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Mummies should support each other!

Today’s Australian morning shows have been flooded with comments and debate about a recent article in a UK Parenting magazine. In the UK the National newspapers including The Daily Mail, The Telegraph and The Observer are all writing about it and on both sides of the world online communities including various parenting websites and a facebook page are all full of comments about this article…..BUT WHY? Kathryn Blundell wrote her article talking honestly and frankly about why she decided not to breastfeed her children. I think it’s great that Kathryn felt comfortable talking to her readers so honestly and I am disappointed other mothers have felt the right to attack her personal views.

As with many articles and opinions on formula feeding this has turned into a debate on ‘Breastfeeding V’s Formula Feeding’ when really we should be supporting one another as Mummies.

While I 100% support and encourage all my clients, readers and friends to breastfeed if possible I do also support Mummies who for various reasons choose not to. Kathryn Blundell wrote describing her own feelings about using her breasts for feeding: “They’re part of my sexuality, too – not just breasts, but fun bags. And when you have that attitude (and I admit I made no attempt to change it), seeing your teeny, tiny, innocent baby latching on where only a lover has been before feels, well, a little creepy.” While I feel the use of the word ‘creepy’ is probably not the right word to have described her feelings, there are quite a few women that feel like this and are feeling alienated because of it. Not every mummy has the urge to breastfeed and that doesn’t make them less of a mummy.

I have received a few emails applauding Kathryn Blundell’s point of view all saying how it has made them feel ‘normal’ and less of a ‘failure’ for not managing or choosing to breastfeed – a situation which is incredibly common. What I think we need to remember here is Kathryn Blundell wasn’t encouraging other women to think or act like her, she was simply sharing her personal experience and reaching out to other mummies who might have made similar choices to let them know they not alone.

There are so many different reasons why a mummy may choose to breastfeed or formula-feed and what we need to do is support each other not bully or force our personal opinions on one another. For many woman and babies breastfeeding simply does not work, this may be because of a medical condition, medications they are taking, a complicated birth, a premature baby, a mother, father or partner who doesn’t feel comfortable with breastfeeding to name a few. These mummies should be supported in their choice and should not have to justify their decision to anyone not even herself. If as women we were more supportive of each other and each others choices I honestly believe the world would be a much better place.

Being a new mother can be stressful enough without the added pressure of “You need to breastfeed your baby”, “You are not just making this choice for yourself you are making it on behalf of your baby”, “If you breastfeed your daughter her risks of cancer will be lower” The majority of us know these things and we all know that on the health front breastfeeding has been proven to be best for us and our babies. However, we have also all heard a ‘Happy Mummy’ equals a ‘ Happy Baby’ so is that not the most important thing?

Breastfeeding parents can never be supported enough, especially in some other countries with very poor breastfeeding rates. While I have found breastfeeding to be accepted and supported in Australia (in the majority of cases) in other countries this is not always the case. Recently while on a ferry going from Holyhead to Dublin and sitting in the common area I was asked to stop breastfeeding Cillian and take him to the ‘toilet’ to complete his feed. I was totally and utterly shocked at this comment, how could I mind a toddler, control my seasickness, and feed my baby in a dark toilet cubical?

However the same can be said for formula feeding parents. We need to also support these parents and not pass judgment on them for the choice they have made. We often have no idea of a mummy or baby’s background and why they are formula feeding. I believe this was the message Kathryn Blundell was tying to convey and I commend her for having the guts to write this article.

I look forward to hearing your comments.

20 Responses

  1. Thankyou so much for bringing this story to my attention! I have not had a chance to see any of the media covereage yet, so I am glad you have written about it. As a mum who chose to bottle feed my boys (after perservinging for 3 horrible weeks and almost ending up with PND the first time, I only breastfed my 2nd son for 24 hours). For me the … See Moresensation of BF literally made my skin crawl and with my first son I would dread my baby waking up knowing I was going to have to feed him again. Of course this led to all sorts of other emotional issues, which now I feel were compounded by the percieved pressure to BF put on me by the midwives, MCHN and general public. I did not bond with him until I was able to hold him and feed him without the resentment I was feeling. I now am so sad I did not make that decision earlier, and enjoy the early time with hi. With my second son I decided to give BF another go, as I knew how beneficial it was for both my son and I, however within 24 hours I felt the feelings from my first baby starting to return. I am eternally grateful to a wonderful midwife who picked up on how much I was struggling and made me feel like wanting to give him a bottle was OK. Her support was unexpected, but very needed. And her non judgemental attitude helped me to be at ease with my decision. Her words ‘after all its about feeding your baby in whatever way you are comfortable doing’ is something I feel should be adopted by all health care workers in this field. As much as BF is preferable and beneficial for both mum and baby, it is not the right choice for everyone, and the adjustment of being a new mummy is hard enough, without pushing ourselves into something we are just not comfortable with. Thank you so much for writing about this issue ?

  2. Well said Kate. I experienced the exact same emotions you are speaking of and I knew it wasn’t for me. I gave up breastfeeding at 9 weeks and my emotional wellbeing changed instantly. I will try breastfeeding again but now I will know not to push myself if those emotions surface like that. We all have to do what’s right for our baby at the end of the day and a mummy crying whilst feeding isn’t good for anyone.

  3. So right Kate.
    I had so many people ask me why I stoped BF feeding my 1st and in the end I started to say because it was for the best for both of us.
    Getting over an ulcerative colitis attack, being so low in blood and iron that Tom was low in iron and would not sleep or gain weight (that was caused by the miss treatment of a blood cloting disorder… See More by DR).
    Having an over suply of milk was painful and caused an even more painful thrush on my nips when I had letdown every hr.
    PND followed all of this as I felt like I’ve failed my son and had no suport from my husband.
    Public health needs to be fixed NOW.
    Had my 2nd and BF for 5mths but chose to stop and am pregnant again this baby will be going straight onto the bottle.
    Had my 2nd bub and will be having my 3rd also at Glengary private, the best thing is that the midwives help new mothers with BF but do not push it.

  4. I have not yet had the joy of having a baby but having chronic arthritis know that I will have to go back on my “full on” drugs immediately after birth, meaning bottle feeding for me, as much as I would like to breast feed. The positive of this is I know my (future) baby can survive without me – if I’m having a bad day, or days as will probably be … See Morethe case, anyone can take over. That’s very empowering. I experienced this last year when a good friend lost her husband and had three young children to care for. I was able to be “mum” for the 4 month old and let my friend focus on her other two children. I think it sucks that people judge.

  5. Here, here Tizzie – what is wrong with we women?? Why do we constantly feel the need to criticise other women?? This whole women vs women thing is so detrimental to us all and seems to have created a hugely stereotypical environment for mothers that we seem to feel we have to try and blend into what is an “accepted” behaviour or decisions. I was… See More never a big fan of breastfeeding – I didn’t really ever enjoy the sensation of my babies on my breast but I did breastfeed all 3 of them because I could and I believed that it was the best start I could give them in life. Yet the amount of negative feedback I receive just for admitting that I didn’t enjoy the sensation is phenominal. Why? I still breastfed. It can’t possibly be something that EVERYONE will love so what harm can there be in my admitting it? And there we are, back at the stereotypical environment again. I can only imagine what those mothers who bottlefeed – for whatever reason – get in the way of feedback. Come on chicks – lets start changing the environment and start pulling together and supporting other mothers in whatever decisions they make for their children and themselves. It’s their child, their life, their coping mechanisms and their threshold for coping NOT yours.

  6. I too am a mum who chose to Formular feed after experiencing everything listed above. With my first baby I had a traumatic birth and was forced to be away from my baby for the first 5 days. When I was able to be with my baby after the first 5 days I was so lethargic for the first 2 weeks that expressing was exhausting enough I could not have faced … See Moretrying to teach a week old baby how to breast feed. I expressed for 8 weeks after which time I changed to formular. With my second I perservered with BF for about 3 weeks and then I had just had enough. I was terribly un-comfortable with feeding in public and even around family and friends. No one had ever done/said anything to make me uncomfortable it was just the way I felt. As much as I know it is a natural thing, it just did not feel natural to me. I am wholly supportive and commend mothers who do find BF easy and further commend mothers who don’t find it easy but stick with it.

    Lastly I strongly believe that there should be an advocate out there for mothers like myself and others as above who do turn to formular and have endless hours of guilt associated with doing so. Where is our person/organisation saying “IT’S OKAY, YOUR STILL A GREAT MOTHER”…… ????????

    I also belive that the increase in the PND rates could be related to the increased pressure on mothers to breastfeed!!! Perhaps this is a topic that needs more attention.

    Anyway, my two beautiful babies are as happy as can be and so are myself and my partner… that could be thanks to a happy formular feeding mum, or it could be thanks to TIZZIE’s book!! LOL 🙂

  7. Also Tizzie – Did you ask the person who told you to go to the toilet and finish feeding Cillian if they’d like to eat their lunch in the toilet?! What an absurd suggestion on their behalf!

  8. Personally, I am sick of hearing the debate over BF versus bottle feeding. Bottle feeding will never replace breastfeeding, it is just a fact it is the healthier option for your baby. Women who choose to bottle feed for whatever reason are very luck they are born in the modern ‘western’ world otherwise their baby would probably die if they ‘chose’ not to breastfeed under the circumstances millions of women who do not live in the western world are in.

    Millions of women do not have the luxury or selfishness of a ‘choice’, they do not have access to pain relief during labour, or access to infant formulae. Many women in war-torn areas in Africa actually have their breasts cut off by the local warlord so they are unable to breast feed their baby and their baby dies.

    It is so disappointing to hear a woman with a baby prefer to use her breasts as ‘fun bags’ rather than to nourish her child, as they were intended! Kathryns partner/lover/who-ever she is currently having a sexual relationship with must be extremely poor support for her as her role as a mother with a baby to take care of, which no matter which way she tries to look at it, she is.

    It saddens me incredibly that there seem to be many western men incapable of looking at a pair of breasts without seeing them as erotic tools, but it saddens me even more that there are women out there like Kathryn Blundell who pander to that attitude and lack the selflessness to devote a VERY small part of her life to use her breasts to nourish her own child.


  9. Hi Rebecca:

    I couldn’t agree more! I am so over the whole breastfeeding versus bottlefeeding debate but what I find disgusting is how one dimensional you are! I don’t think anyone has ever proclaimed for formula feeding to be better than breastfeeding. We all know the numerous benefits of breastfeeding but when that doesn’t work out for whatever reason it is great we have an alternative. Have you ever considered looking into the actual reasons and background as to why some women choose to bottle feed their babies? Kathyrn’s reasons are just some of the reasons, and no she is not alone in her opinions but they are her opinions and her baby is going to grow up just the same as everyone else. Yes, we are lucky to live in today’s world where we have an alternative and I am sure our babies are pleased to have this alternative for their survival. As with the introduction of baby formula their have been many other wonderful inventions and progessions in the world we live in today which I am very grateful for and which I am sure you take full advantage of – electircity for one? I am sure there are many communities even in Australia that don’t have electircity to help their existence but you obviously utilitse this resource….. Fresh running water is another example, yes we are lucky to live where we live, I agree with that!
    Have you ever stopped to consider how your very biased opinion towards breast feeding may make some mothers feel? Don’t get me wrong I am all for breastfeeding but the other thing I am all for is supporting one another in the choices they make without passing on our own personal judgement. I have a very dear friend who successfully breast fed her first two children but during her third pregnancy was diagnosed with a brain turmor. During the this time she very unselfishly chose to delay treatment until her baby was born but as soon as the baby was born her treatment started and she was not able to breastfeed. I guess if she lived in Africa that choice may not have been possible but she may also not have been here with us today. However there are also many mothers who mentally cannot deal with breastfeeding and that is OK and they need to be supported in the fact it is OK. Should they be denied the joy of having a baby simply because they mentally cannot get their head around breastfeeding? We don’t know their history and their reasons behind how they feel!
    Are you expecting us to pretend that these alternative options are not available?
    I also take offense to your comments regarding pain relief during labor. I had two natural, drug free deliveries which I am of course very proud of but hey, if I needed the drugs or needed a caesarean it would have made me no less of a mother than I am for having drug free natural deliveries.
    A question – do you take something when you have a headache? Maybe you don’t, maybe you are better than me because I certainly do……but would that make you a better person than me just because I take a panadol when I have a headache and you don’t? I think the same goes for pain relief during labor….
    While some of the comments in the said article from Kathryn Blundell I agree were prehaps not worded incredibly well I certainly appluade Kathryn for being so honest about this subject. I am sure her baby is thankful that he/she has a happy mother and not a stressed out mother trying to breastfeed if it was not comfortable for her and I am sure there are many mothers out there who have been comforted to know they are not alone.
    How about having a little more understanding. If we were all a little more understanding, respectful and tolerant of each others choices, especially as woman and mothers, and stopped making everything into a competition then I am sure we would all get along so much better and the levels of post natal depression would be so much lower! Just because you may have had a drug free, natural delivery, and breastfeed your baby does not make you any better a mother than the lady standing next to you.

    Rebecca I am pleased to hear you are so passionate about breastfeeding, i think that is great, but I really think there is a much more positive way you can help relay this message (than your very negative comments above) which would be supportive to all mothers.

    My thoughts –

    If you want to breast feed, breastfeed and be proud of it, BUT if for you and your family you want to formula feed then formula feed. Have confidence in your own decisions and be supportive of those around you and know that you don’t need to justify your decisions to anyone!

  10. Michelle, I couldn’t have put my thoughts into words better than yours if I had 5 years to think about them. Well said.

  11. Thank you Michelle 🙂 After sharing my story above, I felt incredibly saddened to read what I felt were very narrow mined comments from Rebecca, and reading your reply lifted my heart again. Apart from my story above regarding my decision to bottle feed both my sons, I’m sur that Rebecca would also have a negative opinion about my births – both labours I needed epidural pain relief and both ended in emergency c-sections. Yes – had I been in the 3rd world I would not have had that option, and I am thankful everyday that I had access to the wonderful care that I did, as I now have 2 healthy boy, which had I not had the c-section is highly unlikey.
    Its so sad that some people are so closed minded that they cannot read stories like those shared above and sympathise with mums who have really struggled, and in the end made he decision that was best for their physical and mental health as well as their relationship with their baby.

  12. I have had four children (so far) and have breastfed all of them for over 12 months. The youngest is still feeding. Mostly I have been extremely lucky and had very few problems, no mastitis, no cracking, no thrush. It has even helped keep my menstrual cycle away for 10-12 months after each birth. Having said that, it has not been easy. I have never been a high volume producer, my milk drops quickly with exercise or lack of sleep and expressing just doesn’t happen. I know that it is so much harder for so many mums. I also understand the struggle with sexuality. It has taken 4 babies for me to start becoming comfortable with the dual purpose of my breasts. Also with my first, after about 8-9 months of feeding, the sensation of breastfeeding became quite repulsive (perhaps because I was pregnant) and I found it very difficult to continue. In fact the only reason I did continue to the 12 months was because my son had some known severe food allergies (dairy, goat’s milk, soy formula) and refused prescription formula. There are periods of time when various aspects of breastfeeding have significant negative affects on my emotional well-being. It is worse for some.

    I think that Rebecca is very judgmental and very narrow-minded. It is views like these that lead to perfectly good mothers feeling inadequate about not just parenting but about being women in their own right.

  13. Just a few random thoughts from me….. I do believe we should support each other, what ever options we choose.

    I have two children, I have breastfed both of them, not without issue though. I did struggle with my first with attchment etc, but i was lucky that it did work out in the end. I did have times when she was older, 18 months to 2 years, where I would feel really horrible when she fed, like I just wanted to get her off, I’m not sure what that was all about, but like one of the other ladies I was pregnant, so maybe it was about that. My second took to the breast fine, but had a milk protien intollerance, and had blood in her poo. Anyway, that’s just a bit of backgound, my main comment is below.

    How many of us saw someone breastfeeding their baby as a child?

    I think it’s important to teach our children about feeding babies. Breast and bottle feeding, explain to them that there are many different ways that the people in this world nourish their young. explain that breastfeeding is the healthies option in most cases for most babies, and that sometimes it doesn’t work out and that’s okay . Maybe if more children saw and understood breastfeeding, SOME of the issues with breastfeeding would be minimised. If you grew up knowing and understanding what breasts were for, feeding your babies and part of your sexuality, then maybe, just maybe more women and men would feel comfortable with the whole thing.

    I know in childcare they have toy plastic bottles in home corner to feed the dollies, which is fine, but what is there to encourage children who want to pretend to breastfeed the dollies, would they be encouraged to do it, or would they be laughed at by the staff, and other children. Are there books in pre schools and primary schools that show mothers breastfeeding as well as bottle feeding their young? I think the ABA is trying to get books into childcare and pre schools.

    These day’s we mostly mix with our peers and our children are not exposed to as many different age groups as in years past. I hope that when my children are older they will get to see mothers breastfeeding… please don’t always hide away in a parents room or a toilet when your breastfeeding!

    I have some friends who breast feed, and some who bottle feed, all with their own issues and struggles. My rant above is not to say that bottle feeding is bad at all! I just feel strongly that if we educate our young, not just new and expecting mothers, on breastfeeding, we might have a few less issues with it in the future??

  14. I’ve read many of the comments above and they are very interesting. When I had my daughter, I had planned to try and breastfeed her, I was under no illusions that it would be easy, but gave it a go – however stayed open minded about what I don’t know – I don’t know, so not to be stuck on that fact that I MUST breastfeed under any circumstances. I was always open minded.

    As I tried and quite quickly found out, it just wasn’t for me – it hurt so much, I couldn’t attach her and she was screaming lilke nothing you’ve seen. By the morning she was hysterical. I felt she was rejecting me as she knew I had the milk, but she couldn’t get it from me. She would scream if she came to me and not with anyone else. Do you know what that feels like to be rejected by your own child in the first 24 hours after giving birth. Maybe that was in my head, but it doesn’t matter, that is how I felt.

    So I was advised by the midwife that perhaps it wasn’t for me, she could see I was struggling and I really felt very uncomfortable with her sucking on my breast. So in the end I started with formula and we were fine. I feel our bonding took a while because of that stress. It didn’t take long and all was fine with bonding etc. Next baby, I will be going straight to bottle feeding as I just cannot handle that sensation of a baby sucking my breasts – they are too sensitive!

    I think people who have not had such experiences as I and many others have had – and where it’s been smooth sailing, need to sit back and just be thankful they can do what they can do. I cried for days because I felt like a bad mother, but the nurses and my husband were just wonderful and so non-judgemental.

    I found it was “mothers” on the outside (of the hospital) who are the most judgemental even if they don’t say it directly, you get a sense and some comments here and there.

    At the end of the day, it has NOTHING to do with anyone ONLY mum and dad so people should just mind their own business and get back focussing on their own lifes and children.

    BTW – as my MIL kindly said to me “stand 20 adults in a room and you tell me who was breastfed?” I’m sure you can’t!

  15. Kirsty – What a wonderfully positive post to promote the importance of breastfeeding and teaching our young children.

    I have never thought of it in this regard but I agree 100% with your comment! Both my children have role played breastfeeding their dollies (I have a boy and girl) and when I have seen them doing this I have smiled (thinking it was cute) and then said “What are you doing?” but when they have been feeding dollies with plastic bottles I have not blinked an eye. I will certainly change my reactions to them when I see them doing this from now on and will encourage the roleplaying.

    I can certainly see that if we educate our young children that our breasts can be used for the important task of feeding our babies that it may help prevent some women having issues with the thought of a baby on their breast. Cheers to you for your positive and constructive comments to promote and encourage breastfeeding!

  16. I am a midwife and a mother of 2. One i’m still breastfeeding. I can’t say that it came easily for me. I too had cracked nipples and very painful. Even though I knew the correct attachment for breastfeeding your baby it’s not easy. No one prepares a woman with what to expect with breastfeeding. No one tells you that the labour was the easy bit and after that really comes the hard work.

    It saddens me to think that women are pressured to breastfeed. if I say that now once had I frowned upon a woman I’ve spent countless of hours even days to help with the breastfeeding, then give up in the end would be a total lie on my behalf. When I put my hand up to be a midwife, part of the job is to inform women the pros and cons of breast vs artificial feed. In that way the women can make an INFORMED choice. This involves letting them know that breast is best. It’s common knowledge. Also the harsh side of it was informing them that research have said formula feeding has a higher risk of babies developing asthma, allergies etc. etc. I’m not out to make women feel pressured to breastfeed. It’s my job to “inform”. These fact that we mumble on about is not something we make up. It is through years of research and more research.

    I have worked in all sides of maternity including the NICU where babies cannot breastfeed or the mother is unable to lactate. I have seen a lot of circumstances where it is just not possible. I wish it would come easy like it’s second nature. However, we beautiful women do not all have the perfect nipple to breastfeed or feel right about doing it. But there are options, like expressing. I admit that during those trying times when it got a bit too much I gave my baby formula by bottle. It was great… my husband loved it.

    I fully support a woman who DECIDES to artificially feed. I want them to be honest with me and say “I don’t want to breastfeed. Or It’s just not right for me”. Instead of feeling like they have to BF because the ‘midwife’ is looking. I would rather have a woman tell me they want to formula feed so then I’m not sending them home not knowing how to sterilise or make up a bottle. Yes we do live in a country where sanitation is not an issue. In fact we have it all in a silver plater. We have different formulas to suit any baby. But tell me from my point of view… when is it do I give up helping a woman breastfeed? Is it on day 1? Is it when she starts getting sore nipples? Or is it when the baby starts losing so much weight that the baby’s health is compromised? I can tell you that it takes a MONTH to ESTABLISH breastfeeding. Some women will successfully BF with previous children and have a terrible time with the next. I believe that some women easily gives up with breastfeeding because it’s in the too hard basket. If I gave up on them so easily then I might as well give them a formula tin and give up encouraging.

    Yes I am an advocate for BF. Not because I am a midwife, but because I was fortunate enough to be growing up where my aunties were breastfeeding. It’s all I have ever known. In this society I believe that we don’t have that support anymore… or the exposure. We live in an era where it may be our first time to hold a baby- our own. We live in a society that the public doesn’t know how to react to a BF woman in plain sight. But in the long run, it comes down to that individual. It’s all about choice. It’s all about empowerment for that individual.

    I want us mummies to be empowered with the decisions we make. To do this, we should be open minded with what we learn from others. So that we can be the best mums for our children… breastfeeding or formula feeding.

    Good on Kathryn Blundell to write about why she did not decide to breastfeed her children. But where are the articles of mothers who had success with doing so. I think we should support each other with the decisions we make without judgement. But more and more there are articles creeeping up with why women did not choose to breastfeed their child. How about more positive articles on how awesome an experience breastfeeding can be. What example are we setting to the next generation. We should be advocating for them as well.

  17. Thank you so much for posting this, Tizzie!
    My six-week old son and I persevered with breast feeding until one week ago.
    I consulted with over 20 different medical professionals, I took prescription medications, I spent unfathomable amounts of time with my breast pump, and still I was unable to produce more than 20mL of breast milk per feed. My son’s feeding routine was a complete mess, and he was very unsettled.
    Deciding to stop breast feeding completely, and move entirely to formula feeding has resulted in such an improvement in his happiness and our relationship. Feeding times are now enjoyable. He is receiving the nutrition that he needs, and we are able to bond.

    I am devastated that my son and I can’t have that experience, but I am also confident that I have made the right decision in feeding him formula. Unfortunately, this is not always easy to communicate to other people. In particular to other mothers. Since choosing to stop breast feeding, I have received criticism from many other women. Even women who have never had children. It seems that everyone has an opinion on my decision. And advises something else that I “should” have tried before stopping.
    While I agree that breast feeding is usually the best option, it is not always feasible.

  18. Hi Tizzie,

    Thank you for posting this article. Reading your blog and the other comments posted here have given me the courage to share my own story.

    I have a 13 week old baby boy. He is my first, and he is so beautiful. I spent a lot of time during my late pregnancy researching BF and how to do it. I bought the bras and the clothes. I had the expressing pump, the milk storage containers – you name it.

    The midwives in the hospital advised me BF may be uncomfortable for a couple of weeks while the nips toughen up. As time went on I began to find feeding more and more painful. Great fissures appeared in my nips, blood and weeping everywhere. I do not want to be too graphic with my explanations, but it was really terrible.

    By the time my son was 3 weeks old every feed had me not only in tears but screaming and swearing from the pain. I began to fear my son, and fear having to feed him. At last I reached the point where I could no longer bring myself to put my nips in his mouth, at which point I had to ask my husband (or anyone else near) to take my breast and my son’s head anad attach for me while I shrieked and cried and cursed. It was very humiliating.

    My MHN took one look at my nips at my first appointment (3 weeks) and told me she had never seen nips so badly torn and broken. She said “do not under any circumstances put those in anyone’s mouth.” She wrote down what formula to buy and she sent me to the chemist to get it. She advised me to express while my nips healed, and mix feed him until I was willing to try again – if I was.

    I was determined, so every feed I would put my pump onto my ruined breasts and express as much as I could. Each time I got less and less and less and less until eventually, after almost a week, I got no milk at all. I felt a total failure, but I was still determined. I went to see a lactation consultant at my hospital, who, despite looking at my nipples, wanted to put my son on the breast to ‘see what he would do’. Immediately all the terror returned and after several failed attempts she had to attach him for me. It was agony, and I cried as she assessed him. She moved my breast around inside his mouth, poked and prodded until we were both upset. At last she took him off and proclaimed that he looked as though he was attached properly, so there must be something wrong with him. I went away from that appointment feeling terribly upset in myself, and worried about my son.

    By sheer fluke I drove past my obstetrician on the way home, and dropped in to give them a photo of my new son. The midwife there asked me how things had been going, and before I knew it I broke down in the waiting room and told her the whole story. She asked to look at my breasts and by then I didn’t care who saw them, I was so humiliated and downtrodden I would have got them out in the street. She looked and felt and then took me into one of her consulting rooms. She came back with the obstetrician and he, too, had a look. Suffice it to say I was then diagnosed with severe mastitis, which is why I could not express and why I had been feeling progressively unwell over the week. The midwife spent two hours with me, draining my swollen and sore breasts and massaging the blockages away. The obstetrician prescribed me antibiotics and away I went.

    My milk never returned. I went back for several checkups with my obstetrician, and he said that unfortunately sometimes the milk does dry up. He told me that whilst I could relactate, it was a long and difficult process. After discussing the pros and cons with him, we decided it would be best if my son was formula fed permanently.

    He and I are now very happy. He is healthy and putting on weight, and I am no longer afraid to look at him for fear he will waken and want food. (he is currently chewing my wrist as I type this lol) Since making this decision, I have had several people tell me that I simply did not try hard enough, and that I could have done more. I am thankful that my husband and family are all very supportive, and were able to help me through that difficult time.

    I would never wish ill upon another person, but part of me wonders if the critics out there experienced even a taste of what other people went through, would they still be so quick to jump on the negative bandwagon?

    I realise this is a long post and if you have read this far, I both applaud and thank you for your time.

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