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My Breastfeeding Experience {Charlotte}

Author: Charlotte O'Shea

Since we launched last year we have gained a lot more lovely readers and as such we are guessing there are quite a few posts that you will have missed from the early days. We are therefore choosing some of our most popular posts to share with you in a sort of ‘from the archives’ series. A spot of light reading if you like although possibly not always that light as Charlotte explains below. Enjoy!

Before I begin: It’s perhaps not wise to read this over breakfast. Or if you are in any way squeamish. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

I knew I was going to endeavour to breast feed when I first found out I was pregnant with Mabel. After all as we’re told again and again if you can it really is the best source of nutrition for your newborn. I’ll just emphasise that point again – IF you can. Just because you can’t doesn’t mean your baby won’t be a bouncy healthy bundle of joy, and jog on to anyone who tries and tells you differently frankly. I know an equal amount of breast fed vs formula fed littles and there is absolutely no measurable difference in their wellbeing or development.

I suffer from hypersensitive skin. It’s been the bain of my life since well….I was a baby myself. One of the benefits associated with breast milk is the possible reduction in eczema related issues, I figured that for me personally it was worth giving it a go even if there was a very small chance it might assist in preventing my daughter from a terminally itchy epidermis like her Mama.

At 30 weeks pregnant I was already suffering from sore, cracked and irritated skin on my areola. By 33 weeks I was in so much discomfort I visited my GP. Having removed my bra and hearing her exclaim “Oh My goodness you poor poor thing!” I knew I had been underplaying the extent of my situation. Essentially my chest resembled the aftermath of what you may associate with major surgery of some kind  – a bloody swollen mess. And I don’t mean swollen in a pneumatic sexy way, I mean as in battered, and somewhat mauled.

Have I put you off your toast and jam yet?

I have no idea why this happened to me particularly, I think it was mostly bad luck and the way my body decided to deal with all of the extra hormones and whatnot – i.e. by making my nips look and feel as if they were about to fall off. Chic.

One of the first things my GP asked was “Were you intending on breastfeeding?” (Look of fear and foreboding evidently etched across her brow) to which I replied “Well actually yes…..I really want to…”. She took a deep breath and told me that I shouldn’t feel inadequate if it was simply too painful. And then she told me to use Lansinoh HPA Lanolin  multiple times a day (this stuff is magic, you should absolutely buy some – see my full review here.)

By the time my C-section date came around at 39 weeks I was in a significantly improved but still not ideal state. There was still some cracking and soreness – but to be honest by that stage I just wanted to meet my baby and was heaving around what felt like such a great big bump, my non compliant boobs had almost but disappeared from my radar.

Having been wheeled out of theatre on a new Mum endorphine and let’s face it Caesarean related morphine high, when the midwife asked if I was intending on breastfeeding I practically shouted at her “Yes YES!” (ie Give me my baby NOW!!!) and all podgy 8.7 pounds of my beautiful little girl latched on as if she hadn’t eaten for a week.

Well then, that was much easier than I had been expecting. Turns out Mabel was a hungry wee soul and I was able to feed her myself perfectly well. Or so I thought. You see, for that first 24 hours those pain killers were well and truly disguising well, the pain.

Due to the operation I was booked into stay in hospital for up to 3 nights. By mid afternoon on the second day whenever Mabel decided she wanted milk I was literally yelping in agony, I received plenty of assistance from my allocated midwife at that point but as there wasn’t an issue with attaching or indeed supply, there wasn’t a lot they could do. By the evening I was becoming increasingly upset, and Mabel was by all accounts not very happy either  – she wanted dinner, every hour on the hour and to hell with this wimpy useless excuse for a parent (because still on the recently-given-birth rollercoaster of emotions that’s EXACTLY what I felt like).

It was suggested I give myself a break for a few hours and a midwife would offer her some formula, I eventually agreed and won’t deny feeling incredibly low about the whole situation. I had to look away as she was fed from a small cup.

My knight in shining hospital uniform armour came the following morning in the shape of a very jolly and positive nurse who suggested she assist me in using a syringe to collect at least the all-important colostrum and feed it directly from the syringe to Mabel. It was at that point that I decided I needed to set myself some realistic goals and take it from there. I wanted to enjoy the first few days of motherhood and not be overshadowed by feelings of inadequacy and my ridiculous C cups that were in, or at least what felt like,  worse shape than the generous incision that had cut through my abdominal wall less than 72 hours before.

The syringe method worked, and gave my body a much needed rest – as well as giving Mabel what she needed. The nurse also gave me some rather fetching silicone nipple protectors that made a significant difference to the pain element when I was feeding Mabel myself. (I later bought some from Boots but the hospital grade version were definitely better in terms of fit and durability so do ask for some if you find you are suffering from soreness.)

My first goal was a week – if I could breast feed for 7 days then that would be an achievement. With a combination of using the protectors, expressing (I used the Medela Swing Pump which I would highly recommend) and a bottle of formula every other night or so I reached day 7. I was happy, Mabel was happy and well…everyone was basking in the sunshine glow of our newborn baby.

Being not one to give up until I’ve succeeded (my husband will tell you this is both one of my best and worst traits – sometimes I really should consider the consequences of my somewhat steely determination) I then set myself a second goal – to breast feed for the duration of James’s paternity leave.

I won’t lie, it was a massive faff – all the protector and expressing sterilisation plus the fact we were using bottles and formula as well. But I made it to a fortnight and even though I was still uncomfortable it was bearable.

Without James around to help me it was increasingly difficult to juggle my rather complicated methods, I managed a further two weeks before we both decided it was time to call it a day. I was exhausted, sore and from our experience up until that point, knew that Mabel seemed to go twice as long after formula than she did breast milk. I desperately wanted a little slither of freedom back too.

Mabel continued to “search” when I held her for a good month or so afterwards and I can’t say I was fine about it because I wasn’t. It broke my heart every single time. And I was jealous when some of the girls from my NCT group continued to breast feed their babies – maybe I should have just tried a little harder?

As time passed I got over it. I loved being a Mum and Mabel continued to flourish and prosper. And I’ve heard about so many struggles since, none of us are ever alone in our often difficult journeys navigating parenthood.

Some might say I should have given in sooner and some might think I should’ve carried on regardless. I don’t regret anything I did, it was my choice. And if I am lucky enough to have a second child I would do exactly the same again – my best.

I would just like to say how incredibly helpful the maternity staff at Heartlands hospital were, there was never any pressure, only advice and genuine concern. Please do leave your thoughts and questions in the comments box below, and feel free to now tuck into your croissant…

{Contributors}

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151 thoughts on “My Breastfeeding Experience {Charlotte}

  1. Really great post Charlotte, thank you for sharing. I won’t go into all the details of my BF journey as it would be as long as the original post but basically apart from the “normal” levels of pain as my nipples got used to it (bloody excruciating for the first 10 seconds or so of every feed for the first 2 weeks) I tho

    1. Posted to soon! I thought BF was going well, until my daughter was weighed & it turns out she was not gaining weight- “failure to thrive” being the technical term. Luckily I had the support of a fantastic Health Visitor and I was able to carry on feeding but it took baby a month to get back to her birthweight and everyday I wondered whether I was putting my desire to BF above her need for more food. We’re now a week further on and she’s just had a good weight gain so I think we’re away now, but it’s been 5 weeks of constant questioning and over-analysis. Also lots of expressing to try and top her up with my own milk, so I sympathise with the faff element!
      Katie

      1. Oh Katie, you’d think they’d come up with a better term than “Failure to thrive”. Sounds so judgmental. I didn’t dilate during labour, which is called “An Incompetent Cervix”. You can tell some old guy made these terms up.

        Great to hear your little girl is thriving now though! And 20 months in, I still question my parenting choices, I think it’s just par for the parenting course.

        1. Naomi that’s an awful term! Surely there’s a better way of phrasing it! Definitely all thought up by old school doctors,!

      2. It does feel that you are living your entire day around feeding and sterilising doesn’t it sometimes – I felt like I wasn’t actually getting any “time” – well not quality time where I wasn’t in pain!. So glad you had such a fantastic health visitor – it is so important. And I do know what you mean about putting your desire to BF above your babies desire for more food, I must have said “Do you think she’s hungry?” 100 times a day. I think over-analysis comes with the territory x

  2. A great account and so reassuring that it’s not easy for many. Louis didn’t latch on once. Felt like the worst mummy, but look back and feel so much better about the whole thing xx

    1. It was the same for us too Lisa. Dominic just wouldn’t latch on no matter how hard we tried. After trying nipple shields, seeing a lactation consultant and the expressing for the first two weeks, I gave in and switched to formula. And you know what, I don’t for one second regret my decision. Those newborn days are far too precious.

  3. Aw it’s so lovely to hear your full experience in such honest detail.

    I think that as a first time Mum, your chances on actually getting the help you need to either try breast feeding or make a (realistic) decision on what your next step is, weighs SO heavily on the nurses and midwives around you. One bad or good experience can make or break the whole damn thing.

    I didn’t have the pain you experienced (and thank God! Sounded horrific, you should be so proud of yourself!), but Ethan point blank refused to latch on. Until one day I was introduced to the same silicone nipple shield! Total godsend, he latched on perfectly fine & I felt like I was doing great until a very unhelpful nurse pointed out that it wasn’t fair on Ethan because he wasn’t getting ‘the full breastfeeding experience and sensations’. You cannot win with some people!

    She, also, at his 4 month check said “Well, that’s it, you’ve no hope of getting him off the shield now! It’s been too long”. He spat it out and latched on himself the following week. It was like he heard her and thought “Screw you lady, don’t talk to my Mum like that.”

    I also remember wanting Ethan to switch to formula desperately at 6 months because I’d had enough, but he didn’t like ANY of them. So I had to stick it out until he switched to cow’s milk at 12 months, I was well and truly over it by that point.

    Woah, I have a feeling you’re going to get some in depth comments on RMF. At least I hope so, because I just wrote a whole post in reply!

    1. Naomi I feel so lucky that Mabel was absolutely fine on formula – I can’t imagine what I would have done if she didn’t take to it at all. Very impressed that you managed a whole 12 months, I can’t say I was sad to pack away the sterilising machine when she went on to cows milk!

      I hope folks feel they can post as much as they please – it’s so useful to other Mums to hear about such different experiences x

    2. Naomi, well bloody done for not scratching that nurse’s eyes out, what an unhelpful, critical little so-and-so (worse names came to mind first but I’m trying to be mature). It’s upsetting because you obviously were able to brush it off to a certain extent but there will be other mothers that she talks to like that who could really have their confidence knocked by that sort of attitude, and it makes me mad. >:/

      Love that your son latched on fine after she made that comment – hilarious. Shame it didn’t happen when she was in the room haha.

      1. I know Kate! I actually still have the forms to lodge a formal complaint against her in my drawer. Never actually did though. Probably should have.

        I think it’s important for women to know that the nurses and midwives are just people too and no matter what advice you’re given, ultimately, your mama instincts know best.

  4. With my first baby I breast-fed until he was 3 months old. He was always a hungry baby and I had to top up using formula most days.Breastfeeding was so much easier especially when we were out and about. But with still having to sterilise bottles I had to be prepared if he wanted a top up which was unpredictable at times. I was devastated to stop but it was the right decision for me and my hubby no matter what these judgemental people on other baby forums say!I decided with my second if she needed combination feeding that I would just bottle feed. Baby 2 arrived took to breastfeeding amazingly. Had a great routine,she was always full…then day 10 came she became very poorly with suspected septicaemia. She ended up being tube fed but as the hospital needed certain amounts of milk through her system I was expressing but she had to be topped up considerably with formula. She recovered and I stopped breastfeeding. She is now 15 months. Healthy and happy.
    I hate to admit I used to be a bit judgemental myself being from a very pro breastfeeding family. After my experience I will never judge again…Every choice we make is our own. If my second baby hadnt had formula top ups she may not have had the same outcome. And at the end of the day isn’t this why formula was invented?? Great blog so far charlotte. Looking forward to seeing what else you have planned!

    1. Thanks for sharing Cherish, you certainly had a very stressful experience, am so glad to hear both babies are healthy and happy. And that is exactly the right phrase – you have to do what is the right decision for your family x

    2. Cherish, I agree with your comment about why formula was invented. I met a very supportive nurse who was looking after my little boy in hospital. She put it very simply and kindly that not all babies can breast feed and not all mums can and before formula you either hired a wet nurse to feed your baby or the baby didn’t survive (awful I know but did help eases the ridiculous self imposed guilt I felt about changing to formula!). Prior to that every nurse or midwife I spoke to assured me it would all come together and breastfeeding would become a breeze!

  5. I think it’s so important that we share stories like this so that people realise the difficulties breastfeeding can present and not put so much pressure on themselves. It sounds like you did fantastically well – we beat ourselves up far too much as parents.

    As an eczema sufferer I was lucky in that pregnancy seemed to lessen the effects (my midwife said that it tends to either get worse or get better in pregnancy, I guess I was one of the lucky ones), but I still remember having the conversation with a breastfeeding counsellor about eczema on the areola and how this might affect breastfeeding. In the end (after a pretty difficult start) with the help of a shedload of lansinoh and some better latch technique from my little boy, we did crack it and I stopped feeding him at around 12 months.

    What I did struggle with was the ‘failure to thrive’ that others have talked about. Max was on the 9th %ile, dropping from the 25th at birth, and I constantly felt pressure from Health Visitors about topping up. I did start to do this from around 5 months, and eventually ended up switching a feed for formula. But now that he’s reached 20 months and is a pretty greedy eater, it’s clear that he’s just meant to be a small baby – I wish I’d given myself a break about his weight and just accepted that at the time.

    1. Katy the weight thing must be very difficult to deal with, Mabel was supposed to be carrying small….and came out at 8 lbs 7 at 39 weeks (!). She did however lose quite a lot of weight in the first few weeks but once we started using more formula, especially at night, she put it back on again. Lansinoh really is a miracle, they actually had free sachets in my hospital which I thought was a great idea for those that haven’t tried it or didn’t believe it would work.

      Weirdly enough the eczema on the rest of my body/face was a little better during pregnancy but flared up a few days after giving birth x

      1. Wow, Lansinoh for all! What a great idea, it really is miracle stuff.

        Eczema is such a weird one isn’t it – mine’s the same, straight after giving birth it’s back to it’s normal state. Such a tease!

  6. Thank you for sharing Charlotte, I do love hearing others breastfeeding stories.
    I too found breastfeeding excruciating, bleeding cracked nipples… Combined with the fact we were in the hospital for a week after the birth due to both having infections, didnt exactly provide the most relaxing environment to get his latch corrected. We swapped to formula and I thought that was that, until around 10 days in, when all he wanted was to be on the boob and I thought I’d give it another go, and luckily it was then almost pain free. Unfortunately my supply was somewhat affected but I managed to combination feed for 8 weeks until my supply all but gave up.
    I did feel guilty for a while and found myself justifying my decision but looking back now I know I made the right choice for both of us.
    Love the new blog by the way, looking forward to what you have planned! X

    1. Thanks Rebecca, I think a great deal of time is spent justifying your decisions, I remember almost having to keep going over what we had decided to do with James – even though he was fully on board. I think I just needed constant reassurance that I wasn’t somehow lazy or a wimp for moving onto formula after a month. SO glad you love the new blog! x

  7. I had fully intended to breastfeed Felix and blithely assumed that while it might be hard I would be okay after a bit! Turns out that was a little bit naïve!

    Fast forward to 34weeks (after a really easy pregnancy) my Waters went in the middle of the night over the August BH weekend. We went to hospital where everyone assured us it was fine and that they would monitor me for the next 2 weeks and get us to 36/37 weeks. I saw a consultant the Wednesday after my Waters went who through most of my appointment was assuring me they would try to keep him in for as long as possible then halfway through they changed their minds (apparently they were concerned be wasnt growing-based on a very rushed scan the day before) and I was booked in for an induction the next afternoon!

    I was eventually induced a week after my water broke and Felix was born at 35weeks 1 day weighing 6lb2oz (yep ‘tiny’ !!!). He ha his first feed on delivery and tbh I don’t actually think he got anything -I hadnt been to any antental or breat feeding classes as they were all booked for the weekend he was born and the week after, so didn’t really know what I was doing.

    Up on the ward they checked his blood sugars, which were very low and then gave him a cup of formula (I was hormonal and knackered and cried because I had no bibs and didn’t know what brand of formula to pick). His sugars didn’t pick up so he was transferred to the neo natal ward and put on a glucose drip and a feeding tube in his nose.

    I was encouraged to hand express colostrum into a syringe to give him as well as the formula he started getting after 2 days through his tube. I was then encouraged to express milk for them to use as well as formula and I would try at ax many feeds as possible to breastfeed him. Felix was eventually taken off the feeding tube after about 15 days as he’d pulled it out and the hospital thought it a good time to get him feeding himself. He was then fed a mix of cup feeds and breastfeeds and I was still expressing at home and at the hospital. Felix was being fed 70ml each feed and I was lucky if I could!d express half that! I assumed this was just because pumps aren’t as efficient as the baby.

    I kept going despite a nurse identifying I had flat nipples! I bought shields which helped and I assumed we’d cracked it until I spent almost a full day (12hrs) in the hospital doing demand feeds as a practice run for our 24hr sleepover prior to discharge. That 12 hr practice ended in my husband coming after work to find me sobbing silently behind a curtain with a screaming hungry baby who was getting nothing. We had to almost demand a bottle a our NHS trust is very pro breastfeeing and the nurse etc aren’t allowed to suggest bottle feeding!

    The look of relief on Felix’s face and eyes when he had that bottle was all I needed to know it was the way forward. Felix was discharged 2 days later and is now 5weeks old and weighing 8lb5oz!!! I continued to express at home but it slowly dried up after a week (possibly a sign I wasn’t producing enough milk). I do wonder if I had decided earlier to bottle feed if Felix would’ve been discharged alot earlier and not spend the first 2.5weeks of his life in hospital.

    Id massively recommend this book by Clare Byam-Cook http://www.amazon.co.uk/What-Expect-When-Youre-Breastfeeding/dp/0091906962
    It was really helpful and reassuring.

    Crikey an epic post from me!
    Thank you for such an honest account of your experience and for the excellent Rock My series I’ve loved all of them!

    1. Thanks for such an epic post Vicky – so interesting to hear about your experience and I’m so glad felix is doing so well!

      Just because you can’t doesn’t mean you’ve failed in any way – I may be naive but I didn’t realise there would be such differences in attitude depending on the NHS trust. Ours was pro breast feeding to the point of being as helpful as possible, but certainly not in a pressured way, and didn’t bat an eyelid when it came to offering formula.

      Thanks so much for the book recommendation too xx

      1. Haha thanks, i hadnt intended to write such an essay! Yes I was surprised that the nurses and midwives werent allowed to recommend bottle feeding despite it being clear I was struggling to produce enough milk and he was being topped up with formula via his tube or a cup. They were really lovely and helped lots with trying to increase my supply and encourage Felix to latch (his latch and suck reflex were slow to develop) and feed but just weren’t allowed to say that maybe bottle feeding would be the best option. They weren’t even allowed to recommend a brand of formula when they needed to top him up I just had to pick one.

        They were however brilliantly supportive of my choice to bottle feed.

  8. Wonderful post Charlotte and one that so many of us can relate to. I had incredible difficulty breastfeeding with my first 4 years ago, unfortunately most of the midwives I encountered at that time were of the ‘Breast is Best’ camp and really pressured me to ‘perform’ as it were. It was incredibly upsetting that I couldn’t do what seems to come so naturally to others and I honestly thought I’d never have any problems. Unfortunately I was also coming to terms that my dad was terminally ill so in the end after countless attempts to get her to latch on, I ended up expressing for 4 weeks. It was a constant cycle of expressing, feeding, expressing, feeding and it was exhausting. Finally a very kind Health Visitor, after explaining the situation and what was going on with my dad, just said to me ‘give yourself a break’! It was such a relief to hear those words and from then on I gave her formula and never looked back. Yes if you can breastfeed that’s amazing but I have encountered comments from those that can that are rather patronising and quite frankly rude because I didn’t! Who are you to judge, there seems to be too much judging with mums sometimes when we should just be helping each other out, after all we’re all in the same boat navigating the highs and lows of parenthood. Second time round, I was keen to give it another go as each baby is different, but after another difficult birth and an emergency C-section, when they finally gave me my baby boy, I was in considerable pain and throwing up on a regular basis after all the drugs that had been pumped into me. Thankfully this time round I had much kinder midwives who just went along with what I wanted to do and despite seeing a lactation expert, I just couldn’t do it, perhaps I gave up a bit too easily but after a couple of weeks of trying to keep on top of expressing, feeding and looking after a jealous 4 year old, enough was enough. Both my babies are happy and healthy which at the end of the day is the most important thing.

    1. Thanks for this Inga, no-one can ever say you gave up too soon! 4 weeks of a routine like that is exhausting enough as it is. Very glad to hear you have 2 such healthy and happy babies and made the right decision for you x

  9. I’m so pleased that RMF has a BF post. I think there is a misconception about how easy it is. I knew that I wanted to BF and I just thought it was going to be so natural and easy. Turns out that it is the opposite! I have been BF for 8 weeks now and only very recently has the pain stopped. I have had cracked nipples, sore nipples, bloody nipples and mastitis. All of which were painful and created many many many tears! I live in a city where they offer a lot of support and I went to weekly BF cafés and met with other ladies in a similar situation and spoke to BF counsellors. Their help was brilliant even if the babe slept through the whole session (!) it was just great to meet other mums and hear their stories. I have watched loads of YouTube videos which helped me with the latch and I have used https://www.laleche.org.uk as a good source of info. I have decided that if everything continues as it is I will BF until the babe is six months in Feb. Really interesting reading your post Naomi, because I’ve just assumed the babe will like formular milk but really good to know that she may not. I can manage my expectations now!

    1. I assumed that too Kate – I guess because Mabel seemed to like Actimel as much as breast milk.

      BF cafes?! Why have I never heard of this?! x

        1. I can be such a mission getting BF started, but sounds like you’re flying with it now Kate.

          Take from this what you like lovely, but I think if I could go back in time, I would have introduced one bottle of formula a day or week quite early on, maybe about 3 months. Just to get him used to A. Taking a bottle B. The taste of milk other than mine! Other BF friends of mine did this and never had any problems transitioning to formula.

  10. Loving the blog so far! I’m 25 weeks pregnant and keep getting told by various ‘helpful’ sources how beneficial breast feeding is and I really must persevere with it. It’s really refreshing to read a real account as well as all the comments above – I will endeavor not to put too much pressure on myself and come back and re-read this if I need to when the time comes! Katie xx

  11. Hey RMF, the launch of this blog couldn’t have come at a better time as I’m nearly 3 weeks in to parenthood. Have always wanted to breastfeed- both my husband and our families are all pro BF, but my word it’s not been easy so far!

    Latching was horrendously painful from day dot until I too discovered nipple shields and the sun came out again. Still, he lost 8.3% of birth weight day 5 and then dropped to 9% by day 11… So further investigations have revealed tongue tie. I’m hoping he’ll get the snip soon and we can ditch the shields (let’s face it, they’re a pain in the arse) and latching on will be a dream but we’ll see. Yesterday it took me 15mins to express an ounce and he glugged it in about 10 seconds, so I know he’s hungry and likes the bottle. He’s been fussing/crying at the boob the last couple of days so wonder if he’s starting to get frustrated…

    I don’t want to switch to formula, but only because the constant sterilising/faff turns me off. I’m feeling the pressure from parents too… But with each day I find myself reading more about combination feeding and contemplating introducing a bottle a day. But would this be the beginning of the end??

    I genuinely never thought it would be this bamboozling. Weigh day today… Wish us luck!

    1. Hi Sama,

      If you decide to go down the formula route I can heartily recommend the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep machine. It takes all the faff and waiting out of making formula feeds. It makes a bottle in less than 2 minutes. Sterilising isn’t too bad but is the faffiest bit of it all. We’re using a microwave steriliser at the minute.

      The most important thing is do what’s right for you and the baby regardless of others (they aren’t there 24/7 experiencing it!) X x

      1. Just to wade in – the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep machine is the best invention EVER. I am going to have to put together a post on it’s greatness 🙂 x

        1. Another vote for the Perfect Prep machine here! It saved our sanity, especially during the night feeds.

          Sama do not ever feel pressurised into continuing with breastfeeding if it all gets too much for you. I couldn’t breastfeed as my bubba wouldn’t latch on however friends have successfully combination fed until they felt ready to switch over to formula fully. It’s so different for everyone and you need to do what’s right for you and your new family x

    2. Good luck for the weigh-in – we’ve just come out of having weigh-ins twice a week so I know how it feels! We named it Baby Fat Club, basically the opposite of slimming world or similar lol. When my baby gained weight yesterday it felt amazing so hope you get the same outcome soon!

      1. 10oz in a week! So he’s now an Oz over his birth weight. Very pleased we’re on the right track again now. Although they want me to go back to the hospital as he’s still jaundiced. They sent us there last week and we waited 5 hours for the doctor to say she didn’t want to test yet, so you can guess I’m pretty reluctant…

        Oh- and I’ve heard so much about the perfect prep machine! If and when we start with formula I shall most likely be investing… But am going to persevere with BF for now xx

        1. Yay for the weight gain Sama!

          Sometimes tongue tie can drop your supply because they’re not sucking as hard or efficiently to stimulate the milk flow, so if you’re finding that’s the case try the Neuners Nursing Tea.
          It’s a bit spendy, but the reviews show just how incredible it is. One cup and I was able to feed Ethan, both boobs, then have enough to express a bottle afterwards. And it’s all natural.

          http://www.amazon.co.uk/Neuners-9590-Organic-Nursing-Tea/dp/B00544PUW0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1444826485&sr=8-2&keywords=weleda+nursing+tea

        2. We had jaundice too – had the hospital appointment last week & luckily it’s below the level that needs treatment, but it’s all such a vicious circle isn’t it – they need to feed well to get rid of the jaundice, but the jaundice makes them sleepy so they don’t feed. I had to wake Flo up every 3 hours to feed as she wasn’t waking herself up – so tough to set an alarm to wake a sleeping baby when you’re so tired yourself! Amazing news about the 10oz in a week though 🙂

    3. Hi Sama,

      I just wanted to say that your experience is VERY similar to ours (I don’t want to go into too much detail as it’s a story I’ll be sharing with RMF at some point too) but we had tongue tie, jaundice (had to go back into hospital), cracked (even blistered!) nipples and I used shields too. I had to give Elle formula top-ups for a few days (about 60mls or so a few times a day) but we got there. She’s nine months now and I’m still feeding her – so if you really want to do it, you CAN do it 🙂

      It’s not easy or for the fainthearted and I shed many, many tears, but don’t stop unless it’s best for you and your little boy.

      Sending lots of love and feel free to email me on my RMW email address if you want to chat!!! xxx

  12. Thank you for this, Charlotte. It is so so so important (underlined, in bold) that real breastfeeding stories are available in a safe supportive space without interminable forum browsing.

    When S was born I, like you, was pumped full of drugs and when she latched on straight away was elated. Then the drugs wore off and between the puking and the migraine (hole in spinal cord, cheers epidural) suddenly every feed was an additional agony. It got worse and worse, far worse than my episiotomy stitches.

    I ran through all the women I knew who had breastfed and made it look so easy- I felt totally inadequate. One boob settled down, the other got worse. Well meaning people said things like “the first fortnight is tough” which six weeks in is no help at all! Finally my Mum stepped in and sent me to the GP- I had undiagnosed mastitis and a seriously blocked duct. I had been telling myself that it hurts and it’s normal- it absolutely wasn’t.

    The antibiotics fixed it within days and the blockage finally went after much pumping and massaging.

    6 months on I think we were so lucky to get through it- if she hadn’t been such a piggy and piling on the oz I would absolutely have stopped, and then had to deal with all the personal/familial/societal pressure floating around. But it would have been 100% the right thing to do.

    Thank you for providing this place to tell our story and I have one thing to say to any new mamas with sore boobs: if it is hurting you more than stitches, if you cry at every feed. then something IS NOT right. No reflection on you (I felt it was), just get help.

    1. Pleasure Lucy, and absolutely if it hurts that much something is definitely not right. It sounds like you went through a lot and managed to come out the other side with a very healthy little! x

      1. Honestly, it might not be fun but would you consider a segment based on

        “It happened to me….”

        It could be fun and light hearted or more serious and medical- it would be so good to have personal experiences out there, when you sign the damn consent form you never think it will happen to you, then what do you do afterwards? I was frantically googling and finding naff all about the spinal cord mess up! You could set a topic (like a book club only an issues club!) and get different perspectives.

        Also… more fun… OMFG have you SEEN the winter Mango collection for little girls? Some of the pieces are just too cute for words. I thought of Mabel straight away. Looking forward to mini fashion so so much on this blog.

        1. No I have not seen the MANGO collection Lucy? I have never seen Mango for little girls?! Maybe Mabel has always been a bit young or something?! OMG must look immediately!

          It happened to me is a very very good idea indeed…..Let me discuss with the team x

  13. Thank you for such an open and honest account Charlotte. Gonna love love love this blog. It’s so important that we women don’t suffer in silence.
    I’m lucky enough to have exclusively BF both my girls, Eliza 5 months old and still going with Flora the 21 month old, whenever I get the chance to put her to bed or she has a particularly bad tumble. I still love it and enjoy it and so do they. I worried about the transition with a new baby and still continuing with the older one, you wouldn’t stop giving a 16 month old their bedtime bottle of milk just because a newborn came into the house would you? So much to other people’s surprise, I continued.
    But no matter your parenting decisions you still have to justify these choices. Bottle or breast, dummy no dummy, cot or bed, you sometimes feel you’re apologising for these things! But to mums to be out there, it can be beautiful and rewarding and is not something to worry about one way or the other! Just feel free to choose your choice and don’t worry or let others worry you that your baby is hungry. The hungriest babies can get everything they need from mumma. And like the lass from Frozen said, that guilt, just let it go! Xxx

    1. Ha, Sophie I fed mine for 12 months and if I had a penny for every time someone said “He’ll be getting too hungry for that now”. It’s funny how all the pressure exists to start BF then bookends with pressure to finish.
      I say rock on with your BF choices. I think it’s beautiful that you still have that bond with both your girls.

  14. So refreshing to read an painful honest account of how hard breastfeeding can be.
    Even though I managed to breastfeed fairly easily once established, it could have been so much harder (or maybe even impossible) had it not been for the amazing staff at Heartlands Hospital.
    Once Phoebe was taken to neonatal after a traumatic birth I remember thinking how the hell am I going to feed her now??
    I struggled to hand express at the beginning and the nurses were patient and helpful with me, helping me get used the electric pumps.
    I managed to express exclusively for the first week for her to be tube fed. Then with their help I started to feed her myself and gradually reduce the tube feeds.

    I must admit though, whilst you may have been jealous of our breastfeeding I was also jealous. Jealous of you and some of the other girls ability to be able to take a break and let daddy/grandma etc help out.
    I guess in that newborn haze the grass may look a little greener on the other side sometimes.

    1. You are absolutely right Lou, it does always look greener on the other side. I remember thinking how easy it would be to go out with just my boobs (!) and not bottles, and separate bottles and formula powder and god knows what else…..when really it wasn’t that bad. I think we are all such in an emotional state, every little thing seems rather intense.

      Having James help with night feeds was a definite positive, I kind of forgot that fact x

  15. What a brilliant post, Charlotte. It brings that newborn crazy time back. I was super lucky with BF. Frankie just latched right on. I’d been in surgery for 2 hours to stop mystery bleeding and all I could think about was my tiny baby crying and being hungry. Turns out that she was just waiting for me, she didn’t make a peep the whole time I was in surgery and as soon as I was wheeled back in the midwife laid her on my tummy and she got on with it.

    I’m one of the very, very lucky ones that didn’t have an issue with BF, none at all. Apart from a minimal bout of mastitis that was cleared up with a hot shower and a comb (!) Frankie and I just kind of did it until she was 8 weeks and I swapped to formula. She’s a nosy begger and her deciding to have a look around Zizzi’s in the middle a feed was too much for me – and those trying to eat their spaghetti bolognese.

    Reading these posts makes it really clear that really honest accounts of REAL women’s experiences is lacking. Some women struggle with BF, some don’t. Some women have quick labours and leave hospital after 6 hours, some have an easy labour and then a rough old time of it afterwards and need blood transfusions and a 4 day stay in hospital (my hand is in the air).

    So bravo RMF. Now, when’s the post about crazy 3-year-old acting like they’re 15 coming? 🙂

    x

    1. Ha ha thanks Holly! How about a crazy 18 month old having the terrible twos already? (my hand is in the air…)

      And I hear what you say about the lacking of real women experiences, we hope that hole on the internet will be filled by RMF 🙂 x

  16. Breastfeeding was the thing that shocked me most of all when my daughter was born 7 months ago today! She had an infection when born which kept us in the hospital for 5 nights. For every single one of those nights she cluster fed from 8pm – when my husband cheerily waved us goodbye – to 6am. Which meant I got zero sleep and spent all those hours in our hospital room awake, lonely and weeping! It was awful. The midwives did take her sometimes for me but most of the time I was alone. Never once when I was pregnant did I think I might be alone with a newborn.

    To cut a long story short the cluster feeding continued every night, by 10 days she was on one bottle of formula a night, on two bottles a day by 3 weeks because she wasn’t gaining weight quickly enough and I gave up breastfeeding at 4 weeks completely. And we’ve never looked back. She’s a whopper now!

    The difficult start we had I think caused a delay in my bonding with my child but again, that’s 100% a thing of the past and Juliet and I are bessies now!

    When I was pregnant I always said I’d breastfeed if I could and that I wouldn’t put any pressure on myself but that all went out of the window when she was here and I felt like a monster for hating feeding her constantly for 5 hours a night! So if we have another baby I will try and remember to chill out more. If it’s not meant to be then it’s not.

    I also got told I had an incompetent cervix whilst pregnant by the way. Not one of my prouder moments!

    Loving the blog so far. Xx

    1. An incompetent cervix?! Who came up with that expression. Good Lord, someone somewhere really needs to refine this vocab towards new Mums – it’s enough to make you feel completely crap.

      I love the term “whopper”! Mabel who turned out really quite big and not in anyway “small” as I was told didn’t fit in ANY of her clothes as the ones for hospital were a size or so smaller, luckily my Mum had bought a John lewis babygro that came up big so it was just about ok….a lot of the midwives did say “My, what a big baby for such a small person!”

      Ha – she ruddy felt huge as well!

      So glad to hear Juliet is doing so well and is in fact…a whopper 🙂 x

  17. Great to see such a refreshingly honest post. I was lucky that I was able to breastfeed my daughter until she was 12 months; however I absolutely DETEST the smug judgemental Mummy brigade who think breastfeeding makes them superior. I don’t think I have a single friend who didn’t ‘want’ to breastfeed. Most of those that couldn’t battled and almost made themselves almost sick with guilt before finally throwing in the towel, for various reason. How is it healthy that the NHS have turned mothers into quivering wrecks if they struggle with feeding. Ooooo, it gives me the rage 😉
    I’m now 39 weeks pregnant and plan to feed my second child; but this time I really want to do bottle and breast and won’t be listening to any HVs trying to put me off with nipple confusion scare tactics!

    1. Nikki, I have several friends who have just decided for their own reasons that they don’t want to breastfeed and have faced up to the same judgements.

      I’m with you and think that we’re all in such a fragile place after birthing a baby that we shouldn’t be pressured into anything at all. Not breast feeding, bottle feeding or even a cheese toasty if we don’t feel like it.

      39 weeks! Jeez, I had that in a 45 degree Australian summer, I hope you’re has comfortable as you can be and all the very best of luck with the birth!

    2. Nikki there is an element of that – funnily enough I’ve actually seen some on instagram in terms of clear efforts to make non BF Mums feel inadequate. Such a shame, and so unnecessary. Live and let live I say.

      A stressed and unhappy Mummy certainly doesn’t make for a happy baby does it – My MW was really pro pointing this out, and said whatever YOU decide is the best for you both x

  18. Brilliant post Charlotte! Thank you for sharing your tale as new mummies and mummies to be need to know that it is OK to use formula if breastfeeding is difficult/agony/nigh on impossible/not your bag.
    My boy was not bothered about latching on, I never experienced the rush of milk into my boobs and yet I was determined to breastfeed.
    Cut a long story short I ended up mixed feeding with the help of those attractive nipple shields (Medela ones were good) for about five months and then suddenly the boy got the idea.
    I wish I hadn’t beaten myself up about it for so long – the important thing is that your child is fed and nourished no matter how.
    I finally gave in at 10 months and I am LOVING wearing proper bras again!

    1. Lucy I am with you on the bras, I really didn’t do my research and my feeding ones were horrendous. SO frumpy. I’m sure there are much nicer ones available. 10 months is a huge effort, I can’t imagine having made it to that point x

  19. Oh Charlotte you poor love! I had broken boobs with my first (William). I didn’t do my homework on breastfeeding after having had breast reductiin surgery, and I assumed I would be fab at nursing because its what my heart wanted. I wasn’t fab at nursing. But I expressed what I could and gave it to him. With my second (lily) I did my homework! I managed to breast feed lily until she was 11 months old, it was a daily battle to keep my surgically reduced boobs producing milk, and I was chained to lily and my breast pump – but it was what I desperatly wanted to do? I have a close friend who though I was bonkers, she didn’t offer her two boys her boobs at all they went straight onto formula (or ‘artificial milk’ as they call it in Hong Kong where lily was born, artificial really makes it sound appealing, no?!). No judgment at all, motherhood is a guilt ridden ride from the moment they are born! Given my choice I’d still be nursing Lily (3) and homeschooling William (4) whilst making pottery and meditating every day at two pm 🙂

    Broken boobs or milky mammories it doesn’t really matter xx

    1. Pah ha ha, broken boobs – that’s exactly what it felt like!

      It is indeed a guilt ridden ride, I felt bad for picking up Mabel late today – I had a meeting then tried to reply to some comments on this blog post… 🙂

      I guess it’ll never end – the guilt I mean. But then neither does the joy either xxx

  20. Well done charlotte, you did so so well! What an incredible and selfless achievement 🙂 you should be very proud x

    1. Thanks so much Jess, I didn’t feel proud at the time, a bit deflated to be honest – but now I feel fine about it. And such great positive feedback on this feature certainly helps xx

  21. Such a good post and great that people are sharing all their honest accounts to help others.
    I always wanted to BF my little girl but it wasn’t until I had her that my wish to do so grew to me being quite stubborn. I remember sitting with her latched on and sobbing due to the pain- I honestly couldn’t have stuck with it if it wasn’t for my husband who thankfully had 4 weeks off work after she was born. He helped to get her latched on and called my mum in for back up when it got worse. The health visitor told us she’d lost 10% from birth weight and I felt so useless- We then found out on day 4 that she had a tongue tie- none of the midwives or health visitors had identified it but we were referred to an infant feeding specialist who watched her feeding during a 2 hour session and identified it- she was actually an angel!! It was snipped by the time Daisy was 10 days old and things did get easier but there was lots of use of nipple shields and we did introduce formula at bedtime each day to give me a rest.
    We stopped BF fully at 6 months and I even managed to give myself a guilt trip about that but with hindsight it was the right thing to do. Biggest but of advice when stopping is to do it very slowly to avoid too much discomfort.

    We had Daisy’s 8-12 month check today and she’s developing brilliantly and her weight is just fine now – well done to all mamas out there- it’s bloody hard whether you breast or bottle feed!!
    (Sorry that was so long)!!

    1. Nicola never apologise for a long comment! it’s great to hear everyones stories. So happy to hear Daisy is developing so well x

  22. Thanks so much for sharing your story, breast feeding is such an emotive subject. I think because babies are such hard work you always wonder if you are doing the right thing and making the right decisions, so to read other people’s stories is really reassuring!
    I had two very different experience of breastfeeding. My first time was very stressful as my baby was premature, born on a helicopter and had low blood sugars as he kept falling asleep. We got there in the end and I breast fed for 12 months. The second time around I have been so much more prepared and as a result relaxed. Although I had a couple of weeks of cracked and bleeding nipples due to my baby girl wanting to be constantly attached to me, I knew that it would all get easier with time. I also think the second time around you have the confidence to know what’s best for your baby and to tell any health professionals who try to force their opinions on you where to go! The health visitor saw me feed my any girl and said ‘it wasn’t really a proper feed’ and perhaps I should make her wait longer in between feeds. The first time around this would have made me doubt myself where as is time I know my baby girl likes her milk little and often and as she is putting on weight and sleeping well at night there is no problem with what we are doing. It suits us all, including my toddler is not going to let me sit on the sofa for hours on end feeding and watching box sets like I did with him!

    Congratulations on the launch of this new blog, it’s ace! I’m really looking forward to some travel posts as I’d love some family friendly holiday inspiration that isn’t centre parks!

    1. Ella I promise not to make you go to Centre Parcs if you don’t want to!

      It’s great to hear how much more confident you have been with your choices for number two, I hope this feature enables others to be confident – even if it’s not necessarily with their first born x

  23. Great post, Charlotte. I’m planning to breastfeed when new bub comes along in March but I’m absolutely prepared to be flexible and do what is best for my baby and myself. Since becoming pregnant I’ve come to realise just how different every woman’s experience is – and that’s just based on pregnancy! I’ve had a horrific pregnancy whereas others have had it super easy; I found it very easy to conceive whereas I know others struggle. Everyone is SO different and it’s crazy that we judge others based on our narrow experience (I’ve actually been in a room with a girl who said “Bfing is easy; I can’t understand why women make such a fuss about it” GREAT LUCKY YOU, LOVE).

    It’s actually something that massively bugs me especially because it’s usually women that judge other womenn, why aren’t we part of the same team supporting each other?! Well, apart from on RMF course, everyone seems lovely on here xx

    1. Here here Kate! Everyone on here does seem very lovely indeed – such super and thoughtful responses.

      Our experiences of every element of having a baby are so different to each other – from conceiving to pregnancy to labour to what happens afterwards. I hope we can share all sorts of variations on RMF x

  24. I felt like in all the preparation of antenatal classes and breastfeeding workshops and midwife appointments, not ONE of them went through any kind of options of when breastfeeding wasn’t possible. One midwife asked me if I planned on breastfeeding and when I replied ‘if I can’, she shot me down saying it was a stupid thing to say!!
    As it turns out my son would not latch on, cue loosing 12% of his weight. I got lots of midwife support trying to help him latch etc, but he wasn’t having any of it. In the end, they told me to go and buy a breast pump, and her words were ‘as soon as I leave’. We got into a good routine of expressing then, but they still told me I had to get him back on the breast, but trying was making us both so stressed that I stuck to my guns and said I was sticking with just expressing. Eventually my supply dwindled when I couldn’t find time to care for my baby and express after my husband had gone back to work, so at 3 weeks old, we moved over to formula….cue a VERY sick baby, 4 days in hospital and to cut a long(er!) story short, he was diagnosed with a milk allergy.
    He was prescribed a specialist formula milk, and since then has been an absolute dream of a baby. He is now 9 months old and is totally thriving – we’ve had crawling since 7 months and cruising furniture for the last month.
    I still felt guilty whenever I went out and other new mums were breastfeeding, or at mother and baby groups, finding myself explaining why he wasn’t breastfed. More so because the pressure to breastfeed is so great, and why do people feel its OK to judge your parenting choices?!!

    1. I’m sorry to hear about the milk allergy Claire, I know a few babies at Mabel’s nursery have lactose intolerance and have also been prescribed the specialist formula.

      You just wait until he’s fully walking – all the fun is still to come (!) x

  25. Great post, I think it is so important for people to share these stories. Anything to help new mum’s put a little less pressure on themselves 🙂

    I just wanted to weigh in with a positive breastfeeding story, not to gloat in anyway but just to balance out the comments a bit and not to scare all expectant mums silly!

    I have been so fortunate from day 1, I needed at least 3 hands and a stack of pillows at the beginning but breastfeeding always came easily to me and my son. Yes there were days when he was growth spurting and it was the height of summer and we spent days sat on the sofa in our pants with a fan on watching the entire series of Sex and the City when I thought I couldn’t do it any longer but then that phase past and we moved on to not feeding for more than 10 minutes when I longed for those long lazy feeds!

    Breastfeeding has been a key part of my parenting and has always been my go to method of offering comfort. We have fed on trains, planes, boats, in car parks and queues, changing rooms, restaurants, on the beach and god knows where else and both loved every minute.

    The hardest part for me by far has been deciding to wean which we did 2 weeks ago after 15 months and I experienced all the same guilt that everyone else has mentioned above. We had a few tears at bed time but after a week he now just kisses me goodnight and goes down with out a fuss. I am terrified that I will not be able to provide the comfort he needs when we get our next tooth or illness but we will just have to cross that bridge when we come to it…

    1. New mums definitely don’t need added pressure, we put enough of that on ourselves!
      Completely echo that there is plenty of positive experiences out there for expectant mums. Over the coming months there will be lots more stories to share with you from the team so hopefully we will get to cover all experiences of breastfeeding. Like you, I found breastfeeding easy enough, bar a few bouts of Mastitis (which were hell!). Good luck with the rest of the weaning xx

  26. Great post, it sounds like you did amazingly given the circumstances! When I was pregnant I just had the attitude that I would try my best but not beat myself up if it didn’t work out. I found it painful for the first 4 weeks but Lansinoh helped loads (this really should be given to every new mum in hospital!) and just as I was wondering how much longer I could go on for it just changed overnight and the pain stopped and we were away! However… 16 months later I am still feeding and don’t know how to stop!! I tried introducing a bottle from 4 months onwards and she point blank refused it – we tried 6 different brands, different people offering it, with expressed milk and formula and she wanted nothing to do with any of it! So I resigned myself to carrying on until 12 months, however she isn’t keen on cows milk and eats very little in the way of solids… She just wants to breastfeed still! I’m a bit stuck as to how to stop, even though I would like to. I just keep hoping her eating will pick up or she’ll get a taste for cows milk but so far this doesn’t seem to be happening. So on the other side of the coin I now feel pretty judged for still breastfeeding and like some people think I’m a bit of a weirdo or ‘trying to keep her as a baby’ which just isn’t the case! Basically you can’t win… X

    1. My little’s wouldn’t take bottles till about 4 months and then it was a battle most of the time and I just gave up trying if they kicked up a fuss. Monkeys! It was perseverance in the end but I have a friend who couldn’t get her little girl to have a bottle till nearly 18 months. In the end we found getting her to watch Molly have hers helped as it was learning from another little rather than mummy forcing her to. Good luck x

    2. I had the same problem with stopping as my little girl would not take bottles or sippy cups and we felt we tried everything! In the end we used a Doidy cup which luckily she took to and then an open cup with us feeding her,…..then eventually a sippy cup. Totally backwards. Teaching her to use a straw helped too as she would drink through that. In the end I just had to decide to stop and gave her milky foods and yoghurts to top up the calcium until I could get her drinking enough. It was stressful but we got there! Good luck x

  27. Great writing and how absolutely true.
    I wanted to breast feed to much but had no help from the staff where I delivered. I went home thinking ‘ok it’s painful but it will pass’ it didn’t and by day 7 I cried everytime my son latched on, it was awful and then my mother in law bought me nipple shields, the MAM ones – they are amazing, completely saved my breastfeeding life and I totally second the use of them, despite what the HV might say! I continued to feed using shields everytime (from the steriliser) until I went back to work part time at 5 months. So many people are too quick to judge and women must do what feels right and suits them and their baby. Xxxx

    1. Rebecca I’m actually surprised to hear that HV seem to be so anti shields, why be against something that is helping both mother and child?! I was lucky and mine was great – as was my Midwife. I hope things change in the not too distant future x

  28. I think it’s always great when people share their stories, and show that not everything works out, even if your best intentions are there. Sometimes mind simply won’t go over matter, and at the point where you’ve got a newborn, the mind needs to be the thing that’s functioning! I didn’t have an easy time with breastfeeding, and in fact stopped after a week. I have never stopped asking myself questions about whether I did the right thing, and I don’t think I’ll ever feel fully resolved to it, but it’s the decision I made, and it meant a closer bond with my baby if anything. I was incredibly lucky in the care I received from my midwife, health visitor, and local maternity unit. There was no judgement, just support. I read something after I’d made my decision, and it’s something I’ve stuck by: don’t explain. For a time I felt the need to explain to anyone passing why I was bottle feeding, to justify that I had tried, I wasn’t lazy (anyone who knows the palaver of preparing a nappy bag to go out if you’re bottle feeding knows it is NOT the lazy option!). But after reading that, I resolved to not explain myself to anyone. It helped me to be behind my decision myself, as every time I explained to someone new (or the same people in fact heard the same story again and again!), I was actually only trying to justify it to myself. My gorgeous girl is 8 months old now, and I honestly can’t see how she could be any more perfect (if a bit snotty) than she is.

    1. Don’t explain – quite Anna. I spent far too much time on a justification mission, starting with justifying why I was trying so hard to master the BF technique so to speak and then justifying why I stopped…such a waste of precious time that you could be spending with your lovely newborn x

  29. What brilliantly honest post Charlotte. I had a similar experience, persevered as long as I could, and managed to feed Orla out of jaundice, but the pain was excruciating, and even though I’d set my heart on breastfeeding and had never contemplated any alternative, I just couldn’t carry on. When I finally admitted defeat, the midwife who’d been supporting me through it said that she’d wanted to tell me to stop days earlier, but that she had to wait for it to be my decision.
    I spoke to various people afterwards, the Health Visitors, etc, but the person who helped the most was one of our GPs, who shared that she’d had the same experience and how it made her feel. She said similar to one of the comments above, that isn’t brilliant that formula exists so that there’s an alternative for mamas or babies who aren’t able to breastfeed. She also pointed me in the direction of an American website http://www.fearlessformulafeeder.com/ which has stories shared by lots of women who didn’t breastfeed for a variety of reasons. I found it so useful to read other people’s stories, and used them to try and explain to my husband how I felt – he was so supportive and lovely, but could only see the black and white – before, Orla was hungry and I was in terrible pain, now Orla was happy and her tummy was full and I was (physically anyway) on the mend – problem solved! She told me that it’s ok to be upset about it, and said that she still has bad days a couple of years later, which I think is important to share. I mostly feel better about it now (Orla is 14 months tomorrow) but it still breaks my heart a little bit to see people breastfeeding out and about, or references to it on facebook, or whatever. But Orla is happy and healthy, so that’s the main thing! 🙂

    1. Hi Amy and thanks for sharing that website – I’ll definitely take a look. My husband was very supportive too, he was pro me giving BF a go but was also very understanding about the pain I was in (and to be blunt – could see the state of me!) which I think helps massively.

      I don’t feel bad now about not BF for as long as I would have liked, but I do miss her being so tiny…..and I guess needy? She is an independent little soul already! x

  30. Great post. I have a five week old little boy and breastfeeding has definitely been a journey! In the first week both of my nipples split leaving blood everywhere. I started using the protectors but Arthur couldn’t get enough and they left me feeding from 7.30pm-3.30am every night for four days. We then saw a breastfeeding counsellor from La Leche League who got Arthur’s latch spot on and showed me how to feed side by side in bed – a dream! After that I developed mastitis and then, if this wasn’t enough, Arthur wasn’t putting on weight due to low milk supply. For the past two weeks I have been simultaneously pumping and feeding in order to up my supply and thankfully it worked. Arthur made his birth weight at four weeks and has put on 400g in the week since. However I am sitting here with him on one boob, a pump on the other and somehow managing to type too..!! The ‘breast is best’ movement has certainly hoped the pressure and led to a sad taboo about formula, when really it should all be a question of ‘is your bubba healthy?!’ Thanks for sharing your struggle with us, especially the new Mums going through it all right now, and for setting a sensible example! X

    1. Oooh, I feel your pain with Mastitis Sian. Really not fun. The first time i just thought I had flu and sadly you just have to feed through the pain which is no fun at all. I now wonder if Molly’s latch wasn’t right but hey, she put on weight so that seemed to work. And get you with the multi tasking!!! x

  31. I had my little boy at 33 weeks. He was 4lbs 1oz, it was a total shock, and one that took me a long time to recover from (mentally). He was ok despite the early start, but in the NICU for two weeks whilst he put on weight and learnt how to keep himself warm. I had to express milk for him so he could be tube fed. I then started breast feeding – there was (rightly of course) a huge emphasis on BFing on the neonatal unit. Anyway, I managed to get him to feed from me, and persevered with it for around 5 months (I was combination feeding by that point) but I have to admit (and please don’t judge) I didn’t enjoy breast feeding much – I loved the snuggles with my baby, but found myself self conscious in public, exhausted and feeling quite trapped/isolated by the constant feeding cycle. Looking back, I think I would have moved over to combination feeding or formula feeding sooner as it help me have the reassurance of how much he had eaten, and given me more confidence when out and about (so much respect for those who confidently feed in public!). The whole “happy mum, happy baby” is definitely true, so I think you have to do what works for you. I am proud I managed to feed Noah myself, for as long as I did, but I do think it contributed to my anxiety and i heaped a lot of pressure on to myself (as do so many new mums).

    1. Sarah I think it’s really important to admit that not everyone enjoys it, whether it’s painful, or difficult or whether there’s no actual “problem” – some people just don’t. And there’s nothing wrong with that, we’re all entitled to be different. x

  32. Thanks for being so honest about such a difficult subject. Breast feeding is such a unique experience for every mum and every baby.
    My sister and I had babies two weeks apart and have fed them completely differently for our various reasons, but we both have happy, healthy baby girls and isn’t that all that matters?!
    Loving the blog so far, I’ve been following Rock My Wedding since I got engaged (and married!). Really looking forward to reading all about other people’s experiences of the next chapter in my own life.
    All the best

    1. Isn’t it Charlotte?! I use a tiny amount around my eyes which are very dry now it’s getting a bit colder and it works wonders for that too. Thanks for joining us for the next chapter x

  33. Thank you for such a balanced post (and lots of great comments too) – RMF is turning into exactly the sort of blog I really hoped it would be! I am expecting my first in a few weeks, and have attended a very useful workshop at the hospital (lots of information on techniques etc that I haven’t found in such detail in books), and have my NCT class on BF this week, but I am very sensible to the fact that it may not be easy or even possible (and will try to remind myself of this when the time comes!!).

    One thing the infant feeding specialist at the hospital did say is that if you have sore nipples, hand express a little milk and spread over the nipples, let it dry and then apply Lansinoh. Apparently it is much more effective than just using the cream – not sure if anyone has done this, and not being at that stage just yet myself I can’t vouch for it personally, but thought I would share in case there are other mummies-to-be who would find it useful to try, and I would also be interested to hear from any of you who have tried it and can say whether it works or not!

    1. Hi Annie, I can confirm that hand expressing the milk over the nipples totally works! I have complete baby brain, Olive is only 8 weeks old and I did the milk over the sore/cracked nipple all the time. But had totally forgotten! Also like you say, really good to let them air dry. I’ve lost count of the amount of times, I have walked around my home with both breasts out so my nipples can try, very amusing!

      1. Thanks Kate – good to know that this does work!! I did think it could be awkward/amusing while waiting for the milk to dry…! Congratulations on your little girl as well, lovely name. x

  34. This has been a very interesting post to read. My baba is 4 weeks old today and has gained 1lb 2oz since birth – however I still manage to question whether or not he is taking enough milk from me! We had a pretty tough birth with an emergency c-section but luckily for me he latched on instantly and fed well ( even through my initial morphine haze!) however, he feeds every 2 hrs through the day and night. We have introduced a formula feed to give me a little freedom back. Breast feeding is lovely, but I do envy my husband when he just walks out the door without a baby in tow sometimes! And I’m looking forward to real bras again at some point… I don’t think either feeding option is the easy way out, but a healthy baby has to be the priority. My nephew is 9months and exclusively bottle fed – he’s a right little bruiser now! Ultimately we’ll just see how we go with it all. Newborns are such a learning curve and I’m not sure the guilt and worry will ever stop! X

    1. Kerri I don’t think it does ever stop but neither does the laughter, I’ve never laughed so much in my life 🙂

      Mabel is still getting up for a bottle in the middle of the night (!) and actually it’s James who does the majority of feeds, moving onto cows milk has made earthing so much easier x

  35. I think I was incredibly lucky that we didn’t struggle *too* much to establish breastfeeding, which was lucky after an incredibly traumatic birth and extended recovery period for me. Breastfeeding worked so well for us – I did try pumping for a while, but soon gave up with the faff of it all. We made it to 14 months, but at that point I was VERY ready to stop – baby was feeding less and less, and I was itching to get back to myself a bit. I noticed some strong reactions when I voiced the fact that I was preparing to stop, because I wanted more time to myself – incredible after managing for the time that I did! I find that breastfeeding mothers, whether they mean to or not, can be incredibly forceful and indignant in their opinions around breastfeeding. At the end of the day, a healthy happy baby AND a happy healthy mummy is what matters.

    1. Hi Rachel, I was lucky to know mothers that BF who were not judgemental at all but I do see it on social media as I mentioned in a comment above. It’s unnecessary – we should all be supporting each other on such a new and often challenging journey. And to wear normal bras was…..amazing! x

  36. I breastfed my son for 18 months but I don’t think I’d have made it 24 hours under your circumstances! I found it very easy, and liked doing it. It can be easy – I felt like I never read any bF related story that didn’t come with warnings of pain etc. If you are scared of it hurting it’s always worth giving a go in case it’s actually easy!

    1. Kathryn absolutely – we want to make this a kind of series, sharing all sorts of experiences including the very positive x

  37. Great post! I’m very pro breast feeding but MORE pro mums being able to enjoy being mums and the special moment that happens when your baby is delivered to you , without the pressures of feeling useless or incompetent feeding wise and it’s a shame that some midwives and hospitals aren’t more sensitive. I’m 5 days in to BF my 2nd son… and man it’s difficult I’m just coming through the toe curling sore nipples, cracked and bleeding with bits falling off… So I’m feeling good- I owe a lot to HPA Lanolin!! But I had no support this or last time from the ever stretched midwives so I’m lucky it’s working out for me! No mammy should feel pressure to feed their child one way or another we are all doing an awesome job!!

  38. Oh my gosh Charlotte, this is such an amazing post and the comments are so reassuring for every new mum who is struggling and no doubt checking the Internet to know that they are not alone. When Florence was born, like so many on here, she wasn’t putting one night weight so days of crying inconsolably (by both of us!) and we encountered an AMAZING midwife who told me it just wasn’t worth it, and to give the baby some formula, express some milk and just enjoy being a mum. I did and I can honestly say it changed overnight…happy mum and happy baby! I am firmly in the camp of FEEDING your baby is the most important thing, no matter how you do it. I still have pangs of guilt breastfeeding didn’t work out for me, but I also have no regrets that I did what was right for us both. If this post was live when I was struggling it would have given me so much comfort I wasn’t alone…this is ace to get so many mums talking!! Xx

    1. I am so overwhelmed by the response to this post Karen, it’s been amazing! Camp FEEDING is the best camp x

  39. I too struggled with BF. I was so determined and kept going through Milo’s tongue tie (which was corrected), mastitis twice, cracked nipples and a pain so bad I had to grip onto something when he latched on. I gave myself such a hard time and such pressure and I look back and wish I’d given myself a break. I kept going and going and just as we were getting good at it, Milo decided he wanted more milk and faster! He was 3 months then. I know I kept going more for myself, like a personal quest I had to do and Milo would have done well either way. I would have kept doing it for ages though as I ended up loving it! Lesson learnt for 2nd baby to try but not be so hard on myself if it is too painful to continue. Many of my early memories of him are of pain and upset which is a shame. As long as you are feeding your baby then who cares how xx

    1. Helena I have learnt the same lesson should there be a baby number two, I’m just going to try my best and not be so hard on myself x

  40. I can completely sympathise with the skin issues Charlotte. I broke out into something called polymorphic eruption of pregnancy at 37 weeks….. basically hive like things all over my body. The only place I was hive free were my chest and face. I can’t imagine what you went through feeding with something so painful.

    I’m still breastfeeding my 4.5 month old but the latest struggle for me is he is so interested in everything around him that he constantly latches on and off when we are out and about, resulting in milk squirting all over the shop and a booby show for anyone that may have the misfortune to glance my way! I know I shouldn’t but I feel embarrassed when feeding in a public place.

    How did we not know about the miracles of Lanolin before Mummyhood??!!! Mind you….. If someone told me to buy sore nipple cream to cake onto my face before baby I may have laughed.

    It’s difficult being a new Mama whether you breast or bottle feed. Im so pleased RMF has arrived, finally a non judgy site!!

    1. Hi Joelle…oh my goodness, I’ve never heard of Polymorphic eruption, that sounds bloody awful. Poor you. Because of the pain I didn’t BF in public once as it happens, I didn’t fancy yelping in front of strangers. So glad you are better and are enjoying the site x

  41. Thanks for writing this post Charlotte. I struggled to exclusively breastfeed my son as I didn’t produce enough milk, he lost a lot of weight as I felt pressured to not give him a bottle. We ended up having to take him into hospital as he had gone from 6lb 2oz at birth to 5lb 4oz. The Consultant advised supplementing with formula and the night I finally gave him a bottle he settled straight away and despite having reflux began to gain weight. Looking back at the photos now I feel bad that I didn’t give him formula sooner. I was mixed feeding for a couple of months before switching to formula. It wasn’t until fairly recently that I read that fertility medication can cause some people to have a low milk supply (I was on clomid) I think if I had known this at the time I wouldn’t have felt so guilty about not being successful at breastfeeding. I was lucky to have an excellent midwife who was supportive, helpful and respected my decision but we still found the whole experience very stressful. If I am lucky enough to have a second I wouldn’t hesitate to try breastfeeding again but would always have formula just in case.

    1. You shouldn’t feel bad Lisa, how were you to know you had a low supply? Super to hear you has such an excellent midwife, I am hearing about more and more positive experiences and that’s great x

  42. Great post and love hearing everyone’s experiences.
    I set out intending to BF and my daughter wouldn’t latch very well, after the birth I got transferred to a breastfeeding unit for a overnight stay. I had a horrible experience with one midwife telling me that ‘I just needed to feed my baby’ when I was desperately trying (and failing) they didn’t once suggest formula to help out.
    I tried to carry on BF’ing ended up expressing for two weeks but then switched to formula after utter exhaustion. I ended up getting post natal depression and although I’m fine now, I do think my experiences with BF’ing were the main contributor. Thankfully I had a fab health visitor and very supportive husband.

    No woman should be made to feel like a failure if they can’t do it, as someone said to me ‘whether it’s tit or teat as long as baby is fed and healthy, that’s all that matters’.
    Xxx

    1. Hi Lottie, so sorry to hear about your traumatic experience, I’m so happy that you had a great HV and husband to make up for it and that you are feeling positive. Expressing is absolutely exhausting – no-one told me this! x

  43. Great post and so reassuring reading all the comments. My Jack is now 4 months and I am exclusively bf. But it took us 10 weeks to get to a pain free feed (I thought the day would never come!). The first feed in the hospital was so easy I assumed that was how it was going to continue. How wrong I was! I didn’t understand what the problem was as all the HV and midwives told me the latch was good. Weeks later after visiting an expert (Clare Byam Cook-so lovely and worth the spendy visit) I found out Jack and I both had oral thrush. On top of that I also had mastitis. After begging my doctor for any drugs available,I was feeling much better and one day realised I was feeding and not in pain…a miracle! I was so close to quitting but glad I persevered as I now enjoy bf,something I never thought would happen (and oh the guilt not feeling that love for feeding your baby). Being a mum is so hard I just think you have to do whatever suits you and your little one. I do think women should be encouraged to try bf but at the end of the (very long!) day,as long as you and little one are happy and healthy that is all that matters. Mums are amazing ,bottle or boob!

    1. 10 weeks Hannah – that is an epic effort to deal with that kind of discomfort. The expert sounds amazing, at least she could diagnose you both and you are now pain free x

  44. I’m so so lucky in the fact that both of my babies (now 27 months and 6 months old) latched on pretty much minutes after giving birth, my ‘problem’ was after 3/4 weeks during a massive heatwave, they both seemed to constantly want feeding to the point I would be sitting in my pants trying to feed without overheating the both of us. I mentioned it both times to seperate midwives/health visitors and in no uncertain terms was told to ‘carry on and power through’ which then lead to at least another 2 weeks to constant feeding, tears (from me) at feeling like a failure when an hour after finishing a feed they would want feeding again. Eventually I changed over to formula and all of us (including my husband) was so much happier for it! I will never understand why no matter how unhappy/uncomfortable/in pain you are breast feeding will a health professional encourage you to continue by making you feel bad, they wouldn’t do it for any other reason!

  45. Wow what a brilliant post!
    I wish this had been written when I was breast feeding
    With my first I was desperate to breast feed having been told that this was the only way. She was a fairly big 8llb 8 and hungry. She latched on easy and I’ll be honest I didn’t see what all the fuss was about it was easy. HOW wrong can you be! I litterslly just didn’t seem to get any milk after the first week, and by five weeks was feeling pretty useless that my baby was so unsettled. I decide to wean on yo formula and nearly overnight she was happy, At six weeks are world was rocked when she was rushed to hospital with suspected meningitis. I will never forget somebody saying to me “maybe you should have stayed breast feeding a little longer!” Thank god I was more concerned with getting my bear healthy than mean STUPID comments that had no relevance to her being in hospital.

    All I can say is I tried for nearly six weeks and then we had over a week of hell. But she came home being fully on formula having had a dummy introduced and sleeping in a cot and from that moment on was a happy content baby: I wish the hospital stay hadn’t happend but I found the joys of formula and dummies both I think mums beat themselves up about to much.

    My second son I breast fed for six weeks and again he wasn’t happy due to low milk supply so I moved on to goats milk formula.

    Breast/bottle either way your all amazing xxx

    1. Madi I can’t believe someone said that to you….Oh my goodness. Folks can diss formula (and dummies!) all they like but they work wonders for some people and their babies – as you have personally experienced x

  46. Great post Charlotte. I have been incredibly lucky so far and been able to breastfeed my 9 week old baby boy easily with no problems (yet). He’s a real ‘doer’ and is nearly on the 91st percentile. When I was pregnant I was desperate To be able to bf and I know I would have been totally heartbroken if i couldn’t. BUT I was also very realistic and knew that it could be difficult, impossible even, and tried not to put pressure on myself. At the end of the day, your baby has to be fed and both mummy and baby need to be happy, that’s all that really matters in my opinion. if it’s not from the boob then it’s from a bottle and no one has the right to criticise, or even comment, on how you feed your baby. I know how lucky I am that he’s been an ace latcher and the ‘anatomy’ if you will, has worked.

    Looking forward to lots of reading of RMF!

  47. I read this post with great interest, having had my little girl almost 16 weeks ago. I felt under great pressure to breastfeed thanks to an NCT course run by a breastfeeding counsellor and Royal Berks Hospital in Reading being very pro-BF. Like many other replies to this post, I too had decided that I would attempt breastfeeding since even the boxes of formula state that it’s best for the baby.

    However, Isabel totally point blank refused to latch. I hand-expressed my colostrum and had what felt like every midwife, healthcare assistant and midwifery student check my technique. After 2 and 1/2 days in hospital they finally mentioned that I could always express and see how we got on. Thank goodness…we were quickly discharged and off to John Lewis to buy the Medela Swing breast pump. My milk supply came in at 5 days so we stopped with the formula top-ups and have been feeding her expressed breast milk ever since. We have given her formula when she’s had a growth spurt and I haven’t been able to keep up with her demand, and over the last couple of weeks have given her a “dream feed” of formula just before bed –
    It’s thicker so is meant to keep bubbas fuller for longer. Whilst you have the faff of expressing, feeding, washing bottles, sterilising etc I think it’s important that mums-to-be are aware that is a potential solution if you struggle with latching. I got asked so many times whether we had given her skin-to-skin contact, whether she had a tongue tie etc, people always tried to find reasons why she wouldn’t latch but in truth she is just lazy and didn’t want to do it! At some point I will give up expressing but for now we are happy as we are, it definitely helps that my husband can share the feeds.

    I’ve just realised my comment is rather lengthy but BF is certainly a topic that produces much debate!!! Congrats on the launch of a fab blog xx

    1. Thanks Claire! The Medela is amazing isn’t it? Well worth the money – even if I did only use it for a month, it was the best thing for that month! x

  48. Charlotte your experience was pretty much the EXACT same as mine 7 months ago! I still feel a teeny bit jealous when I see other mums breastfeeding because even tho I did it just about for 4 weeks I just never fully got to grips with it. I feel like I gave up to protect my own sanity more than anything but I think it just would have been too hard to keep going any longer. I really feel I did my best but the guilt really did kick in!

    1. Hi Mary, there were times when I was a bit like “Maybe just one more day?” but a month was what I could manage and that’s ok. We’re both doing great now 🙂 x

  49. Such a great post. I felt huge guilt at only being able to bf/combi feed for 8 weeks. G lost 11% of his body weight in the first five days and a lovely midwife was so supportive when I burst into tears at the guilt of not being able to nourish my little boy. To cut a long story short I had supply issues (when militant bf mamas say this is incredibly rare it makes me want to scream as the insinuation seems to be you just gave up) and even expressing with my super fancy medula swing (I had read up and was sooo intent on bf and had brought the bst) produced less than 10ml. Two weeks in a lovely hv made me realise if I didn’t top up with formula he would end up in hospital and wouldn’t that be worse than giving him a little bit of formula in conjunction with bf. She had bf one of her sons and formula fed the other…..with no difference in their development, intelligence, health etc. It gave me the wake up call to realise that I was putting bf ahead of seeing my little one thrive.

    We managed 8 weeks combi feeding before G just gave up on getting the little he could from me and was then exclusively formula fed. I wish I could have bf for longer but I wouldn’t hesitate to use formula again if bf didn’t work out. I just wish mums weren’t so judgemental and as others have said its not just about the breastfeeding! Looking forward to the future posts on the blog!

    1. Becky thanks for sharing, it’s different for everyone – your HV advised you to do exactly the right thing x

  50. What a great post and I have to admit to having a bit of a cry when you said about having to turn away when Mabel was fed from a cup.
    My little M had to be formula fed straight after birth as although I tried feed her I was just so shattered (shattered doesn’t quite cut it!!) I was scared to hold her for long, but we muddled through with the breastfeeding for the next couple of days, but then it started to hurt. ALOT.
    I dreaded feeding her. And cried. So much. A particular low point was when I had finished my ‘shift’ with our nocturnal baby who was sleeping briefly in her bouncer downstairs and literally couldn’t face the pain of feeding her again……I sobbed as I told my husband I couldn’t do it anymore, (I will say at this point I had come back downstairs with no pants on as wanted to get a jug of water to pour over myself as I had a wee as that was v painful too and the flaps of my nursing bra down as I just couldn’t bare anything on my nipples and mascara all down my face) and said I thought we needed to try her on a bottle……….trying to figure out the sterilizer at 3am with hardly any sleep was not much fun.
    I cried giving her that bottle and thought I had failed her and that I would ruin my milk supply but she needed that bottle and so did I to a certain extent.
    When she was a week old I went to a breastfeeding group and they were so fantastic and when I felt like a failure, they made me realise I wasn’t……My latch was ok but I think I had done quite a lot of damage in that week but I battled through even though at times when I removed my breast pads, they had stuck to my weeping, cracked, bleeding nipples (nice!) and I became obsessed with airing/oiling/general nipple faffing for what seemed like forever.
    I wanted to give up on several occasions and although it took a long time, it became less and less painful and she turns one next week and I am still feeding her twice a day, with a bit of top up formula after her last feed.

    I just wish I would have known quite how difficult I was going to be so I would have felt less of a failure (breastfeeding can hurt for some people in the beginning, even if you are doing it right) and cut myself some slack…..this baby lark is hard enough as it is!

    Jane X

    1. Jane bless you, sounds like you went through hell – so glad the BF group was so amazing!

      The faffing is well…a faff. And those bloody pads, I hated them! Not least because they stick to the sore bits x

  51. Lovely honest post. Finally talking about how breastfeeding isn’t easy for everyone. I was really sick during and after my natural labour and was very weak. As a result I was unable to hold my daughter for the first few hours of her life. I had about 10 mins before starting throwing up and my husband held her for the next two hours. It meant it took me a while to get any colostrum through and that seemed to be the way things continued. I struggled with breastfeeding- stubborningly trying to get enough milk to feed my hungry daughter. We had an emergency trip to the birth centre at 5am on day 3 when she hadn’t been able to feed since 8pm. I have her formula that day and don’t think I’ve ever felt such a failure. Until I saw that my baby was for the first time full! I struggled with breastfeeding in varying degrees for 6 months with formula feeds, with constant breast thrush for the majority. I found once discharged from the midwives that medical professionals were unsupportive and unhelpful in treating my pain and only my friends, family and fellow mums got me through. I wish more people spoke about their struggles to make new mums realise whatever way works for you, breastfeeding, pumping, formula a mixture of all IS OK, the most important thing is happy and healthy baby and mum.

  52. Good evening ladies – would just like to thank you for this post. I’ve been hooked on reading it all night! My little boy is nearly seven weeks and thriving on being bottle fed. 2 weeks ago it was a completely different story. I always intended to breast feed, I had my aims and phase out periods set before beijg due to go back to work next year. I didn’t get to have skin to skin when he was born and it took a couple of days for him to latch on. At first, he lost a small amount of birth weight and then piled it back on. Breast feeding was going great. Then things took a weird turn – things were a bit odd with the little man. He wasn’t pooing, he was extremely unsettled, crying all time, constantly wanting feeding… We couldnt pin point what it was. Colic? Cold? Tummy ache? HV just said feed through and hopefully it will pass. Little one faffed a lot with his feeding, sometime would get a good feed, others I’d be sat on a chair for 6, 7, 8 hours trying to satisfy him. I got a blocked milk duck, something I knew how to clear as I’d had one before. But things deteriorated pretty quickly and I was an emotional mess by the time I came to get him weighed at 4 weeks. Sleep deprived with still a very unsettled baby, stressed, beyond miserable, the block milk duck getting increasingly worse. Little one hadn’t grown as much as he should have either. I spoke to a HV who went through all the text book stuff to get rid of a block duck and made no comment on my sons weight progress despite my concerns. Unfortunately that night after numerous crying sessions, I had a major melt down calling my mum who came round where my husband and family intervened. I couldn’t feed my son my breast had got so sore even to touch. He was put onto bottle that night, it broke my heart but he drank and drank and drank. He was just so hungry but has come on amazingly since being just bottle fed. He’s just a delight! Me on the other hand went to the doctors – my blocked milk duck had developed into matistis to then a full blown infection and now I’m dealing with with a pretty awful breast abscess that’s erupting in weak stops across my breast to get the infection out. It’s just a mess and will take sometime to heal. I don’t know where or how it all went wrong – certainly not the breast feeding expectation I had! But I’m feeling so much better & happier in myself since bottle feeding that I can start to enjoy motherhood X (Sorry for long post) x

    1. Hi Katie-Lou. Oh gosh, you poor thing. That does not sound fun at all but so pleased to here your little boy is thriving now. It’s so hard giving them those first bottles isn’t it? Mastitis was the most painful thing ever but not sure I’d have coped with developing an abscess as well. Hope it all gets better soon and enjoy cuddles with your little man xx

  53. Great blog post Charlotte! I’m currently breastfeeding my 15 week old very hungry baby..we’ve also tried a mixture of formula bottles, expressing and breastfeeding which have all worked really well.
    I exclusively breastfed my first little boy for 5 months only stopping to return to work full time. However this time round I’m really struggling with the body image side of post pregnancy boobs!!! I hate them and cant help thinking the breastfeeding is making my body store extra fat which is making it even worse. I feel massive and am struggling to dress conveniently every day so I can breastfeed easily and discretely in public (I know this is crazy ?) I’ve not given up but certainly didn’t expect to feel this way after having such an easy going second baby! I’ve also found my expressed milk isn’t storing well, going sour in the freezer which has put me off expressing too much at a time. My HV has said she’s never heard of it and asked if I was sure?? Any other mums experienced this?
    I’ve set myself a target to keep going until Christmas (he’ll be 6 months then) and by that time starting to wean so will make my decision to stop a little easier. I just feel so bad blaming my body image issues on something that I loved so much first time round. Xx

    1. Hi Angel. I felt quite similar with my second little girl. I breastfed both for nearly 6 months (with bottles as well if they would have them) but found the whole dressing for feeding harder and frankly more annoying second time round. I stopped earlier with Alice I think as just wanted to get back to normal. I think when you have a toddler to run around after as well it just isn’t so easy. I also was definitely not one of those mums that lost weight through breastfeeding. I blame all the extra biscuits I ate!! x

      1. Ha ha yes I suppose I did forget to add I can’t stop eating….? again another thing I’m blaming on the breastfeeding!! It’s certainly not as easy with a toddler to contend with; I just need to put my mummy guilt aside and go with the flow. Grayson has always been a big baby and a very good feeder so whatever I decide to do he’s certainly not going to struggle! Xx

      2. Totally agree with this. It’s much much harder the second time round. I’ve been eating healthy and losing one lb per week which should be around the nine months to put on and nine months to get off. Body certainly hasn’t done the springing back it does with the first baby! Even my rings took months before I could squeeze them back on.
        Asos.com have some nice nursing tops, dresses and bras and I’ve just bought some soft topshop Leigh jeans that fit rather than being uncomfortable in a too small or big pairs so those little things do help. It’s only for a short time really Xxx

      1. Hannah, Thank you!! I knew it was something wrong and couldn’t believe the HV wasn’t aware of such a thing. I never suffered first time round with expressing so can’t understand why it’s happening this time! So frustrating. Suppose I am lucky he’ll quite happily drink anything that’s proffered his way and he’s taken to formula. Thank you for the link, it’s helped answer a few questions xx

    2. Angel I completely sympathise, I am desperate to diet so that I can lose the 2.5 stone of baby weight I gained, but have guilt knowing it will affect my milk supply. Pregnancy, labour & motherhood is tough on the body and I feel like my stretch marks will never go, my loose tummy will never tone up and my hips will remain inexplicably wide forevermore. At the end of the day if it’s getting you down & you are struggling to feed in public then do whatever you think is right for you & will make you happy xx

  54. What a lovely and honest post. I complely feel your pain Charlotte, when I was nearing the end of my pregnancy I started having problems with really itchy nipples and suffered with eczema on them, not a great start. Once I had my little Sofia, she struggled to latch on properly as she was tongue tied, I too had to feed her with the syringe ( this didn’t deter me as at least she was getting the good stuff). However it just didn’t ever seem to get any easier. We both got thrush, oh my lord that is the most painful thing ever!! Most nights I dreaded her waking as that meant it was feeding time again. ?

    The big cruch came 6 weeks in, after 2 weeks of treatment, I was told I needed another 2 week course. I just couldn’t do it any longer and my friend told me a happy mummy makes a happy baby. I was lucky Sofia transitioned perfectly on to the formula and flourished.

    I have no regrets and am pleased that I lasted as long as I did, like you say, I did the best I could do! I was pre-warned by lots of people about the pushy midwives and other judgey mums, but I must say I didn’t experience that at all everyone was very helpful and supportive, I was quite taken back by how much pressure I put on myself. I constantly gave myself little milestones just one more night when really it was just time to stop punishing myself! I feel sad that I had to stop but very ad I tried. I would do it again, but next I will try and be a little nicer to myself.

    Loving the blog, good luck with the new venture. Xx

    1. Thanks Louise, I’m glad you love the blog! The pressure we put on ourselves is sometimes worse that that of any MW, HV or judgy pants stranger….it’s completely normal though x

  55. I don’t mind sharing this here because I know you lovely lot will have left your judgey pants at the door…

    I am probably one of the few mumma’s who DIDN’T want to breastfeed. While I completely get all of the benefits it’s just not something I ever wanted to do.

    The judgement passed down on me from others was overwhelming at times but I’m not exactly the shy and retiring type so I stuck to my guns because I knew it was the right decision for me.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is do what is right for you AND your bubba. Don’t ever feel bad about not being able to breast feed, about stopping breast feeding or not doing it at all!

    1. Lynsey B, I know many Mums who just didn’t want to BF and didn’t attempt it. There is nothing wrong with feeling that way – it’s your choice. I’m sure sharing this decision will be part of the series on RMF x

  56. Ok so I’m late to the party, but had to commend you for your honesty Charlotte. From following your insta account, you’d think nothing but you’re this beautiful mamma who has the most perfect life… No idea of anything you faced or went through in pregnancy and those first few weeks… Wow!!

    My challenge was a baby that wouldn’t latch… He spent the first 10 days of his life in special care so I always thought we lost the bond. I expressed and he was tube fed during this time. We left hospital with the hope of him eventually enjoying a good latch, but all attempts ended in high pitch screaming his little arms pushing me away from him 🙁 so I continued to express and he fed through a bottle.

    I got a lot of support but despite all efforts the latch just didn’t happen. I was so determined to make this work and for him to have my milk that I expressed milk for a whopping 6 months!!! I look back now and I can’t quite believe I did it. Credit to my husband who bought me the freestyle medela double pump and the hands free bra to go with it, I was able to express on the move (when actually driving) and it took half the time with being double.

    Looking back, those first few weeks were not enjoyable at all. I had to trick my body that my child was feeding every 3 hours so I expressed every 3… Then I’d just finish expressing then I would have just enough time to clean the equipment then my son would wake for his feed… Then after settling him I’d have to think about expressing again about an hour later… I managed this for around 6 weeks before I found better methods and eventually got to a stage of expressing every 8 hours and getting a shed load of milk off, I suddenly felt like I had a little bit of life again and things stopped being planned around my expressing times.

    I’m sure that half my battle was pressure from society… But also wanting the best for my so after a rocky start in his life. When we eventually changed to formula at 6 months, he didn’t even flinch. I was stunned, and it made me realise I shouldn’t have beat myself up so much or put all this pressure on myself. The day I packed that pump away was the best day ever and I enjoyed every day that followed.

    I’m currently 30 weeks pregnant with number 2, and I can hand on heart say that if I have any latching issues this time, formula won’t even take more than a second of thought and I will feel absolutely NO guilt!! I’ve earned my blue peter badge… I don’t need another! X

    1. Hi Ebony, well done for persevering with expressing for so long! I’m 16 weeks into it at the mo and to be honest, sat here pumping at 5:45am whilst my little girl sleeps soundly, I’m starting to wonder how much longer I want to do this!! X

      1. Claire I know that exact feeling… When all your mummy friends are talking about their children sleeping well etc and you’re like ‘yeah… My child sleeps but I have to set my alarm to express before my child wakes and my boobs explode’.
        It’s not easy at all… My worry was always losing my supply so I was determined to stick to my expressing routine to ensure I never ran dry! I applause anyone who takes on this challenge because it’s not easy at all. I couldn’t possibly do it again for the 6 months I managed as now I have a crazy 2 year old toddler, it just couldn’t physically happen… But also I hadn’t realised the way it was making me feel until the day I packed away the pump. Wherever you go from here, you’ve done incredibly well to get to here and your baba has had a really good start in life. In my opinion (now) there really isn’t a difference how you choose to feed yor child. They certainly wouldn’t sell formula if it wasn’t good for your child would they! I did a slow transition around 5 months where Id introduce 1 formula feed a day until we went fully formula at 6… And like I say, not a flinch! Good luck with it all xxx

    2. Hi Ebony, thanks so much for sharing your experience, I’m so sorry to hear about those first 10 days, it must have been very upsetting. 6 Months is amazing – you absolutely deserve that Blue Peter badge!!!! and congratulations on number 2 🙂

      Instagram for me is remembering the loveliest moments – but I’ll make sure I share the very opposite here on RMF if it will in anyway help others…the comments generated are so full of advice and support x

      1. Charlotte in the short time RMF has been live I’ve learnt some big home truths from you and a lot of other mammas! It’s a great reassurance that we all face these challenges and there’s not always an easy path… Although from the outside no one would ever know. I can see RMF becoming a regular pitstop to get me through my ‘working’ day. (I freelance from home and need a 10 min distraction every now and then).
        So keep up the good work… It’s been a great week! X

  57. This post has been a really interesting read for me. I’m currently pregnant, nearly at the safe stage after 2 miscarriages) and due to strong medication for epilepsy which I absolutely HAVE to take, otherwise I’m at risk of seizure which could seriously harm me and/or the baby at the moment, I’ve already been told that I won’t be able to bf due to the level of meds which will come through in my milk. I feel bad enough that I can’t stop the meds which raise the risks for harm to the baby while I’m pregnant, only for that to be worsened by the knowledge that I won’t be able to even consider breast feeding. The fact that I know that I can’t and won’t be able to hasn’t stopped me from feeling both guilty and fearful every time I go to antenatal appointment and see the literature about how breastfeeding is best ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE. Even my husband commented when we went to gether to a scan appt that he couldn’t believe that there was nothing saying ‘but hey, it’s ok if you can’t.’ There must be more women who just can’t, for whatever reason, and I am honestly dreading being out and about with formula and having comments passed, especially when the baby to be is small.

    1. Sarah please don’t feel bad, not only do you have very unique circumstances but there is nothing to feel bad about. This whole feature and all of the lovely and supportive responses are telling you “it’s ok if you can’t” – promise x

  58. It’s so hard isn’t it… I’m not sure if the pressure comes mostly from external forces or from within, but there is so much guilt surrounding breastfeeding. Day 4 after my second baby arrived I was in AGONY and putting off feeding my baby because it hurt so much… he was latched properly, didn’t have tongue tie… it just was so incredibly painful. I was a wreck and emotionally distraught at potentially not being able to BF my baby. It took a very lovely NCT BF counsellor to come round, take one look at my boobs and say… ‘you need to stop breastfeeding for at least 24 hours because you’re doing severe damage to yourself’ for me to get a reality check and give him some formula while I recovered. I ended up going on to breastfeed for 5 months but I remember the feeling of inadequacy that I’d put upon MYSELF. We need to give ourselves a break and accept that we ARE doing the best for our babies, regardless of how we choose to feed them. x

  59. Gosh, judging by the number of comments on this post, bf is a hot topic among mums but before I had James nobody told me how hard it would be. I anticipated problems such as cracked and sore nipples and my sister had excruciating pain for up to two minutes after her wee bit latched on, so I was prepared for pain. What I wasn’t prepared for was my wee boy not latching on at all. It took two weeks of expressing, LOTS of skin to skin and nipple shields James latched on himself. He’s now 3 months old and sometimes gains a pound a week! I am exclusively breastfeeding and find it easy and pain free but the first month was awful and without the support of my husband and mum I couldn’t have done it. I didn’t think James would ever latch on and was exhausted from expressing 8 hours a day as well as skin to skin and the rest of new born care, but a particularly helpful bf consultant told me to keep persevering with the skin to skin he would eventually latch. Lo and behold one day he did and we haven’t looked back. When I was struggling I messaged all my friends who bf and found that every single one of them had problems when they started. It’s defintitely not discussed often enough and without judgement, so it’s lovely to read so many stories here that hopefully will help those starting out with bf, those having problems, and those racked with guilt that they are formula feeding. Ultimately all that matters us that the baby is fed and mum is happy. Great post x

  60. Oh Charlotte… My heart breaks just reading this. I feel for you. I didn’t have problems with my nipples, but had a difficult journey regardless. My son just wouldn’t latch on, and would cry and cry and cry and it was heartbreaking. Long story short, but after a fortune spent on a breastfeeding consultant and a cranial osteopath and lots of long days and nights trying to feed, giving expressed milk or formula, then expressing while baby was sleeping, and then starting all over when we woke up; being told off my health visitors that I was doing it all wrong, around 2 months in I was finally feeding my baby only from the breast (albeit surrounded by ridiculous amounts of pillows). I don’t know why I was so stubborn with it, I but I knew I really wanted to feed my baby. I think you’ve done incredibly well considering you’re probably one of 2% who can’t actually feed, so you shouldn’t feel guilty at all. Hugs xx

  61. Just come across this lovely blog, having been an avid Rock my Wedding reading 4 years ago. Now with a 23 month old and another on the way I think this will be my new daily read…
    This post in particular has struck a chord with me… I have psoriasis (similar, but also totally different to eczema!) and when I was pregnant with my first it bizarrely flared up on my breasts. And it only got worse as the birth approached, by the time it came to start breastfeeding it had spread over my Areola and nipples. BFing was excruciating, but I sort of expected it to be hard so I thought I just had to persevere. Countless GPs and health visitors were shocked when they saw the state of my boobs and prescribed me creams, tips on expressing and the old favourite advice ‘it will get easier’ Nothing really helped, but the stubborn side of me just thought, if I can just get through this week, this day, this hour I can do it. I wish someone had told me to use nipple shields!!! I knew about them but was told once by someone I can’t remember that they cause more problems then help. A friend gave me Lansinoh and it started to help, especially when one of my nipples literally almost came off the wound was so deep. It feels like such a lottery that you meet the right person at the right time who gives you the help you need. Even now I don’t know why I was so stubborn, on bad days I feel so sad that the first months of my son’s life were so so miserable for me, but on good days I’m so proud that I fed him for 14 months and when it works it’s so convenient (no sterilising, no temp checking, feed anytime anywhere). This time around I fully intend to try again, with nipple shields and Lansinoh from day one! But if it doesn’t work for me, I’m experienced enough to see formula isn’t the lesser option, it’s just the other one. And a happy mama = happy family.
    Thanks so much for telling your story Charlotte, I felt so alone and freakish in my nipple skin problem I never really spoke about it. And thanks for the nipple shield tip! Xx

  62. I always feel a little left out on the BF front. It was taken out of my hands as I take medication for Crohns disease and all the way through my pregnancy I knew I wouldn’t be able to BF as it would pass through my milk.
    I felt like I wanted to wear a sign everytime I fed Dougie saying “I’m not a bad mom, I can’t!”
    I felt robbed of the whole situation and experience even though my friends who had all tried BF in one way or another told me not to worry as I should be glad to skip the ‘trauma’ of it.
    After a couple of weeks and the cabbage leaves had worked their magic!!! I was just glad that my baby was healthy and happy and that the husband could do night feeds as well 🙂
    And……I also will scream from the roof tops about the Tommee Tippee perfect prep, best invention EVER! I tell all new parents about it.
    Now 16 months on I still feel like commenting on some pro BF baby forums and posts “some of us can’t!!!!”

  63. I’ve just re-read this Charlotte and I know exactly where you are coming from. When I had Elsa I really struggled, very sore nipples and she wanted to feed every hour day and night. I admitted defeat at two weeks as I was miserable and I just wanted my daughter to be content. At the time I was so annoyed at myself but now, looking back I made exactly the right decision. She’s now the happiest and healthiest soul!

    When I had my litte boy Otto this year in March, I desperately wanted to try again but without the associated pressure to make it work. He latched on within 5 minutes of being born (after a very quick 2 hour labour) and we’ve not looked back since, no pain, feeds every 4 hours and sleeps through the night. I think the quick labour helped massively.

    I suppose what I’m trying to say is that all babies are different, I did nothing differently the second time around and we’re still going strong 13 weeks down the line.

    Maybe having experience and not putting pressure on oneself helps, but either way, whichever way people decide to feed their baby, they do it that way because it’s the best thing for them and their baby.

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