Ok it has been a few months now since I stopped breast feeding but I was watching a program today that was talking about breast feeding and it stirred up some emotions i'd rather it hadn't.
Before I had Immie I was very philosophical about breast feeding, I thought "I'll give it a bash, see how it goes but if it doesn't work I can always switch" then I got sucked in by the breast feeding nazis.
Now don't get me wrong, if you can do breast feeding and find it straightforward I'm sure it is a lovely experience. But this wasn't the case for me and it made the first 3 months a lot more upsetting than they needed to be.
You see it all started on the post-natal ward after birth. I had no idea what I was doing, Immie didn't really feed that well and nobody really bothered to ask me how it was going. I've since found out CSection mummies can find breast feeding more tricky, something to do with hormones. Anyway, non of that was explained to me. I was discharged on the Monday afternoon, got home and Immie wasn't really feeding. I begged my OH to go and buy some formula but he wouldn't. Instead he insisted on phoning the hospital. At that point they said I had to go back in and pack a bag because I'd probably be staying over night. I was gutted, I cried and cried. I didn't want to go back to the hospital. I was shattered and just wanted to be home with my baby.
So we got back, I was stuffed in a room on my own (with lots of propaganda breast feeding posters on the wall!). That night, the nurses still didn't show me particularly well what to do (one old bag was particularly stroppy with me, I don't think she could see what the problem was!) Over the course of 2 days I had a variety of nurses touch my boobs and squeeze my nipples, now I come to think of it, not one of them asked me if it was ok to do that and not one of them actually asked me how I was feeling or gave me options, it was just expected that I would keep breast feeding.
The next morning, they sent in a breast feeding link worker who bought a long a knitted woolly boob and attempted to show me what to do, she then left me with a DVD player and some crap DVDs where women who loved breast feeding, basically went on about how marvellous it was. (Not what you need when you're struggling) I have to say this did not help one bit!
That night I had a mini-melt down and an auxiliary nurse found me sobbing in my little room, cuddling Immie but with no idea what to do as I just couldnt manage to feed her! Eventually the nurses took my baby away for a few hours so I could sleep and calm down (I've no idea where they took her, still a bit pissed off they could have taken her anywhere and I wouldn't have known!)
Eventually a rather lovely nurse just gave me lots of gentle encouragement and told me if I managed to get Immie to feed off both boobs I could go home, this cheered me up, and eventually I just about managed it.
So we came home and I managed to breast feed Immie for 3 months. However, I was never totally happy that I was getting the correct position. She fed ok, but never for very long and never more than one side, but I was feeding every hour or so. It wasnt the growth spurt either, this was all the time.
Things came to a head when my mate was round and I was expressing so I could go out that evening and she commented that I was hardly getting anything out at all and she'd have filled up 4 bottles in the time I'd expressed 2oz!
About a week later I came down with a cold and so did Immie, at that point I was exhausted and made the decision to open the emergency carton of formula milk. Immie gulped it down and wasn't bothered at all. From that point on I gave up breast feeding. Immie was happier, I was happier, I only wished I'd done it sooner!
Despite my relaxed attitude when I was pregnant, I felt under so much pressure by the nurses etc to keep going, in hindsight, I would have bonded with Immie more quickly and enjoyed the early months a lot more if I hadnt had so much stress feeding! But I didn't have the guts to stand up to the nurses.
When I next saw my Health Visitor and explained why I had stopped etc but that Immie was like a different baby she said "Well you made the right decision then". This is what I needed to hear. I felt like a weight had been lifted.
Everyone assumes breast feeding is easy because it is natural. It isn't. It is a skill, that takes good teaching and lots of practice. But most of all, you shouldn't be made to feel bad if its not for you.
So if and when we decide to have another baby, I am a lot clearer in my mind as to what I will do. I will definitely give breastfeeding another go, I've got a sneaking suspicion I know where I was going wrong, but I certainly won't be flogging a dead horse. If it doesn't work, I'll have the confidence to make my own decisions earlier.