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When I was pregnant I knew that I wanted to breastfeed. I read articles online and bought all the pads and creams in preparation, but what I wasn't ready for was a baby that just didn't want to latch. After the emergency caesarean that shot the Mini Grumpy Egyptian into our lives, I was in shock not just from the surgery but the realisation that I was now a mother. After being wheeled into my hospital room, a scrunched up ball of baby was thrust into my arms, my gown pulled down and her face shoved in the direction of my boob. There was no magic moment of her searching for my boob or latching on immediately, in fact I remember having to literally stick it in her face!
We did manage to breastfeed, but the bad latch continued and after 2 weeks she had struggled to gain back her birth weight. I started pumping so I could supplement her with a bottle of my milk rather than turning to formula. Things didn't get easier but she began putting weight on. I remember crying down the phone to my mum one day in agony and sheer disappointment that breastfeeding wasn't turning out to be that amazing experience I had read about. When we got to the UK, I asked my health visitor about the Mini Grumpy Egyptian's slow weight gain and voiced concerns that I was feeling the stress of cluster feeding. I was told she was gaining at a steady rate and didn't need to have formula.
I was never asked whether I NEEDED - for my own sanity - to give her formula. I couldn't bring myself to say that I thought I needed to introduce formula once or twice a day so that I could relax for just a moment and allow someone else to deal with a feed. There was this shame in the back of my mind that if I said that then I wasn't being a good mum. After all we are meant to sacrifice ourselves for our children, but what about a little me time? Is that being selfish or by doing so would I be a better more relaxed mum?
When the Mini Grumpy Egyptian was five and a half months old, I gave in. I went to Boots and bought some formula. She drank it so fast and her weight began to follow a proper pattern! I started on 120ml a day and increased to around 180ml a day with breastfeeds when required. I'm more relaxed as it means someone else can feed her while I pop the washing in or eat my lunch. She seems fuller and now that she is on 3 meals a day, her sleeping patterns have got less erratic.
I have friends who wanted to breastfeed, but weren't able to despite their best efforts as well as friends who chose not to breastfeed for personal reasons. And I tell you what.... They are bloody good parents. This post isn't meant to mock those that solely breastfeed - congratulations by the way - but I'm sorry to say I don't believe it makes you a better parent than someone who doesn't. Breast is as we all know best, but it doesn't give you the right to judge those who don't or indeed can't. So take a moment next time you are about to say something about a mum who is formula feeding and think about how you might be about to make them feel.
The Egyptian Mummy