Before I had my first child it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed him. Not once did formula feeding even cross my mind. My mum and my sister had both breastfed their babies easily, so I would too.
Plus, every health professional I saw while pregnant repeated the 'breast is best' mantra, telling me it would help baby and I bond, improve their gut health, and reduce the risk of health issues - so of course I would be giving my baby the "best".
When people would tell me they’d tried to breastfeed but couldn’t I would (shockingly) inwardly judge them, deciding they hadn’t tried hard enough. This wouldn’t affect me...
Watch: Explaining nipples to my babies. Post continues below.
Eddie was born in an intense and unexpected way via emergency c-section.
I went from absolute panic and fear that we’d lose him to absolute bliss when they placed him on my chest. I’ll never forget that moment when he suckled from me and I breathed him in for the first time. It was truly divine.
But that instinctual suckling at birth didn’t last. I would offer him my breast hourly and I would pump and pump and pump to try to increase my milk supply.
I sourced brewer's yeast, flaxseed, organic oats and baked hundreds of lactation cookies. I took fenugreek tablets, read every book on breastfeeding and googled 'breastfeeding problems' obsessively.
I saw three different lactation consultants who all advised me to 'keep feeding and keep pumping, you need to increase your supply', and even though I knew in my gut there was more to it, I ignored myself and did as I was told.
All the while my son was hungry and losing weight.
My feelings of failure were devastatingly intense. I honestly believed that I wasn’t a proper mother if I couldn’t breastfeed him. The thought that ran through my head constantly was - if you’re not breastfeeding him then anyone could be his mother. I was terrified I wouldn’t bond with him.
Right alongside those feelings of failure were feelings of intense anger that I took out on everyone around me.
I was angry with my baby son for his insatiable hunger I couldn’t satisfy. I’d seethe at my family and friends who tried to offer support, advice or assistance.
But my purest rage was reserved for my husband who’d try so hard to help.
He’d hold the baby when I was exhausted and would suggest giving him a small bottle of formula so that I could have a sleep.