July 6, 2022

My Fed Is Best Experience

By For You Mummas

Georgia Drew

I’m Georgia, a first time Mum to 11 month old Ella. Originally my blog writing started as something to feel productive and to keep me from sitting in my comfy’s on the sofa whenever my little one was having a nap. It’s now transformed into creating my own site foryoumummas and instagram page in the hope to help other mums with tips and hacks that I’ve learnt along the way through my own pregnancy and motherhood experiences. 

Pre-Emptive Pressure

Breast is best…. everyone says so and it’s up to you what you choose to believe. However, in reality, fed is best and I feel so passionate about Mummas not putting pressure on themselves when it comes to this subject. I’ve been there, done that, felt bad for it, and got the t-shirt.

I was so adamant I was going to breastfeed my baby before I was even pregnant. My mum breastfed both my brother and me, so I had it in my head that I’d be able to do it, I felt so confident about it. I pictured myself as a serene Mother feeding my baby so naturally, I was very naive to the fact that breastfeeding is a lot harder than I thought it would be. As soon as Ella was born I remember the midwives saying she’s hungry, I was really looking to breastfeeding and couldn’t wait to get Ella on my boob. Ella went straight on with no issues at all. It felt amazing and I couldn’t believe how well she latched on, she continued to feed pretty well throughout our stay in hospital.

A Backup Plan

We didn’t buy any formula, bottles, or prep machines before Ella was born, I think psychologically not having those things to hand was a good way for me not to give in if I was struggling at any point. The one thing we did buy was some instant formula bottles for any emergencies, thank god we did! It was the first night at home when everything started to change, Ella was crying a lot, we just thought she was adjusting to being in a different environment. We managed to settle Ella quite well but she’d wake up screaming after a few minutes each time, it was exhausting.

It wasn’t until the second night that we questioned whether she was getting enough milk from her feeds. My breasts were becoming quite painful but I knew this was to be expected so just kept going. Feeds on the second night were very uncomfortable by this point. Every time Ella latched on, my toes curled up and I’d have to brace myself, Ella was clearly frustrated and wasn’t staying on long at all. I couldn’t understand why this was happening when she’d been doing so well at first.

Feeling Like A Failure

My nipples started to become really sore and it got so bad they started bleeding, I knew something wasn’t right. My partner and I were so torn on what to do and being the stubborn people we are, we didn’t want to give in and use one of the instant bottles we had for emergencies.

Georgia - For You Mummas

It got to the point where it was clear Ella was so hungry and there was nothing else we could do to stop her crying, so I said let’s give instant milk a go and see if hunger really is the issue. At the time I felt like I had failed, it’s meant to be so natural right? I was heartbroken at the thought of not being able to breastfeed my baby.

Ella couldn’t have drunk the instant milk quicker if she tried, the mum-guilt was overwhelming and I was an emotional wreck. Ella slept from midnight until 10am that night, which was amazing considering the sleep deprivation from the night before, the fact Ella was satisfied by milk that wasn’t from my breast really got to me. I still persevered for the next couple of days but the pain was just excruciating, it was a constant battle that was frustrating for both Ella and me and it was really taking its toll.

Football Boobs and Decisions

On day four my friend casually suggested that I give expressing a go, I had serious engorgement by this point (football boobs I like to call them) and I was in agony with them. My friend had all the equipment I needed, brand new, and dropped it off that day, I’ll thank her forever because it was the best recommendation I could’ve been given.

Expressing is also something that doesn’t always come naturally to Mum’s but luckily for me, the amount of milk that came out when I started pumping was unbelievable! It was amazing, within 5 minutes of pumping I had 4 ounces in the bottle, after 15 minutes I had nearly 10 ounces. My partner had to rush to the shops to get some bottles so we could have some on rotation.

Taking To The Bottle

Ella lost more than 10% of her body weight at birth in the first 5 days which
health visitors like to monitor for a few days, I knew why, Ella had only really had a full day of proper feeding by this point if you think about it. Ella took to feeding from bottles really well, I was confident she was getting enough and it was easy to know how much she was taking which isn’t something you’d know with breastfeeding. Within a couple of days Ella had put on all of the weight she’d lost and the health visitor was really pleased. I kept trying to put Ella back on the boob now and again in between expressing my milk but just couldn’t get the latch right. I tried all types of positions and at different points of the day but it just wasn’t working. Jack was actually enjoying being able to feed Ella too and said why don’t I just stick to expressing to take the pressure off myself. I still felt a bit unsure and wanted to continue breastfeeding but it clearly wasn’t going to work out that way.

Happy, Healthy & Gaining Weight

I managed to express for 3 months and after that my milk dried up and Ella had to go onto formula, none of that was the plan at all but you know what? I realised none of what I thought mattered was worth worrying about, Ella still had my milk for 3 months regardless of whether it was directly from my breasts or not. Ella was happy, healthy, and putting on weight at a steady rate which really is all that mattered.

Swinging baby
Ella now – a happy, healthy little girl

Looking back I was one of the many Mums-to-be worrying about letting our babies down and felt pressured from others that say ‘breast is best’. You’ll immediately realise it’s really not as natural and easy as people make out, it doesn’t matter what feeding approach you take with your baby. I’d prepared for 9 months and my approach changed within 4 days! As long as you’re doing what works for you, you’ll be happy and so will your baby.