What’s breast for you {& your babe}? | Repost

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. She would not touch a teat or a dummy, not even a bottle of my breastmilk. 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, and 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 around 4months 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 feel the need to share that #breastisbest can be seen as offensive to some mamas who try their level best, do all the ‘right things’, yet find breast is just not best for her baby/s.
Yes, I get it. Nothing compares to breast in terms of the nutrients, antibodies and number of benefits it can bring a baby that no formula on earth can. 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. 
And remember, everyone’s journey is unique, share your learnings, but try not to force your opinion on anyone, most especially emotional & sensitive, breastfeeding mamas. Just love on them x 

#fedisbest

This pic taken by Samantha Maber takes me right back to the shoot with her. We had to postpone it multiple times because Brooke was such as unsettled baby, and on the day of the shoot Sammy was so patient, waiting for Brooke to settle multiple times. She cried as soon as she was on her back. It was a hard day, there were many hard days like that, and it just goes to show how that milk was hurting and upsetting her tiny body.

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*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 by searching “yellow exfoliator sponge .co.za “, or in many salons and spas.

Author: Shan Fourie

Mom to three, Shan is a busy entrepreneur living in the seaside town of Ballito. Shan has a loyal following who love her for her raw honesty in her life journey. Shan loves to share her life with her followers, and has a keen interest in anything fashion, beauty, hair and motherhood related. Her and her husband also love to travel and review both holiday destinations and spa retreats.

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