Breastfeeding, expressed feeding, formula feeding, who cares??? | Mildura Newborn and family photographer
A few months ago I was on Facebook (What's new?) and I came across a beautiful image of a new mumma breastfeeding her baby. I started scrolling through the huge amount of comments and quite frankly was disgusted with the amount of negative words from the public.
I feel like these days you can’t win. If you breastfeed your baby, you had better do it either in a grotty toilet cubical, under a very annoying cover (that will NOT stay on) or better yet, become a hermit and stay at home all day, every day for the entirety of your breastfeeding career. I knew mums who would carefully plan out their day so that they never had to breastfeed in public.
And don’t even get me started on the topic of breastfeeding your baby past 6 months! “Are you going to stop feeding him?” “That’s probably why she’s so attached to you.” “You’ll be feeding him forever if you don’t stop now.” ‘Shouldn’t you just put her onto cow’s milk?”.
Yet, if you formula feed your baby there are looks and remarks from people too. “If you had just pushed through a few more weeks, you would have been fine.” “You probably did have enough milk” “If it hurts you were doing it wrong” and then there’s the common “breast is best.” Ok, I want to explain that last one. Yes, breastmilk is best for baby – nature made it that way. But reminding someone of this fact AFTER they have stopped breastfeeding is in no way helpful to them and honestly, it’s a bit mean.
Breast milk may be best for a baby but breastfeeding or expressing is not always best for babies and it may not be best for YOUR baby. When a mother is in pain emotionally or physically from breastfeeding or pumping, it HAS to affect the baby too!
The comments go on and on… and on! I know, I have personally been victim to the ‘helpful’ advice that is laced with judgment. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in education from family and friends (how are young mums supposed to know how to breastfeed when they are not allowed to see a mum breastfeeding in public???) And advice is super important and helpful- WHEN it’s done in a supporting manner.
Why does it matter to anyone else whether you breastfeed, express feed, formula feed, combination feed or SNS feed (a little tube that goes from a bottle to your nipple so baby thinks she’s getting it from your breast) That’s right it doesn’t! It wont’ change your life if your sister, cousin, friend formula feeds and you know what, when all you children are no longer toddlers and are getting into trouble with their group of friends, the formula fed babies will not smell, look, or act any different than the others. (let’s face it, all kids smell).
I want to tell you a bit about my own journey, which is the reason I chose to do this little project of mine.
I have twin boys who are now 18 months old. When I was pregnant I was wanting to breastfeed but didn't want to put too much pressure on myself (like I usually do) so I went with "I will breastfeed if I can for as long as I can".
When my boys were born, I exclusively tandem breastfeed them for about 4 weeks. At this stage the pain had become so unbearable, I just couldn't continue. Although, being a stubborn girl I continued to provide them breast milk via expressing. I would cry for days just thinking about stopping. I don't remember how long I went, perhaps 2 or so weeks - It felt like forever... until I ended up back in hospital with mastitis & 'decided' to call it quits. I felt so guilty when I stopped breastfeeding. I would almost try to avoid bottle feeding them in public because of the guilt.
I don't believe anyone should have to feel that.
The guilt slowly went away but it was always in the back of my mind. Until, that is, the day I decided to re-lactate. My boys were about 4 months old & my milk had all but dried up. After 2 months of pumping & feeding I successfully re-lactated with one twin (the other wasn't interested).
So here I was, holding one baby to the breast whilst holding a bottle for the other who lay sprawled out on my lap. It was a pretty funny scene and those who saw me do it knew it wasn’t always easy but it was my choice to make.
I got to the point where I just didn't care about anyone's judgements anymore. In fact, I almost wished that lady (among many) in the shop giving me the stink eye said something!! I was going to feed my babies any where, any time and ANY WAY I wanted! If you don't like to see me bottle feeding my baby = DON'T WATCH. If you don't like to see me breastfeeding my baby, it's pretty simple= DON'T WATCH. Really, you don't need to watch that closely anyway.
My twins are now 18 months old. I am still breastfeeding one twin & now the other thinks he's missing out so at times asks for and takes to the breast. I'm cool with it, they're cool with it, as is my awesome husband. No one else's opinion matters.
So..next time you see a formula feeding mumma, instead of passing judgement, how about smiling at them, how about encouraging them or asking if they want you to hold the screaming baby whilst they get the bottle ready. Tell her she’s doing a great job. Just remember you have no idea what journey she has been on.
So. next time you see a mumma breastfeeding in public, instead of passing judgment, how about smiling at her, how about talking to her about… anything. Ask her if she wants you to pass her water to her that is just out of reach. Tell her she’s doing a great job. Just remember you have no idea what journey she has been on.
I decided I wanted to do something. But what's a new mum of twins going to do to change the world?? HAHA
Well, I can shoot. (Photos that is not a gun, I'm a really bad aim).
My message to you mummas. You know what is best for your baby! Do it and do it proudly! You are awesome no matter how you feed them!
What best way to do this than a shoot, or as it turned out, a few shoots! :) These gorgeous mummas have all had a journey of their own with breastfeeding. Some have been smoother than others, but it is theirs, no one else's.
I want to thank the girls who came along to the sessions to help me with my project!
I hope you enjoy my project.
If you want to read more about my re-lactation journey, here's a little blog I made.
Have you been paying attention? There's a hidden message in this blog!!!
Here are their stories....
Breastfeeding is something that you will never understand until you experience it. I had never thought much about breastfeeding, and had the simplistic view that it was as easy as putting a boob to a baby’s mouth – how wrong was I?! It wasn’t until I fell pregnant that I educated myself more and more about breastfeeding. After everything I had read, I was concerned I may not be able to do it, and my little baby would go hungry. I brought some bottles and some sachets of formula just in case. I had 'A' via scheduled caesarean. I was in hospital for 3 nights, which was good as I had around the clock support with latching and positioning etc. I still left hospital unsure of what to expect – like most first time mothers! I had great support at home, with a lovely partner, a mother who is a retired midwife and visits from Sharon the lactation consultant.
Early on, it felt like 'A' was feeding for hours on end with only tiny breaks in between. How was I ever going to leave the house? The day after getting home from hospital, off I went for lunch in town! Of course, my precious little bundle of joy needed a feed while out in public. My partner was great and sat with me while I awkwardly managed to get little 'A' to latch onto my big boobs. First feed in public done! Yay! Since then, I have fed in public hundreds, if not thousands of times! I have read about so many mothers who have received negative comments whilst feeding out in public. I am happy to say that I have not had one negative comment ever (I did, however, have some young boys do a double take when they saw some boobs!). Please do not let public feeding discourage you from feeding your baby, be confident! Babies have to eat when out and about too! For me, breast feeding has been a relatively easy journey. I guess I am one of the lucky ones. I have at times, however, felt restrained by breastfeeding. Abby has been exclusively breastfed. Because of this, it was always me who had the responsibility for her. It was always me who was responsible if she was fussy, windy, fat, skinny, constipated or had the runs – everything! It wasn’t comments about feeding in public that was my problem; it was comments about what I couldn’t or shouldn’t eat so baby wouldn’t be gassy/constipated/wouldn’t sleep/fussy/ do everything babies do.
The days and nights were broken up into 2-3 hour sections (sometimes less!) which was hard. I felt stressed that I needed to get everything done as soon as she finished feeding because it wasn’t far away until she would need me again. I hated the feeling of resenting others because they were able to just hand over the crying baby and say “here, 'A' is crying, I think she needs a feed”. I was the solution, the solution every day and every night, with no break. This stress was and still is hard to describe to anyone who has not experienced it. If I want to leave 'A' and have a break, I have to pump which takes precious time in between frequent feeds. And while I’m gone, I have to deal with bulging boobs from missing a feed! I missed nights out with friends, because I didn’t have any breastmilk stored for 'A' to have a sleep over at Nan and Pas. It was hard to see life go on while I felt held back from doing things I could have done if I wasn’t breastfeeding.
BUT, while I do say it is hard and there are challenges, I am the person to calm her and take away her tears. I am the one she wants to go to, because Mummy makes her feel better. I am the one who gets to cuddle her every night before bed, look into her eyes as she drifts off to sleep. The feeling of satisfaction knowing that my baby feels safest and happiest in my arms makes all those little stresses and frustrations worth it. Nearly 10 months on, I am proud to say my baby girl never had that formula I brought! We have come so far, from the baby who was so tiny compared to my big boobs, to the baby who now pokes my eyes, picks my nose and tries to put her fingers in my mouth while she has a feed. We are now coming to her first birthday and I am looking at the topic of weaning. After all the ups and downs, I am now at a point where I feel I will be the one who struggles to let go of our breast feeding bond, and it may well go beyond her first birthday.
As a new mother, I always assumed that breastfeeding was just how it was supposed to be done when it came to feeding your newborn baby.
Immediately after childbirth I started to learn how to breastfeed and continued to do so until 'S' was about two months old. It was at this time that it became obvious that my milk was not sustaining 'S' and he wasn't sleeping or feeding how I felt he should have been and I reluctantly gave into advice to start bottle feeding him formula. I didn't want to and I still expressed milk for a month simply to pour it down the sink because I had hoped that one day I could return to breastfeeding.
It was only once I let go of what I feel was my ego and thinking that I wasn't providing the best start for my son if I wasn't breastfeeding him and accepted the fact that it doesn't matter how my son gets fed whether or not it was from a formula bottle or from my breast milk, the important thing was that he was fed and happy. At the end of the day it doesn't matter to anyone as long as my son's needs were provided for.
Motherhood has completely changed my whole outlook on life. I have realised to be fully present in every single moment. Breastfeeding 'E' was hard for me emotionally at the start, 'E' wouldn't latch but I was determined to breastfeed. Breastfeeding then became so natural to me that I quickly learnt to trust my own motherly instinct.
I believe that a child weans themselves. This is why I still allow 'E' to be breastfed at 2.5 years of age. Some would say that is too long, but I want to encourage mothers to do what feels good for them, and to not be influenced by others judgements.
On December 20th, 2012 my beautiful early Christmas gift was born. My daughter 'S' entered the world under traumatic stressful circumstances. What followed was 12 months of hell, sickness, no sleep, depression and a breast feeding journey that ended before 6 months of age. I was devastated, I felt like a failure so many times because I struggled with one of life’s ‘basics’. My issues were put down to a combination of stress, traumatic birth, the exceptionally hot weather when she was born (40+) for weeks, amongst other things. When I found out I was pregnant again with my second, I was determined to make breast feeding work for us.
On October 14th, 2014 my beautiful second daughter 'G' came into the world in a hurry. She was a pure text book labour weighing in at a healthy 10lb 2oz. From day one we started to have issues, she didn’t latch properly so my poor nipples were so cracked I cried every time I fed her. The day after I came home from the hospital I made the decision to pump and bottle feed, it allowed my body to heal. That night I started feeling a bit off, like I had the flu, my whole body hurt. I got up at 2am to pump only to look down at the bottle I was pumping into, it had turned a lovely shade of pinky/red. A quick trip to the doctor the next day revealed I had mastitis and an abscess on my right breast that had ruptured.
I continued to pump and bottle feed for around 10 days until my breast was completely healed. When I finally latched her back on to properly breast feed, I was so happy, the whole time I was pumping I had seen my breast feeding journey coming to an end way to soon. Over the next 10 months I dealt with another 2 lots of mastitis, breast refusal, blocked ducts, 2 months of me having tonsillitis, 6 teeth, biting and not being able to eat dairy because it upset her reflux.
At around 9 months with a heavy heart I made the decision to wean her during the day, this was a decision I didn’t make lightly but one I had to make. I was returning to work and I don’t work in a job that it’s practical for me to pump during the day. I continued to feed her first thing in the morning, before bed and during the night if she needed it. After a couple of weeks I realised this wasn’t working, my milk was starting to dry up, I was devastated, I had planned to get to 12 months but alas it wasn’t going to happen.
I wanted to make my last breast feed something to remember, I made the decision to do it during the beautiful photo shoot that Lauren Southwell was doing to mark breast feeding week. Arriving was an emotional experience for me, the epic journey we had been on to get this far and knowing this would be the last time I would feel that closeness and bond of breast feeding my baby. Lauren made me feel at ease and the setting was beautiful. My last breast feed was peaceful, calm and amongst beautiful almond trees in full blossom bloom, it was the perfect way to close that chapter of my journey with my second baby.
I can’t thank Lauren enough for the opportunity to capture such a precious time in our lives.
'A' was a premmie baby who we just couldn't get to latch onto the boob. It was a tough long journey to get him to feed. His journey started with a feeding tube and a syringe (used to feed him 5mls of milk). He became very attached to his bottles as that's all he could have being on prescription formula so I couldn't even express for him. We didn't find he couldn't have my milk until he was a month old. He used to scream from really bad reflux so when we used the Dr brown bottles with the right formula, it was amazing.He absolutely loves his bottles and I wouldn't change the process in a heart beat as I know the long journey found what was best for him in the end.
As a mum of an extreme prem baby (born at 24.5weeks), breastfeeding was always going to be a challenge for us but like with everything 'S' wasn't going to give in easily. We had our first breast contact feed when she was only 33 weeks gestation and still on CPAP oxygen support. We continued for a few weeks but it was extremely frustrating for 'S' with the nasal prongs in her way of getting full contact with the breast and I had an extremely slow let down so that didn't help the situation either. After coming off oxygen support we found 'S' took to the bottle like a gun and stacked on the weight! We choose to continue with this method as all we wanted was our baby girl to be home. I expressed for 7 months until my supply just couldn't keep up. We are now full formula feeds now and I wouldn't change a thing.
My first was breastfed for only 8 weeks, mostly due to inexperience. I was determined to succeed with breastfeeding my second, bottles are hard work! I had the usual mastitis and biting stages, but feeding was much easier overall and she self weaned at 22months. With 'A' I've not had mastitis once and she's still feeding several times a day at 22 months.
I think it's easier to feed now I have an understanding of what normal can look like for me. By that I mean sometimes 4 hourly feeds were normal when she was tiny, but other times I could feed for an hour straight and 'A' would still want more 20 minutes later. Both are normal feeding and once I learned to accept it, I could relax and enjoy the journey instead of stressing.
when I was pregnant with my first I went into breastfeeding with an open mind, if I could I would, in not then I would bottle feed, no stress either way. I was successful breastfeeding my first two for 11 months and am still feeding my third child at 14 months. Iv had a couple of serious bouts of mastitis and A lot of my friends around me were bottle feeding but have all been very supportive of me each other which has helped. All in all I have loved my breastfeeding journey. I can only imagine the emotions I'm going to feel when it comes to an end for good. Bitter sweet.
Breast feeding came easy in the beginning and everything was going swimmingly. There was a little bit of discomfort with one breast until I discovered kenacomb (prescription medication). At about five weeks my little girl wasn't putting on enough weight and I was encouraged to go on Motilium as my supply was down. It was disheartening but with the support of the lactation consultant we got through it. I also had to express milk to increase my supply. I remember one weekend when my daughter did not feed well and we were worried she was dehydrated. This was quite stressful.
My daughter was then diagnosed with reflux and was also identified with having a tongue tie. We saw an oral surgeon for the tongue tie and the GP so she could prescribe medication. It was a tough few weeks but by about eight or nine weeks we started to settle into a routine that was working. At times my husband and I had to give our daughter a bottle of expressed milk, especially the feed before putting her to bed at night. Interestingly night time feeds from day one have ALWAYS gone well as bub and I are always relaxed and I am not anxious.
My daughter is now 20 weeks and I am glad that I persevered with breast feeding as I love the special bond we share. It wasn't like that initially as it was really hard work, especially when my daughter would cry in pain. The support of my husband, the lactation consultants and the maternal & child health nurses have been invaluable and I don't think I have got through it without them. I love breast feeding as everything is working beautifully now (despite a few very hard weeks) as my daughter is gaining weight and is a happy, healthy little girl. I'm glad that I persevered but I can see how easy it is to just give up. Thank goodness for my husband who has been by my side.
I have three beautiful children. My first i had at only 18 and tried to breastfeed her but with so much pain and no sleep stopped after 6 weeks. I was under the impression i had no milk but now i can clearly see we both had thrush and a terrible latch. She thrived off formula and was happy!
Number 2 i was determined to breastfeed her, and from the get go everything was perfect. Great latch, liquid gold was flowing. I continued to feed her until 13 months, i stopped because she would not be apart from me, the boob was her comforter.
Number 3, he had a great latch from the start but oh the after birth pain when feeding was worse than labour, but i pushed through a week of that and continued to feed this booby baby until he was 17 months.
This photo is actually his last breastfeed ever!!!! He was ready but i was devastated, this is my last child, this is last time i will ever have this closeness. It was made easier by knowing i had a wonderful, talented photographer capturing this moment. I will cherish this for ever!
I was a very lucky mumma, I was fortunate enough to be able to do both from the start. I expressed alot of milk as my milk came in very heavy so my husband gave her a bottle of breast milk once a day from the get go so transitioning her from breast to formula was so easy she wasn't fazed at all. I did absolutely love the connection we had when I was breast feeding but seeing my husband hold her in his arms feeding her melted me just as much. Having to return back to work so soon though made the decision to go to formula an easy and stress free thing and having such a happy go lucky baby makes all changes less stressful.
I never felt guilty for stopping because for me once she started getting the fidgets and bigger I wanted to know she was getting proper feeds not just top ups and I started to feel awkward. Plus we always gave her the bottle (breastmilk) before bed and she slept all the way through so I knew she would be happier on the bottle as she got a lot more milk alot quicker. I may have felt differently if she was a clingy or needy baby but she is very independent and has been since birth -something I am so very grateful for.
People ask me all the time why did I stop if there wasn't a problem and I simply tell them its my life my daughter my choice and I know its for the better for myself my daughter and makes a beautiful bond with my husband and daughter.
I never had an issue with breastfeeding 'N', that is if you don't count cracked & bleeding nipples, painful breasts, having those tiny hairs on the back of my neck being ripped out etc. etc. My breastfeeding journey this time has been so different to my first. I was like a Jersey Cow last time! If I wasn't feeding, I was expressing! This time I wasn't able to express. I set my goal for 6 months & surpassed that over 16 months ago & I feel so blessed & lucky that I have been on this journey with my little man for so long. I have tried to stop, but 'N' won't let me & it was only half hearted from me anyway! I love the closeness we share during feeds, it's our time, & this bond & closeness has helped reduce my PND symptoms & calmed me down & just let me be, if only for 15 minutes at a time
When pregnant I always said "I'll give it a go!" When asked if I'd breast feed but for some reason I always just imagined that I'd take the "easy option" and bottle feed!
After R was born my milk was delayed due to a large blood loss so after she lost a significant amount of weight I decided to give her formula, all the while expressing in hope that my supply would increase.
After a week, with my supply increasing I attempted to put her back to the breast and to my surprise, she nailed it and we've never looked back! I've now learnt that breast feeding is the "easy option" for me and I'm so glad I gave it a go!
Breastfeeding for me has been a very relaxed journey. Both my children were born at home, fed at the breast instantly and were good feeders ever since.
I think being 100% relaxed and committed to breastfeeding has helped make it an easy experience. I wouldn't change it for the world. It's such a nurturing, natural and healthy thing that I have been able to do for my girls.
My BF journey began almost 21 years ago, with the birth of our first child. Since then I have had the privilege of nursing each of our eight children, including our 2/12 year old twin boys (who are still breastfed).
It has definitely been challenging at times, especially meeting the needs of a large family whilst investing the necessary time to exclusively breastfeed.
Having a supportive family has been very important, and the confidence in my body to nourish our precious babies.
Throughout my entire pregnancy I had anxiety that I wouldn't be able to breastfeed, this is still a touchy subject for me. I constantly compared my pregnancy towards others and sillily judged my ability to breastfeed based on the size of my breasts. Whilst they had grown, I just felt as though they weren't big enough to feed. 'A' was born 4 weeks early via induction due to the placenta not working, I feared that her early arrival also meant that I wouldn't be able to breastfeed her.
When 'A' was born she did have trouble latching and I had a nurse literally milk me, to just get the colostrum out. I had the "two day blues (seemed to last for a few weeks)". Two days after birth my milk came in, the nurses referred to me as a 'jersey cow', despite having the milk I couldn't feed 'A' easily. I was determined to give her breast milk and I started to express.
For weeks, every 3 hours I attempted to feed 'A' with a nipple shield, afterwards I would give her a top up with EBM and then I would express each side for 10 minutes. A week after 'A' was born, I woke up to find that my breasts had literally just disappeared and I rang the hospital lactation consultant in tears. After a visit from Bree, I continued to express and gradually built up my supply again. Unfortunately my anxiety was working against me and the more upset I got, the harder it was to feed.
Around when 'A' turned 6 weeks old she knocked the nipple shield off and refused to feed with it. From that moment I have exclusively breastfed. Sometimes it hurts and I still panic whether I am providing her with everything she needs, I find that I fixate on the numbers - especially how much weight she puts on between visits.
I am getting better at just enjoying the feeding and the bond that I have with 'A'. I love the way that she looks up at me and smiles when she is feeding, it reminds me that everything is okay and I can do it.
'F' started off amazingly at breastfeeding but she got very sick at six weeks old and had to be fed though an NG tube while in hospital, after two surgeries and almost 2 months of expressing we tried to get her to re-latch but by that stage she had breast refusal.
She had expressed breast milk the whole time she was in hospital but when we tried to get her to re latch she would only take a bottle so I started feeding her expressed milk, after another hard two months felicity re latched.
It was one of the best moments I wanted to breast feed her so badly to help fix her the residual hole in her heart, just after her first birthday we found out the hole had completely closed.
Felicity started to self wean just after 12 months, but she still occasionally breastfeeds. I'm so proud that we have made it this far, after all the challenges we have faced
I felt like an absolute failure when breastfeeding didn't work for me. My son 'R' is donor egg conceived and when he was born I was already thinking that my body failed me because I couldn't produce children without assistance. Being unsuccessful at breastfeeding compounded these feelings and I felt that I was a complete failure as a woman. I also thought that I wasn't going to be able to bond with my son because I had always been told about the incredible bonding experience that breastfeeding gives mothers.
'R' spent a week in the special care nursery due to jaundice which made him too tired to latch for feeding. Added to this was a low supply of milk which medication didn't assist. I believe there is an incredible amount of pressure placed on mothers to breastfeed. We struggled for 5 weeks to make breastfeeding work and it became an emotional experience for the both of us. Too often we were both in tears during a time that was supposed to be 'beautiful' and 'bonding' for the both of us. Switching to bottlefeeding was all about accepting the fact that I was doing the best for 'R' and I was still meeting his needs in a caring and loving way. We were both happier when we changed to bottle. My MCHN explained it best to me when she said "when he is the Prime Minister of Australia, no one is going to ask if he was breast or bottle fed".
I have attempted to breastfeed all of my children. Whilst pregnant with my first, I knew I wanted to breastfeed because it was natural and what the doctors and nurses say is best. I thought if you wanted to , you just did- it would be easy. I was quickly proven wrong. Struggling with latch problems and a lack of knowledge, we switched to formula after a only a few weeks. After the birth of each one of my children it became a little easier and I learned more, resulting in each one being fed a little longer yet we faced a different set of challenges along the way. I have seven happy healthy children who have either been breast, bottle fed or both.
'E' completes our family so I can't thank Lauren enough for capturing these moments as it represent so much more. Breast feeding verses bottle feeding really is the first of a long line of struggles you will face as a mother. As long as your doing what is right for both you an your child, it doesn't matter.
Whilst pregnant I had attended a seminar held by lactation consultant/midwife /Sue Cox which was amazing and highly recommended (Her books are great). She taught us about the baby knowing its mothers smell-how straight after birth lay baby on your chest and he actually finds his way to the breast. Skin to skin, latching on etc.
But nurses at hospital pushed my bed into recovery, left me there an hour without him and that started me off feeling really down and because I was upset, I think that contributed to the poor latching. So I didn't get skin to skin or even to feed him immediately like I wanted to. Then the nurse grabbed my boob and pushed 'M' to it and squeezed me without warning or asking me. Felt like I was a cow being milked! 'M' had jaundice when he was born and then awful refluxxxxxxx and took a bit of time to start feeding well.
He's now 17 months old and very happily still breast feeding. One of my favourite moments is when I look down at him and he stops drinking for a second to give me a big smile.
Did any of these stories sound familiar? Would you love a breastfeeding or bottle feeding photoshoot?
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