This photo makes me feel so sad. Look at my eyes. This is me trying to breastfeed and pump at the same time and hating every moment!
I had a very difficult and painful time breastfeeding but I refused to give up. I cried everyday for the 16 weeks I persevered. I told every Health Visitor how much it was affecting me and by all said the same “he’s putting on weight, you’re doing a great job, keep going”…and so I did, to the detriment of my mental health. I did not enjoy being a mother, I did not bond with my son and my skin crawled every-time he cried, but we all know breast is best hey?
One day a different health visitor came and I repeated my story of woe and guess what she said? “Enough is enough! You have to give yourself a break.” And that was that…I gave my son formula and you know what??? (No he didn’t sleep through!!!) I was wracked with guilt as I let my milk dry up, but it all started to get better! I started to love my son and enjoy being a mother and I no longer feared every feed.
So my point is this, and it is nothing to do with breastfeeding, maternal health is important and talking is important. If something doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t right and if you are experiencing negative feelings that last for more than a couple of days, please talk to someone, anyone… The woman who smiles at you in Sainsburys, your GP, the mum you’ve seen at Rhyme Time and let them know how you’re feeling. Talking is great and we have to keep doing it, it helps! Never be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help.
We posted this on Instagram and here are just a few of the wonderful comments from our amazing and supportive community!
- This could have been me writing exactly what you have written except I only lasted 9 weeks. My goodness I look back now and feel so consumed with guilt because although I know I loved my daughter then I didn’t enjoy being a Mother at all during that time. Switching to formula was the best parenting decision I’ve made to date. She is now 6 months and thriving and loving her weaning adventures. And I am a happy (albeit not all the time) Mum to her. If we were lucky for another baby I don’t think I could put myself through that again, even though ‘breast is best’
- Oh god I totally know how you feel in this picture it made me well up. The messages of best practice are definitely the cause of maternal angst. I struggled on to the cost of my sanity and almost my newborn’s health as after 7 weeks he wasn’t thriving. Awful times. Wish I’d thought it was ok to just give him a bloomin bottle.
- Ditto ditto ditto! This deffo needs to be talked about more. Thank you for posting your truth and so helping so many other Mamas.
- Perfectly written – I couldn’t breastfeed and although I felt guilty initially, I was very lucky my midwife and health visitors were very supportive. My little boy thrived and he and I have an unbreakable love and bond that is no different to the bonds my breastfeeding friends have with their children. We need to be kinder in all aspects of parenting – it’s a tough job and we should support each other however we approach it.
- Wow. This sounds just like me. My son wasn’t gaining weight and I was worrying and feeding and worrying and feeding. It was a cycle that marred the first 10 weeks of my perfect boys life. My mental health suffered and my son is now 5 and I’m still on antidepressants now!!
- I have to say you look like a total pro in this photo.
- I bf my son for 5mths and it suited us both but five years later feeding my newborn daughter was a nightmare – for her and ne. After 10 weeks a nurse said “think how much worse she’s be on the bottle” … REALLY? I thought – we’re both having a chuffin’ breakdown! The next day I gave her a bottle of formula and she was a very different baby girl. Content, relaxed – our whole family benefited from that decision. We never looked back. Do what ya gotta do ladies; trust your instincts.
- I can so relate – I’ve suffered for two years, first silently and now very loudly! So loudly I’m launching a business next week whereby money from every single sale goes to charities helping support mums with perinatal mental health issues!
Wow More and More Comments…
- Oh my god, thank you so much for speaking up about this! This photo could have been me. I breastfed my premature twins but needed expressed milk for top ups as they were too weak and small to get a full feed from the breast themselves. I would sit and feed one whilst pumping the other breast, then bottle feed both, then breastfeed the other, again, whilst pumping the other breast. I felt like a bloody cow, if things ran like clockwork I’d be lucky to get a 40min break before it all started again. The constant pressure of ‘are they getting enough’; ‘how much do I have in the fridge for the next feed’; ‘are they gaining weight’ nearly broke me. I’d sit and cry whilst I was feeding them, it was awful. In the end I combination fed with high calorie formula and expressed breastmilk. I managed to do that till they were 12 months. I don’t know where I’d be now if I’d carried on as I was.
- Yes I had this face too lady. It’s one I know well ❤️
- Not all things work for all people, amazing that you tried, but even better than finally someone spoke out and told you enough was enough.
- Thank you for being brace enough to share your personal but very important message.
- That picture was me 20 months ago! We need to stand up and tell the truth! Yes breast might be best but not everyone can do it and it just makes you feel shit, you beat yourself up and it stresses you out. Let’s talk about feeding not just breast or formula
- I was given the same spiel about baby gaining weight so everything is fine. The only reason I knew what was probably wrong was because I had already been taking lactation consultant coursework x 1.5 years. Even so, I still had to fight hard to get anyone to listen to me and to take a close enough look to properly diagnose the problem! I didn’t understand why no one cared that I was in physical and emotional pain.
- A huge big up to the mamas who support and encourage. So glad I met incredible women through this crazy motherhood journey; women who reminded me that I was still me!
- We hear your voice and understand! The more we share, the lighter the load becomes. Time to normalize the harsh realities of motherhood, one real story at a time!
- Spot on. I was really really lucky with my experience when I told my prenatal midwife and hospital midwives and postnatal/health Visitor that I wanted to bottle feed – they simply stated “it isn’t poison!”. They made me feel like I didn’t have to justify why I wanted to bottle feed after suffering from severe anxiety and pre-natal depression. Big up Nottingham midwives
- This is such a great read! Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. I had it really easy with my three but never took it for granted as I have seen so many friends having difficulties and persevering to the point of utter exhaustion and despair. It’s so important to share our stories and let each other know that if it works for you and your babe, then it’s okay and there is no need for guilt. Maternal (mental) health is discussed way too little.
- Thank you for sharing. My first breast-fed like a dream. My second was terrible. Like you, I persevered for 8 months to the detriment of my own sanity. Breast might be best, but a frazzled and stressed out mum is no good to anyone.
- Thank you for sharing, so honest and real! Sometimes we put so much pressure on women and ourselves to breastfeed. Yes breast milk and breastfeeding has many benefits, but if it is at the expense of maternal mental health and parenting bonding with your baby then it’s not worth it. Those first few weeks are hard enough with out pain and guilt. Need a happy mummy to have a happy baby!
- I’m so sorry you went through that. Motherhood is different for everyone and we all have different challenges. Women need to be supported to take care of their mental health so they can then look after their babies.
- God I remember that feeling my toes used to curl as they latched on
- Thank you for being so brave to share this image and your experience. Of course you are right, when something doesn’t feel right, it isn’t right! Talking saves lives everyday, let’s all keep talking and sharing xxx
- Sorry to hear about your trauma!! I think we are being terrorised into thinking we fail if we don’t breastfeed our little ones. Stop the breastfeeding terror everyone.
- So late to this, but I can’t believe someone said to breastfeed & pump AT THE SAME TIME?! You can’t be doing one well if you’re trying to do both. I am a total advocate for mix feeding, doing it with Liberty & means that TOM DOES THE NIGHT FEED! My boobs supply enough milk for the feeds I do. Best way in my mind 🙂
- Oh my god just came across your feed – my 3 are 11, 8 and 6 now. But so remember trying to breastfeed and ‘failing’ … except when I fed my baby a bottle I loved the fact we had eye contact, proper proper eye contact – I felt so in tune with her, I knew she was full, I felt I was meeting all her needs and more. Breast is not best for all at all. A happy content mummy equals a happy content bubba. Hope you re on the mend… sounds like it was all a bit traumatic at C&W – I gave been there a few times too – a miscarriage that haemorrhaged and for over 3 weeks after my son was born and the section went wrong… long story. Suffice it to say 95 % of the staff were amazing.. truly amazing and I learnt I need to trust my gut more and speak up… but also that doctors need to ask the right questions…. anyway – apologies for the long comment / take care and be kind t yourself and rest!!!!
- I know I’ve come to this post a bit late (as such) but it resonates with me sooooooo much. I wouldn’t let my husband take a picture of me whilst feeding but it probably would have looked something similar!!! I hated breastfeeding it hurt, my son used to bite, I cried daily and he fed 2 hrly for 7 mths!!!!! I wanted to give up but he absolutely refused to take anything in his mouth apart from my nipple so I was stuck. My point I’m getting to (phew!) Is that the health visitor I had told me I had to stick with it and it would get better etc. (it didn’t) To any women reading this please don’t shut up and just put up, if your unhappy seek more help try new things and do not be afraid to say you want to see someone different for advice. I had 13 mths of full time feeding and almost a year later I’m still recovering. And you are doing a great job.
- Oh god I found breastfeeding so hard and it really ruined the first few weeks for me. Really sad. It is not easy and I still (2.5 years later) want to deck the HV who put so much pressure on. Ugh, thanks for speaking up! X x x
- I am very late to the party here, but this post really resonated with me. I have spent the last 3 days doing a postnatal doula course and one of the things I have taken away from it is that when we say “You’re doing so well!” or “Keep going!” without actively listening or seeing what it going on for mum, we could inadvertently be piling on a tonne of pressure. I remember going with my first child for a check up with the red book and the health visitor asking “Are you still breastfeeding?” When I said “Yes” she said “Well done!” From her perspective she was probably being supportive and encouraging, but for me, I then started wondering what she would have said had I NOT been breastfeeding. Or what would they say at my next visit if I was no longer breastfeeding. At this stage I was finding it all very hard and feeling ready to transition to infant milk, and was looking for any evidence I could find to put in the “everyone will think you’re a bad mum if you stop” pile.
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