I didn’t see Loose Women today, but I have heard about it. During a discussion on breastfeeding Jamelia stated that women who don’t breastfeed are selfish. There are many reasons why a mother chooses not to breastfeed, and I am pretty sure they aren’t down to selfishness. I am constantly appalled by the lack of support and compassion we show our fellow mothers, when we are all aiming for the same thing – to raise our children as best we can. Heres my story on my decision not to breastfeed and why it was the right decision for me and my family.
Why I chose not to breastfeed and why it was the best thing I could have done
During pregnancy you get it rammed down your throat that breast is best, you get it from all angles, so it never occurred to me that I would feed my baby any other way. As a first time mother, I assumed it would be easy and straight forward. And to start with it was, while in hospital Sophie latched on nicely and fed at regular intervals, sleeping soundly in between. However this didn’t continue.
We arrived home from hospital around 7pm Friday evening, and all was going fine until Sophie wanted feeding at around 10pm, the problem was my milk hadn’t come in, and she was hungry. I kept at it, determined that I would feed my baby. By 7am the following morning I hadn’t slept, I was exhausted and sore, Sophie had screamed all night long – this must have been my worst moment as a new Mum. Less than 48 hours old and I wasn’t giving my baby what she needed most. So Michael and I made the decision to give her formula, and then she slept, and I slept – for the first time since the previous Monday.
You see, at this point I had hit rock bottom, I had lost my Mum 3 days before giving birth. At 6.50pm on Monday 2nd May, she passed away in hospital. She had cancer. The following day at 4pm I was admitted to the same hospital to be induced. I had spent the morning planning her funeral and making as many arrangements as I could. I spent the Tuesday night in the induction suite, Michael sleeping on a thin mattress on the floor so as not to leave me on my own. My waters were finally broken on the Wednesday evening and 24 hours later, at 6.50pm on Thursday 5th May, Sophie entered the world. Those few days are a blank to me, I remember very little, apart from the moment I set eyes on my beautiful little girl. I vaguely remember going to the registry office in the hospital to pick up my Mums death certificate, dressed in those lovely stockings they make you wear, slippers, nighty and dressing gown.
I was physically and emotionally drained by this point and all I wanted to do was make sure my little girl had everything she needed. So the decision was made, my very short breastfeeding journey had come to an abrupt end. Sophie was now a formula baby. I didn’t have it within me to continue fighting. The midwife visited and was totally supportive – she offered to have someone come and check on me and help me if I wanted to continue to feed Sophie myself, but she was very understanding of my situation. In the space of less than a week I had lost my own Mum and become a Mum myself. That week counts as one of the best, and one of the worst of my life.
But I don’t feel any guilt whatsoever. Sophie is a happy and healthy little girl. She is now 3 years old. She is more loved than I ever imagined possible, and the fact I didn’t breastfeed will never take away from that. My story isn’t black and white, but I did what was best for me and my family at the time and I don’t for a second regret it.
So to anyone who thinks mothers who give their babies formula are a failure, or think that breastfeeding should be compulsory, think again. I haven’t failed my child – I fed her, I loved her and I nurtured her. She is amazing – she is happy, confident and sociable. She isn’t clingy and she adjusts and makes the most out of any situation. She is polite and well behaved and she makes me proud every single day – what more could I want from her? How could breastfeeding have made her any more amazing than she already is?
I defy anyone to call me a bad mother for the choices I made. I will not be made to feel bad for doing what was best for me in difficult circumstances. We came through this as a family and I can hold my head high and be proud of where we are now.