A first time mum’s thoughts on feeding

It doesn’t matter how you choose to feed your baby, one thing we can all agree on is that it seems like they are constantly feeding. Especially at night when we are all losing out on our precious sleep. And don’t even get me started on that second night. The ‘cluster feed night’ they called it. I think we must have gotten about 2 hours sleep. And it was our first night at home so we thought this was how it was going to be. I have to admit, there were some thoughts of ‘what have we done?!’ It does get easier. Already, at 5 weeks old, Molly is feeding less during the night and the feeds are a lot shorter than when she was a newborn.

It hasn’t always been so easy though. Molly has been a professional at this breastfeeding thing from day one. I consider myself very lucky. I have had days, however, where I have wondered if it was all worth it. There have been days that have been so painful I have considered sacking it in. Engorgement made me feel like I had boulders on my chest and blocked ducts can be agonising. And have you ever heard of mastitis? But I’m so glad I have persevered. It’s an amazing bonding experience with my baby and, once everything has settled down after the first few weeks, it’s actually rather enjoyable.

The basic message out there seems to be breast is best and there is no doubt that breastfeeding has many benefits for both baby and mother, but formula fed babies are happy and healthy too. My baby has had both. When Molly was just two days old the midwife took one look at her jaundice and sent us straight to A&E. Unfortunately, this meant admittance to a ward for some phototherapy treatment. While we were there, the nurses were very insistent that Molly needed to put on weight. We were only allowed to remove her from her lightbox for 30 minutes every 4 hours and because my milk hadn’t come in properly yet, she needed formula top ups. It was heartbreaking to know that I wasn’t producing enough milk for my baby. Even more so when I found that her jaundice may have been exacerbated by my choice to breastfeed. At the time I wish I’d known that breastfeeding can increase the risk of jaundice, but looking back I don’t think it would have influenced my decision to breastfeed. Those formula top ups did the trick and I’m grateful that option was available until I was producing enough milk. I still have some in the cupboard now, just in case, because you never know.

Sam feeding Molly in hospital after admittance for jaundice

If the feeding wasn’t hard enough, sometimes the milk comes back out a lot quicker than it went in! You’ve just finished feeding, you have a nice content little baby, then before you know it you’re covered in spit up and your baby is crying because they’re hungry again! It’s the last thing you need, isn’t it? The laundry basket is full, you don’t have any more clean clothes, so you spend all day sporting a nice white stain on your black top. Muslins are your friend though. They are absolutely essential and you should aim to have one within 2 feet of you at all times so you’re armed and ready for the next spit up accident. They also make brilliant covers for when you want to breastfeed discreetly in public. Just remember to keep a couple handy in your changing bag and/or handbag for every time you leave the house.

My experiences with feeding have made me realise that there’s is no black and white when it comes to the choice of milk for your baby. Sometimes things happen unexpectedly that means our first choice isn’t available or appropriate for the circumstances. As long as baby is happy and well fed that’s all that matters. Let’s keep that in mind, take the stresses away and just enjoy the closeness of feeding our babies, because before we know it, they’ll be grown up enough to be feeding themselves.

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