Why is breastfeeding recommended?
The benefits of breastfeeding – according to the NHS – include reducing the risk of infection; diarrhoea and vomiting; sudden infant death syndrome, infant leukaemia and obesity.
But ultimately, fed is best and if for any reason you are struggling, there are alternatives that will ensure your baby is getting the sustenance he or she needs.
‘At the first home visit from the midwife, my daughter had lost a little more weight than they wanted, but it was nothing to worry about,’ says Joanna. ‘A couple of days later however she’d lost even more weight, which was a shock as I thought I’d been breastfeeding fine. The midwife suggested topping her up with formula after every other feed and I felt totally comfortable with the idea. But just after she left the health visitor came, who had a totally different approach. She was clearly anti-formula and it made me feel terrible – the only time during the whole experience that someone made me cry. However, we stuck with the midwife’s suggestion and never regretted it.’
Reality V. expectation
‘Nothing from my pregnancy through to the birth of my son really went how I wanted, and then I really struggled to breastfeed so it felt like another “failure”’, says Luciana. ‘But I was desperate that he get my milk, so I expressed and fed him through the bottle. I’m glad I had that option but honestly it was probably the hardest part of motherhood as it was so physically draining, and I was confined to the house for hours.’
The reality of motherhood is often very different to expectations, and this can be difficult. There are a lot of options out there if breastfeeding isn’t as straightforward as you’d hoped, so do speak to your health advisor or GP if this is something you’d like to explore.
Getting through breastfeeding
‘I was lucky with my first son and managed to breastfeed without much difficulty, but my main tip would be to stock up on nipple cream and use it preventatively,’ says Cherie. ‘My second was exclusively formula fed as I was really quite poorly straight after the birth. There was quite a lot of guilt at first but now it seems like a distant memory, and both seem as healthy as one another.’
It is difficult to understand just how hard breastfeeding can be, until you go through it yourself. So if you are struggling, please know that you are definitely not alone and there are many mums going through the exact same thing, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. Do reach out if you are in need of support and try to remember that, however your baby is being fed, you are doing an amazing job. For more tips and advice, check out our wide range of articles on everything from newborn to mobile babies.