With the baby due in just a few weeks now, we are almost completely ready for his arrival and have planned to some extent for him being here.
One of the decisions that was fairly easy for me was whether to bottle or breastfeed. I know there are huge debates out there on which is best, and this post really isn’t one of them. I am bringing no scientific evidence or facts or reports to the table, but simply stating my own reasons behind the decision to breastfeed. I’m also well aware that for some people, despite their best intentions, the decision is taken out of their hands when they can’t physically breastfeed for whatever reason, so I am prepared should this be the case for me.
As I have previously breastfed my other two children I feel I know what to expect when this baby arrives in terms of feeding. I’ve experienced some highs and lows, and have managed to keep going through some tough times.
With Cameron I combine fed him, which for me meant I mostly formula fed at night and breastfed during the day from around a few weeks old. For me this worked best at the time. I was a single mum, at university studying in my final year, and juggling a baby alongside my studies was hard enough without lack of sleep adding to things.
I managed to keep this up until Cameron was 4 months old when I reverted to formula feeding him. I do think the combination feeding actually had a detrimental effect on my ability to breastfeed Cameron successfully, although I was still pleased I had done it for the time I did.
When I had Carly, I was a little older, in a relationship and determined to breastfeed her. I went into it guns blazing and powered through some very painful times and a few issues early on. My milk supply didn’t seem strong enough at times, and my mental health did suffer a little during the low points. I do think I pushed myself a little hard in getting to the six month mark, which was my own personal milestone I wanted to reach. By the time we got there, I resented breastfeeding, and I wouldn’t recommend pushing yourself too hard as that wasn’t good for me or for Carly.
This time round I do have an, even bigger, milestone in mind – that of one year. However, if I don’t reach it, or am struggling, I won’t push myself too hard, and I will stop if it’s what is best for my mental health as ultimately whats best for the baby is a healthy mum.
The main reasons I love breastfeeding, other than the evidence I’ve read etc. pointing towards it being better for baby, is the fact it saves you money – formula costs around £10 per tub, and I found a tub lasted around a week. So this means around £40 per month saving. When you have a newborn baby every penny you can save helps so it’s definitely good to have fresh and free food for baby available on tap.
The second benefit I’ve found was that it actually really helps you tone your tummy back up following childbirth. I’ve been able to get back into skinny jeans fairly soon after having both children, and I really do think that breastfeeding helped make this possible, alongside eating fairly well. Breastfeeding helps to contract the uterus, which helps in turn to tighten the muscles in the stomach back (very scientific explaining there, but worth a read into the actual science bit).
The third reason I breastfeed is closeness it gives me with the children. I know that feeding with a bottle still means cuddles and close contact, but there’s something about breastfeeding which just takes it to the next level. It’s so intimate and just for you and your baby. It may seem selfish, but I do actually like that only I will be able to feed the baby. I’m his mum and I am here to feed him. Yes it will be tiring when he wants to be fed all during the night, but those special bleary eyed feeds with a newborn have a magical quality to them.
I remember feeding Carly when she was only a few weeks old. It was the middle of the night and at that point I wasn’t living with her dad so I was all alone in bed with her, and with Christmas just around the corner I was listening to Gabrielle Aplin’s version of The Power of Love on my phone. It was such a beautiful, special time and I will always remember and treasure that memory.
Finally, breastfeeding is quick and easy, making getting out of the house that little bit more simple. There’s no measuring out formula, preparing bottles or remembering to pack enough feeds for the day, everything is portable inside me. You can’t forget your boobs so I’ll be all set. I’m not for one moment suggesting that breastfeeding itself is easy, I know (and have experienced) that the struggle can be real.
I’m also not preaching to anyone who has decided, or will decide to bottle feed but for me personally, breast will always be my first plan and I’m excited to start my breastfeeding journey this time round with baby boy. Wish me luck!