I was 6 days off being 20 years old when I had Alex, so really quite young, but I'd like to think I had quite a mature head on me. Even before the NCT classes, and the breastfeeding class included in that, I was quite keen to give breastfeeding a go. I felt it was the natural thing to do, the only thing worrying me was what my peers would think.
The moment he first latched on and snuggled up to my breast, cradled in my arms was and still is one of the most magical moments I remember from his birth. Feeling his new, smooth, warm skin eventually against mine after 9 months of waiting just felt perfect and like the whole world had stopped in that moment.
This euphoria however didn't last, after the first days I was dreading each feed, every cry would nearly have me in tears for the pain that was to come. In hindsight I don't think we ever really had the latch right, I was red raw, cracked, bleeding and in agony with each suck; I bit my lip, I screamed into pillows, clenched my fists, tears were shed, but I carried on none the less, because I felt I'd be failing as a mother if I didn't continue.
I should have taken help from the many people and places I could have received it from but I didn't, I lied to the midwives and health visitors that everything was fine, when in actual fact looking back it really wasn't, Alex had lost a lot of his birth weight in the first 10 days.
The reason why I suffered in silence? I was afraid, I was just 20, I was scared that admitting I wasn't getting it right would send some sort of alarm bells off to the health officials and think I wasn't coping. I was scared they might think I was suffering with depression and not dealing with being a Mum.
The day before my milk properly came in was the day we gave Alex his first bottle, I remember feeling a failure, and having the sense like I was feeding my baby some sort of poison. But it is what he needed. Unfortunately he loved it, which led us giving him more bottles, the bottled milk settled him, and James fed him a bottle for the night feeds in the first two weeks.
This obviously led to my milk supply slowing, so once James went back to work I picked up the night time feeding, and although I was still sore, it was bearable and over time it did become more comfortable.
We still combination fed Alex and I carried on feeding him myself until he was about 5/6 months old. He was always a very hungry baby so needed the extra bottled milk (even the hungry baby milk didn't fill him up much), and despite me really trying to get my milk supply up it just didn't very well and he was always wanting more after most feeds.
I was very self concious of feeding him myself, I think I only ever fed in public once (much to the disgrace of the old people in the Marks and Spencer cafe) hidden in a corner, with him hidden under a blanket and feeling like the world was staring and judging me. Whenever I had friends over I'd always use bottles, because I always felt far too nervous, and like they thought it was the wrong thing to do.
Looking back, I wish I had taken the help offered and been more honest, who knows it may have led to a more positive breastfeeding experience even though this wasn't too bad it could have been a lot better. I wish I hadn't given in to the pressure of worrying what other people might think, and feeling like I had to bottle feed like a lot of other young Mum's I knew had.
If I can offer any new Mum any advice, it would be to take the advice available, and find a support.
I was lucky to have James supporting me whichever decision I chose, although I think he would have found it very strange if I hadn't even given breastfeeding a go. He didn't but any pressure on me, and actually the times he helped with the bottle feeds I found a God send as I really found it a shock to the system becoming a mother first time around
|Before his first feed (I have no photos that remotely even look like I am feeing him)|