As I looked at Daisy today, happily sat in her car seat – content, I realised I haven’t really documented our transition from breast fed to bottle fed, and my reasons for making the heart-wrenching decision to stop breast feeding.
With Lyla, my first daughter, she fed to feed, she fed for comfort, she fed to sleep, she fed just for the fun of it. I stopped at 6 months in preparation for going back to work but we had a nightmare trying to get her to take a bottle, but we did it. I wouldn’t say breast feeding her was my favourite thing in the world, I loved our special time together and I did what was best for her, because that’s all we want, and I was proud of making it to 6 months.
This time around, with Daisy, I loved our first few weeks of feeding and bonding time – it was amazing. But I soon started to notice I wasn’t enjoying feeding, I was just doing it because she needed to be fed. I had plenty of milk, expressing was going well and we tried some bedtime bottles at about 4 weeks. All was good, but then due to Daisy being hospitalised and then Callum’s work commitments once we were home, it kind of fizzled out and I just carried on breast feeding. But something wasn’t right. She fussed, she cried, I cried, she screamed, she just wasn’t content. I went through all the possibilities like allergies/intolerances, latch issues etc., but everything was as it should be. So why was this happening?
By about 10 weeks I was having real issues emotionally and my friends started to witness me feeling like I couldn’t cope, whether Lyla was also being particularly difficult too I don’t know, I seem to have just blanked out that period in time. But I persevered. The thing is, I persevered because everyone said I could do it, not because I believed I could, or wanted to.
Now whether this is an actual thing or not, who knows, but by 13 weeks I was pretty sure I was heading for post-natal depression. I don’t know whether you can be near PND and manage to steer away from it but that’s how it feels now, looking back. I cried whilst trying to feed, I cried whilst feeding, I cried after feeding as I dreaded the next one, I felt trapped and alone (even though I am lucky enough to have never been alone – my support network is incredible). So me and my husband eventually said we would try bottles of formula again and see how we got on. We aimed for 2-3 weeks to have her bottle fed. We tried straight away as we had some formula at home as a ‘just in case’, and she took it, so we carried on, and she carried on taking it.
At 14 and a half weeks I had a solely formula fed baby. And she was happy. And guess what, so was I!!! Apart from the side effects of going cold turkey on breast feeding that is *ouch*.
Of course I will always feel guilty, not just because she wasn’t breast fed for as long as I would have liked, not just because it was my decision to stop, but mainly because I didn’t enjoy it. Breast feeding is meant to be this amazing thing between a mother and her baby and I didn’t enjoy it. What kind of mother does that make me??
I know now. It makes me a bloody good mother, for recognising that things needed to change, for being brave enough to change them.
I cannot stress how happy I am now, 5 weeks down the line and I don’t care anymore what people think of me when they see me feeding Daisy a bottle. But most importantly, and the reason why I am so happy, is that Daisy is the happiest, most content baby. She is laid back, hardly cries for feeds, burps well, sleeps well and her smiles and giggles light up the room.
It may be cliche when people say “do what is best for you and your baby”, but it is so true. Even if it is not what other people really think you should do, just do it. Because happiness is key at the end of the day. Follow your heart. And if you think you need help emotionally, please speak to your friends and family. They are there for you.
All the love
(If you are reading this and you don’t know me, and feel like this is you, please message me, I will help in any way I can, I promise.)