What’s breast for you {& your babe}?

It’s #WorldBreastfeedingWeek, and over this past week my inbox has been flooded with emails entitled or including the #breastisbest slogan. Instagram has been filled with {beautiful} breastfeeding pictures and controversial discussions around the topic.

While I personally have never been one to share any {revealing} images of me breastfeeding, prior to today of course ;), every #breastisbest hashtag has pushed me a little more to share my feelings on the topic. But before I share my feelings on the matter, here is some background on my three b/feeding experiences:

JACKSON:

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Jackson was, after a complicated 25hour labour, born via emergency c/section at nearly 41 weeks, a healthy 3,5kg. My beautiful first-born son. Nothing in the world I wouldn’t do for him. 
He latched almost immediately while I lay in recovery, and we lay skin-to-skin from then until I left hospital. I was privileged enough to be in a hospital which not only allows, but encourages skin-skin and kangaroo care with mother and child. For me, it was incredible. Some moms like to let the nurses take over and rest a bit (at least until going home) but I loved every moment of this tiny creature laying on top of me. It helped that he was always right on or beside me as my movements were limited post c/section.
Justin and I had done ante
natal classes through Liza Harkess, who had insisted that us Mums ‘prepare our nipples*’ for breastfeeding, and boy! am I grateful for this nugget of information. Thankfully I took to breastfeeding fairly naturally and I loved it. Sure, I still had the occasional sore nipple or sore, engorged breasts, but for the most-part I enjoyed it. Jackson was an incredibly difficult baby and we had a very tough time as first-time parents. He was colic, had silent reflux, and screamed for up to 5 hours a day. I had milk for days, yet my baby did not seem satisfied. When I expressed my milk seemed very watery and I thought maybe this was a factor in his restlessness. At 3 months I introduced formula in the hopes that it would satisfy him more. He got worse. Added to the discomfort he was already experiencing, he was now terribly constipated and in a huge amount of pain. He had to have an enima at the tender age of 4 months old. It was heartbreaking to watch my baby in pain. At 5 months we sought a second opinion and Jackson was diagnosed with a milk allergy. I was advised to quit all breast and other formulas immediately and start him on a specialized formula called Pepticate. He was also put onto medication for his silent reflux. Within 10days I had a different child. He was happy and content and best of all, he did not scream anymore! Jackson stayed on Pepticate for 5 months and then moved across to Isomil, a soy based formula. He eventually outgrew his allergy and now eats cheese, yoghurt and milk. 

JORDAN:
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Jordan was born at almost 38weeks via planned c/section. He weighed 2,95kg and also latched with no trouble, although he was a sleepy babe and only latched later, while I was in my room. The first 10days were dreamy. He ate and slept beautifully, and we told ourselves that we had now been blessed with an easy babe to make up for all the hardships we endured with our first babe. The ‘honeymoon’ phase came to an abrupt end when Jordan started becoming restless and seemingly in a lot of pain. I recognized these symptoms immediately. Most fussy immediately after eating, almost never satisfied and crying in pain. Then came mucous in his stool. I called our trusty paed who has diagnosed Jackson, and got an emergency appointmemt, and thankfully we did because en route to him Jordy started with blood in his stool. It was terrifying. I’m ever grateful for our paed who was always calm and ‘a safe place’, even when things got scary. He listened to me, took one look at Jordy and his stool, and said he was pretty certain he was lactose intolerant. We sent his stool off for testing to ensure Jordy didn’t have ebola or anything else that might be related to blood in stool, but thankfully the tests for that were negative, and Dr confirmed lactose intolerance. Jordy was also put onto Pepticate formula, and breastfeeding ended immediately at 3 weeks old. 

 

BROOKLYN:
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Brooklyn was born at 37,5weeks via planned c/section, and a beautiful 3,05kg. It was as if she came out of the womb starrrrrving as she was making suckling noises and looking for my breast while on my chest as I was being stitched up and could almost not wait until we were in recovery, where she latched immediately, and stayed there, on my breast, for 90minutes solid. She loved breastfeeding from that moment, and if you have followed our story on Instagram, you will know that she blatantly refused a bottle for 3,5months. This was a hard time for me, because I was already a mom of two small children who had needs and sometimes just wanted their mama, but I was bound by breastfeeding 3hourly, for an hour at a time, then winding, settling, and most times only an hour (if that) in between to do anything non-Brooklyn related, like getting dressed!!
She was also a very unsettled babe, and wriggled and squirmed uncontrollably after each feed. I knew this meant she was showing signs of being like her brothers, I just didn’t know how serious it was just yet. Thankfully she never progressed into a full-blown Milk or Lactose intolerance. Her body was struggling to digest the lactose, and she was in some pain, but she was not showing in her stools. This was a blessing, because as much as I had tried to ‘force’ her onto a bottle, (mostly because I knew her tummy might be happier on a formula, but also because if I could at least express a few feeds I would gain a little more time and freedom), but despite all my attempts, she point-blank refused. It was eventually at 3,5months that a friend suggested sweetening the teat of a bottle, and trying a different tasting formula, that she finally took! {insert angels singing}
I put her onto Similac formula which is easy to digest and a recommended formula for babies with lactose intolerances, and from that first bottle my little Brooklyn was a different baby. Happy, content, and didn’t need to be rocked and soothed after each feed. Her stools were no longer acidic and causing a rash, or shooting all the way up her back. She was actually peaceful in her car seat or lying on her back. A different child. I tried mixed feeding as I wasn’t quite ready to be done with b/feeding my last baby forever… but the difference in her post breast vs post bottle was night and day, and so after two weeks she was exclusively formula fed. It was hard for me to stop, but I knew it was the best decision for her. 

I was lucky. I loved breastfeeding, and whilst there were times when I felt a little trapped by exclusively feeding (zero bottle) with Brooklyn, I was incredibly in love with the moments of peace and tranquility that breastfeeding brought me with each of my babes. I loved looking into their eyes and connecting in those moments. I loved feeling like I was connecting in this incredible way that no one else could with them. However, despite me loving breastfeeding, it was NOT best for my babies. And it is for this reason that I am slightly annoyed, if not offended by the popular hashtag #breastisbest
Yes, I get it. Nothing compares to breast in terms of the nutrients, antibodies and number of benefits it can bring a baby. BUT it is not always best. Who knows where we would have ended up with Jordy if there was no option of formula, because my milk, the way God intended for me to feed him, was in fact hurting him, and FORMULA was best for him, and it seems for all three of my babes.

I truly admire all women who are able to breastfeed their babes (for however long). I know it takes strength and sacrifice and it is a real achievement. I think that it is incredible that a mother has chosen this to be best for her babe. Its AWESOME! But to me, that is what it is – BEST FOR YOUR BABE, not for all babes. To me, that doesn’t take anything away from the mom who has tried, tears streaming down her face because she is not producing enough milk, or her baby is not latching, or, like me, her baby reacts negatively to her milk. She too is strong, and though her heart may be breaking as she has to move away from her first choice of sustenance for her child, she does it with grace and a smile. There is also much strength in the mother who decided that rather than resent her baby for ‘making’ her do something she did not feel comfortable doing, rather than potentially grow feelings of anger towards her child for every time she needs to feel embarrassed in public or in pain from an inverted nipple, or whatever reason she does not feel it “in her” or natural to breastfeed… she too is strong for standing up and saying that she won’t feel pressured into doing something that doesn’t fit.

My breastfeeding journey was unique with each of my children, and it is with this in mind that I plead for everyone to remember that if each of my children took me down a different path with breastfeeding, then how different and unique would another momma’s journey be to mine and yours? All we can do is be there to listen, offer advice where we can or where we are asked for it, and regardless of any mom’s decisions, to support and encourage. 

 

 

*Prepare your nipples for breastfeeding by using an exfoliating body sponge on your nipples in the shower daily. Start off by using it very lightly with some shower gel and water on the sponge. Over time your nipples should toughen and you can increase the strength with which you use the sponge on them. By the time you are full-term you should be able to use the sponge quite vigorously on your once super sensitive nipples. It sounds awful, I know!! But believe me when I say that ‘virgin’ nipples under the strain of breastfeeding will be MUCH more painful. Think bleeding, cracked nipples that never get a break with 3hourly feeding!! The struggle is real.

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You can get these in most spas/salons and I found online at: Planet Nails

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Author: Shan Fourie

I am a happy South African wife and a truly blessed mom of two beautiful boys and a baby girl...! I am CREATIVE and love creating things and teaching myself. I love people, my friends and family especially. I love positivity and change.

9 thoughts on “What’s breast for you {& your babe}?”

  1. Thank you for sharing your experiences! So encouraging to see how each child was different. I am a first time mom to a 7 week old boy and have really felt emotional and sad this past week with all the “breast is best” flashed all over . It is amazing if you are able to breastfeed but for some it does not come easily.
    We came home so excited with our precious boy and our world was really turned upside down with a screaming and uncontent child for 4 weeks.
    We exhausted every option medically and financially to try and make breast feeding work but I just did not produce enough milk to feed my child and he was suffering.
    I still have not come to a place where I am myself totally content with the decision as I feel robbed that my body did not work in the way it is meant to, but in time I will get there.
    I thank God that I could turn to formula to provide what is best for my child. I now have a very content little boy who is thriving and at the end of the day a happy, healthy baby is what is best.
    #fedisbest

    1. Amy I’m so so sorry you and your hubby had this experience with your first born babe. Nothing can quite prepare you for a babe who screams in pain and the helpless feeling that leaves you with. I’m also sorry that you’ve felt robbed and heartbroken that you are not able to b/feed your precious boy. I know exactly how you’re feeling, but try focus on how happy he is now. You did everything in your power and have ended up in a result that is best for you and most especially best for your little boy, and of that you can be so proud! Well done and stay strong. Thank you for sharing your story and I’m praying that you find a little more peace with every little smile he will start showing you very soon 💛love shan

  2. Three special stories my friend, and couldn’t agree more! #fedisbest
    Doing what is best for your baby is always the best option, and I am so proud of you and your perseverance with all three babes! x

  3. Thank you for sharing! I can’t stand all this breast is best “propoganda” and Facebook groups that won’t even let you use the word formula.
    My milk never really came in with my son. He basically cried almost non stop for 2-3 weeks and wanted to feed constantly (just let him suck they said, you will produce more milk they said – yeah right). Our nurse suggested formula when he wasn’t picking up weight and that was the meal that changed our son. Much like your experience, he was a different child.
    I endured the next few weeks having every breastfeeding friend ask me endless questions about what i was and wasn’t doing to help my milk supply. Surely there must be something wrong with my son or what I was doing. Talk about rubbing salt in the wound, if I didn’t feel guilty enough for starving our child for weeks.
    I dual fed with the bottle for 6 months so my boy got the best of both worlds, mainly because that is what he wanted.
    I am grateful for formula every day and I feel I am far more open to everyone’s personal journey to feed their child, whatever it might be.
    Congratulations on your three beautiful, healthy and seemingly flourishing children!

    1. Christine thank you so much for sharing your story with me. I’m so sorry you were hurt and possibly still hurting by people’s judgement of your path to finding what was best for your little boy. I have to say, you are INCREDIBLE for persevering with the b/feeding even though you struggled with it to begin with. A huge testament to you doing everything to the best of your ability for your babe. Well done, you can be so proud. <3

  4. I love this! I struggled so much with my first son, he was 3.8kg when he was born and STARVING! I tried for two weeks to feed him but I just didn’t have enough milk and he didn’t gain any weight the first week we were at home, I started getting anxiety every time it came close to feeding him because I knew he would cry and scream because he was still hungry! I can honestly say that the day I decided to stop breastfeeding was one of the best days!
    When my second son was born I really tried to give it a good go, he latched perfectly but just didn’t seem to suck and we had no choice but to give him formula!
    Looking back now, I realize that both times my milk never actually ‘came in’ and by 8 weeks my milk had dried up naturally!
    Both my boys are healthy and strong formula fed babies and it was the best decision for all of us!
    Thank you for this post and for your honestly, whatever works for your family is best!

    1. Hi Kirsty
      Thank you for sharing your b/feeding experience with me. It’s been incredible how many moms have connected through this post. As you say, both your boys are healthy and strong, as are my babes, and so far no grommets/tonsils/adenoids issues. No hospital stints and other than the odd bout of flu, nothing serious to indicate that they are any worse off than any other {b/fed} babes. You made a choice that was best for your babes, and THAT is the key. No one knows what is better for your babies than you. End of story. #MomKnowsBest ❤

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