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 delighted to let you all know that this week we have Georgina from Gee Gardner who has kindly offered to share her story about breastfeeding her two children, in which she has come across an array of different attitudes and a lot of different issues during the 6 years and 2 months of breastfeeding! So without further ado, I shall hand you over to the lovely Georgina. 

Breastfeeding and Me

I have collectively breastfed for 6 years 2 months over 2 kids and in that time I have come across an array of different attitudes and a lot of different issues. I’ve dealt with breastfeeding aversion, bleeding nipples, mastitis, blocked ducts, tongue and lip tie issues, D-MER, nipple blanching, vasospasm, food sensitivities, ulcerated nipples, sleepless nights and toddler nursing gymnastics. Breastfeeding is not easy! Even without any problems it's still bloody hard. 

One of the biggest things that really bothers me about the parenting world and breastfeeding in particular, is the judging. 11/10 you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't, with whatever you end up doing. I’ve had people praise me and tell me how fantastic it is that I’ve managed to get this far and I’ve had people give me looks as though i’m stripping off naked and having a poo in the middle of the street when I was feeding my baby in the car! I’ve had people support me and I’ve had people tell me I shouldn’t post photos or celebrate my milestones because it offends them. A mixed bag really! I find a lot of people think breastfeeding Mums look down on formula feeding Mums and that just isn’t the case. I always feel a bit worried whenever I say that I breastfeed for fear of being judged. I’m sure there are parents on either side who fling the crap and I’m not going to sit here and pretend like formula feeders don't get stick too because they do. There will be high horse dwellers whichever path you take with anything in parenting.

The first time I ever breastfed I was a clueless 19 year old, in a hospital bed having just been handed my tiny 5lbs 13oz baby daughter. I still vaguely remember the struggle to get her to latch properly and her then being taken to the hospital nursery because I needed emergency intervention. I then spent the next few days in a hospital bed desperately trying to get this little human to latch in between her screaming or having blood tests and ECGs. 

I lost count of the times I had to ask a midwife to help me get her to latch and most of them ended up just offering me bottles of formula or whacking my boob in her mouth and then flouncing off again. Every time she managed to latch she would feed for hours on end and there were many a time where I felt like giving up. I hated my body for not doing what it was supposed to do, I hated myself for coping badly and I was worrying Eloise wasn't getting enough milk.

I was a single, teenage mum with this beautiful, tiny human who depended entirely on me. I remember one night in particular where she had been feeding all day every days for weeks and I was exhausted and just thought "sod this" and went to get the carton of formula I bought "just in case". These days became frequent but somehow I managed to persevere.

We had latching issues for months to the point I ended up with ulcerated nipples which bled every time I fed her. I had to pump to soften my breast so she could latch and all the came out was blood. On top of that, every time she fed she cut off the blood supply to my nipple and no one really knew why or knew how to help. There needs to be a so much more support, one thing I've noticed about breastfeeding is that everyone is told how easy and wonderful it is and how it doesn't hurt one bit etc etc. Well they're all liars! It is exhausting and bloody HARD. For the first few months Eloise was attached to me approximately 85% of the time but we got through it, and at about 4 months into our breastfeeding journey we both just seemed to get the hang of it and only went on to have a few blips where I got blocked ducts but nothing to write home about. 

My second baby, Lily was an entirely different story. I felt more confident this time, I knew what to do, I knew how to help her latch and I held less doubt over my body. I fed her straight away and although she took a while to get the hang of latching initially because she was so small we got into the swing of the physical side of things in no time at all. It's amazing how different two babies can be! Eloise took a good 40 minutes to feed whereas Lily takes about 10 minutes. I unfortunately got mastitis when Lily was a few days old and she began to plateau with her weight which was worrying as she was only 5lbs 7oz to begin with but I got better and Lily began putting on weight again. Cue hiccup number 3! 

Despite having the physical aspect of latching down, albeit a shallow latch due to her tongue and lip tie, I never felt right when I fed her. I felt the same with Eloise but at the time I just put it down to suffering with PND on top of being young, single and sleep deprived as hell. But this time my circumstances were different, I had breastfed for 4.5 years prior to this so knew what I was doing so why was I feeling so awful? It was discovered that I suffer from Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex or D-MER and breastfeeding aversion which in layman's terms is where you experience every negative emotion you can possibly think of each time you feed your baby. For me it happens as soon as my milk starts to let down and continues until Lily finishes feeding so I've never had that textbook blissful mummy and baby time when I breastfeed, and I can't help but feel guilty when Lily catches my gaze as she's feeding and smiles and I'm hating every second and just sat there willing her to finish so it's over and I can stop feeling like a huge black cloud is suffocating me. Now she is coming up to 18 months old she will also pull at my top and put her hand down my bra for comfort and this sets off the aversion and sends it through the roof. 

I adore both of my daughters and I love being a mother more than anything in the world but I don't enjoy breastfeeding. I feel awful saying it because I'm supposed to feel all these wonderful oxytocin fuelled emotions when I cradle my beautiful baby to feed or at least that's what all the pregnancy and baby books say but I just don’t. I hate it and that coupled with the constant uphill battle with normalising breastfeeding I’ve found it even harder this time and how I have managed to get to 17 months I honestly don’t know. With my first I managed to go the whole hog and let her self wean which she did around 4.5 years but this time I don’t think there is any way I’m going to cope with that from an emotional point of view. 

Physically, my body is producing enough milk for her, she is putting on weight just fine and is happy but I am not. I hate every feed and although some days are better than others I am now looking into moving on to combi feeding. I don’t want to stop breastfeeding completely because I don’t think she would cope well with that and stopping cold turkey would make me feel incredibly guilty. Prior to making this decision I hadn’t really thought about how I would feel if I was formula feeding. I always thought I would find it so much easier because of the aversion I felt towards breastfeeding but I find myself feeling guilty at just the thought of speaking to my health visitor about feeding her milk other than mine. Not because I think formula is bad but because I feel like my body is failing me. I’ve held myself to such a high standard trying to be super woman and putting breastfeeding before my mental health for so long and it’s really time I let myself admit that I’m not coping and that's okay. It’s okay to try this new avenue and if it doesn’t help then fine, I will just need to reevaluate again but I owe it to myself to give my boobs and my sanity a break and try and treat my feelings as a priority too.


About Georgina

Georgina is a Mummy to 2 girls, Eloise (7) and Lily (1) telling it like it is whilst trying to keep it together on this wayward train of motherhood. I’ve been blogging for about 6 years now with a break in between, posting mostly about my experiences and screw ups of parenting and documenting my little family along the way.

You can find Georgina over at Gee Garner and don't forget to go give her a little follow and like over her social media platforms.