Saturday 4 August 2018

Breastfeeding Almost Sent me into Depression!

Yesterday I posted on Instagram about how I hated the term "Breast is Best" and wasn't so keen on the term "Fed is Best" either. I was worried that I'd get a lot of negative comments, but instead I (mostly) got a lot of comments from women who had also struggled to breastfeed their baby and the trauma that had caused them. I realise trauma may sound like a bit of a dramatic word, but for some it really is a traumatic experience, it certainly was for me. And I realised these women needed some support and to know they weren't alone in what they'd gone through.

Firstly I'd like this to be a supportive post, this is not a post to bash breastfeeding women, I think you're amazing. Breastfeeding your baby is HARD work and you've been able to do it despite the difficulties, I really do take my hat off to you. This post is to say it doesn't always work and unfortunately some of the comments that are said are very hurtful and just add salt to an already open wound. 

I don't want to go into my breastfeeding story right now, you can go watch that over on my YouTube channel by clicking here. What I want to talk about is how I felt as a result of not being able to breastfeed my baby.

Breastfeeding Has Been Anything But Natural

With my first baby my breastfeeding journey was pretty much doomed from the start. I had a very difficult and drawn out labour and he just wouldn't latch. All he wanted to do was sleep. I gave it my best go, but we were pretty much forced into formula feeding him when he had lost far too much weight. I can't tell you the guilt that I felt. I couldn't understand how my body wasn't able to do something that everyone says is "natural", surely if it is so natural I'd be breastfeeding my baby and not giving him a bottle. For me breastfeeding has been anything but natural.

I was already traumatised by my birth and how much pain I was in post birth, that not being able to breastfeed was sending me over the edge. I tried to take a relaxed approach to breastfeeding, but I didn't realise my decision on whether I'd feed him myself or not would be taken away from me so soon. Looking back now I can see I was on the verge of Postnatal Depression. That wasn't just as a result of me not being able to breastfeed, but it certainly wasn't helping matters.

Support For Mum

I don't feel like I got the support I needed. I went to a breastfeeding clinic, which wasn't the easiest thing to do since I was still in quite some pain post birth. I explained our situation and how we'd had to give him formula and she just looked at me and said "What do you want us to do!". I was shocked, well surely I was there so you could help me with my latch and feeding, and to see if there was any hope for me continuing to breastfeed. She didn't fill me with confidence.

Although my midwives were wonderful, I found that once our baby was being formula fed and happily putting on weight I was left to just get on with it. There was no support or information given regarding formula feeding, I guess it was just assumed we'd figure it out. It felt to me like they push and push for you to breastfeed and that's all they talk about, but once the going gets tough they tell you to formula feed and leave you to it. There certainly is a lack of support for breastfeeding, but I feel even less support for formula feeding your baby.

Your Comments Hurt

Luckily I've mostly not had negative comments directed at me personally, but I do see comments from others on social media and they really don't make you feel any better about yourself or your decision. Some of the comments I've seen are "fed isn't best, fed is minimum", "you will produce enough milk", "I see all these bottle feeding mums with all this time on their hands", "breast is best", "if you formula feed, your baby could have a problem with obesity", "breast fed babies are smarter", "breast fed babies are more advanced", "it's a shame more women don't give breastfeeding a try", "if the latch is right it won't hurt".

From what I can tell there are a LOT of women who do give breastfeeding a try but aren't successful for a variety of reasons. Maybe they haven't had the right support, I know I didn't with my oldest. I also don't feel like I produced enough milk, I know he certainly wasn't getting enough from me. And seeing the comment you will produce enough milk, it just makes me wonder what I was doing wrong! Why did my body not work right and maybe I just gave up too quick.

There also seems to be an assumption that if you formula feed your baby, you have a baby who sleeps at night and you have all this time to yourself. Well I can tell you now that my youngest has never been a good sleeper day or night, I don't have a lot of time to myself because I still need to feed him a bottle and when I'm not doing that I'm running around after a 2 year old. He's also a nightmare to feed, he can not stay still and I've had to take him into a quiet room so he will finish his bottle without distractions. Oh and dropping food on your babies head is still a problem even if you bottle feed (just saying).

I also don't see anything wrong with either of my boys. They are both VERY healthy and have shown signs of being advanced, particularly with how they like to be on the move. My oldest took his first steps at a week before turning 10 months and by 11 months there was no stopping him. And my youngest who is only 7 months is already cruising the furniture. Really I'd like them to be a little less advanced so I could enjoy the baby stage a little longer 😅.

I'm sure a lot of the things said are said to encourage those who are trying to or wanting to breastfeed. Unfortunately they just tear down those who have "tried and failed". Personally I (now) don't think it's a fail, but no doubt if you've tried and it's not worked out you've told yourself at some point that you failed in your attempt. I've tried breastfeeding both of my babies and thankfully I wasn't so hard on myself second time around. I could see the torment in my head starting to happen and I knew it was time to be brave enough to move on.

Mum Is Just As Important

We all want what's best for our babies and if you've tried to breastfeed and fought for it to work, you've proved to yourself that you really wanted the best. But we need to remember ourselves in this, and this is where I say breast is not always best. Like I said in my Instagram post yesterday, I'm not disputing that breast milk isn't more nutritional, we were given breasts in order to be able to feed our babies. But if mum is on a downward spiral of depression (I definitely was), breast is NOT best. You're NOT giving up, you're being incredibly brave to move on and do what's BEST for YOU and YOUR BABY. Both are important and both need to be considered.

I just want to add in, if you've decided from the get go to formula feed your baby I'm not saying you don't want the absolute best for your baby. Hopefully you've weighed up all the pros and cons and looked at YOUR situation and decided what's best for your family. If I had another baby I'm not sure I'd give breastfeeding a try, with 2 "failed" attempts and other children to look after I'm not sure it would be right for us, and that's fine, that would be an informed decision.

There's an episode of Call The Midwife where one of the new mums has inverted nipples, is in a lot of pain and her baby simply isn't getting enough, if any milk from the mother. One of the midwives advises she keeps going "as these things take time". I agree in some cases it's worth giving it a little more time, but when needed there is an alternative. Why do we as mothers have to be martyrs in order to be the best mum. There are alternatives, why can't we use them if necessary and still be a good mum?

With my second baby I definitely had a more positive experience with feeding him. He instantly latched and I know he got milk from me. Whether I produced enough or not I'm not sure, but he wasn't putting on weight after over 3 weeks of trying to breastfeed him, which included topping him up. I was determined to not let it affect me this time. But I could feel the guilt coming in and I kept telling myself to not give up. But I had to consider all involved, which in my case also included my 2 year old. He also needed me, but my days until that point consisted of feeding and expressing, I couldn't keep it up as well as look after my toddler and look after my mental health. 

Although it was a more positive feeding experience with my youngest, I didn't enjoy it in the slightest. I was surviving on around 2 hours of sleep a night and my nipples were in so much pain. I actually dreaded feeding him, I just couldn't face it. I'd know it was time to feed, but I'd say just give me a minute. My poor baby shouldn't have had to wait, but I needed the time to mentally prepare myself. A lot of breastfeeding mums will talk about the special bond you have with your baby, but I honestly didn't feel that. It just felt unnatural to me. But I did feel that bond while bottle feeding. I got to hold him properly (not in a rugby hold) and look into his eyes while he held onto my finger. For me that was special.

Once I decided to switch fully to bottles I felt a huge weight that was lifted, and although I was having thoughts of "don't give up" and "so and so were able to continue through the pain and difficulties", I thankfully didn't feel guilty like I had with my oldest. I know I give my very best to both of my boys, and they are happy and healthy. That guilt that we feel as mums helps no one. Know your options and make the best decision you can on the information you have, but try not to feel guilty about it as it serves no purpose and only hinders.

I'm not sure what the answer is. I don't believe breastfeeding mums should stop feeling proud of what they have achieved, it's amazing what they are able to do. But maybe the rest of us should also allow ourselves to feel proud of what we're doing. Being a Mum is mega hard work, lets support each other and the decisions we make for our families. There is no one way, just because something has worked for you doesn't mean it will be the same for someone else. What we are each able to endure will be different for everyone. It doesn't make one better than another because they've fought through the pain. Be proud of who you are and what YOU give YOUR babies.

I just want to end by saying if you've struggled and moved on from breastfeeding or thinking of doing so, I'm right there with you, I understand what that feels like, I know the struggles you've had.

I've asked a few fellow bloggers to share their experiences as I know I wasn't alone in what I've been through. These comments just prove how many others have had their own struggles and heart aches. Thank you all for sharing your thoughts xx.

Alex from Better Together Home says, I wasn't able to breastfeed for a number of health/medical reasons. I found it quite tough to come to terms with that and it wasn't helped by people (including medical professionals who hadn't bothered to read my notes!) constantly questioning me for not breastfeeding. 

I've had lots of comments, including two mums who felt the need to tell me my child would have 'tonnes of allergies' and 'Not be as clever as the other kids'. It's tough and I do feel as though many people look down on you for not breastfeeding however I have two happy, healthy kids and I try not to let ignorant comments get to me.

Kate from Hitchens Kitchen says in response to Alex's comment, I just wanted to say I breastfed mine until 2 and he still has allergies so those women were idiots! It's hard when people say stuff like that xx

Becca from Mummy Daddy Mia says, I could only managed to breastfeed my 1st for 5 days, had no help or support despite asking for it and going to see someone for help. I was a new mum, struggling, in pain from giving birth let alone breastfeeding and just didn’t know what to do. I was told to just ‘get on with it’ by a health visitor who was really unkind. Mia wasn’t being fed at all by that stage so we had to go to formula. Best thing I ever did. I used to feel guilty about telling other people I wasn’t breastfeeding but I never had any issues with anyone over it. Mia is a very healthy 5yr old now! I have just had my 2nd baby and haven’t breastfed her at all, my decision was respected more the 2nd time round and we did have support however I had already decided. Much easier and straightforward the 2nd time round for me and I don’t feel guilty at all. We did what was right for us.

Laura from Brody Me And GDD says, I tried to breastfeed my son and he just wouldn’t latch for love nor money. Turned out he had a rare genetic syndrome. I don’t know if that’s the reason why or if I stopped before we could both figure it out but what I do know is the guilt was horrendous. When I finally had the courage to ask the midwife for formula she said “if you want to give up, I can get you some.” I felt like utter shite. 

I think I just needed someone to say whatever decision you make, you’ll be supported. And that there is no wrong or right, just whatever works best for you. 

Emma from Emma And 3 says, I fed my first two (for a year) and assumed I'd breast the third but it didn't work out and she just couldn't get it. I don't really know what was different or why but everyone assumed because she was my third I didn't need support. I felt very guilty for a long time. Turns out she had some health issues - her hip was dislocated so I often wonder if it was a positioning thing and she wasn't comfy. 

Emma from Bubbablue And Me says, I tried to breastfeed, but while N would latch, he wouldn't suck. After 3 days of hand expressing colostrum, we had to do bottle feeding which worked so well. The midwife in hospital had checked the latch and we tried different positions but as bottle feeding was going so well, I just continued trying breastfeeding and then expressing at home. But neither worked, so we gave up. I had thought I'd be marched into expressing room in hospital, and that there'd be more support. But by us, you have to go to a breastfeeding cafe, or phone to get someone in. I couldn't drive due to a c section, and I hate the phone and feeding was working fine so I didn't bother.

2.5 years later my son's key worker at nursery said she thought he had a tongue tie. And yes, he did. If they'd checked that at birth, or when we were struggling with breastfeeding, maybe it would have been snipped early and he'd have fed. As a first time mum I'd done NCT and reading, but you don't imagine breastfeeding would be that hard. I found you have to know where to go for help and be able to get there, and I was surprised that neither the midwives or health visitor pushed at all. 

Fozia from Muslim Mummy says, I struggled to breastfeed with my first and gave up quite quickly due to not having read up on it properly and lack of support. I tried again with my second and I hated it. Really struggled doing it but but I kept trying for around two weeks. I was beginning to hate the whole process. I’d had gestational diabetes as it was from the start so the pregnancy was hard anyway...and rather than breastfeeding making me bond with the baby I was beginning to sink into depression and feeling no connection. I ended up giving up...then because of society screaming Breast is Best after a day the guilt overwhelmed me so tried again...but still found it so hard that I gave up. People felt the need to comment on it even saying I’d regret it when I had to pay for the formula and keep making the bottles. But I was happier...I finally started bonding with my child...and she’s now almost 6 and healthy and clever.

Adrienne from Working Mum Cambridge says,  I tried breastfeeding, it took me nearly a week to actually get going and get the hang of it. I breast fed for a total of 6 weeks. With cluster feeds and a very hungry baby I felt trapped and lonely. I just wanted my body back. I expressed for a further 2-3 weeks and finally switched to formula. I quickly realised it’s all about what works best for you, no one else. When I look back, my son is now 3, I am happy that I gave it a try and happy that my son got the good stuff at the beginning x 

Sophie from Soph says, I had to cut breastfeeding shorter with my first than I would have liked but I just didn't have the milk to satisfy him and he was dropping weight. Whenever I mentioned that he was now on formula I would be quizzed no end as if I was feeding him drugs from the bottle! It really knocked my confidence and I stopped telling people through fear of being judged. This meant I didn't leave the house so no one knew I him a formula feed! I look back now almost seven years later and I get so angry that those early months were taken from me because of how other people made me feel.

Stacy from  Mom Of Two says, I personally agree with the term breast is best but by no means do I think that means that fed isn't best as well. I breastfed my first for 24 weeks which was the perfect amount of time for us. We both moved on from it really well. My son I started off determined to feed him for the same amount of time, however a tongue tie and silent reflux soon put an end to that dream. I battled with myself for over a week before I came to the decision to stop breastfeeding him at 6 weeks. It was heartbreaking but I know that ultimately I made the right choice and if I went back I'd still make the same one. Unfortunately things don't always work out as planned and that's OK.

Melanie from Cossins Music School says, I really struggled with my first to breastfeed. She would latch on (my HV said I was doing it right) yet fall asleep within 10 mins of sucking. Then, thinking she had had enough put her down to find she screamed like blue murder! It was an awful time I felt like a failure, had PND and then got mastitis. I felt forced to breast feed by my midwife and HV. 2nd time was better I had great support from the Breast feeding Angels who had no judgements just advice on how to. My second was much better experience. I have come across many woman who for various reasons can’t and don’t breast feed and I really feel for them when there is such a push on it. Women should be able to choose without being made to feel bad about it.

Joanna from The Knight Tribe  says,  I struggled with breastfeeding my daughter. I wanted to give it a go but it hurt too much and I ended up beginning to dislike her because she wanted feeding every minute of the day and I was so tired and hot and in pain. I didn't even want to be in the same room as her. I really think it was the cause to my postnatal depression. With my youngest daughter I decided bottle straight away after the first feed on boob and It was So It was soo much better knowing how much I was giving her straight away instead of guessing because of breastfeeding, no pain And I got a break whilst my partner could feed and I could spend more time with my other 2 kids

Lisa from Bare Mother says,  I had a preventative double mastectomy two years before I gave birth, and not being able to breastfeed was part of the decision. When it came time to formula feed my son I was very comfortable with the situation. I enjoyed the ease and freedom of formula, and never had a single negative comment. I also really listened to my friends and family who breastfed: about the support (or lack of) they received, the struggles they faced, and the occasional discomfort in public. I feel very passionate about supporting breastfeeding mothers, and was so ready to jump to their defence and shout for more support services. However I would never want this at the expense of women who for whatever reason cannot breastfeed. I did feel a little like an outsider when it came to feeding my babies, but it was more my own feelings I think, or perhaps others thinking it’s an easier decision not to breastfeed. Which isn’t always the case.

Sarah from Mummy Cat Notes says, I tried desperately to feed my first born, they told me many times at the hospital that I was making lots of milk at the hospital, but i felt like something was off, it was hurting and no one told me that it would hurt as much as it did, when we got home it continued to hurt and the bleed and I started to hate my son who at the time was screaming and turning orange, my midwife who saw me though my pregnancy told me to get him onto formula because he wasn’t feeding properly and she could see how low I was getting, it broke my heart to do it but he’s now a healthy happy 8 year old and because of my horrible start I decided to formula feed my second and third child, I refuse to put my mental health second when there is another option and all my children are perfect regardless of how they had been fed!

Helen from Twins, Tantrums And Cold Coffee has shared a piece she wrote after being absolutely slated by a few BF mums for saying she was bored of hearing about it and wished people would just get on with feeding their babies however they want. How My Own Experience Of Breastfeeding Turned Me Right Off She Subject

She says, I breastfed and practically starved my baby for 2 months, but stupidly carried on because I (wrongly) thought it was the “right” thing to do. 

Melanie from Life With Melly And Alice says, I hated breastfeeding, I could only do it for about 5 weeks and I combi-fed as well to make sure my daughter was getting food. I had a few comments from family members about not pushing through, but I found it incredible painful, I bled all the time during it and my supply was small. From my experience I don't even think I'd breastfeed my next one. 

Nikki from Glam And Geeky Mum says, My first born suffered brain damage and was physically unable to breastfeed at all (he still can’t drink very well now at the age of 8!) 

I was devastated that I couldn’t breastfeed but hand expressed and used a hospital pump for 6 weeks until my milk
 dried up. I had horrific postnatal depression and felt so bad that my milk had dried up. I’d wish I’d had more support on what I could have done to keep my milk supply going for longer, but I did feel a little bit of an achievement that I managed to give him a tiny boost when he was in intensive care.

Katy from Katy Kicker says, I felt robbed when I moved on from breastfeeding.

I was told that my daughter must switch to a formula milk, because of allergies. At no point was I told about elimination diets I could do, and at no point was I offered support. 

My daughter was only 5lbs when they finally gave us some help, and I was STILL told 'all babies are sick'.
My lack of support was not only around breastfeeding/formula feeding but also around allergies too. 

Jade from Jade's Journey says, I tried with my daughter and after a few days I had to stop. I had mastitis which they kept diagnosing as her not latching on properly, I had midwives, health visitor and a lady from the local support group all tell me I was fine it was just her latching. I got really ill because I couldn't sleep as she was feeding every hour and I had a high temp and was really sick. I eventually got to see a doctor who referred me to the breast clinic who noticed I didn't just have mastitis but it had developed into an abscess and I needed to have it drained and have a course of antibiotics. I felt like I'd failed my daughter but also like the support team had failed me by telling me I was fine. I cried for weeks after and was devastated that I couldn't continue feeding her as I never got the chance to feed my son when he was a baby as he was 12 weeks premature and my milk supply was very low when expressing we had to use donor milk. 

Jo from A Rose Tinted World says, I really tried to breastfeed my little girl. I had a breast uplift operation 15 years before she was born, and wasn’t sure if that would affect breastfeeding. I was delighted when I started leaking just before she was born. However, I was induced, had a 36 hour fruitless labour and ended up having an emergency cesarean. We were kept in hospital for 5 days after her birth. 

In hospital I really tried to feed (and feel the midwives there were really pushing me to)but nothing seemed to come. At the end of day 3 I still didn’t feel as though I was feeding her properly, and she was really losing weight, so the hospital midwives gave formula. I carried on trying to breastfeed for 3 weeks, bought an expensive Medala machine and even saw the midwife for a session on latching. Nothing worked, I really wasn’t producing enough milk. I felt gutted, but actually the health visitor and practice midwife were very supportive.

Linking up with this lovely lot


  1. Thanks for including mine. It's amazing all the different experiences and stories. And a shame when people who want to breastfeed, lose out the support due to availability of breastfeeding experts or lack of midwives. When I was in, a different midwife came round to help with feeding. Nothing worked. But later I heard that she wasn't the breastfeeding nurse anyway, but she didn't once mention there was a clinic in the hospital or who I should be seeing. Yes, they're busy, but a simple checklist, or leaflet would help.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience. It's such a shame that some fall through the cracks. I really tried to get all the support I could with my 2nd and it was definitely a better experience.

  2. Breastfeeding is hard and it certainly doesn't work for everyone. My mum couldn't breast feed. When I had my first 12 years ago I was sure I would do it. She wouldn't latch on properly despite midwives trying to help, they hooked me on to a pump and I expressed milk for a while but I was exhausted so moved to bottles. I tried with all 3 of mine but it was a struggle so I just did what was best for us x #FabFridayPost

    1. The latch is possibly the biggest challenge for most. I kept getting told the latch was fine, but then someone else would tell me it wasn't, I got so confused. Just when I thought I was getting somewhere I was back to square 1. Thanks for reading x

  3. I hated breast feeding so hard. I think especially as a first time you feel like you are rubbish be ause you can't do the natural thin. But I slowly learnt that the natural think is to feed your child whatever way is best for you. Life is not easy or one way it takes many different forms. There defiabrely should be better support out there X #fabfridaypost

    1. Definitely as first time mums we are really hard on ourselves, I know I was. Thanks for reading x


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