Let me start by saying this is not going to be a 'breast is best' type post, it is just my experience so if that sort of thing bores you I suggest you stop reading now.
I stopped breastfeeding Alice after 3 days and went to expressing and formula feeding. The experience was utterly horrendous and I genuinely hated the flood of hormone feeling I got when she fed. The relief and confidence I got from giving her that first bottle was brilliant and she thrived. I had no negative feelings towards breastfeeding, it just wasn't for us. However, all baby's are different so I thought it was worth another try with Sophie.
It was tricky and felt awkward at the start. Without being too crude you have this tiny new baby with this tiny new mouth and these huge brand new pair of boobs and no instructions of how this is exactly supposed to work. I remember one low point in hospital where I hated every single women who ever breastfed because at that time I couldn't do it. I was so frustrated, like there was something I was missing, I was missing the bit that made breastfeeding easy.
I know now that breastfeeding isn't easy. It's something you both have to learn and practice but I didn't realise this at the start as it is described as natural which made me think it would be straightforward and easy...Ha!
The next 4 weeks consisted of syringe feeding, bottle feeding, expressing, formula and the very very occasional successful latch. This time I actually enjoyed feeding Sophie from my breast and wanted to continue if I could. It's been emotional. There have been times where I have felt on a high, like mother earth feeding my offspring with my sacred milk and other times I have sat and sobbed with leaking boobs and a little baby guzzling away on a bottle of formula.
Sophie apparently had a tongue tie which took well over a week to get sorted with no gaurantee it would make the slightest bit of difference. Thankfully it did make a bigger difference then expected. I don't think it was 'the thing' that got breastfeeding to work for us though. I read somewhere that breastfeeding is 10% milk production and 90% determination and for us that was definitely the case.
It took over 4 weeks for me and Sophie to be able to breastfeed and there were plenty of times I was convinced it wouldn't happen, even the day before breastfeeding 'clicked' I was convinced it wasn't going to be for us.
It wouldn't have been the end of the world. Sophie would have been healthy on expressed milk or formula. I don't see formula as the devil, I didn't want Sophie to have my milk because it is superior, I wanted her to have it because my body makes it for her, I love the idea of seeing her get bigger, seeing her get those cute baby rolls knowing my body personally did that.
We are still early on in our breastfeeding journey and today for the first time I breastfed in public (she didn't give me much choice!) and it was a surprisingly good experience.
Sophie was screaming Costa down, I was a little worried as the only free table was between 2 others and the place was rammed but when baby's gotta eat they've gotta eat! I didn't necessarily expect dirty looks and being asked to leave but I did not expect the warm and human response I got.
The women on the tables next to me helped soothe Sophie while I sorted out a drink and all the other crap you take out with a little baby, they made sure I was comfortable and had everything I needed and chatted to me about their experience of raising children. I wasn't given dirty or awkward looks because I was getting a boob out in public, I wasn't put on a pedastal because I was breastfeeding, I was treated with respect and compassion as a mum looking after her little baby. I was so grateful for their help and support and for making the first public outing for my boobs a positive experience.
So to the women in Costa who helped out a tired, flustered mum and a little baby, thank you.
To my friends, husband, family and professionals who have ridden the highs and lows of this part of my breastfeeding experience so far, thank you.
And to my little Sophie (AKA Twigs AKA the tiny dictator) thank you for deciding that boobs are tasty.