From the moment I knew I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. Nothing seemed more natural to me than being able to provide milk for my baby that I had produced. I'd spent hours reading and learning about how wonderful breastfeeding could be. I'd researched storing breast milk and how to express and even invested in two breast pumps to help me on my way. And then when the moment arrived for Violet's first feed, it never crossed my mind that I would be unable to breastfeed. I didn't own a steriliser and only had one measly bottle. Yet here I am, just short of 7 weeks post-partum bottle feeding my little girl.
The odds were pretty much stacked against us from the moment Vi was born. Not only was she premature, but due to my c-section skin to skin didn't happen until almost an hour after birth. Then my poor girl was whisked off to NICU and taken away from us for a further half an hour. My tiny peanut tried so very hard to latch, but time and time again she struggled, got frustrated and gave up. So that was me set hand expressing cholstrum every three hours, hoping to get enough off to fill her little tummy. I sat up through the night with the most wonderful midwives who stayed with me and helped me express as much as possible. And my god it was exhausting and difficult but even if I managed to get a few mls off I was happy.
Fast forward to day two, still stuck in the hospital and hand expressing as much as physically possible, Violet seemed quite content and was taking feeds really well. I was seen by there breastfeeding support team, who explained she might never latch but before every feed we'd try and give it a go, but with no luck I persevered with expressing.
The second night with Violet I will never forget. My hubby had left after visiting time was up and I was alone with V again. My darling girl was inconsolable and I knew exactly why. Violet was hungry. And I just couldn't get enough milk off to fill her up. Pacing up and down the ward in the dark with my tiny baby, for what seemed like hours, I knew what I needed to do. The midwife sat and offered some formula and a bottle, not once judging me, and taught me how to bottle feed my baby. I will forever be thankful for the support I was given, I needed it the most.
I continued to express as many feeds as possible and topped up with formula when needed. This continued until little V was 3 weeks old, my milk supply deminished and it became painful to express with so little milk coming out. So guess what? I stopped. I stopped putting pressure on myself to breastfeed despite being told by a few professionals that it probably wouldn't happen. We went out and invested in some more bottles and a fancy prep machine and started the journey of exclusively formula feeding.
And so here we are, several weeks on, I have a very happy, healthy baby who's doing extremely well. She's gone from a tiny 5.5lbs at birth to 8lbs at 6 weeks and the health visitor couldn't be more pleased. Yes, bottle feeding wasn't in my plan, be we are making it work for us.
For anyone unsure of how they want to feed, I'd say do what works best for you and your baby. If you want to breastfeed, go for it and if you don't, then that's fine too. At the end of the day your baby needs feeding, no matter how it's done, fed is best.