Two children, two very different stories.
I have two children. My son was bottle fed from 3 days old and my daughter was breastfed until she was eight and a half months old. As you can imagine, I have had two very different experiences of feeding my children. But I would not have it any other way.
My son is three now. He was my first child and while I was pregnant I went to NCT classes and their breastfeeding workshop. The thought that I might not be able to breastfeed my baby never once crossed my mind. He was born by caesarean and for various reasons I didn’t see him properly for a couple of hours after his birth.
When it came to feeding, he just wasn’t interested. He did not get it. Three days, no milk and no sleep later, I gave him a bottle of formula. He drank it perfectly and that was that. Never looked back. Of course, I was left feeling horrendously guilty but my son developed into a lovely, clever, healthy little boy.
Two and a half years later, my daughter was born. She also came into the world by caesarean but I found it a much calmer and more positive experience than the first time. I was able to hold her as soon as my operation was over and she wanted to feed at the first opportunity. When I saw how naturally she took to it, I realised how different babies could be and that it hadn’t been anything I was doing wrong first time around.
Having said that… the first month was extremely hard going. Feeding was very painful and it got to the stage when I dreading hearing my husband bringing her up to me at night because I knew the pain I was going to experience. I was ready to give up after a fortnight. I tried all the helplines but nothing helped. Then one desperate day I gave her a bottle of formula. It upset me so much (strange after having formula fed my son!) that I rang the hospital where she was born and they paged the midwife to come and see me. She was amazing with her calm, no nonsense approach and I can honestly say she turned it around and without her I would have given up.
It didn’t take long for things to settle down and I soon realised how easy breastfeeding can be. But for a long time, I didn’t really enjoy it. Then one night, several months down the line, I was doing the dream feed and I realised how much I loved feeding her myself.
She only ever had that one bottle. I never even expressed milk, I fed her myself every single feed until she was eight and a half months old when I slowly transferred her to formula. I was really, really sad to stop feeding her and I felt like I almost went through a grieving process for it, but it was definitely the right time to stop.
Two months later, I am very happy giving her formula, in fact I love the smell because it reminds me of when my son was tiny. I am really glad to have had these two experiences and count myself as very lucky.
If you’re not able to breastfeed your baby for some reason, try not to blame yourself or feel too guilty. I have the same bond with both my children and they are both just as healthy and happy as each other!
Fiona Kyle owns Words by Fiona Kyle, a copywriting, sub-editing and proofreading business specialising in marketing communications including websites, brochures, newsletters, press releases and social media.