breast is best but it's not for me, fed is best

So, as the saying used to go “breast is best” but I’m firmly in the “fed is best” camp. There’s no denying breast milks benefits and I’m not about to pretend that formula is as nutritious. But I do know that breast wasn’t best for us. It wasn’t best for my kids, it wasn’t best for me and it wasn’t best for mine and my husbands relationship.

My first experience of breastfeeding was shortly after my sons birth in 2009. I decided I wanted to give it a go as, at that time, it was heavily encouraged and I didn’t want to feel like a failure or as though I was giving my son second best. I managed the post birth feed well and I was encouraged to continue. However, Logan had other ideas and showed little or no interest when he was presented to the breast. I was shown all kinds of positions to sit and lie in but I just sat sobbing on my hospital bed. I was alone, I was bleeding heavily, my son was crying with hunger and the nurses were reluctant to provide formula. I just couldn’t do it. Eventually we were discharged after having proved I could latch my baby but I knew I’d struggle when we got home and we resorted to formula. You see I said resorted….that’s what it felt like. Like we were offering second best and, after 48hrs of being a mum, I felt like I’d already let my son down.

My second born was again offered a breast feed after birth which went well but I was adamant she would be formula fed and my mind wasn’t being changed on that.  The midwife was lovely but she made a comment along the lines of it being a shame that I hadn’t continued breastfeeding as Florence had seemed to take to it so well. Again I felt guilty. But, at least my daughter was happy and content. However, I did always wonder if I should have continued.

When we finally found out we were expecting a third child I’d already decided to give breastfeeding another crack. I’d made more of an effort to read up on it and what I was letting myself in for. I was so determined to succeed that we didn’t buy any formula or bottles.

The feeding went well in the hospital and I went home with a breast fed baby who seemed to have a decent latch. I spent the first day at home in a permanent state of undress. Elsie’s grandad was already there looking after the other kids and I felt a little on edge that he might get a glimpse of something he shouldn’t as I was still mastering breastfeeding let alone doing it discreetly!

The days passed in a blur of nipple cream and breast pumps and eventually we got the hang of it, but at what cost? I’d spent no time with my other children, I slept in a separate room to my husband for months on end and I looked disheveled, at best. I snapped at everyone through tiredness and I became a little bit “I know what’s best for our daughter” which is inevitable after spending so much time with her. I don’t think I was great fun to be around in those first few weeks and the switch to formula seemed like a huge relief!

Suddenly we had all this time, we could go out knowing we had two whole hours before Elsie would be hungry, I could help my kids with their homework, Matt could bond with Elsie through feeding her himself and Elsie was happy and content between feeds. I absolutely take my hat off to women who can run their household and have a breastfed baby on their hip but it’s just not for me or my family. I know she will have received a lot of goodness from my milk but, at this moment in time, I shall be choosing formula for baby number four.

 

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How time flies when you’re tired. One month has passed since Elsie shot into our lives at 12:02am on 21st May 2016. I had intended to do weekly write-ups of her progress in the first month but I’ve barely had time to sneeze.

Matt went back to work the week after Elsie was born. It was half term and so there was no pre-school for Florence (bad timing or what), Elsie had just about found her lungs and I was feeling battered and bruised. The post labour high lasted a few days and then I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. This past month has most definitely been fuelled by Nescafé!

Elsie is now outgrowing her up to 1 month clothing and seems to best fit 0-3mths; where’s my baby gone?! Im already facing the prospect of bundling up and selling the clothes she’s barely worn and already grown out of. It makes me a little sad….and a little broody eeek! I’m not surprised though as she loves her food. We’ve just stopped combination feeding and she is solely formula fed. She’s taking around 3oz every 2-4hrs. Sometimes she takes more, sometimes less. Thankfully he reflux seems to have sorted itself out and she hasn’t projectile vomited in some time. The early days saw us covered in milk daily.

We seem to be developing some kind of routine without even trying really. Elsie has her last bottle around 9pm in the evening and then I take her up to bed whenever I go. She will usually go down ok and next wake at 12:30am, 3am and 5:30am. If I’m lucky I can get her back down again until 7am.

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Matt and I have been in seperate rooms most nights since Elsie was born. Matt works 7:30am – 6pm and I feel he needs a good nights sleep to be able to work properly. Friday’s and Saturdays we tend to all sleep in the same room again which is nice.

Elsie spends a lot of the day awake which I guess helps her to sleep at night however it does not help the housework, ironing, blogging or any other task get done!

The best parts, at the moment, are seeing Elsie smile. It’s probably due to wind but she has a beautiful smile which takes over her whole face. She reserves the biggest smiles for Daddy!

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Florence is loving her little sister now and regularly asks to kiss and cuddle her. She loves to help change Elsie’s nappy or put her bib on. Logan’s taking it all in his stride, after all this is the third younger sibling for him if you include his brother on his dad’s side.

I’m loving our little family, even if I do look like death warmed up.

See you back here on 21st July for Elsie’s 2 month update!

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I’ve lost count of the number of times people ask “Are you still feeding her yourself Caroline?”

Part of me wants to be facetious and say “Yes, I pick up the bottle and feed her all by myself.”  However, I bite my tongue and tell people that we are in fact combination feeding.  This wasn’t something we planned; I couldn’t understand why people would do both – it seemed a little like sitting on the fence.  I had planned to solely breastfeed but after a traumatic and frazzled evening following her birth we turned to formula to satisfy Elsie after she struggled to latch and was becoming more upset.  Having a happy baby was far more important to me then worrying about feeling like I had failed, although it didn’t stop me feeling like I had.

I was sent an Ardo Calypso Double Breast Pump to try out and so I hooked myself up and continued to keep my supply up this way.  In the early days I was just producing small amounts of colostrum which we cup fed to Elsie and then topped up with formula.  Once my milk came in I would express the milk and she would have one or two expressed feeds a day to supplement the formula.

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It wasn’t long before we realised that my milk wasn’t filling Elsie up as much as the formula and even after 3oz of breastmilk she would be chomping her hands minutes later.  I was unable to physically pump a larger quantity and besides, Elsie’s tummy would be unable to take more than about 3oz at 2 weeks old anyway.

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Now, at just over two weeks old, we are offering Elsie formula every 2-3 hours, as she demands it, and when she has her grizzly time during the evenings I offer her my breast which she takes without any problems.  It now feels completely comfortable to feed her, she latches well and will feed for around 20 minutes on each side.  It’s also handy if she grizzles whilst we’re out and about during the day as it’s not always convenient to warm up a bottle!

I never really understood why people loved breastfeeding so much but when I’m snuggled up with her and she’s peaceful and content I feel proud. It has made our bond strong and she just looks adorable and innocent as she feeds. Florence finds it all a bit peculiar that she has my boob in her mouth but I think she’s getting used to seeing my boob now and the strange looks are becoming more infrequent thankfully!

I can see us continuing down the combination route for a while, we will take our lead from Elsie.  I should imagine as she starts to take more formula and sleep more routinely she will naturally drop the need for comfort feeds from me at random times during the day and night.  I think I will miss the sleepy night feeds so I am trying to enjoy them while they last.

feeding, breastfeeding

 

 

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As expected I’m already running behind with blogging about Elsie! Matt had the first week off following her birth and we enjoyed spending time as a family and getting to know our new addition.  My blog has taken a bit of a back seat during this time but now Matt is back at work and Florence will be back at pre-school on Monday I want to make sure I keep a record of all the little changes that happen during these early weeks. Elsie is already changing so much.

Following Elsie’s birth I breastfed her, quite successfully, at the hospital and she had a good sleep.  We continued with the breastfeeding when we got home at 6:30am on Saturday 21st May and it was already feeling painful.  My boobs felt like they did in early pregnancy; anything brushing against them made me tense up. By 9pm on the Saturday evening I was frazzled. We’d been awake since Friday morning. Elsie was struggling to latch and my patience was shot.  So, we did what a lot of tired, frustrated new parents do and offered Elsie formula and we haven’t really looked back.  I have an Ardo Calypso double breast pump and so I continued to express milk and we cup fed Colostrum to Elsie until my milk came in.  The pump has been brilliant and I am so glad I persevered with it. We continued to offer a breastmilk feed to Elsie as and when I had one pumped. We ended week one combination feeding and it seemed to agree with our little lady as she only lost 4% of her body weight, dropping down to 8lb 6oz on Day 3.

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Whilst we’re talking about feeding, Monday 23rd May was a day of firsts.  We felt brave and went to the pub (that’s definitely not a first), but I did breastfeed Elsie in public, in the beer garden. She latched straight away and fed from both sides.  Success! Prosecco to celebrate!

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Elsie also had her first bath on Monday 23rd May, which she hated. She’s had two more since which she’s loved. Well, she didn’t say as much but there were no tears.  Progress.

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Thankfully Elsie’s cord dried up and fell off on Day 4 and it has left her with a lovely little belly button; however I am still unsure whether it is going to be an inny or an outty! We didn’t keep the cord as quite frankly it makes my stomach turn!

We also took the pram for a spin on Monday 23rd (gosh, we were busy). Once again, Elsie wasn’t keen but we have since enjoyed many peaceful walks so hoping it was just the shock of it all.

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Night times, during the first week, were a little hit and miss. Matt and I had been sharing the feeds so I would do the feeds until around 2am and then Matt would take over until the morning.  This seemed to work well.  We have a double bed in Elsie’s nursery so whoever is on the feeding duty stays in there whilst the other gets some much needed rest.  We started the week using a basic, cellular blanket to cover Elsie during the night but it became apparent that she quite like being smothered (not literally) in blankets and wrapped tightly so I invested in a Gro Swaddle.  We had a few successful nights in the swaddle, although she did manage to wriggle out by the morning, but then she grew up on it and it’s been in the wash since.  Washing doesn’t get done quite as quickly as it used to!

On the whole we seem to have a very content little baby.  Matt and I are both much more relaxed this time around and seem to be enjoying the early days and embracing the tiredness a little better than we did when Florence was a baby.

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