When I was pregnant with the twins, I made the decision that I wouldn’t be breastfeeding them. It was quite an easy decision to make to be honest. I knew that bottle feeding would mean I could share the load with my husband, but more so (I’m sure I’ll get judged for this, but bear with me) – I just didn’t like the thought of breastfeeding.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those people who thinks breastfeeding in public is disgusting etc (idiots). I’m fully supportive of breastfeeding, but it just didn’t feel right for me.
So decision made, we prepared for the twins arrival by buying all the bottles and equipment we’d need.
The Twins Are Born
As planned, we immediately started off bottle feeding them. We had bought those mini Aptamil bottles of ready made formula to get us going, and it meant less work in the first few days.
To be honest it was great. I would feed one twin, and Dave the other. We could alternate who we fed, so we both got to spend time feeding both boys.
We both got to have that connection with our babies – looking at their chubby little faces as we fed them. Happy and content.
I guess it was about a month or so in, when something quite unexpected happened. One of the twins, Lewis, started stirring in the middle of the night. I sat up in bed and looked into their cot. My gorgeous boys.
Out of nowhere, and very unexpectedly, I felt a HUGE urge to breastfeed him! I mean, just like everything in my body was telling me to pick him up and breastfeed him. So I picked him up.
The next day I told Dave what had happened, that I had attempted to breastfeed Lewi in the middle of the night. I told him that I wanted to speak to our Health Visitor to arrange the Breastfeeding Support Worker to come and help me out. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.
Despite the urge I had to do it, I was still pretty clueless and didn’t actually know if I was even attaching him correctly, let alone anything else.
So the Breastfeeding Support Worker came. She sat with me and guided me through it, making sure Lewi latched on properly and pointing out how to tell if he was swallowing. Then I was left to it. Time to crack on!
Lewi always took the opportunity to latch on, but Ollie didn’t. It was like he was refusing to even open his mouth. But I was encouraged to just keep trying – one day he’ll get it.
Breastfeeding Was Not Working
Sadly I wasn’t producing enough milk to give Lewi a full feed. So he was still being bottle fed as normal, the same as Ollie. I was advised to try pumping, to get my flow going. So I bought a manual breast pump – nothing. Then an electric one. Still nothing.
I asked for more help and was directed to our local breastfeeding support group.
To be honest I didn’t find the group much help. It was full of women who could breastfeed, and they were just chatting everyday regular stuff. I had expected to find other women like me, who were struggling to breastfeed and needed support.
That being said, the professional who ran the group spoke to me alone on a few occasions and offered advice. In the end, after not getting anywhere with producing a good enough milk flow, she arranged for me to borrow a breast pump from the hospital.
It was a beast!
I was dedicated and determined to make it work. But ‘work’ is the correct word to use. Because I had such a low to non-existant flow, I was told to use the pump every two hours, for (if I remember correctly) fifteen minutes at a time – day and night. EVERY TWO HOURS DAY AND NIGHT!
It was exhausting. It was bad enough throughout the day, but to get up every two hours through the night too, on top of any wake ups the twins had, really took it out of me. Just sitting there, alone, in the dark, electric pump attached – like a cow!
Still nothing. Well, I was lucky if I produced 3ml.
This went on for a while, and in the end I had to admit defeat. It was affecting my time with the boys during the day. I was so focussed and determined to produce a milk flow for them, but at the cost of me being too busy pumping to spend a good amount of time with my babies!
It also meant I was restricting any time out of the house with my husband and the boys, as I knew we couln’t go far because I’d need to be pumping within two hours.
It really took it out of me physically. But worse, it really took it out of me emotionally too. I felt such a failure. I was wracked with mum guilt for not having chosen to breatfeed in the beginning, and I was wracked with mum guilt for not being good enough to produce any milk. I was also starting to get really agitated quite easily.
I wanted more than anything to give them my milk! But I just didn’t have any to give.
Would It Have Been Any Different?
Would it have made any difference trying breastfeeding from the beginning? Did I have no milk because I’d left it too late? Or was it that I never would have had a flow anyway? I know that my breasts never felt like they had milk, at any time. I had never ever leaked. So I tend to think that I just am one of those unlucky women who can’t produce milk.
I’ll never know.
Despite everything, my boys were happy and healthy – even though they were bottle fed completely.
How I Feel Now
Now the boys are almost four years old, I don’t feel bad for having bottle fed them. But, if I could go back in time to when I was pregnant, I would wait say to myself – “Keep an open mind. Wait until your babies are born and try breastfeeding them at least once, just to see if maybe it does feel right. Give yourself the experience before you decide.”
I don’t feel bad that they were bottle fed. They were happy and healthy babies. But I will always regret not trying breastfeeding from the beginning.
Ultimately, however you feed your baby is the right way! You are feeding your baby! And that’s all that matters in the end.
How did you feed your baby or babies? Do you have a similar story to mine? Are you happy with decisions you made? Let me know in the comments!