Hello and welcome back to another instalment of The Baby Feeding Series, that features real stories from real parents who have experienced how hard and baffling feeding your baby can be. I want this series to be a place where parents can share their own experiences in the hopes that other parents who are struggling can feel less alone. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world but it's one of the most rewarding jobs too and so I want to share their stories.

I am very delighted to tell you that for The Baby Feeding Series this week we have the lovely Alex from Better Together Home. It's not the first time that Alex has been a feature on Mimi Rose and Me, she has also been a feature for our #MotherhoodMondays blog series so don't forget to try and read her post too. For The Baby Feeding Series the lovely Alex has kindly offered to share her feeding experience with her little one and so without further ado I'd like to hand you over to Alex.

My Feeding Experience

A lot of the new-born days are a bit hazy for me now; it still feels a little surreal to have a seven year old daughter to be honest, but one experience in those first few weeks is still very clear in my mind.

Breastfeeding is something that I just assumed I would do. I had bought special nursing bras and tops and a ‘privacy’ cover because I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about feeding in public. My husband was keen to be involved in the feeding process too so we decided that I would express and we would split the feeds evenly when he was home from work – and so of course we bought a fancy electric breast pump, and a steriliser and bottles and a special bottle holder that could hook onto the handle of our insanely expensive pram.

When Lily was born at home, after an extensive natural labour, the midwife placed her on my chest and she nuzzled instinctively at me for a feed. The first couple of times seemed fine – she latched on, the midwife was pleased with my positioning and then left: leaving me with a tiny baby and some advice to purchase cabbage leaves.

It was three days later when they returned, expecting to find us settled and happy but instead I answered the door, Lily attached to my chest sucking furiously only to stop and make a heart wrenching scream every few minutes. I was exhausted and so was my baby – falling into a fitful sleep as the midwife weighed her and checked her over.

“It’s perfectly normal for a baby to lose weight in the first week or so, just keep trying”.

I nodded, all the while wondering in my head how this could possibly be considered normal – I couldn’t understand why I was struggling so much with something that was the most basic part of motherhood.

“Remember it takes a while for your milk to come in,” advised well-meaning friends.

“You’re probably not drinking enough water,” said my cousin.

“Try expressing instead, perhaps she’s not latching well” said a random stranger in Asda after I broke down in tears in the cleaning aisle.

And so that week I stocked up and ate foods that were supposed to increase breastmilk; oatmeal, spinach, eggs, and I drank a horrendous tasting tea that a sallow faced man in Holland & Barratt recommended. And then I tried expressing: whilst my husband went off to do a night shift I sat with the breast pump attached to me – Lily was crying, I was crying and I suffered through six hours of BBC Three TV. When I couldn’t face another minute of Family Guy I looked down at the bottle – it was empty. I sat there, shell-shocked – this couldn’t possibly be right. In tears I called my husband at work, desperately trying to soothe Lily for long enough to have a full conversation with him.

The next morning I called my midwife who asked me to pop down to the hospital, and so we went down and they hooked me up to an industrial style breast pump that made me cry in pain and left my breasts bruised whilst they weighed Lily and exchanged worried looks at the amount of weight she had lost.

Eventually a consultant came by and after looking at my notes, at Lily and at me he sat down next to me, took my hand and said “You have primary lactation failure – your body isn’t producing any milk.” And suddenly it all made sense.

He said some other things I’m sure, but all I remember is realising that I had been starving my baby for nearly two weeks. That I had been through hell and put my tiny newborn through hell just because I hadn’t considered any other option than breastfeeding.

It turns out that my Polycystic Ovary Syndrome was giving me hormonal complications which meant that my body had decided it didn’t need to produce milk. I cried again *I did an awful lot of crying in those days* - this time partly out of disappointment that my body had let me down, but also in relief that I finally knew what was wrong.

A nurse arrived and handed me a bottle filled with formula milk and my crying baby drank the entire thing in almost a gulp. She stopped crying and fell asleep in my arms, a deep sleep that only a satisfied and full belly can give.

That night I lay in bed and watched my husband feeding her with a Tommee Tippee bottle that looked bigger than her little head and I breathed a sigh of relief. We were going to be OK.

It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t able to breastfeed, but I now look back with pride at how I handled that situation.

Because, at the end of the day, regardless of whatever posters get blue-tacked up in maternity units and what people want to declare on social media “Fed Is Best” – and I fed my baby, and we bonded and I gave her nourishment and love in the way that I could. And now she is a thriving, healthy, happy seven year old with a healthy appetite, who hardly ever gets sick, and still curls up next to me to rest her head on my chest (because whilst they were a bit useless for feeding, my ample chest is a living testament to the Brimful of Asha lyrics ‘everybody needs a bosom for a pillow’)
About Alex
Alex is a mum, a wife, a sister, an aunty, a daughter, a granddaughter, a friend… Alex is a lover of life; of travel, of food, of red lipstick, of laughter, of interior design, of craft beer, of books, of gin, of music, of exploring and meeting new people, of craftiness, of the seaside, of people, of talking, of writing and of so many other things… Alex lives in South East London with my little family (one patient husband and one crazy 6 year old daughter) but I’ve left my heart in Scotland *one day I’ll live there*

You can find Alex over at Better Home Together

Don't forget to go and give her social media platforms a little like or follow