best for my mental health, my kids, our family circumstances, the new baby or my partner who felt helpless. Best for us all round was formula milk. It took the pressure off me, I had more time for the other kids, more time for me and my mental and physical health.
I really do wish breastfeeding had worked. I really do. It was lovely, bar the pain and bleeding, knowing I was feeding my babies but it just wasn’t best for me or in turn my family. Fed was and is always best when it comes to milk for babies .
Let’s not start the ridiculous McDonalds argument, no one is comparing feeding a baby milk to McDonald’s, yes fed is the bare minimum but all mothers efforts to feed their baby weather breast of formula is best. know people hate the phrase fed is best but I wouldn’t dare say breast is best to a mom because I know the hidden pressure and guilt that comes with. Or even adoptive moms, I can’t help feel how crap that statement must make them feel.
There are definitely things that can and should be improved to help new moms with breastfeeding. For example what would have helped me; free breastfeeding consult call outs at home, help with childcare so mom can focus on feeding, bonding and healing. I also feel more information about combination feeding would be good. And the Haaka pump should be given free too 😉
I hope I won’t be attaked over this post because I’m not saying one choice is “best” over the other. I’m saying a fed baby with milk, whether breast or formula is best. If breastfeeding is taking a toll on the mothers mental and/or physical health then to me breast is not best, fed is best. Making women feel they aren’t doing what’s ‘best’ for their babies isn’t helping anyone so you do you and what works best for you,