Breast is best - or is it?

Posted by Kim Johnson on

Breastfeeding is a hot topic with new mums and one that always gets my goat.  Is breast best?  Obviously, the scientists and health professionals know more than your average mum but it's much more than just giving your baby the necessary antibodies. I am going to just tell you how I see it without reading up on all the science and hope that I don't get trolled!

When I had my daughter in 2003, we very nearly lost her due to neglect at a local hospital.  I was 40 weeks + 10 days and went in for a check up only to be admitted that evening by the consultant. This was a Friday night and I remember the summer being ridiculously hot and feeling like a beached whale most of the time.  They were short staffed and I was constantly pushed to the back of the queue all weekend.  Inducing me on the Friday night, I was then left until the Saturday afternoon when it hadn't worked and again until the Sunday afternoon when it hadn't worked for the second time.  After my ordeal I was told that you could only have a prostin injection twice but over the weekend I had three!  I was sent home on the Sunday night with them telling me I had to go into labour naturally because nothing was happening. If it hadn't have been for hubby Sean, Aimee would not be here. He said the only way we would go home was if we could have a high resolution scan the next morning. This was granted so off we tootled at 11pm on the Sunday night - I say tootled but all I did was waddle!

After a good night's sleep (which was much needed after spending two nights on a labour ward with lots of mums going into labour), we set off back to the hospital for a scan.  Whilst in the scan room, the sonographer asked if my water's had broken which they hadn't. She sent us out of the room and five minutes later, she came out with a sealed envelope and told us to head back up to Concorde ward - which was where I had spent a lost weekend. On reaching the ward, I immediately walked into the consultant who I had seen on the Friday. On seeing me, he said "Good God woman, you should be at home with a baby by now" and I literally shoved the envelope into his hand and said "There's something wrong". I won't bore you with all the gory details but I ended up having an emergency cesarean at 7pm that night because my cervix just wasn't working.   

I ended up spending a week in the hospital and I was in pain and exhausted before I even got chance to start parenting.  It's a major operation yet you are handed another little human that you are totally responsible for and one without a manual - in every other circumstance of having a major op, you would be told to rest, rest, rest. 

So, this is where my breastfeeding nightmare began...

Aimee had colic which used to start at around 9pm - most say it happens at tea time but my lovely little girl would start screaming around 9pm when hubby had to leave the hospital and would generally not stop until around midnight.  I breast fed as soon as she was born but whilst I was fine on my left breast, I felt like someone was setting fire to my right breast every time she latched on. After 3 days of hardly any sleep, I was trying to breastfeed Aimee at 5am and I was at my wits end - I couldn't do it, so I asked for a bottle.  I will always remember the nurse to this day and can see her in my mind's eye - she sat in the chair at the end of my bed, crossed her legs and told me "breast was best" - she wouldn't let me have a bottle so I persevered whilst my mood plummeted hour by hour.

By the time I came out of hospital, I was a wreck. Aimee's colic was horrendous and I actually began to resent her and the fact that it was down to me to feed and no one else.  I feel guilty just writing this but I have to be 100% honest and I refuse to believe that I am the only living mum to have ever felt that way.  It was no wonder my blood pressure was off the scale and that was one reason I was in hospital for a week after Aimee's birth.

One Sunday morning, around 2 weeks after Aimee's birth, I had a community midwife visit. "I've come to take Mrs Johnson's blood pressure" she tells Sean.  Hubby's response to her as he opened the door to her was "you've come for a lot more than that" at which point, I was coming downstairs in my dressing gown, sobbing.  Immediately she said to me "Breastfeeding problem?" to which I replied "Yes" and she told hubby to get his shoes on, get himself off to Tesco and go buy some Aptamil. I remember my tears drying immediately as I asked her why she was so accepting of me moving to a bottle.  As she explained to me, in order for baby to be happy, mum had to be happy.  As a community midwife, she explained she saw lots of mums suffer and said that breast was only best if everyone was happy.  That afternoon Daddy fed Aimee for the first time and we opted for Dr Brown bottles and would you know, the colic disappeared too!  Daddy was able to share the night time feeds so that I could start to recover from my operation and we were all happier.

So, breast is best? Well that to me, depends on your situation, your birth and how you and baby are - you should not be made to feel guilty or pressured into it - that's the bit that gets my goat. 

After all, I was brought up on a bottle and I am doing just fine.

Kim x

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