Here is Amy’s breastfeeding story. You can find her over at Two Boys One Mum:
When I was pregnant with Boy1 I was 100% sure I would breastfeed, exclusively, for a whole year. I was really looking forward to it, to the bonding, to knowing I was giving him the best start in life and to not have to buy bottles or a steriliser or mess around with cooling boiled water! I was going to be a carefree, breastfeeding anywhere and everywhere type with a bouncy chubby baby thriving on my milk.
Except it didn’t work out for me that way, at all. My milk wasn’t enough to keep Boy1 full or help him gain weight. I didn’t do a very good job of accepting it. I advise people at work about breastfeeding and often quoted the statistic that less than 2% of people are physiologically unable to provide enough milk for their babies, regardless of breast size or shape. I refused to believe I was in that 2%, his latch was perfect, my nipples were never sore and he had 24 hour access to them. I sought help from numerous lactation consultants, online support groups, telephone helplines and breastfeeding advisors. I didn’t take advice from those who suggested I ‘just couldn’t do it’ and instead undertook a gruelling and emotionally draining schedule of feeding round the clock, pumping in between and taking every galactogogue I could get my hands on. For some weeks I only spent literally one or two minutes an hour free from feeding or pumping. (I had to move in with my mum so that she could bottle feed while I pumped!) It was hell on earth. I was constantly trying to reduce the amount of formula he took but each time I tried his weight would drop. I should have accepted what was obvious to everyone else months before I finally did: I couldn’t exclusively breastfeed my baby.
I felt like such a failure and never really came to terms with not breastfeeding exclusively. I didn’t feel like formula milk was bad for him, or that his health would be affected. I wasn’t worried for him, it was a purely selfish pain that came from not being able to do something perfectly that I felt I should be able to do.
Despite never “properly” breastfeeding Boy1, he did breastfeed until his first birthday. He would have formula “top ups” after each breastfeed (which to be honest were full feeds … The breastmilk was more of a starter!). As he weaned onto solids, his milk feeds reduced and I clung on like a mad woman to the fewer and fewer breastfeeds he needed. When I went back to work I cried everyday about missing my precious feeds. By the week of his first birthday we had dropped all but the bedtime feed.
That week it felt like Boy1 suddenly “grew up”: he finally let go of our fingers and worked out that he could walk on his own and he stopped looking for a breastfeed at night and started reaching straight for the bottle. I was surprised at my reaction to this. I wasn’t devastated that our feeding had come to an end, I was proud of him for being such a big, independent boy! (Being 3 months pregnant with Boy2 might have softened the blow.)
This time around I was determined not to let my desire to exclusively breastfeed turn me into a stressed and miserable Mum like last time. I promised myself (and my husband) that I wouldn’t go berserk pumping and feeding 24 hrs a day or get so stressed about it that I couldn’t even let myself enjoy cuddling the baby. Before Boy2 was born I tried to come to terms with not being able to feed him exclusively but always hoped deep down that it would be different this time.
So, we’re nearly a month in to exclusively breastfeeding Boy2 and so far so good! It IS different this time. I CAN make enough milk to feed a baby and I’m doing it! I’m really pleased that this breastfeeding story has such a different start. I’m enjoying feeding and cuddling my new baby and no matter what happens or what decisions we make in the future I’m content knowing that I can do it!
Part of me had believed that because I couldn’t make enough milk last time, I wouldn’t be able to this time. I’ll never really know why it didn’t work last time, but I’d like other women to know that even when breastfeeding isn’t possible with one baby, it might be with another baby! Stay hopeful… but not so hopeful that you turn into a feeding/pumping obsessed lunatic who never sleeps or puts her boobs away!