This time a year ago I finally admitted defeat. I stopped expressing for Sonny Jim.
He was three months old and had been pump-fed from birth – after refusing to breastfeed.
Looking back, I should have stopped sooner.
Before his birth I had been adamant I was going to breastfeed. I was prepared for it to be painful, for cracked nipples, for leaking boobs, to deal with any tuts in public.
I was prepared for everything…except a baby that refused to be breastfed.
My little boy was a reluctant feeder. He mastered latching on, but then totally refused to do anything.
Despite two days in hospital with all the specialists coming around and man-handling me and Sonny Jim almost hourly, he still couldn’t get it.
It threw me. All I knew about formula was the anti-messages sent out by the breast is best squad. So we went home armed with a breast pump.
And that basically took over.
Early on Sonny Jim lost just under ten per cent of his birth weight. To help him gain, I had to express every three hours – for 45 minutes. Then feed him while also trying to get him to breastfeed.
It was exhaustingly unsustainable. So after a few weeks we started topping him up with formula. But I carried on expressing gradually reducing until he was entirely formula fed.
Yet it took a while to shake the feeling I’d failed.
Now, out of the fog of the new baby days, here’s what I wish I’d been told.
Just because the breast is best movement is so loud and so vocal it doesn’t mean anyone doing something different has failed their child. Formula mummies aren’t bad mummies.
Your baby is fed. That is best. That is all that matters. Step away from that bloody pump and get some sleep.