Breast is best. Or is it?

As I near the six month mark of exclusively breastfeeding my Daughter, I have chosen to reflect on this time and my experiences with nursing my newborn.

It’s pushed upon new Mothers to breastfeed from the get go, we are encouraged to push through and nurse our young, told that the benefits are endless. It can wash away the baby blues, prevent colic and reflux and help with bonding. Not to mention it is free.

Now, from the get go I wanted to try to breastfeed but was unsure if I’d be able to, if I could produce enough milk to maintain a healthy baby and help them to thrive. Fortunately, breastfeeding was the one thing I wanted to do that had went to plan. I mean, I could get into labour chat and tell you how terribly wrong that all went but I’ll spare the gory details.

From day one, hours after delivery, Eleanor found the breast and was able to feed to her potential. Within weeks she had regained her birth weight and was clearly thriving. I was proud to have been a big part of her development both physically and mentally.

What I did not know and was never told though was just how intense breastfeeding could be and that babies cluster feed day and night. In the beginning I was exhausted and spent these precious new weeks as a Mother with my baby attached to me, so much so, she had to sleep in our bed.

While in hospital the midwives would greet me with “you are still feeding?” as Eleanor would feed for hours and hours. Religiously and relentlessly. Breastfeeding is an around the clock job and it isn’t always easy. There have been tears, frustrations and arguments, believe me.

I found that my bond with my baby was at times strained because I was so exhausted from the constant feeding or the crying for milk that I didn’t feel a connection. I felt as though my baby only seen me as a milk machine and was tired of not having any time to myself, not even to have a five minute shower before the cries started. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.

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Breastfeeding certainly has not prevented colic or reflux in our case as Eleanor has had such bother with wind and tummy problems she would be up all through the night crying and screaming out in pain. Something which we were left feeling helpless to and often spent hours walking with her or massaging her tummy in the dark. Sleep was not our friend and even now I get periods of insomnia.

It’s awful to watch your baby wriggle in pain and feel so useless. Colic was something I have no experience of and when it struck, I was really quite clueless. It took a lot of advice and research to understand it with no root cause ever being diagnosed. The only thing that would help with the cries was for her to feed but this is turn made the issue worse and here we had a never-ending cycle of feeding, pain and cries.

When we finally got prescription medication for the colic and reflux, this helped tremendously. If anyone out there has a baby suffering and fears they are in pain, talk to your doctor and hopefully you can get the medical care and attention that is required to help your baby. It can be a tough journey and breastfeeding does not make for exemption from the dreaded colic.

I am glad to say that after much persevering and struggles, we finally have a happy baby who now smiles and plays as she should. It’s great to watch her grow and see her so happy without the painful cries and screams.

Eleanor will refuse to take a bottle now therefore this leaves her reliant on me for nursing and nobody else can help out with this. We have tried and tested different brands of bottles, different people taking turns to try her with the bottle and many positions for feeding but to no avail.

Eleanor hates a bottle and refuses to feed unless it is directly from the breast which can make it difficult if we are out for a meal( such as we were during the festive period and I had to whisk her off for a feed before we even sat down to a starter). I hope that with weaning she will begin to take to the bottle, failing that, at least drink from a sip cup which I can express my milk Into for her.

On the upside to all of the negatives, over all I feel that it was my best decision to nurse my baby. I did not think I would have been able to feed her or that she would thrive through breastfeeding but her progress has been tremendous and has been the root cause for my persevering.

I feel proud that we have come so far with nursing and that I have not only grown a baby for nine months in the womb but continued to nurse and nourish her for a further five months and counting. Each day, I feel that our bond is growing and I can just tell that we will be the best of friends.

I’d certainly not knock breastfeeding and I would say that I’ve had a good experience with it in comparison to others and some horror stories I have read about. I like to think I’ve had it pretty easy.

I mean I have not suffered mastitis and my baby has always had a good latch with my milk produce being sufficient enough to provide for my baby and meet her growing needs. Exhausting and intense at times but rewarding all the same. I am glad I made the decision to nurse and to continue to push through even on the tough times.

Although I’d like to have had Eleanor feed from a bottle from time to time, you can’t have it all and I should remind myself just how fortunate I am that our breastfeeding journey has been without too much of a struggle and that we have made it thus far. It really does make me feel increasingly proud and womanly.

I like that with breastfeeding, I have managed to save money considerably as we have never had the expense to pay our for tubs of formula. I paid out for a medulla breast pump and a variety of different bottles to try but overall, we have saved around £50 each month on formula alone.

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I also like that with breastfeeding it is convenient and on tap. I don’t have to mess around fixing up bottles or sterilising equipment. My milk is at the ready as and when my baby needs.

I’d recommend anyone  give it a try but I am not saying it is the best thing in the world, it too comes with its own struggles and can be nothing but draining. Whatever works for you! Formula or breastfed, a fed baby is a happy baby and I think that no matter the method of feeding, fed is best. I hold no bias to either side, I just wanted to share my experience with nursing.

Has anyone had a good or bad breastfeeding experience?

Keren.

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