The feeding dilemma

No matter how you feed your baby, people will have an opinion. No matter how comfortable you are with your choice, there is likely to be at least be instance of you feeling judged while feeding. 

Breastfeeders…ugh, you’re feeding your child naturally, in public? Put your breast away, we don’t want to see their real purpose! Put a muslin over your baby’s head or go feed elsewhere please. 

Bottle feeders…you’re feeding your child what? Put that bottle down, stop poisoning your child. You’re giving your baby expressed milk? It isn’t as effective as breastfeeding. Oh wait, hang on, don’t start breastfeeding them instead, cover your baby up!  

Ok…we’ll feed them by magic then…

It’s ridiculous. Does it really matter how you feed your baby? Is it anyone else’s business? No.

However, as Mums, we end up defending our decision or justifying our choices. Why? Because lots of people are incredibly judgemental – look up weaning on any forum and you’ll see how opinionated anonymous people can be. I’ve seen posts asking for advice that specifically state that they aren’t asking for judgement or to be told they’re doing it wrong, just a bit of help. No mum should need to say that. Who are others to push their choices as the only way? 

We are feeding our children and doing our best. Nothing else matters (unless you’re feeding your 2 month old a burger…don’t do that!). 

As you know, we have been trying to get Sam to take a bottle for weeks. Although he won’t yet take a full feed, he will happily accept a bottle or sippy cup. Progress! I’m still breastfeeding as well, since he needs both milk and formula, but that may change if his bottle feeding improves.

We’ve had a long and difficult road with breastfeeding and I’m proud that we are still going at 22 weeks (whether it’s my choice or not…!). I’m also proud that through a lot of patience and perseverance Sam is getting better with the bottle, just like he did with the breast at the start. 

So why, when I bottle feed in public, do I feel the need (if someone speaks to me) to point out that I also breastfeed.

Because it feels like people are looking. Judging. 

News flash to myself….they probably aren’t. 

In fact, if I looked around, I would likely see that most mums are bottle feeding, especially if their babies are a few months old. This also makes me sad. It’s all very conflicted in my head!

I am entirely comfortable with breastfeeding while out – more so than I ever thought I would be – I will feed Sam pretty much anywhere, but I’m sure other mums lack the confidence or feel they ‘ought’ to cover up. There has been so much in the media recently, perhaps too much. It’s the way women have always fed their babies, I fail to understand what the fuss is about. 

There is no right or wrong, just women feeding their babies however they can. 

The 8 week jabs 

Yesterday, after hearing about the dreaded jabs from the majority of my NCT group, it was Sam and my turn. I had no idea how they would go or how he would be after, all the other babies seemed to have different reactions. 

We had a lovely morning, with Sam on good form smiling away for peekaboo and me talking rubbish to him. He even had a nap (most unusual). Feeling horrible, I bundled him into the car, where he immediately fell asleep. At the doctor’s, after two failed attempts in the pram, I sat him on my knee and gave him some calpol. He remained calm, cheerful…unaware. 

The 8 week check up was first. The second the cold stethoscope touched his skin, he screamed. And screamed. He cried his eyes out through the whole appointment, getting so worked up that the doctor couldn’t finish the checks. 

On to the jabs. The Rotavirus was given orally and he began to whimper. As I held him on my knee for the injections themselves, I saw the needle, shut my eyes and kissed him on his head while hugging him tightly. He screamed. Repeat all for leg two. My poor little man balled his eyes out. Fortunately, he immediately calmed when I fed him straight after, even managing to calm him enough that the first doctor could finish her checks. 

He was asleep in the pram before we reached the car. There were no after effects until early evening when he started crying, reaching screaming level with the ‘ill’ high pitched cry that broke my heart. A walk in the pram sent him off, but he woke up the second we got back in the front door. After a couple of hours of crying and feeding, he fell asleep again. I left him on the breast until I was sure he was in a deep sleep, not minding if he was purely comfort sucking. 

He remained asleep for 4 hours when he calmly awoke for food, had a decent feed and slept for another 3.5 hours, fed and was out for another 2. 

All in all, he didn’t react too badly, luckily. Now, just 4 weeks until we get to do it all over again. 

Happy is healthy

6 weeks. Where has the time gone? It seems like an age since we were struggling with how best to feed Sam and feeding a combination of expressed milk and formula. After succeeding a week in, Sam is still breastfeeding, but we are both still struggling with the left breast. I’m not so comfortable holding him that way and he has just never really ‘got it’ on that side. He will feed off it but 8 times out of 10 it’s a struggle getting him to latch well and generally involves him getting worked up trying. 

Expressing isn’t as effective as breastfeeding. I know this. However, what it is more effective than is a baby who gets stressed out trying to feed properly. I have decided to start expressing off the left for some feeds and then bottle feed the milk to him. The right produces far more milk and he has no issues with feeding, so business as usual. I will keep breastfeeding him off the left as well, but mixed with expressed feeds to give us both a break. 

I have started this tonight and already feel more relaxed. One feed is bottled up in the fridge ready for when it’s needed, he’s currently feeding from a previously expressed batch and the right breast is full and ready for his next feed. I’m sure the boob brigade will be quick to point out that this isn’t as effective as full breastfeeding and that I should work this out. However, I say back that I will be doing a bit of both (not that I need to justify my decisions), this allows Carl to assist with some feeds and – most importantly – it removes stress for both Sam and I. 

Do what works for you. This is the best course of action for us, otherwise I will simply end up jacking in breastfeeding altogether because I’m getting bored of the battle. Some days I’m sure I’ll forget to express at all, some days I may end up expressing all the ‘left feeds’…but at the end of the day, as long as Sam is feeding well and we’re both happy, that’s all that matters. 

Reach for the good stuff

I don’t have a sweet tooth. Hand me the cheese over chocolate any day. Preferably a big block of it. 

However, since breastfeeding I find myself reaching for cakes, chocolate, pizza and anything bad that’s within reach! I’ve been told this is my body keeping enough calories coming in to help with milk production. All I know is that I just can’t help myself! 

It can’t be doing much harm at the moment, I’ve been back in pre-pregnancy jeans for 2 weeks (although I do still slip on the stretchy maternity ones occasionally – zips and buttons are such an effort!) so I can only conclude that feeding really is burning off the bad (good) stuff. 

Hand me the chocolate…oh what the heck, hand me the cheese too! 

[Disclaimer: I am still eating healthy home cooked meals twice a day; no one can live on comfort food!]

Home Alone week 1 is complete

Today concludes my first full week at home on maternity leave and what a lovely week it has been. We had our maternity ward tour on Monday evening – we’re booked in to Epsom – which reaffirmed our decision to make use of their new midwife led birth centre if at all possible. It felt ‘right’ when we walked in there. Our final pre-natal NCT class took place on Tuesday night and it was my 34 week appointment yesterday, so it’s been very baby-centred!

The last few days have been a big adjustment to a new – short term! – slower pace of life. Getting lie ins while I can, enjoying freshly made fruit smoothies (I would thoroughly recommend a Nutribullet to anyone, I’ll also be using it to make baby food in the future) and doing odd bits of housework, while generally relaxing and putting my feet up whenever I feel tired or get either belly or back ache.

It is strange not ‘needing’ to do anything during the day; I’m so used to planning my day out with to do lists (re-written each day…while also leaving a couple of items on that can be immediately ticked off! You know you do the same!).

I have long lists of things I would like to get on with but, you know what, by 35 weeks pregnant you just need to take the days at whatever pace you can manage. I would like to be dancing round the house singing my head off while painting, decorating and cleaning the whole place from top to bottom….but I do not have the energy to do so and that is ok. I just try to keep on top of the washing up and clothes washing and have the place neat for when Carl gets home, helping him out where I can. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a lot more help than I was able to give for the first 5 months of pregnancy!

I make small goals for each day, beyond simply getting up, having a shower and getting dressed, so that at least I have accomplished something. Today, it was opening my favourite spreadsheet and updating our accounts so we know what we have to spend on house purchases and the nursery (happy payday – does any other payday feel quite so good as the first one after Christmas?) and, in a minute, I am going to head out for a walk. When I’m back, if my back isn’t hurting too much, I will start cutting material for a patchwork quilt I’m going to make Bud. If my back hurts, I will lie down and read until Carl arrives home. Such is the life of a pregnant woman. It’s tiring and you shouldn’t feel bad about getting rest while you can.

Now…walk time…and it’s not looking appealing as the trees are blowing all round. Fresh air is very necessary though and it is so important to remain at least a bit active; there’s nothing like the feel of wind on your cheeks to wake you up!

Oh, and I will treat myself to a big mug of hot chocolate when I get home; sometimes an incentive is essential!!

Then this happens and it gets even harder…!

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