There is a new craze doing the rounds at the moment – The Tree of Life Brelfie. For those of you who don’t know what a brelfie is, it is a breastfeeding selfie. These pictures use an app called PicsArt to superimpose a tree with roots onto a breastfeeding picture before using different art styles to add an effect to the picture.
They are incredible pictures to look at but I have to admit that I was dubious at first. I was worried that despite being visually stunning and despite being a symbol of a proud mother, they would soon just become the latest fuel on the fire of the whole breast vs formula feeding debate. Usually calm and centred women would once again become enraged because they perceived a beautiful picture to be slighting their choice of feeding. Now due to a number of issues I formula fed my children exclusively after the first few weeks and I was at times shamed for this. However, I really do not see the need for any such debate or ill feeling. Babies need to be fed and as long as they are fed then end of story!
I will happily say that I have so far been wrong in my prediction. All of the pictures that I have seen have been viewed as the beautiful, life affirming, proud mummy moments that they were meant to be. And so do you know what, I decided to do my own. Even though it didn’t work out for me, I did try. I am proud that I tried. I never got a picture of me feeding baby boy but I did get one of me feeding baby girl and so I am celebrating that fact! I am a proud mother!
Share your brelfies proudly ladies!
Attempting to breastfeed baby boy was one of the worst experiences of my life. I wrote a post about it early on in my blogging journey so I won’t go into detail but let’s just say that after my boobs being manhandled by more strangers than could ever be deemed necessary and still not getting the hang of it I threw in the towel. I felt like an absolute failure! It wasn’t until he was 12 months old that a health visitor asked me about his tongue tie. What tongue tie?! Apparently he has a fairly severe tongue tie and according to the specialist it’s no wonder we found breastfeeding so difficult.
With that in mind I was determined to get it right with baby girl. I read all of the information again and watched the videos. Having a c-section with an epidural this time instead of under general anesthetic meant that we could have skin to skin straight away and I was sure that it was going to work this time. However, over the few days that we were in hospital it was clear that we were having difficulty. I had exactly the same problems as with baby boy. She just wouldn’t latch and when she eventually did she either fell asleep straight away or came off after a few minutes and I had to start the whole process again. Knowing then about baby boy’s tongue tie, I asked for her to be checked. 3 different people checked her and they all said that she was fine. I was told by a midwife that I just had to learn how to latch her on myself. It wasn’t how it was supposed to go! I carried on trying once we got home but nothing worked. Baby girl was losing weight and I could feel myself going back to the dark place that trying to breastfeed baby boy took me to. There was no way I was going back there again so I stopped trying. I stopped trying to breastfeed and I gave my child formula. And guess what… I didn’t feel guilty!
However, formula feeding didn’t end the problems. Baby girl still had difficulty with a bottle. Milk would pour out of her mouth when feeding. I knew that there was something wrong. It was when she was about 5 weeks old that I started to notice that her tongue looked like baby boy’s did at the same age. If I hadn’t found out about his tongue tie I wouldn’t have thought anything of it but it got me wondering. I mentioned it to my midwife who agreed that it didn’t look quite right. She referred us to a tongue tie clinic and I’m so glad that she did. At the appointment the specialist said that she never seen a tongue tie as thick as baby girl’s and it was the most difficult one that she had ever had to snip. It was horrible watching my little girl go through such a traumatic experience but once it was done she calmed down quickly. She even took a bottle without milk pouring of her mouth. I am quite angry that despite 3 professionals checking my daughter for tongue tie it was me who found it. However, I’m glad that it has been sorted at an early age (if baby boy ever needs to have his snipped it will have to be done under general).
My breastfeeding journey was quite frankly rubbish! I regret not being stronger and maybe trying harder but ultimately I don’t regret the decisions that I made. My decisions took me out of a dark place and enabled me to focus on my family. They were the best decisions for us all. Some people look down on me for formula feeding. Some people think that I didn’t try hard enough. Some people think that I have let my children down by not breastfeeding. Well those people are one’s whose opinion I do not need! I did my best and I am doing my best and that’s all that matters.
When baby boy was a newborn he suffered terribly with colic and wind. Breastfeeding hadn’t worked out for us and bottle feeding wasn’t going much better. Baby boy would cough, splutter and dribble so much milk that we would often have to change his clothes after a feed. Within half an hour he would be in visible pain. We later found out that he was suffering from silent reflux alongside the colic!
It was at the Baby and Toddler Show at Event City in Manchester that we found a solution to our feeding problem. I was walking past the Haberman stand and caught the end of a demonstration. The demonstrator was showing a young woman a bottle. It didn’t look like any other bottle I had seen before. It was a Haberman Suckle Feeder and with its curvy lines and bright green detailing it looked slightly space age. I was intrigued and wondered what was so amazing about this bottle. The answer was impressive and so I bought 6 of them.
The Haberman Suckle Feeder has an innovative design that uses a closed teat. This means that once milk enters the teat it does not flow back into the bottle unless it is released back in by you and so the teat stays full at any angle. This meant that baby boy could be fed in a more upright position which helped him to feed more comfortably. The closed teat system is also good for reducing wind and colic by ensuring that air bubbles are filtered back into the bottle. The really good thing about the Haberman Suckle Feeder though is the way in which is encourages a baby to feed.
Baby boy had to use his jaw, tongue and mouth to actually suckle the teat to get the milk. This meant that he could stop and rest when he wanted without his mouth still being flooded with milk. Unless he was suckling no milk came out. I could hold the bottle upside down and not a drip would escape! It is this technology that makes it perfect for parents who want to combine breast and bottle feeding (be that expressed milk or formula). Babies do not have to learn a new way of feeding. They use the same suckle action as they do on the breast. The bottle also allows for the flow of milk to be varied just by turning the bottle. No need for different sized teats! If you want Dad to share the feeding without confusing baby then this could be the bottle for you.
From the first use of this bottle we noticed a huge improvement in baby boys feeding. He no longer coughed and spluttered because he was in control of his feeding. It was a lifesaver.
Baby boy is now no longer using bottles but I would have no hesitation buying these again in the future if I needed to.
All thoughts and opinions in this post are my own.
Image credit – http://www.habermanbaby.com
I was out and about the other day with baby boy and he started to get fussy. It was feeding time so as it was a nice day I found myself a sunny spot on a bench where I could watch the world go by. There was another mum sitting on a nearby bench breastfeeding her daughter and I smiled at her nicely as I prepared baby boy’s bottle. She glanced in my direction as I started to feed and then gathered her things and stood up to leave. As she walked past me she turned to me, looked me straight in the eye and said “you are feeding your child poison you know!”
Now I know that there is some controversy about bottle feeding in this day and age when we all know that breast is best but POISON! I was gobsmacked followed by furious followed by confused! Why did she think it was ok to say that to me? I would never criticise a fellow parent for the way they chose to feed their child so why was it ok for her to criticise me?
Before baby boy was born I fully intended to breastfeed. Mr K and I went to a breastfeeding class and I did so much research I was a walking breastfeeding encyclopaedia! When the nurse in the recovery room asked me if I wanted to feed my newborn son, whilst already reaching to pull down my gown before I had even answered, I didn’t even hesitate. Of course I wanted to feed him myself. It was going to be easy, right? I had done the research and I knew exactly what to do. Except that I didn’t and neither did baby boy.
That night baby boy wanted to feed a lot. I was still drowsy from the general anaesthetic and in pain from the c-section so every time he wanted to feed I had to press the buzzer. I needed help latching him on and so every time he came off the breast I had to press the buzzer again. This carried on all night until at about 5am one of the Health Care Assistants asked me, not so nicely, if I wanted her to give him a bottle so that everyone could get some sleep. I was mortified! I sadly agreed and she wheeled him off to fill him up on formula in the hope that he would stop crying and go to sleep for a bit. The next day I had no fewer than four different breastfeeding workers try to help us to get baby boy to latch on properly and that night once again I was asked if I wanted to give him formula.
On the second day, it started again. I just wanted to cry! This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. I was supposed to stare lovingly down at my baby whilst he breastfed not spend 20 minutes practically wrestling him onto the breast and then sit there in agony for 2 minutes before he came off therefore having to start to whole process again. Then a saviour came along. The paediatrician came to do the newborn check. He did all of the routine checks and then asked how baby boy was being fed. Mr K explained that I was trying to breastfeed but it wasn’t going well. The paediatrician’s answer to that was a godsend to my fragile mind. “We are very good at promoting the benefits of breastfeeding but not very good at promoting the difficulties” he explained in a soothing voice “I don’t care how your baby is fed as long as they are fed. There is nothing wrong with feeding him formula”. Oh the relief! I wasn’t going to damage my son, I was just going to feed him.
Once we were home I continued trying to breastfeed but despite help from a number of breastfeeding workers we were never able to latch on properly. The consultants words helped me enormously when I finally decided to stop trying and exclusively formula feed. I did still feel guilty for a while but I look at my son now and he is happy and healthy and I know that I made the right decision for us.
Do you formula feed or breastfeed? How did you come to your decision?
image credit – http://fdsauk.freeforums.org/popular-posters-t1820.html