Hello everyone! I’ve managed to make it back for another week of the Newborn Feeding Series, yay! This week I’m featuring Catherine from Pretty in Playdough. I’ve been chatting to Catherine on Twitter quite a bit over the past couple of months and we have a lot in common, she’s even doing the same degree I did! It’s lovely to have her writing a guest post for me and I’ve really been looking forward to sharing it with you all. Here’s her story all about her feeding her baby girl, Little R (look those sassy sunglasses!)
Throughout the whole of my pregnancy, I was disgusted by the idea of breastfeeding. Other mums told me I would change my mind but I was adamant I wouldn’t even try it. The moment I gave birth, however, that completely changed.
The first feed was easy. It was pain free and, with some help from the midwife, Little R latched on with ease. She fed for about ten minutes before falling asleep and I made up my mind; I could do this. Twelve hours later Little R was still asleep and in my naivety I left her to it. It was my mum that asked if I needed to wake her up to feed her but I had no idea what to do. Eventually, some hours later, a midwife came over and lectured me about needing to nurse regularly. I was mortified- how could I allow my baby to be hungry?! The next feed was difficult. Little R refused to latch, I was uncomfortable and there were two midwives prodding and pulling me about. I had no privacy or dignity and I wanted to sob. I stayed in hospital for another 24 hours and it remained the same. It had become sore when Little R fed but I was determined to feed her myself.
The next six weeks were the most difficult. I had undiagnosed post-natal depression and, to an extent, I struggled to bond with my newborn. The beginning latch hurt – actually, it was toe-curlingly painful. It was not uncommon for Little R to begin her feed at 6 o clock in the evening and to finish at 4 o clock in the morning. She would feed all day and all night (which is completely normal for newborn babies by the way!) I would be up until the early hours sobbing. There was a constant emotional battle in my head: do I give up breastfeeding and become a failure, or do I struggle through the pain and give Little R the best start to life that she could have? As someone who is no longer fighting against depression, I understand that the way I felt was ridiculous. It makes very little difference whether a baby is breastfed or formula fed but at the time I thought that formula feeding would make me a useless parent. My husband was incredible. Whilst I battled these demons he would lie awake with me at night, rubbing my back, making sure I was okay. He made it clear that he would support me no matter how I chose to feed our child, but ultimately, left the decision up to me.
Six weeks into breastfeeding I decided to introduce a bottle to Little R’s routine. I felt that if she could have a bottle of formula before she went to bed, I could have glass of wine with my meal, or a glass of Pimms. It also meant I wasn’t the only person who could put her to bed, my husband would be able to help. I was told by many other mums that it would help Little R to sleep through the night. (HAHAHAHA.) It didn’t. Whilst it meant I could have a few glasses of wine, it made absolutely no difference to how long she slept. We persevered though because it was nice to have a break from one feed and it made bed time a lot quicker, which meant I was able to have a few hours of ‘me-time’ before she woke up again. By six weeks, I had become more confident breastfeeding and so I attempted my first public feed. It was mortifying; I was stressed, she wouldn’t latch and she screamed. I tried to keep her covered with a muslin cloth which she absolutely hated but I was so worried that people would judge me that I would rather have struggled.
By twelve weeks, I was a pro-breastfeeder. It was completely pain-free, it was easy and whilst it seemed like it was all I did with my day, it was no longer a chore. I kept a book with me at all times so I could read whilst she fed, there was a drink within arm’s reach constantly, I had mastered nursing whilst lying down, and taking naps with Little R. I had also been to the doctors regarding my depression and was on medication for it, which made a massive difference. Breastfeeding was an amazing way to bond with Little R and it was so easy. We could leave the house with just a pack of wipes and a few nappies which made my life much easier.
I fed Little R until her first birthday, when I swapped her on to soya milk (she has a cow’s milk protein intolerance). It was time to stop but I was heartbroken. Little R wasn’t interested in milk anymore, everything in life was much more exciting. Even her morning feed was impossible now, she just didn’t want it.
Breastfeeding was the greatest, most rewarding thing I have ever done, and I am so proud that I managed to feed for twelve months.
It is so lovely to read Catherine’s story and to see that despite initial problems and even struggles with PND she was able to have a positive feeding, and bonding, experience with her daughter. I’m certain there’ll be many Mamas out there putting uni essay pressure on themselves and battling the same demons as Catherine did, and I hope her story reaches at least one of you and gives you some relief! You’re never alone in Motherhood.
Visit her blog here, she even runs a weekly linky, #prettyinplaydough if you’d like to share your posts or read some other great ones! You can also follow her on Twitter @CRadley_, and Instagram @prettyinplaydough.
If you have a feeding story you’d like to share I’d love to hear from you. Bloggers, non-bloggers, Mamas, Dad’s, you’re all welcome! I’m going to change this feature to bi-weekly, so I’ll hopefully see you all again in two weeks time.